The main question I get asked as a freelancer is “How did you start freelancing right out of college?” It’s a reasonable question. Most people assume that a freelancer must have years of experience before breaking into the role themselves. On the other hand, many people that hire think someone so young might not know enough. However, neither of those are true. Here are a few reasons why and a guide on how to freelance from whatever point of life you are in right now.
Why can I freelance?
(even when I think I can’t)
You do have experience: Did you know a four-year college degree is seen as two to three years of real-world experience? It’s true, also, if you worked in internships and part-time jobs in college that you can use that as well!
Jobs are everywhere: If you ‘re anything like me, finding a job might have been hard out of college. The market was overfilled with graduates and many older people were job switching making the competition even worse. However, that’s not the case in freelancing. In freelancing, there are tons of jobs from Facebook to job boards and since many people want an “easy and stable job” there are not as many responses.
Someone will help you: In the real job market, getting someone to help you get experience can be hard. In the freelance market, this is not so much the case. There are business owners that need lower budget work. If you can prove you know how to do it, they’ll hire you and give you portfolio work. Most of the time, they’ll even pay you some real money as well!
An agency will take you: My first job freelancing was under an agency. Since I had no image to stand on myself, I used her image to get experience. After getting experience under her, I was able to confidently go out into the market knowing how more about the world of freelancing.
A Guide on How To Start Freelance Work:
Join the Internet
Before you can start freelancing, you have to get on the internet! Sounds obvious, I know. First, you need to make sure you have at least a free website. You can do this on either WordPress (the free version of what I use) or Wix (what I used when I started.) Eventually, you’re going to want your own .com but when you just start, no one will judge you.
Next, you’re going to need to get on Facebook. Make sure you create a page for your services and try to make your public profile look it’s best. Join Facebook groups for freelancers to start seeing the new world around you. You can get jobs on there, ask for help, or just talk for a while.
Start Applying Yourself
A professor once told that to start a business, you must first find three clients of which you don’t have any other connection to. It’s easy to get connections from family, some might even hire you themselves. However, it’s harder to get a job from someone that only knows you because you want the job they have. To start freelancing, this is all you need to do.
Due to my field, I use sites like ProBlogger. Another option is to use freelancing sites like UpWork and FreeeUp. I tend not to use these sites, but that’s because I’ve had bad experiences with low pay on them. Depending on your field, they might be just right for you. All this time though, keep using those Facebook Groups. The jobs they offer can be surprisingly great.
Get the Business Basics
Once you’ve got a few jobs under your belt, you’ll know if this really is the life for you. If you decide you like what you see, it’s time to invest in yourself. To get a paid website and email. I use Bluehost in combination with WordPress.Org, though there are other cheaper options. You can still use free software like the Todoist to keep track of everything.
When the time comes that you are ready to become a real business, then you’ll need to file paperwork. You’ll need a name for your business and paperwork with the state. An LLC is the best route for protection and cost, however, there are other options for you if you wish. For management software, I use Cushion since it has everything I need and I love their business practices.
The last and most important “how to freelance” step is to network. You’re a new business owner, that means you need to get out there and connect. Make sure to ask all your clients for testimonials. Ask if you can use their work in your portfolio. Make sure that they know you are looking for other work so they can refer you if they find someone who could use you.
At first, doing all this might feel awkward. After all, they are paying you, it seems strange to ask them for more. However, it’s the way freelancing works. On top of this, seek out new networking events. If you work at a CoWork, attend any and everything they have. There are tons of free and paid networking events in a big city each and every month. If you live in a smaller town, take a day out of your month to drive to a city and attend an event.
Freelancing is not for everyone. It’s hard work and it’s not as stable as having a real job. However, it can be done by anyone in almost any field. You don’t have to have tons of work experience as a graphic designer before breaking into the field. You don’t have to have published five books as a writer before doing some ghostwriting. If you look for jobs, you will find them. With enough hard work, one day sooner than you think you won’t have to have a normal job.
If you’re looking for help with breaking into the field, I would love to help coach you in either marketing yourself or how to market. I work remotely and offer only one-on-one lessons via skype or zoom. Check out my Consulting page to learn more!