Getting started as a freelancer is an adventure.
If you wake up one day and decide, “I’m going to become a freelancer,” then actually attempt to follow through with it, you’ll realize fast that your spontaneous coming up with an acceptance of the idea was the easiest part.
You’ll first find you can’t actually say you’re freelancing until you land a client or two. Without a client or two, you’re not freelancing – you’re unemployed.
Therefore, your main and most important objective as a new freelancer is to get a client or a gig.
This is probably the hardest part of getting started.
Why is this part so difficult?
First of all, it’s difficult because nobody knows you. As a freelancer that’s just getting started, you have to let people know you and your services are available. Do you even know where to go to get new clients, gigs, or work?
You might not, and that’s why today we’ll be talking about some great methods to advertise and seek out new business as a freelancer. We’ll also be going over a few of the best freelancing websites for beginners in today’s marketplace.
If you just want to read about what websites you need to know about as a new freelancer, jump to that section below and skip over the “get started” section that’s next. If you don’t have a clear plan as to what you’ll offer clients a freelancer, or even if you do but want to make sure you’ve got your bases covered, read on.
Get Started Methodology
1-Have A Niche.
Maybe you’ve already thought of this, but if not, read on. Before you can freelance, you must follow the command of the ancient proverb that says to “Know Thyself”.
What thing do you do and enjoy best? Can it be offered as a quality service that will bring value to potential clients? Find that one thing and focus on it, at least to start.
You also need to to ask yourself how much you intend on charging? Will you be the cheapest in the market, a mid-priced contender, or the most expensive?
Most important who are your customers? Where do they hang out? Are you willing to go where they are so that you can let them know you’re available?
This is the beginning step that I recommend to start giving form to your freelancing vision.
2- Get Tools.
None of your clients, friends or family members are going to lend you their laptops so you can get started as a freelancer, so don’t even ask!
I’m just kidding around, we all know this. But jokes aside, having the right tools to get you started will make a world of difference when it comes to offering value to potential clients.
Have you ever tried to hire a freelancer or small business but had to go elsewhere because their processes were way too inconvenient? I’ve been through it myself and some obstacles I’ve come across when trying to obtain services from these kinds of businesses have been slow/inefficient product delivery, lack of convenient payment options, etc.
It becomes discouraging so that’s why I suggest to make things easy on yourself and your clients by having:
Up-to-date, fast software, hardware, and equipment needed to produce professional results
Various payment methods like PayPal and even major credit cards
Convenient ways to communicate with you, and be accessible
Convenient, reasonably priced delivery solutions
A decent website or app
There are people out there preaching that you can start a business with no money, but the reality is that you need a little bit of cash for all of the above. Consider not quitting your day job so that you have a way to pay for it, at least until you’re set to start up properly.
Starting up without all of your ducks in a row can irritate and scare away potential clients if you’ll only be able to partially deliver on their expectations.
3- Take Sales Training.
If you aren’t willing to sell you cannot be a freelancer. Does this need to be repeated so that it can sink in?
You must understand what selling is and how to go about it to be a freelancer. Yes, I know your craft/product/service may not be sales. But guess what?
There are lots of amazing products and services that no one’s bought because no one knows they exist.
This is one of the hardest parts of freelancing to get used to. You must get comfortable with and at minimum somewhat good cold calling, cold emailing, networking, and promoting your products and services.
Again, I can’t stress enough if no one knows what you have to offer, no one will buy from you and you won’t make any money. So get to selling!
A famous sales coach whose free videos on YouTube that really helped me is Grant Cardone. I actually completed a paid sales course by him as well, 10X, but this is in no way an ad for his services. I’m only telling you what helped me get into the selling mentality.
Another really great set of training materials is offered by the Dale Carnegie Associates, you can pick and choose a book here and there or take a whole course. I find their materials to be great for developing communication skills for all areas of life, especially sales.
There are lots of sales professionals on the web providing mentoring through free and paid content. Find the one that works for you and become a student.
Best Freelance Websites For Beginners
In this section, I’m only going to talk about websites where I’ve been successful landing work as a freelancer, or have been able to find other freelancers.
I will not sugarcoat it; finding work on Upwork is a huge task. There are thousands of available jobs to wade through, many have horrible hourly rates that can go as low as $3.00 per hour. That’s right, I said $3.00 per hour.
As many openings as there are, you’ll be in competition with many more freelancers. If you have nothing else to do you can make it your job to sit on Upwork all day waiting for relevant new jobs to appear, then hopefully submit a few well-composed proposals before 50 other people apply for the same jobs.
Getting my first entry-level remote job offer on Upwork took about 3-4 months. That may not sound like a long time, but depending on who you are that could be long enough to frustrate you in case you’re the kind that gives up easy.
Another downside is that their fees are on the pricey side. There was a time when I was having about $100 per month in Upwork fees deducted from my monthly billings.
I don’t expect Upwork to operate for free; after all they do have a large support staff and their service includes many features that are constantly being updated like time tracking, reporting, and more. Their customer service is also less than amazing. If it were better I wouldn’t complain so much, but in its current state their fees are a hard pill to swallow.
Still, you’re definitely going to need to start somewhere. Upwork may just be the place for you.
Surprise! Yes, you can find freelance work on LinkedIn. It will be less likely to happen because you’re searching for it there and more likely that you’re approached by someone that found you searching through profiles of people that match your background, skills, and location.
I’m being approached on LinkedIn for various opportunities with increasing frequency and it’s one of the first places I go to when seeking out talent for freelancers, contract and even full-time talent
LinkedIn should absolutely be on your list as a viable place to market your skills and find freelance and remote opportunities.
On LinkedIn, don’t forget to actually engage with your connections and in conversations. The more involved you stay, the more chances you’ll have to meet new clients and other freelancers or consultants that will point you in the right direction.
While you’re there, don’t forget to connect with me – I’m happy to add like-minded freelancers and remote work lovers to my circle and share opportunities that come across my feed.
Quora may not come to mind when you’re trying to brainstorm ways for finding freelance jobs online for beginners. It’s typically perceived as a place to showcase opinions, ideas, and writing skills.
And that’s precisely the point.
Programmers, teachers, and all kinds of professionals are on Quora sharing expertise. You can help others while advertising your services, blog, or company in a relevant way, within reason, at no cost.
Granted, it takes time to write articulate responses, engage, and be a part of the community, but very similar to Linked, it’s all about getting exposure.
I have met, befriended, and hired a freelancer through Quora. Again, we never met with that intention but networking is networking, no matter how it starts.
While I’m of the opinion that Facebook is in its last days, it’s still a place where you can find people with similar interests. Look in private or public groups, or on pages that either has opportunities for offer or posts that spark interesting dialogue. These are always a great medium to network.
Some people display their portfolios or pieces of their work on the site. This might be useful to you in case you’re in need of freelance services, and you can reach out to them if you see something you like.
I’ve come across opportunities and likewise have sourced talent from the site, so even if you’ve intended on deleting it, I suggest that you consider keeping it for professional purposes. Just focus on a few groups and pages that might be useful to you, and avoid the rest of the site if it annoys you.
If you still love Facebook, even better, just know that there’s more to it than seeing pictures of what your cousin is doing on her trip to London.
Now, let’s talk about what we don’t want out of freelancer sites and red flags that will warn you that you’re on the path to getting scammed.
Even real sites have scammers on them. There often isn’t much vetting done on the client setup side, and sometimes their spammy job ads hang around on the sites for a while until they’re reported or moderated. You can spot risky client ads easily as they typically:
- Lack previous payment history
- Have no verified payment method
- Have previous history but are reviewed poorly by other freelancers
- Contain misspellings, bad grammar, or are overly ambiguous in the job description
- Repost the same ads again and again, or “cattle calling” – claiming the need to hire a high number of freelancers at once(10+)
Good clients will put forth the effort to have their bank accounts or payment methods verified (this verified status is often posted on their job ads or profiles), put together a coherent and professional job ad, don’t hire in bulk (that’s a huge red flag for too many reasons to list here), and never ask you to work for free.
Sometimes, prospective clients can hide their requests for free work in the form of asking for a “sample” that you’d create specifically for their project, your ideas, or an unpaid trial. If you’re asked to do anything during interview phases that you’d usually charge for, proceed with caution or not at all.
Make sure that all terms of your agreements with clients are listed clearly on your contracts and comply with the policies put in place by the site. This will prevent misunderstandings between you and your clients and prevent non-compliance that could occur intentionally or unintentionally from either side.
If you’re working through a freelancer website platform, you should read and understand what kind of protection and benefits are granted by the company to both freelancers and clients. Guaranteed payment (normally offered as long as you’re logging time through their time-tracker) dispute resolution services, and other perks offered for building up a good reputation are all things to consider when selecting sites to hunt for freelance jobs online.
I hope this article has been helpful for you as you prepare to dive into the freelance world. Please let me know if so!
Or if you have any questions or other remote work topics you’d like us to write about, don’t be shy and comment!