By Lynne Gowers on 27th February 2017

Going freelance? A guide to getting started

freelance

If you are reading this you have made the decision to ditch the 9 to 5 and put yourself out there as a freelancer in your chosen field.
Success in freelancing, like life, very much depends on how good a start you get. New freelancers have a lot to contend with; getting clients and keeping them happy as well as all the other day to day aspects of running a business.

Here are a couple of things to get your head around before you get started:

  • Your CV is no longer your focus when searching for jobs. Now it’s all about your portfolio. This means the quality of your work now pulls more weight than your client list. That’s not to say high-profile clients are useless – indeed, they can open plenty of doors for you – but it’s the quality of the work in your portfolio that potential clients will scrutinise, not the names you’ve worked with.
  • Your relationship with clients isn’t like a traditional employer-employee one. You’re providing a valuable service to someone that needs it – you’re an independent professional who has been brought in to solve a problem.
  • Word of mouth is key for freelancers. Most companies looking for freelancers find them through personal contacts. From the outset you need to build strong relationships with the people you work with, as they could be the difference between a ton of work requests and a meagre few.
  • Make your own opportunities. Job boards only represent a small fraction of the gigs you can land as a freelancer. Although some freelancers have great success using these, they can be a poor place to start for people with little or no work to their names.

Showcase your work

This is the best place to start. As a freelancer, you probably need a website, a logo, imagery, copywriting – everything to build your brand. So start here, and start with what you know- if you’re a designer, work on some personal designs; if you’re a copywriter, work on a blog; if you’re a web designer, create a killer website. And so on.

Mates Rates

Reach out to, friends, local businesses or non-profit causes you support. Offer them some work in exchange for a testimonial, or at a reduced fee.

Send an email around to your friends, or make a Facebook post about your new venture. They may not need your services, but they might know someone who does. Likewise, spread the word to old colleagues, asking them to recommend you.

Online Communities

There are plenty of places online where you can connect with people who are looking for freelancers, as well as connecting with other freelancers who can help and advise you.

  • Upwork and PeoplePerHour are sources for businesses to find skilled freelancers who do anything that can be done on a computer – everything from design and development to content creation and promotion. These are a great way to cut your teeth when you are starting out freelancing.
  • Catchafire.org  is a site where not-for-profit organisations can list projects they need help with. This is great for the initial steps for building your portfolio if you don’t already have any contacts to work with.
  • Fiverr is where you’ll most likely find those low-paying jobs we mentioned earlier. This is where people usually go to find people to will complete quickly and easily. It’s attractive to clients because you charge such a small amount for your basic services (£5, hence “Fiverr”), and it’s attractive to freelancers because they can offer more premium packages at higher prices.
  • Elevate is a site which places IT contractors directly with the best clients. With no recruiters involved there is no finder’s fees so freelance IT professionals can take home more. Just upload your CV and Elevate will match you with suitable jobs.
  • YunoJuno is the new kid on the block in terms of freelancer sites and is a great way for talented creative and tech freelancers to build up a profile and get the work rolling in.
  •  Onsite is a marketplace matching  qualified talent to freelance opportunities. The difference with this site is that it is strictly invite only – effectively a private members club for the digital crowd. It is one to look at if you are looking for top level freelance jobs with the top brands and agencies.

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Lynne Gowers Written by Lynne Gowers

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