Freelancing is in demand and is growing rapidly as an industry that has abundant of opportunities. While you might have read and heard stories of successful freelancers making a lot of income, it is still a matter of concern for new freelancers that struggle because of a lot of reasons. Before understanding how to start freelancing with no experience, we need to look at some of the qualities you need to have in order to have a decent chance of being able to stick your foot in the long run
- If you have decent communication skills, that is a huge plus to be able to communicate
- If you have a specific skill or two such as writing, designing, coding or marketing, it would be a perfect scenario to get started without any experience
- You need to have a good internet connectivity with decent speed
- You need to have basic internet skills such as being able to browse websites, uploading and downloading files, use skype or any other medium to be able to communicate
- be able to learn on your own by reading articles and watching videos
Why are these qualities important?
In any profession, you are hired not because you are better than your competition, but because you are good/acceptable at what you do and possess in terms of skills. Freelancing is no different. Clients across the globe use online marketplaces to post their projects and it is your skills and approach that will land you a deal to get started. If you lack patience or conviction, it is going to make your freelancing journey a bit more challenging. But if you don’t set a lot of expectations and do your home work right, you will definitely have a longer stay which means your chances of becoming a successful freelancer gets higher.
Where do you make a start?
To begin with, you can consider signing up a free account on world’s top most freelancing website www.freelancer.com and become a freelancer. Their platform offers you a lot of features along with a knowledge base and support forum which allows you to gain a lot of knowledge to help yourself get going. Once you create an account, its time you define your skills and start bidding on relevant projects. If you end up creating a free account, you will get limited bids to use which means you should be able to win a project and complete it in order to get some money which can be used for purchasing a pro membership plan. If you end up consuming bids, but don’t get any response, don’t be disheartened because there is a lot of competition and clients prefer hiring someone that has a proven track record.
It is only your persistence that will land you a deal sooner or later, but if you consider this a longer route full of uncertainty, you could consider finding a local client or someone you know that can post a project to help you get going in case there is a requirement. There are other websites such as upwork which will increase your chances of getting noticed. You could also try your luck by being part of forums that are relevant to your skills and offer your services for a nominal price and someone will notice you if you have a decent profile/portfolio
This brings us to your portfolio, have you created one? if not, don’t think its going to be easy because even if you haven’t completed any live projects, you cannot sit and wait for things to happen. You need to let the world know what you are capable of, what you have done in the past and what you can offer. Hence, I would recommend any new freelancer that is wanting to make an impression to prospect clients to create a simple blog or a website or any profile that can validate and show your past works/demos or your certifications.
I tried all means, but am still not getting enough work
This is one problem a lot of new freelancers express or undergo in their initial stages. But instead of worrying about finding solutions, they seem to be caught in that never ending loop of talking about the problem. There can be a lot of factors which contribute to growth as well as failure or inability to get work your way. Let us look at some of them:
- You are not investing enough time, remember a hour or 2 without any concrete proof or reviews is worthless
- You are not paying attention to details and applying for projects blindly, this is a common issue I have noticed in a lot of new freelancers
- Your sales pitch is not customized or a typical copy/paste message and most of the clients are smart enough to ignore it
- You haven’t completed your profile or have very few portfolio items that can convince a client
- You are applying on every project that comes your way instead of being specific and spending time on writing a well thought proposal
- You are not looking at enough sources which is important in the initial stages, sticking to one website or forum is not a good idea unless it gives you some returns, what is the point of freelancing afterall?
- You aren’t willing to offer a demo which often helps you get your foot in the door, if you haven’t given this a thought, its time you offer few demo’s to clients and increase your chances of getting a response
- It is quite possible English might not be your cup of tea, in such a scenario, you need to find someone that can bid for projects on your behalf and get some work for you which you can deliver using your skills
I lack skills, is freelancing highly skill-driven?
To answer this question, I will give you a slightly different perspective. When I began my freelancing career, I never had any great skills I could talk of except my strong communication skills. But I still ended up getting into freelancing because I had this idea of being able to learn skills over a period of time and stretch my limits. So the idea is you don’t need to have any specific skills to do freelancing, but you definitely need to have deep passion and interest to be on your own and buy time to teach yourself whatever skills are in demand and whatever interest you so they can give you returns in the long run. Here is a brief timeline to explain to all new freelancers how things fell into place for me
- I began freelancing 17 years ago and am still into freelancing (that shows I am persisting with one idea and not keen to do a nine to five job)
- I remember my first project was to rewrite 10 articles for a client that I had found on scriptlance.com which been acquired by freelancer.com in recent years
- I continued writing and rewriting articles for some time before I got noticed by a client that wanted me to do some data entry which was fairly simple to go about
- I thought back then it would be a good idea for me to learn different skills so I can continue freelancing without having to depend on 1 specific skill such as writing
- I started looking at my competitors, trying to understand what all services they offer that I don’t and started making notes as and when I observed new points
- I soon realized there was an opportunity that I could utilize. While bidding on a project, I noticed a competitor that wrote a terrible proposal, full of mistakes and I felt bad for him. I opened his profile and thought he had a decent web design portfolio, but because he is not good at writing, he was not getting enough gigs
- The idea ignited in my mind and I contacted him and offered him my expertise and the agreement was I would borrow his web design works, show them to clients, get work for both of us and share the income.
- He agreed instantly and that is how I got into freelancing consulting and it was a great experience for many years which allowed me to connect and collaborate with lot of individuals, teams and companies across India and elsewhere
- I started getting some projects and used to outsource (sub-contract) to my outsourcing partners (I call them associates too)
- I had a tough time balancing my work schedule between finding clients and being able to designate work to the right individual/team and that resulted in some failures which helped me to learn some valuable lessons
- Then came the turning point when my daughter was born, I thought it was high time I stabilized my freelancing career in a way to be less dependent on others and be able to make money on my own.
- Because a lot of my projects were related to web design and development, it took me no time to make up my mind to learn how to build and manage websites
- I ended up learning basics of WordPress via youtube and other sources, installed a demo and started fiddling with all its options and that is how my journey began as a website designer/developer
- Since then I have completed 570 projects, most or all of them done by myself without any outsourcing which means I had a vision and I met it by putting concrete efforts and it continues to my effort to learn and implement new strategies all the time
- Over these years, I have not only learnt how to build websites, but also manage speed, security, hosting solutions, troubleshoot, convert blacklisted to whitelisted and a lot of other aspects
- I learnt Photoshop in a couple of weeks and started my career as a logo designer on 99designs.com and won more than 50 contests in a span of 6 months.
- I continue to have an appetite for researching and learning new tools and skills that will help me in shaping up myself as a reliable freelancer in the long run
if you need any specific inputs or guidance on how to start freelancing with no experience you can drop me a message in the comments section and i will do my best to assist you