How to Start Freelancing with No Experience
Freelancing can be a scary experience for the first time as if something goes wrong you have only yourself to blame for putting yourself at risk, especially in the field of construction estimating. However, the whole experience of freelancing is not just bumpy and lonely but can provide a lot of happiness, money and glory.
The shifting work culture has made freelancing a popular option as it pays decent money, allows the advantage of being your own boss as well as allows working at a time of your choice. However, success in freelancing is not as easy as it seems and requires a lot of discipline and management.
You need to have the right amount of skills and knowledge once you get started on this path. To make the journey of freelancing comfortable you need to have a clear picture of your current accounts, emergency funds, investments, and the amount you are willing to put at risk.
What is Freelancing?
In simpler terms, freelancing is offering one’s services for an agreed period of time in return for a fee. Freelancing can be for a diverse set of activities and are usually independent of the businesses that hire the services. Usually, freelancers work for short durations but in most cases, their contracts get extended or renewed.
Whether you are already working on a full time job or you are unemployed, you can work as a freelancer using your skills and expertise. Though there are hundreds of freelancing options, and you can literally freelance anything, however, knowing the highest paying freelancing jobs can help you find better opportunities.
How to Start Freelancing without Experience?
The good thing about freelancing is that you can start freelancing without much experience, learn while working, and grow yourself to the next level.
If you have absolutely no experience and are considering venturing into freelancing, follow these quick tips to make your way.
1- Build a Professional Profile
The first and foremost step for you is to build your work profile highlighting your skills and abilities. Remember, businesses or individuals will hire you for your skills and abilities, and thus you need to mention all your work capabilities in the profile.
As you are starting with nil experience thus only your skills will be in focus. Also, you need to observe the current market trends and further enhance or brush up on your skills if required.
Depending on your industry, you may want to do some volunteer work and add it to your profile. Showcase your work on niche specific portals; for instance, if you are a designer, build your presence on top portfolio websites for designers, if you are a writer, create your own free blog and post some of your unique work there, if you are a photographer, shoot some events for free and so on.
2- Market Yourself Strategically
Once your profile is ready, the next step is to spread it across organizations and individuals. The most effective way to do it is to do it online. Join LinkedIn, connect with potential clients, join relevant groups, and share your profile with people who you think would be interested in working with you.
There are several other niche specific portals and websites where you can find freelance jobs. If you are a newbie freelance programmer, exploring Fiverr is a great idea. You can also explore Angel List to find newly launched startups and pitch them your service directly.
If your budget allows, you may consider building your own website, as it is a more professional way of doing business online.
3- Have Sample Projects Ready
Apart from your profile, the other thing that your potential clients will be interested in is your sample work. Thus, you must publish a few sample projects online or provide them on demand to interested clients.
Doing some free projects for local charities, or helping a friend or family on a venture is a great way to have samples readily available. However, some clients might want a fresh sample depending on their needs. In that case, you may consider offering a paid sample, which is of course priced lower than your actual rate.
4- Get Certified
The corporate world is marred by tough competition across all levels and as you will be competing with many experienced freelancers as well, getting a certification will put you at par with them.
There are many certifications courses available online that will boost your freelancing career. Depending on your industry, there may be tens of free certification courses available, however, if you are not sure how to find a good certification course, you can check out Udemy and Coursera as well as LinkedIn Learning.
5- Client Testimonials
Once you have completed a few projects successfully, you need to ensure that you get testimonials from your clients. Organizations do give weightage to existing or past clients’ feedback and it plays an important role in establishing connections with them.
Positive experiences and comments will strengthen your profile and since freelancing is based on goodwill, it will surely help to amplify your business through word of mouth.
Moreover, offer something really amazing for a low price on Fiverr, and deliver your best. This is one of the best ways to get authentic testimonials and build a strong portfolio together.
6- Connect Internally
The most crucial and difficult time period for a newbie freelancer is getting the first few projects and thus you need to adopt all measures to get work.
You must try or pitch for work in your internal circle including friends, family, neighbours etc. To establish connections you may also consider interning or volunteering at any organization.
Mistakes to Avoid
Starting a freelancing career can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time and chances of making mistakes are quite high. Know these most common mistakes and avoid the same.
1- Underestimating / Overestimating Your Worth
In freelancing, the work that you will get will vary a lot and thus you should not underestimate or overestimate your worth. Instead, you should acknowledge your true worth and figure out how much you will charge per hour, per day, or per project.
You can see what others with a similar skill set are charging and then be reasonable with your fee or otherwise the internet can help you a lot in assessing your worth.
2- The Hidden Expenditures
When you are committing yourself to a project or work, you need to ensure that your account time, taxes, payment processing charges, as well as other hidden expenditures in the project are included while mentioning your fee.
Many times freelancers fail to pay attention to these factors and end up losing considerably.
3- Deadline Buffer
In most cases, projects overrun their deadlines and thus demand more time and resources than actually committed. In cases where only minor time has elapsed after the deadline, clients usually hesitate in paying, and requesting extra payments doesn’t seem nice on the part of freelancers.
Thus, keeping a buffer in the timeline is better in managing deadlines effectively.
4- Not Knowing How to Say No
Learn to say no. Not all the projects or work that is coming to you are worth your time. Some are too demanding and some may pay less, thus it’s okay to say no to them and move forward for better opportunities. It’s not that you need to take up each and every project that is coming your way.
The Bottom Line:
You will find both kinds of freelancers, who have made a success of it and others who have failed to find projects. Remember, freelancing is lucrative only till the time you can regularly get projects and clients.
You need to be a specialist in your respective field for someone to pay you for it. Freelancing is all about patience and determination, your first freelance contract may not offer you a long term opportunity thus being patient is the key.