I remember my first freelance writing work like it was yesterday. He wanted me to write about Theranostic implants and Nano-technology (wait, what?) for the cost of a Venti Frap with Almond Milk. With common sense and the power of Google, I went about creating the best piece of content I could on a subject I knew absolutely nothing about.
He loved it and sent more my way (to this day, I’m not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing). That was the start of what has been over two years of Freelance Content Writing.
I love it. Even when I started back managing again, I wrote on the weekends or after work. But we all got to start from somewhere. If you’re on a quest to land your first client, I feel for you. It can be frustrating at times, but you just have to stick with it. The good thing is, there are several ways to make it happen.
Many of you would and should start where I did (but for Christ’s sake, please don’t stay there).
Here are seven other ways you can earn freelance work besides:
1. Freelance Websites
Ah yes… UpWork, Freelancer, Guru, and the like.
The freelancer’s Hotel California:
You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
It’s as simple as creating a profile and bidding on the lowest paying jobs you will find online ($5 for 5, 000 words anyone?). There are scammers, and hagglers abound, but there are some honest clients looking for help. The advantage of these sites is the ease in which you can get your first client. Based on sheer numbers, you will get a successful hit. However, this is just a place to learn how to serve future customers. You may find yourself sliding back to these sites even after you’ve got clients on your own. Move on to other methods as quickly as you can when you build up some confidence. And don’t look back. And yes, you can make money on a platform like Upwork.
2. Trusted Job Boards and Websites
On the flip side, there are some great job boards around with higher quality clients. Here are a few you can try:
- Freelance content writers and copywriters can look at Pro Blogger, Blogging Pro, Indeed, and Contena (limited to the US).
- We Work Remotely, or sites like Codeable, for both freelance and part-time/full-time developer roles.
- Freelance designers can use Gun.io, LocalSolo, or Ask Lorem.
Many of these resources seek to solve the problem of quality work for both freelancers and clients, and I’m all for it.
3. Tap into your network
It will take a bit longer than a Freelance website, but the payoff is worth it. You have a robust network, whether you want to believe it or not. Landing your first client could be as simple as letting your network know about your services. You can post on social media, but I find a one-on-one interaction is much more effective.
Write a list of the top 25 people in your network who you believe can help you. Write each email or message, asking them if they will be interested in your services. If not, then if they know someone in need.
Once you make the connection, it’s up to you to close the deal. However, you can get closer to a decent freelance payment with this route.
4. Hit the streets
Don’t be surprised, but there are neighborhood businesses that need your services. They just don’t know it yet, or nobody’s serving them.
So we get to shoot our proverbial freelancer shot.
You have neighborhood and city dentists, chiropractors, lawyers, and other essential staff that you can help get and stay online, improve their copy, or build their SEO.
You just need to go directly to them. Some may be too busy. But there will be one client that sees the vision and hires you. Then it’s off to the races. This doubles as a powerful way to build your resilience.
5. Good ol’ Google
An ex-coworker once told me: “If you can’t ask God, ask Google.”
Don’t underestimate the power of the search. Some businesses have postings on their websites for freelance writers, copywriters, video editors, or designers.
Put your specific niche role in the search bar, then start reaching out to each business. Make sure to make your proposal about them and how you can add value to their business.
6. Cold emailing
Because the business is not asking for help does not mean you should not be offering your services. Cold emailing is the virtual equivalent of hitting the streets. Start with a Google for the businesses in your niche. Then take a good look at their business and content to see where you can help. For instance, the company may not have a blog. The company may have a blog that has little content or thin content. The website design may be lacking.
Reach out to the business and pitch ways you can add value. Cold emailing, like the previous techniques, requires some resilience and numbers. Don’t expect to cold email, pitch, or speak with five businesses and get five positive responses.
7. Leverage LinkedIn
LinkedIn gets a special mention for its ability to help you build a targeted audience and connect with people who can use your help. Start creating content in the form of articles, status posts, and videos showcasing your freelance skills. LinkedIn also has a fantastic search function, giving you the ability to find and connect with your ideal client. You can even search for persons looking for freelance talent! For this reason, it’s vital you make sure your profile is up to scratch!
Once you start building online relationships, it’s only a matter of time before you get direct messages asking for your services. At the same time, you should message persons directly to provide some upfront value, then ask about working together.
LinkedIn should be part of your overall client acquisition process, even if you decide on using one or all of the other methods.
Your first freelance work is out there.
The first freelance work or client is usually the hardest. Once you’re disciplined, committed, and consistent, you’ll catch your first freelance fish. When you deliver, it becomes easier to land more clients. Your confidence increases, and you naturally attract more clients, especially if you produce high-quality work. Don’t hesitate to use multiple methods to make it happen!