Freelancing is an awesome way to make a living online from anywhere in the world. Whether you’re a student saving up for your post-grad travel adventure or a full-time employee who wants to quit their 9-5, freelance work is something that anyone can do – even if you have no prior experience.
I became a freelancer as a full-time college student for two reasons:
- To save up money to travel full-time after graduation
- To build a career that would let me work from anywhere in the world
In less than a year, I have worked with 5 different clients and made more than $12,000 through freelancing gigs – all while juggling classes, extracurricular leadership and a college social life. Imagine what could happen if you did this full time?!
In this blog post, I am going to give you some actionable tips and advice on how to become a freelancer with little to no experience. Let’s jump in!
How to start freelancing
Starting off as a freelancer with limited experience is not an easy task, but today’s digital world provides endless opportunities for online work. All you have to do is believe in yourself enough to take those opportunities by the horns.
There are several critical steps that helped me begin my freelance business as a college student, and I highly recommend that you do them if you’re in the beginning stages of freelancing.
1. Pick a niche based on your skills and interests
It’s very important to decide what kind of freelancer you are in the early stages in order to market yourself effectively. Do this by creating a list of your skills, experiences and interests, and pick a niche that reflects all of those.
If you’re a talented writer and enjoy the process of writing for different mediums and audiences, then consider becoming a freelance writer.
Are you an avid social media user that enjoys creating connections on different platforms? Then maybe you could be a freelance social media manager for small business owners who are less confident on social.
Or maybe you love creating aesthetically pleasing graphics. How about becoming a freelance graphic designer?
I’m telling you, the opportunities for online work are endless, but first, you need to be 100% clear on your specialties in order to sell specific services to clients. Eventually, you should identify your “ideal client”, but this can be done later down the line once you’ve worked with a decent amount of clients.
2. Build your credibility
The first thing a client will want to know is how much experience you have in your particular field, which is why building your credibility is absolutely key as a freelancer.
But what if I don’t have any experience? How will I get clients if I have no work samples to show them?
Here are a few solutions:
- Take responsibility for your own learning. Do tons of research, take online courses (I highly recommend Skillshare), and practice your craft to become as knowledgeable about your subject as you can.
- Work for free. Yes, I know that’s not what you wanted to hear, but doing free services for local businesses or family friends is not only a way for you to build up a solid portfolio; it also develops key relationships with whoever you’re creating free content for. Who knows – maybe they’ll become a paying client!
- Consider starting a blog. Having your own platform is an awesome way to showcase your work style, develop a personal brand, and build an audience that could bring you new clients.
Your credibility will not only attract clients, but it will allow you to increase your rates over time. Even the most seasoned freelancers are constantly finding ways to enhance their credibility, so you should start doing this ASAP.
3. Market yourself on social media
In today’s digitally-focused world, creating a strong presence on social media will do wonders for your career.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is polished, professional and shows that you are looking for freelance clients. Other social media profiles like Instagram and Twitter are also important, but LinkedIn’s networking focus makes it a great place to find potential clients. Use a professional headshot, write a detailed about section, include all of your professional experiences and include any samples you might have.
Once you’ve polished your profile, start connecting with professionals in your industry. And remember: every single connection you make is valuable. Even if they work in an industry you aren’t interested in, they may know someone who is a perfect fit for you. Be intentional and respectful when networking on social media, and it will pay off.
Something that helped me immensely in the beginning was reaching out to freelancers who graduated from my university and scheduling informational interviews. Because we shared something in common, they were more willing to take time out of their day to answer some tough questions and give honest advice. I highly recommend talking to seasoned freelancers in the beginning, and continue to nurture those relationships going forward.
4. Be confident in your abilities
Imposter syndrome is huge in the freelance business. You are probably going to feel overwhelmed and, frankly, out of your league at times, but it is critical that you remain confident in yourself and your abilities. Putting yourself on the line and taking risks are critical to success, so make sure that you’re ready to vouch for yourself.
Freelancing jobs for beginners
The types of freelance jobs vary based on your niche, but here are a few in some of the most popular industries:
Social Media Manager
- Writing and scheduling social media posts
- Encouraging conversation and growing followings on social media
- Replying to comments and DMs
- Creating giveaways and contests
- Setting up new pages, accounts, groups, etc.
- Writing or updating online business profiles
- Creating digital and/ or print graphics
- Designing cover photos/ banner ads
- Designing flyers, ads or other promotional material
- Sourcing and editing images
- Blog posts
- Magazine articles
- Copywriting for websites and emails
- Emails/ newsletters
- Social media copy/ captions
- Brand development and optimization
- Target audience identification and analysis
- Creation of brand standards guides
- Analysis of online platforms for brand cohesion
- Competitor analysis
Other popular titles include:
- Web Designer
- Video editor
- SEO specialist
- Virtual assistant
- Photographer/ videographer
- So many more!!
If you want to see more freelancing jobs that are out there, visit Upwork and Fiverr – two websites that pair employers with freelancers. I would not recommend getting clients here in the beginning (your immediate network is a better place to start), but it’s a good place to see what types of work people are doing and get some ideas.
I hope this article was helpful and maybe even inspired you to get into freelancing yourself! If you have any questions or just want to chat more, DM me on Instagram and I’d love to talk!