The gig economy. 57 million workers in the U.S. alone are part of it. And it is estimated that by 2020, 40% of the workforce in America will be a part of this economy, Freelancing has become a way of life for so many because of its many benefits – independence in time, place, and amount of work, taking on the type of work for which they have great passion, and just in general being in greater control of their lives.
These are huge attractions for the two youngest generations who have come to value the greater balance between their work and personal lives and who want the flexibility that freelancing promises. There is a new cultural identity among these millennials and Gen Z’ers, and it sees work as something to be far more than just a means to earn a living.
Freelancing is a New Type of “Job Search”
This issue, of course, is, how to get started. How do you market yourself, demonstrate your talents and skills, and land that very first client that will set you on your way? Traditional job seekers have been the recipients of all types of job search advice over the years, some good, some bad. But far less advice is yet available for those who want to become successful freelancers.
These tips may serve to help you land that first client and launch your career.
1. Build a Website the Showcases What You Can Do
Whether you are a web designer, a writer, a financial consultant, a fitness/training instructor, etc., you will need to showcase yourself and your work. Without any clients bombarding your mailbox, you will have to be creative. Create a few amazing websites, write some amazing marketing or another type of content, craft blog posts that provide some solid and unique approaches to personal finance. Publish some projects that you completed during your college years. All of these things become a part of your initial portfolio, and you can point potential clients to them as great examples of what you can do.
2. Develop an Amazing Elevator Pitch
If you have not yet heard of an elevator pitch, you need to do some quick study. First, you must begin to think of yourself as that freelancer you want to be. Develop a 30-second description of what you do that is of value to others, not a description of what you hope to become. For example, if you are at a social event and a stranger asks you what you do, your pitch might be, “I help companies promote their brands by creating amazing content for their websites, blogs, social media platforms and other marketing efforts. Here is my card if you or anyone you know is looking for writing expertise that will promote their business.” If you need some examples, as you develop your pitch, check out this article.
3. Begin with Friends, Relatives, College Friends
When people begin jobs in sales, they are often advised to go to family and friends first, because these will be the easiest sales to make and help to build confidence. You can also ask these people for other references. This is good advice for aspiring freelancers too, along with fellow alumni from your college years. Let them know what you are doing, be enthusiastic, and ask if they know of anyone in need of your services.
4. Join Online and Offline Networking Groups
LinkedIn is a great place to join online networking groups and to look for potential clients. Before you develop a profile, check out all of the opportunities this social media site offers for you to get yourself “Out there.” This platform also has blog categories, and writing several great articles related to your niche, including some tutorials, can land you some potential clients.
5. Submit Posts to Popular Niche-Related Blogs
Don’t become discouraged by rejection here. It is tough to get popular blog owners to accept guest posts unless they are pretty amazing. But keep trying. Sometimes, becoming a follower and participating in discussions will provide some name recognition first, before you submit an article for possible acceptance. But remember, too, that there are many other ways to get recognition and market yourself – it’s really a matter of how many hours you have in a day and where your time is best spent. You need to keep track of how much time you are spending on each of your promotional activities and which ones are bringing you better responses. Using a tool like PomoDone App can track this for you, so that you can make better decisions about your time spent.
6. Join Freelance Sites
There are a wealth of freelancer websites to join. Do a bit of research and choose those that seem to have a lot of business for your niche. Some of the most popular ones can be found here. In many instances, you will have to have a portfolio of samples and you will bid on projects. Bidding low in the beginning is not necessarily a bad thing, if it will get you experience and those first few clients.
7. Consider Free Work in Exchange for Great Testimonials/References
Though most do not recommend this, it may be a good option to get yourself established. Offer your services for free or at highly discounted prices, preferably to those who know you and who will be willing to provide outstanding references that say more than just, “his work was great.” The testimonials should provide good detail.
8. Use Turn-Downs as Opportunities to Establish Relationships
When you either meet with or have an online discussion with a potential client, and that client states that he is either not ready for a commitment or wants to check out other possibilities, use the moment to keep the conversation going, even if it is totally unrelated to your desire for his business. Engaging in informal and casual conversation can begin to develop a relationship that may prove useful later on. If you are well-rounded in your educational background, there may be common points of interest for conversation. This can serve as a nice start point for a future contact that will keep you in the loop with that potential.
In the End…
Freelancing can be wonderfully fulfilling and lucrative. You truly can live the type of work/life balance you crave, if you are willing to put in the hard work in the beginning. It is not for the faint of heart who discourage easily or do not have an abiding passion for this work lifestyle. If you have that passion, can take rejection, and sustain yourself financially until you are making a solid income, you will make it.
About the author:
Angela Baker is a self-driven freelance writer, currently working with several writing services, including Trust My Paper, Grab My Essay, and Studicus. She has also expanded her freelancing career as a blogger, especially in the area of helping other writers develop their freelancing careers.
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