Being a beginner is hard. I see people floundering all the time, asking “How do I get started?” Or “What do I do first?” Or “Can someone just send a client my way already?”
There is no magic freelancing bullet that will get you in the game without a lot of hard work, tenacity, and persistence (read: relentlessness).
But there are some important things you can do at the start to make your chances of quickly revving up your business much more likely.
Follow these five pieces of essential advice and you will be very far ahead of the pack right out of the gate.
1. Just get started
It’s easy to give in to fear, uncertainty, or perfectionism and then spend forever putting together a website or deciding on an ideal niche or taking a slew of online courses.
But to start, you just need one single person to pay you to do one single thing. Then you’ll be a freelancer, and you can take what you’ve learned from that first encounter and apply it to the next, and so on.
You can’t plan out this journey before you start; as Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote, “the path is made by walking.”
2. Tap your network
How to get that single person to pay you for the single thing?
Communicate with your network first; let people know what you are doing and that you’re actively looking for people you can help.
Generating energy among those who already know and trust you is the best way to get a foot in the door with one or a few clients to start with. It’s also one of the best ways to continue finding clients as you grow.
3. Think of freelancing as a business
From the first dollar you make, you are a business owner.
It’s common for new freelancers not to realize that with that first check from that first client, they turn magically into a CEO of their own enterprise.
The sooner you embrace that mindset the better off you’ll be.
And being CEO means being in control — learning to make your own decisions for your business, to strategically adjust based on each new experience, and to be proactive about developing in whichever directions you set your mind to.
4. Get smart on pricing
Becoming comfortable that no one is going to be able to tell you what the “right” price is for a given thing is part of having a business-owner mindset.
Learn to realize that your clients value your products or services, not your time, and use that understanding to approach the art of pricing to maximize your income.
5. Be a pro
Since freelancing is the Wild West of the business world and anyone who once made $100 for writing a blog post can call themselves a freelancer (see point 3), being a true professional will put you way ahead of the competition.
Clients often complain of hiring freelancers who end up missing deadlines, delivering subpar work, being unresponsive, or just generally screwing up on core tasks of the job.
Ultimately, clients want to work with people who make their lives easier. Be one of those people — always, no matter what — and you’re off to an excellent start.
All you need to get started is one person who will pay you to do one thing. Avoid getting overwhelmed; just focus on that one transaction.
Once you get paid for that first gig you’ll be all that much more confident approaching the second one. And the third. And so on.
One step at a time you’ll build a side hustle and then maybe even a career.