After 2020, you may be more inclined to take your first freelance job. Perhaps you were laid off from your full-time job, or maybe you’re looking for a side hustle to provide supplemental income. If you find yourself asking, “How can I start freelance with no experience?” you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about taking on freelance work for the first time. We’ll cover the different types of freelance jobs available, where you can find your first client, how to build a portfolio, and other tips.
After reading this article, you should find yourself more prepared to go out and find your first freelance job.
What Is Freelancing?
Freelancing is the act of working as a self-employed individual for different clients. Typically, freelancers have a unique skill or two that they can use to make money. For instance, a freelance writer may work as a blogger, writing guest posts for different websites.
As a freelancer, you’re in charge of your career. You can work part-time or full-time. You set your own rates. And, you market yourself to find potential clients.
Freelancers often charge on a per-project basis, although some may negotiate terms with a client for hourly or daily wages. Additionally, because they are working as a self-employed independent contractor, gig workers are responsible for paying a self-employment tax.
Freelancing tends to be short term. There may be an agreement for recurring work, such as blogging once per week. But assignments are typically handled per project, as opposed to the 40-hour week associated with wage-paying jobs.
Because of this, freelancers have flexibility in when they can work, so long as assignments are completed on time. Similarly, the gig economy is convenient because freelancers can typically work from anywhere. Not only is it possible to work from home, but you can also travel and work remotely, so long as you have the tools necessary to complete your work.
What Type of Freelance Jobs Are Available?
Developing a freelance career is exciting. If you have work experience in a particular field, odds are you can turn your skills into a freelance gig that helps you make money.
Having said that, these are the most popular freelance skill sets and jobs available today:
- Web developer
- Web designer or programmer
- Graphic designer
- Blogger or writer
- Tutor or teacher
- Social media manager
- Virtual assistant
- Voice actor
- Bookkeeper or personal finance manager
- Search engine optimization (SEO) specialist
While these are some of the most in-demand skills for freelancers, the opportunities are endless for the motivated individual who markets themselves well.
How Can I Start Freelance With No Experience?
If you are looking to get started freelancing, you’re going to need to make yourself marketable.
Below are some things you can do to make yourself stand out, sell yourself to clients, find work, and start making money.
Build a Resume
You should compile a resume of sorts that you can provide your client to get started. This should include your education and work experience.
If you are looking for more entry-level positions and do not have a lot of prior experience, there are still some things you can do to help woo freelance clients. For instance, you can consider taking free webinars or online courses to boost your skills. Coursera and Udemy are two platforms that offer courses to help develop your skills.
Offer Testimonials From Previous Clients or Connections
You should also try to provide testimonials if possible. But if you have no experience freelancing, how do you get them? Secure a handful of solid testimonials or recommendations from people you’ve worked with previously. Ask them to send a quote on what they loved about working with you and what your strengths are.
As time goes on, you can ask clients for testimonials so that you can continue to build your portfolio.
Here’s how to do it:
After you’ve wrapped up a project for your first client, request a brief testimonial via email (and pretend like you’ve done this a thousand times).
Here’s a template you can use:
Thanks so much for sending this project my way. I loved working with you and would love to hear about any upcoming projects you have in the works.
If you’re willing, could you write a brief testimonial about what it was like to work with me? I’d love to feature it on my website.
This is a very common practice in the freelancing industry, and if your client is happy with your work, they’ll likely send back a testimonial in no time. Just remember proper email etiquette and communicate clearly when sending this.
Gig Worker will soon be offering a job board that will serve as a one-stop-shop for freelancers. This job board will include a wide array of opportunities, from freelance writing jobs to coding jobs.
In the meantime, consider some of the following platforms to help get you started on your search for freelance positions:
These job boards are designed specifically with freelancer and remote workers in mind. They only post job opportunities for gig workers, which can help streamline your search. Because you are looking for individual clients, you don’t want to be bogged down looking at traditional full-time job opportunities.
Additionally, you can search Google for job boards specific to your skillset. For instance, a quick search of “Job board for freelance writers” indicates that ProBlogger is an excellent site to use if you are looking to grow your freelance writing business. Searching for niche-specific opportunities will increase the chances of you finding and securing work.
Recognize Your Earning Potential
One of the best things about freelancing is that you are responsible for setting your own rates. So, the short answer to this question is that you can make whatever you’d like.
The long answer depends on the type of work that you are performing. For example, designing an entire website will probably earn you more money than writing a single blog post. Some skills, like coding and programming, pay more than others, like transcriptionists.
Having said that, a recent survey from Payoneer found that the average freelancer earns around $21 per hour and works 36 hours per week, equating to a pretax salary of about $40,000.
Indeed also backs this up, indicating that the average freelancer earns $21.80 per hour. Remember that you will also need to pay self-employment tax on this.
If you do not have any experience, you may want to consider working for less as you grow your business. Some work is better than no work. While your time and experience are valuable, it could be even more worthwhile to get your foot in the door to start working and growing a portfolio.
Think of it as a full-time job. An intern or someone in an entry-level position is going to make significantly less than the CEO of the company. Building your freelance career takes time. Taking a pay cut may result in a short-term hit but a long-term gain.
How to Build a Portfolio and Provide Sample Work
In addition to your resume, you will want to provide sample work to your prospective clients. This will give the client an idea of the type of work they can expect from you.
Much like with a full-time job, you don’t want to be matched with a client if you’re not both on the same page. Your client should be impressed with your work and ideally, you’ll be interested in their work and excited to partner with them.
You can start creating quality samples by establishing an online presence. Perhaps start your own website that you can use to:
- Update regularly
- Showcase your work
- Attract followers
For instance, if you are working as a blogger, you will need to have a few pieces that demonstrate the type of work you will provide and your writing style. Similarly, if you are freelancing as a web designer, have examples of a couple of sites that you’ve worked on to showcase your skills.
No matter what freelancing career you choose, you’re going to need to show potential clients what they can expect when working with you. This is step one of building trust with a potential client.
This guide on how to start a WordPress blog for free will walk you through your website creation step-by-step.
On your website, you can include different sections, such as:
- About Me
- Work Samples
- Contact Information
You may also want to include a photo of yourself to appear more personable. Once you establish your web link, you can post it on your social media channels, such as:
Your first clients may be those who you are familiar with, so posting your professional website can be an excellent way to grab their attention and let them know that you have started a freelancing career.
Still wondering what it takes to become a successful freelancer? Consider some questions first-timers often have.
1. What is self-employment tax?
When working as a freelancer, the client does not withhold or pay taxes on the worker’s behalf, which is different from the employer/employee tax relationship. As a freelancer, you’re responsible for paying the entirety of Social Security and Medicare taxes.
Essentially, this means that you need to pay 15.3% on all earnings, independent of income taxes.
2. How can I invoice and keep track of my funds?
You’re going to want to make sure that you keep your business and personal finances separate. When you start to accumulate work, keeping track of your earnings and expenses can get a bit tricky.
Using software like Quickbooks Self-Employed could help manage and streamline your freelancing finances.
3. What is the hardest part of starting your freelance career?
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of starting a freelance career is the need to be persistent without getting discouraged. As you’ll quickly find out, there may be multiple candidates competing for top positions. But that doesn’t mean you should get discouraged if you don’t find a client immediately.
Remember, all it takes is one client for you to start making money. Locking down a single client can have a snowball effect. Perhaps the client starts giving you more work.
Or, maybe the client can make a few recommendations to others in the industry. At the very least, you’ll have grown your portfolio with high-quality work that you can showcase to others.
Find Your First Job as a Freelancer
From the ability to work for yourself in an at-home job to the ability to set your own rates and hours, freelancing has a ton of perks. No matter whether you are looking to make money in a part-time role or make freelancing your full-time gig, there is no better time for you to get started.
Even with no experience, you can get started freelancing. Start by honing your skills through online courses and developing a portfolio. As time goes on, you’ll find yourself working more and more, growing your online business.