How To Get Into Freelancing
One thing that I’m frequently asked - in person and online - is how I managed to ‘get into’ freelance writing.
And, I’ve been putting off writing down my tips, because I feel like I didn’t get ‘into’ it in the traditional way.
How silly is that? I don’t think anyone really enters their careers anymore in a ‘traditional way’, right?
Based on my experience and what I’ve seen others do, I’ve rounded up some tips on how you can get into freelancing, whether it’s writing, design, photography - whatever your passion is.
Write a blog, or at least have a portfolio.
Blogs are huge nowadays and almost every business has one.
In fact, my humble blog was how my freelancing story started. A local company actually stumbled on one of my posts whilst I was at university. They liked what they saw and got in touch with me to ask if I’d start writing for them.
I know that I’m super fortunate that I didn’t have to go hunting, and I know that it’s not very common for this to happen. But, by putting your work out there and having a space to create, you have more of a chance of getting spotted.
Of course, you don’t have to wait around for someone to contact you. With a blog, you have a live portfolio to send to companies you’d like to work with!
Running a blog can also bring about a number of other benefits - I could write a whole other blog post on this.
You can get feedback on your work, join a supportive community, enjoy a creative hobby, build your experience and gain new skills - the advantages are endless.
Contact agencies rather than businesses.
This one is perhaps aimed more towards service providers, such as writers, photographers or designers.
When I first branched out into getting more clients, my natural step was to contact small businesses I frequented - such as local coffee shops and boutiques. In hindsight, these places run on a small budget and social media management and copywriting was probably a low priority for them.
Getting ‘in’ with an agency or two is a really good starting point.
Marketing/creative/photography/design agencies have many projects on the go at once and, in my experience, always could do with an extra pair of hands.
For them, outsourcing work to you as a freelancer saves them the hassle and money of taking on a permanent, full-time member of staff. Meanwhile, if you strike up a good working relationship with them, you can enjoy a steady flow of work and gain experience with a number of different clients.
The important thing when it comes to all of your clients is to set up boundaries, especially if you are a creative services provider - i.e. you provide blogs, designs or imagery. When you work with agencies, you must be prepared for a fast-paced style of working and that doesn’t suit everyone - I’m not 100% sure it suits me.
Be prepared to branch out of your niche and interests.
If I told myself two years ago that I’d be writing predominantly about technology, IT and the financial services, I’d have laughed in your face.
The stuff I write nowadays varies from software to sex toys, and you need to be prepared to push yourself out of your comfort zone and work on projects that may be outside of your ideal niche.
You may find that your niche changes over time. Whilst the dream of writing about history and travel is still in my heart, I actually find it quite refreshing to research and write about topics that I would have otherwise not learned about.
You never know what you’re going to like - or be good at - if you don’t try it.
Get yourself out there - physically.
Whilst a blog and good digital presence is essential for any modern business, getting yourself out there can take your career to the next level.
This can be done through networking (*shiver*) or joining business groups (*still a little shiver*).
One way to do the networking part without the awkward networking part is to join a coworking space or community. I’m super lucky that where I live has a number of options, and I happen to have landed one that is super inclusive, with people who are willing to help as well as hire.
Joining a coworking space has so many benefits for freelancers. Firstly, you can get your face out there and naturally introduce yourself to potential clients.
In the meantime, there will be other freelancers and businesses in your building that are in (or have been in) similar positions to you. In my experience, most people are willing to support and help new starters and it can be really helpful to have that support network around you.
Of course, there are probably a tonne of other things you can do to land clients, but hopefully these are good enough to get you started. If you’d like to hear more freelancer tips, please do leave a comment below on what you’d like me to try and answer. I’m by no means an expert, but I have learned a lot over the past two and a half years.