Freelancing seems the perfect choice if structure isn’t really your thing. Don’t like a gig? You can walk away (most of the time) without any messy contractual obligations. As long as you have a secure Internet connection (and a good amount of focus) your office can be anywhere from a couch in your home, to a local café, to a beachfront patio.
The Internet’s vastness means endless freelancing opportunities, right? Well, yes and no. In theory, it’s easy enough to find gigs, but finding ones that can actually help pay the bills is entirely another matter. You need a good amount of preparedness, persistence, and positivity if you want to succeed in the freelancing universe.
Ready your resumé.
Sure, it’d be incredibly awesome to freelance for only couple of hours a day and make a gazillion dollars; certainly be wary of any websites that promise such results. Successful freelancers have started small, built an impressive resumé, and attracted higher-paying opportunities over time – it’s all very gradual.
You’ll find that many clients, whether they’re looking for newbies or for seasoned freelancers, ask for samples – that only makes sense. Before you start applying to jobs, take some time to assemble some of your best work across the range of niches that you’re interested in.
Just be sure that whatever samples you choose are, in fact, still your intellectual property or have been allowed by whomever you originally created it for. This is especially true for freelance editors/proofreaders with “before and after” work.
Get your own .com website to put your samples on. It doesn’t have to be expensive to buy hosting, but the website does have to be your first and last name. Name already taken? Add “writer” or whatever your niche happens to be to the address. Example: CharlesDickensWriter.com
Should you be a media freelancer, YouTube might be the most famous, but it doesn’t have to be your first choice – especially considering that they’re becoming stricter with their guidelines. Other options include Dailymotion or Vimeo.
Your website, complete with links to samples, a biography, and a resumé, is your key to that comprehensive, professional reputation you’re looking to cultivate as a freelancer.
Important: don’t create completely new samples for a prospective client unless you notice one or a combination of the following:
- The website is well-known and trusted.
- There’s some mention of them never using it beyond evaluating your skills.
- They say you get to keep the sample should you not get the job.
Unfortunately, as with any industry, there’s a lot of dishonesty. Let’s take freelance writing, for example, where scam artists might post jobs asking for samples with very specific parameters – think a gardening website requesting that applicants write a 400+ word article on how to care for daisies and marigolds.
Once those samples are submitted, they’re generally spun into different articles or even posted in their original form as needed content for revenue-generating blogs/websites. These scammers bank on (pun intended) writers not checking up on the samples.
Unfortunately, if you agree to submitting a sample without assurances, that’s a risk you agree to take, especially if you submit to a platform wherein you can’t prove you’re the original author. However, it’s still not a bad idea to save your sample and search (first with, and then without quotes) a couple of the sentences.
Persist in your quest for freelancing glory.
When you start small, you earn small. It all has to do with examining current trends and adapting to them. Technology and finance niches tend to do better than lifestyle ones (unless you happen to be a celebrity). Why? Because these aren’t topics that can just be researched about – there has to be a level of expertise already there, be it through on-the-job experience, college degrees, or some combination of both.
Settling should never be part of the freelancing equation – you know how much effort you put in, and that should be duly rewarded. Some might argue that more work for lower pay is a sacrifice you have to make starting out in order to have complete autonomy over your career, but times are changing. As brick and mortar businesses transition to online ventures, contractors are finally starting to see options commensurate with livable wages.
How fast you get to where you need to be financially as a freelancer has to do, of course, with the company climate and the competition. It could be as little as a few months, or more than a year. As you gain experience and time management skills, you might consider having several distinct projects going for various clients/websites.
It’s all about the positive perspective.
Freelancing is nothing if not unpredictable, with a bit of luck factored in along the way. You might apply for a job, never hear back, then apply again months later and get it immediately. Keeping a bright outlook is a must, no matter how murky your prospects might seem. Start your day with a motivational mindset, be that through music, an invigorating walk, or even can-do affirmations.
Yes, there are a lot of would-be freelancers out there trying to make their way just like you are. Don’t get daunted; there’s a place for you, too! Remember that just as everyone looks at things in a different way, so too does everyone have their own unique strengths to bring to an opportunity. Look at freelancing as a creative, character-building adventure, and you can’t possibly go wrong.
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