How To Get Started Freelancing (Even If You Are a Complete Beginner)


How To Get Started Freelancing

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of freelancers in the U.S. grew by more than 1400%. And experts predict that the gig economy isn’t slowing down any time soon.

If you’re looking to get your piece of the pie but don’t have a clear idea of how to start freelancing work, this is the post for you. Whether you love the idea of being able to work from anywhere or you just want to be your own boss, here are the key steps for beginner freelancers to get your journey started.

How To Start Freelancing For Beginners

Step #1 – Set Concrete Goals

Any journey starts with plotting your course. The road might twist and turn along the way, but it’s good to have a clear picture of where you want to end up. So if you are trying to figure out how to start freelancing work, your first step is to set some goals.

For starters, what are your long term goals? Maybe you are just looking for a little bit of extra work on nights and the weekend to help supplement your day job. Or maybe you want to replace your full time income with a freelance business that you can call your own. For long term goals, start by imagining where you want your business to be from 1 to 3 years from now. You can go for even longer term than that if you want. But 1 to 3 years is a good, realistic time frame to start with.

After you’ve set your big overarching target, it’s time to think about your short term goals. These are little milestones that you can meet on the way to the big goal. Set these at intervals that you think are reasonable to achieve given your existing schedule and desired rate of growth.

Here’s an example…

Long Term Goal (2 years): Make $24,000 per year ($2,000/mo) from freelancing to supplement my day job.

1 month … Launch my first service and get at least three clients.

3 months …  Target income: $300/month

6 months …  Target income: $600/month

12 months …  Target income: $1000/month. Hire a virtual assistant to manage fulfillment and customer service.

18 months … Target income: $1500/month. Begin training a team to help the business scale.

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Step #2 – Choose The Right Niche

Monetary goals will help fuel your entrepreneurial journey. But they are only a starting point. Next, you’ve got to choose a niche to break into.

When it comes to finding a freelance niche, you’ve got to consider two primary factors:

  • Choose a niche you’re passionate about.
  • Choose a niche you have some experience in.

Let’s talk about passion first. If you are serious about it, you are going to be freelancing almost every day of your life until you decide to retire and rest on your laurels. If you don’t absolutely love what you do, it will be far easier to lose motivation and burn yourself out.

So find a niche that scratches your itch.

At the same time, you want to offer services that you actually have some experience in. You are going to be competing with other freelancers, after all. You don’t have to be the best of the best, but you want to choose a niche in which you’ll feel comfortable communicating with clients and providing what they need.

If you aren’t sure where to start, browse the categories of different services being offered on Legiit. This will give you a good idea of what people are looking for so that you can find the best industry to match your skill set.

Step #3 – Skill Up and Build a Portfolio

Once you have a picture of the type of work you want to be doing, it’s time to prove that you can do it.

Sometimes, you’ve already got plenty of work to show off. For example, if you’ve been blogging for years, you probably don’t need to re-skill much to start working as a freelance writer.

Other times, though, you’ll have to learn new skills to adapt to the needs of your niche. For example, maybe you are a brilliant artist trying to figure out how to start freelancing work in logo design. You’ve never designed logos before, but with a little practice, you can probably redirect your existing skills to do it with ease.

Whatever niche you are in, find a way to create proof for potential clients that you have what it takes to produce quality work. If you are in web design, this means creating some stellar sites to show off. If you’re in marketing, it means launching some campaigns and documenting the results.

Sometimes, you can build a portfolio by doing free work for friends and family. Other times, you may even have work samples from your day job or past experiences that you can already use as proof of your expertise.

Step #4 – Launch Your First Service

Once you are confident in your ability to deliver high quality work, it’s time to launch your first service.

If you choose a freelancing platform like Legiit, this step is a lot easier than trying to build your own website. Not only do you spare yourself the technical headaches, but you also don’t have to work as hard to get people to find your services. Legiit is already frequented by countless clients looking for reliable freelancers to hire.

Wherever you choose to launch your first service, make sure that your focus is on solving real problems that real clients are having. They are coming to you because you offer something that they don’t have the expertise or time to do themselves.

The more you can convince potential clients that you are the solution they’re looking for, the more likely they are to hire you. Our Guide to Writing a Service Description offers even more actionable advice for this stage of your journey.

Step #5 – Market Yourself

Once you’ve got that first service launched, it’s time to get the word out. You are ready to land those first clients, but you can’t just sit around and wait for them to come to you.

Treat yourself as a real business and do the things you need to do in order to get in front of potential customers. This is going to look a little different in every niche, but some aspects of marketing for freelancers are relatively universal.

Try cold email to reach out to businesses you think you can help. You can find them via a tool like Legiit Leads and use this guide to setup a Gmail with your domain name.

Join online forums where your ideal clients are hanging out. Share your services on social media so that your network will do some free advertising for you. Blog about important issues in your industry or otherwise offer free content that will genuinely help your client base. This is just a small list of the different ways you can go about marketing yourself.

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Step #6 – Scale Your Business

This might be a later order concern for beginners who are just figuring out how to start freelancing work, but it’s never too early to dream.

Eventually, your business will pick up, the clients will come rolling in, and you’ll have to start figuring out how to make your business scale. This is the moment when those long term goals you set early in your journey are finally starting to become a reality.

So get out there and take the first steps to make it happen today.

About the Author


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My name's Ish--college English professor by day, interstellar copywriter by night.

The written word is my one true love (don't tell my wife!). I've been a writer at heart since as early as I can remember, I've been teaching writing for nearly a decade, and I've been content manager of a blog for the college that I teach at for about five years. What's more, I was the lead writer and editor for a table top roleplaying game that raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter (just Google "Open Legend RPG" and you'll see what I'm talking about).

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