Attempting to land your first freelance job can be a little daunting. You may not know where to look and whether there is enough work to suit your skillset. Fortunately, there is plenty of work to go around, and there are many ways to find it. Check out the 14 best ways to secure your first freelance job.
- Create a Digital Presence
Every freelancer must have a digital presence if they want to be taken seriously. Potential clients want to know who you are, what you can do and what you have done in the past. Allow them to make an informed choice by creating a digital presence.
For instance, writing a regular blog is a superb way to showcase your writing skills, past work or industry insight. You must also develop a strong online portfolio to promote your past work, which could convince a client that you are the right freelancer for their needs. With your work online, you have the power to send your portfolio to prospective employers instantly.
- Promote Yourself with a Hire Me Page
If you choose to create a blog or website, we strongly recommend setting up a hire me page, as this will help you advertise your services in the search engines. It will also provide an opportunity for you to detail your experience and skills, so they can decide whether to contact you and hire your services. A hire me page may not always work for every freelancer, but it may help a client or two find you. You could even promote the link to potential clients when sending a pitch.
- Choose a Niche
Many freelancers make the big mistake of trying to target many different industries to gain their first job. This is a mistake. The best way to boost your credibility and land a gig is by playing to your strengths. Identify the type of freelance work you want to create and target the right clients in the right industries.
Focusing on a niche allows you to break into one market, as you will receive great recommendations within the industry. As your experience and credibility grows, you can charge a higher rate for your services.
Applying for jobs in various industries can also be time-consuming and monotonous, as you will have to create different proposals for different jobs or industries. One niche allows you to create one template, which you can send out in an instant to a prospective client.
- Send a Cold Pitch
A cold pitch can often be the first step towards landing your first freelance job. The pitch should be a few sentences long and should state your skills, strengths and experience. Don’t forget to research the companies in advance to be sure you want to work with them, and to show a potential client that you understand their business.
To increase your chances of a response, aim to connect with a potential client on social media before sending a pitch. Build a relationship by commenting on their LinkedIn status or leaving a comment on their articles. Once you have formed a relationship, you can use all the information you have gathered to create a more personalised pitch that will stand out from the crowd.
- Utilize Social Media
Don’t underestimate the power of social media when looking for freelance work. In addition to promoting your work on the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, you can use the platforms to connect with different companies, managers and editors. Write a status that states you are hoping to find freelance work and you might be surprised by the responses or referrals you receive. Don’t forget to search for social media hashtags to discover clients who are looking to hire freelancers.
- Visit a Job Board
Freelance job boards can be an effective way to find a freelance gig in an instant. After all, they are filled with clients looking to hire talented freelancers. However, they can be quite competitive, so you must develop a pitch and portfolio that ensures you stand out from your freelance rivals. Sites to consider include People Per Hour, Upwork and ProBlogger.
- Encourage Word of Mouth
Sometimes it is not what you know, but who you know that can land you a freelance job. Tell your family, friends and acquaintances that you are hoping to secure freelance work, as they may know someone who needs your services now or in the future.
- Promote Your Services in Your Email Signature
Promote your services in your email signature so every recipient knows who you are and what you can do. For instance, include your job title, such as “Freelance Writer” or “Self-employed Graphic Designer”. Also, summarize any niches you specialize in to showcase your wide range of skills to new or existing clients.
- Start Networking
Networking for the first time might be a little scary, but it will soon become second nature throughout your freelance career. It is an effective way to connect with new people and build up professional relationships, which could result in a considerable amount of work coming your way. Industry connections can either provide you with work or they might be happy to refer your services to a future client.
There are many opportunities to network both on and offline. For instance, you could share an interesting article on LinkedIn, or you can attend a local conference or business event to mix with like-minded individuals and potential clients. Push yourself out your comfort zone to discover new and exciting opportunities. You will be glad you did.
- Consider Trial Work
While you may not like the idea of not being paid for your work, it can help you land your first freelance writing job if you have no samples to promote to a client. A client may ask you to write a few articles or create a logo on a trial basis to decide whether they want to hire your services.
Limit the amount of work you are willing to provide for free to a single client. Yet, don’t rule out unpaid or paid trials, as it can improve your credibility, reviews and experience, and it will be something new to add to your growing portfolio. Learn more about the many costly freelance mistakes you will want to avoid.
- Join Freelance Community Groups
The freelance community is very supportive, which is why you should try to connect with other freelancers in one of the many community groups online. Facebook is rife with community groups, as people are more than happy to share jobs, tips and stories that can impact your freelance career. Don’t be a lurker, either. Actively become part of the community to form relationships with other freelancers. After all, you will get back what you put in.
- Take a Course
A digital course can provide the knowledge and motivation you need to become a successful freelancer. It is a great way to learn handy tips that you can implement into your own freelance strategy. You could even hire a coach to help you develop your skillset – and consider hiring someone who may have a big network of connections who can help you land many freelance jobs in the future.
- Write Guest Posts
Guest posting is a great way to showcase your industry knowledge and talents, and you can add the articles to your growing portfolio. While not every website will pay you for an article, there are some that will happily provide a small or large fee for one article.
What’s more, a guest post often features an author byline that is commonly two sentences long, so it is the ideal place to promote your freelance services. Try to be specific as possible in the author byline by advertising your areas of expertise, as well as any links to your social media pages or contact information so a reader can easily contact you. An easy way to find a guest post placement is by searching “guest post” or “write for us” in Google.
- Be Patient and Persistent
Even the most experienced freelancers with extensive portfolios are passed over at times. Instead of giving up, they try to land another job. It is important to pick yourself up after every rejection and not to be discouraged when you don’t land a job.
A little patience and persistence can go a long way in helping you secure your first freelance gig. If you promote your services and communicate with prospective clients, you can guarantee you will be hired for a job in no time. Try to offer a great first impression, as they may consider your services for the next job that arises.
Freelance writing takes a great deal of effort, time and dedication. Every freelance writer will have a different experience, yet the one thing successful freelancers often have in common is their persistence. If you follow the above helpful tips, you can guarantee you will land your first freelance job in no time at all. Best of luck!