How to Start a Freelancing Career – For Beginners!

Starting a freelancing career can be challenging at first. Getting your first job will be the hardest part of building your profile. Not only will you have to contend with more experienced freelancers in your job category, but you probably won’t have too many work examples either or any reviews to show to your prospective clients. 

Not having any work experience, whilst searching for your first job can be a frustrating experience. Even if you get clients reaching out to you, chances are that they will ask for work examples, your prior experience in the field, your previous testimonials and more information before they can confirm whether you are worthy of being shortlisted on their preferred candidate list. 

If any of this rings a bell, you are in the right place! As a freelancer with just over a year of experience and quite a successful start, I can help by leaving a few helpful tips in this article. I know exactly how daunting it can be and how unpromising a freelancing career can seem during the first few months of finding yourself a client to kick off your career! 

How to Get Your First Client as a Freelancer

  • Create Work Examples

Many newbies who complain about not being able to land on their first job often have an excuse that they haven’t got any work examples to display. In my book, this is one of the simplest hurdles to jump over!

All you have to do, is pretend that you have just found yourself a client and spend time creating some work pieces. This will allow you to show your prospective clients what you are capable of doing and will give them an impression that you have worked with clients on other platforms before. 

Personally, when I started freelancing, it took me a while to get someone legit reaching out to me. I did, however, come across many scam clients who I wrongly put my trust in. Even though it was a nightmare to write 3000 words as a copywriter for someone who later refused to pay me, I now look at it from a completely different angle. Thinking about it now, I actually feel quite lucky that I came across such clients and for the simple reason that it helped me create work examples to showcase. These examples–without a doubt–helped me a tonne when it came to connecting with future clients!

  • Create a Perfect Portfolio

As a beginner with minimal work experience and very few work examples to showcase in your profile, your best bet will be your profile description. 

In your profile description, try giving a great impression about yourself and describe your skill set and expertiese even better than they may actually be. 

Include phrases like “With over … years of experience and a great mindset towards work, …” or “I am a reliable freelancer and always strive to ensure that the work I deliver is of the highest standard.”

Having spelling or punctuation mistakes in your profile description is something that may put many of your clients off for the simple reason that it will show them that you clearly aren’t a detail oriented person. 

Mistakes in your profile, may give some prospective clients a perception that you don’t take your work too seriously – otherwise there won’t be any mistakes, right?! To avoid all types of mistakes in your profile, I would suggest using Grammarly as an extension to your browser; it has certainly helped me a lot and will definitely help you too! 

Talking about myself, one of the things that worked amazingly well for me was emulating other successful freelancer’s profiles. By emulating, I certainly don’t mean copy and pasting other people’s profile description, but getting an idea of what to talk about in your profile (by looking at other successful ones) can do wonders. Keep in mind though, if you do get caught for plagiarising someone else’s profile (which can easily be determined by a specific method) it can result in a lifetime ban – so don’t every try it! 

  • Keep Everything as Professional as Possible!

It can be exciting when you see that your first ever potential client has dropped you a message! It certainly was an exhilerating moment for me the time when I got my first client-message notification! 

Despite all the different emotions and feelings that may be running through your mind, when communicating with your first potential client, it is quite crucial to always maintain a level of professionalism with your messages. 

A good rule of thmub – when speaking to your first client– is to act like you have done this thousands of times before. If you show them a sense of excitement they may very well think that you are inexperienced. Showing a sense of excitement to your first client may also prompt them to try and negotiate on a lower rate that what was already in their mind and there are many other ways fot them to take advantage of such situations. They might ask you to complete extra work for them etc etc. 

Therefore, try avoiding phrases like “I’m so happy that you have messaged … blah blah blah ” 

Rather, go for a more professional approach and reply professionally (as if it is not your first time).

Here’s an example of what you can write as a response message to your first ever client: 

“Hi (name of your client),
Thank you for reaching out! I can definitely get this sorted for you and would be keen to work with you! This job is particularly interesting to me as I have done similar tasks before and hence will have a good idea of what to start with from the get-go. I charge $$$ per 1000 words.
Let me know if that’s okay with you and feel free to send me the requirements and instructions for the work you have!
Thank You!
Regards,(Your Name) ”

Final Thoughts

Although it can daunting to get your first client as a freelancer, taking certain tips on board can do wonders for you. In the sections above, I have briefly mentioned some of the most useful points I have learned, in the time of my career,  that will help you achieve your freelancing targets.