Over the years a lot of people have asked me "how do I start freelancing?" and honestly it's been a struggle for me to answer that. When I started freelancing in 2015 it was by chance. I created a blog about Harlem and I would constantly create cool graphics for it as well as promote it via social media and a monthly newsletter. Naturally, I added it to my LinkedIn profile and was then contacted by a recruiter who was looking for a few freelancers to do entry-level marketing/research work for a small marketing firm. I ended up landing the gig and before I knew it I was a freelancer! I soon started taking on more responsibilities within the marketing firm and started leveraging the work I did there to gain additional clients.
While it was a bit of "luck" involved in landing my first freelance gig, putting my work out there was really the first step to me gaining a client. So for everybody wondering "How do I start freelancing?", here are son helpful tips on how to land your first freelance client!
No one will know what you’re capable of unless you show them. If you don’t want to create a public online portfolio (though I highly suggest it) at minimum create a PDF or some type of presentation/package you can send to prospective clients.
Side Bar: When I started freelancing I didn't have a portfolio but I did have an informational blog where I included info about myself along with articles which served as an example of what my interests were as well as what I could do. If you're feeling overwhelmed by creating a portfolio or you feel you don't have enough work to put into a portfolio, starting with a blog may be a great option for you.
Create/Update Your LinkedIn
As I said, LinkedIn was where I got my first freelance opportunity. While having an online portfolio is a great way to direct potential clients to see your previous work, LinkedIn search options allow clients to come to you based on your profile and skill sets. It's like job searching while you sleep!
Attend Local Networking Events
Nothing beats good ol’ fashion face to face networking. You never know what opportunities are in the room. Approach it as looking to learn and build relationships rather than looking at it as a surefire way to get clients.
Networking is a process that should be implemented throughout your long term freelancing strategy. I recommend attending at least 2 networking events a month (even more if you can swing it ). Also, it's great to go to events targeting professionals in the field you will be freelancing in but also attend events that target your clients as well. For example, my freelance work is within marketing and content development so I often attend events geared towards entrepreneurs/small businesses looking for more marketing skills.
Remember: You just need one!
Don’t think that you need 5 or more clients out the gate because you probably don't have the systems in place to properly meet that volume of work. Take it slow. Slow and steady wins the race!
If you have any questions or suggestions on how to gain your first client feel free to hit me on social media or comment below!