How to Get Started as a Freelancer
So, you want to be a freelancer, huh? Well if you daydream about ditching the 9-5 for something different, becoming your own boss, or working for multiple clients, freelancing might be right up your alley.
Depending on the job, freelancing can be totally customizable to your interests and skills which means that you get to call the shots. I know, right? Pretty awesome!
Today I’d love to share some tips and pieces of advice on how to get started with freelancing and also share a bit of my own story on how I got started and what that looked like for me.
My Own Freelancing Story
When I got out of college with a media production degree, I had a hard time finding a job in my field. So I took on a part-time job elsewhere and dabbled in doing media jobs for people I knew, a photo shoot here, a video project there.
It was all so much fun! But regrettably at the time I didn’t foresee or intend for it to grow into anything, so I’ll admit that I didn’t take these projects as seriously as I could have. In my mind, I was saving my “seriousness” for when a “real job” was going to come along. When that happened, then I would buckle down and get cracking.
Ohhhh the irony….
If I had only known that freelancing and doing this digital work was gonna be my thang I would have treated it a lot differently! It wasn’t that I was flippant, but it was just that my priority at the time was to try and land a normal job in my field, just like every other new college grad out there.
Retrospect Reminder: This time in my life taught me that each stepping stone along the way still brings us to exactly where we’re supposed to be. The stepping stones are entwined in the big picture. Now I understand when any opportunities come my way - they’re all part of the journey and I’m always super grateful for them.
Cultivate a Craft, and Create a Plan
If you’re set on this freelance thing, then time to bang out a plan of action. Cultivate your craft (or several!) and create a master plan that you can stick to so you feel confident to land your first few clients.
For a while I was taking on freelance jobs while still being employed full-time, (sometimes using my lunch break to meet with clients instead.) I don’t know if there was an exact moment where I realized I wanted to work for myself, but at some point - I realized, hey, why not give this freelance thing a shot full-time?
Long story short, I left that job, and things didn’t really pan out as I’d hoped. I say this with kindness and humility (and hindsight goggles) because I can fully admit that I didn’t have a solid plan, and I whiffed it.
Moral of the story is that yes, there is an aspect of trust and the whole “just jump and the net will appear” kinda thing...
But in the same way that a skydiver takes the time to prepare his parachute and follow the guidelines, it’s the same thing! Get prepared first, then make the leap.
It’s a much better plan, you’ll thank yourself later.
What Services Can I Offer as a Freelancer?
A freelancer is defined as someone who works by the job, or by the hour, but isn’t employed with a salary position under any company. These can be on-going services for one client, but a freelancer is not typically obligated to any specific client longterm.
So now that I’ve laid out the definition of a freelancer, the importance of having a plan , and getting prepared, now it’s the fun part! What creative services would you like to offer as a freelancer? There are so many options out there, but I’m going to narrow down some of my favorites to get the list started.
Web Production Work
Social Media Management
One really awesome thing about this list is that so much of it is digital, meaning you can complete these tasks from anywhere! (That #digitalnomad life tho)
Get out a pen and paper and write down anything that jumps out at you.
What are you interested in? What is your skillset? What do you like to do? Do you have prior experience working for companies in any of these areas? Do you have an applicable degree?
Friendly Reminder: Don’t let lack of experience stop you! If something jumps out at you, such as photography, but you don’t yet have that skill, this is your cue to crack open the books (or the ole’ Google) and get to learning, friend! We live in a day and age of information, time to put it to good use!
Who Hires Freelancers, Anyway?
Freelancing services are sought out by so many different types of employers - from huge companies, to online business owners, to media outlets, entrepreneurs, and everything in between.
These businesses are looking for help with things like website maintenance, copywriting, social media strategy, virtual assistance, in-office tasks or even on-site media production services.
So if you have a set of skills, don’t think that you have to land the perfect job before you can use those skills. Start looking for freelancing opportunities!
When it comes to freelancing opportunities, the sky is the limit!
What Are My Next Steps?
Ok so if you’ve gotten this far and you’re like, “Yes, I want to do this! How do I get started?” Beyond choosing what services you’d like to offer and making that heart-pounding decision to jump in, there are just a few simple housekeeping steps:
Create structure to support you (contracts, invoicing system, website, pricing).
Set up a portfolio and/or a way for potential clients to contact you.
Share your services with others! Give people the opportunity to work with you.
Land that first client!
Continually learn your craft, tweak, and improve with every project.
My whole point with this information is to show you that it is possible for anyone to launch a freelance-based career.
These opportunities are an amazing way to use your skillset to work for yourself, choose which jobs you want to take, and be in charge of your own schedule.
Aaaannd if you’re anything like me and find yourself asking the question is freelancing is even really a thing still? I’d love to share that one of the coolest shifts I’ve witnessed is that the term “freelancer” is starting to shift and morph…
Today, people are less and less using the term “freelancer” to express their career identities and more so bringing in their true desired job title to express what they do. So “I’m a freelancer” has shifted to “I’m a social media manager.” Boom. Pretty cool, huh?
So have I convinced you yet to give freelancing a shot? If so, welcome aboard, friend!
What are you biggest takeaways from this post? Do you have any obstacles standing in your way in making the transition to freelance work? Share your questions below!