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Freelance Questions

How Do You Start Freelancing With No Experience?

Hey, I was just about to help a friend with a few tips and tricks on his new website and I thought… Maybe I should write a general guide to help other people who might be having the same questions. So in this article, I will explain my 5 step method of how I went from having no experience to a full time-freelancer.

Also before you start with step 2 have a look at this article to see how to create an appealing freelance name.

This is my 5 step method to start with no experience in freelancing:

  1. Start with a skill you have already developed
  2. Look for clients that are willing to accept a free trial from your skill
  3. Use the work you have done for those clients and create a portfolio
  4. Ask For Referrals And Testimonials From My Clients
  5. Market yourself to the same niche clients to further expand your portfolio but now charge a fee

Start With Your Strongest Skill

This step was probably the most difficult part of the journey of becoming a freelancer for me. You might be lucky and have already developed a skill or 2 over the years but I certainly have not had the luxury.

So If you already know exactly what you are good in and you know what service or skill you can sell then you can move on to the next step in the process.

If you don’t yet know, don’t fear I know exactly how overwhelming this step can be. I will be writing an article about how to discover and develop your skills as a freelancer. For now, think about something that you like to do. Any hobby or habits that you really like doing.

When I started I knew absolutely nothing about websites and today I am making a living creating websites for clients all over the world. Not to brag but just to show you that even if you don’t have any skill you can learn to do something from scratch and be amazing at it.

Side Note: It is important to also love what you are doing, so really dig deep here and look for that passion that drives you. If you don’t do something you love then you might end up hating everything you are doing. So take your time with this step.

If you love drawing or you are crafty or even love working with your hands, whatever that looks like for you at this stage embrace it. That will most likely become the skill or service that you are going to use to get you started in this world of opportunity.

How Do I Look For Easy Clients

Okay, what do I mean when I say, look for easy clients? I mean look for clients who are in need of a service or skill that you can contribute to might not have the budget to pay you for. You might think that this is absurd but remember the end goal here.

You want to build your portfolio up and gain experience and these two are going hand in hand. The strategy here is that you work for FREE, you will see why and where this will pay off later. I will tell you about examples from my own experience.

So who would you think would be easy clients that you can start off with? I listed 3 types below who I found easy to target when I started. I would suggest that you start with family before you move on to friends and then business owners.

Your Family:

Your family would be a great place to start practicing your skills on.

When I started I asked my dad if he wanted a website and if so what type of website he would want? Neither of us knew that he actually did require a website for a side project he was working on and I ended up creating my very first website and he received a free website. (He had to pay his own hosting though lol)

I am not going to lie the first website I created was horrible! But that doesn’t matter, I received the opportunity to start on my first website and it was something I created. Looking back on that day I was so proud of that website. Anyways before I get off track…

Even if none of your family members need your service or skill you can ask them to make something up. Let them decide on a business name and all that jazz and let them also tell you what they would like. This needs to be in line with what you want to offer, (Your main skill).

After you have received your brief verbally or on paper, go ahead and handle this as an actual paying client and do the very best you can. Take it to them to review your work and let them criticize it as much as possible. (Remember your end goal) – you want to sell this skill.

Make the changes and let them review it again and again until they are 100% satisfied. Once they are satisfied you ask them to create a new business and you start the process again for about 10 – 25 times. Keep all the work and the briefs they gave you.

Once they start to love the stuff you do and have fewer reviews you can move on to friends

Look for friends who might think of starting their own business:

Depending on the business your friend wants to start, you can almost always find a way to provide a service to them free of charge. The benefit of this is when you are doing a great job and his/her business is successful you can use him as a reference later.

Also, remember that your friend would be most likely be more direct and more specific on what their needs are for their business. So try to identify what their needs are, use what you practiced with your family and apply it to your friend’s business.

Again, let them review your work over and over until they are 100% satisfied with the outcome. This will ensure that your skills are starting to develop and the process will start to get easier as you do more and more of these exercises.

Ask your friend if they are happy if you keep the brief, reviews and outcome. They will most probably say that it is fine with them. Rince and repeat this process about 5 – 15 times with your friends as well.

Once you feel comfortable with your progress on these tasks, seek out the next level which is new business owners.

(NBO’s) or New Business Owners are almost always looking for affordable or even free freelancers to do some work:

Now that you have between 15 – 40 examples you created from your previous two stages you would be able to handle a new business owner. Do remember that these business owners are most likely going to be brutally honest with you.

It is important that you are also honest with the business owners when you start. Remember that everyone had to start somewhere and it is important that you learn from every experience and grow.

With business owners, you are going to take a different approach. My very first business was a gaming clan who needed an after effects animation intro for their youtube channel. At this stage, I was into animations rather than websites. (I found it easier to find clients)

I worked about 2 weeks on the project and had them review it about 2 times before I handed the end product over to them. They shared it everywhere and that brought in some extra money for me at that stage.

If you can find about 5 clients to do this for then you are ready to move onto the next stage which is developing your portfolio.

Should I Develop My Portfolio

What is a portfolio?

In short, it is a freelancer’s project CV of all the past projects they have done and who they have done them with. This is an authority amplifier especially if you worked with some amazing well-known brands.

Remember I asked you to keep all the briefs and outcomes of all the projects you have worked on? Yeah, you have guessed it, now that you have over 2 dozen projects and briefs you can track back and see your progress from where you started to where you are now.

Look through all of them and pick your best 12 projects, once you have your dozen selected, create a file or hard copy with the end products and in your own words define what the client wanted.

You will not mention that these clients are friends and family because that does not matter. If you treated them as clients and took the briefs seriously then you can see them as clients. As long as you stuck to the brief and the outcome was satisfying.

Now that you have compiled these projects you have successfully created a portfolio. This will be used to showcase your unique skillset and secure your first paying clients.

Should I Ask For Referrals And Testimonials From My Clients

As you start to get one client after another, ask them for referrals. The chances are that if you did an amazing job, they will happily give you a few referrals. Happy clients automatically refer you to people they are in contact with. The best advertisement is W.O.M. (Word of mouth) but it can also be devastating if you mess up.

I still get business from past clients referring people to me to do animations and or websites. I have never found the need to advertise my services because I believe in the quality of work I put out for my clients, so should you.

Another powerful element you need to add to your arsenal is testimonials. People buy from what other people are saying about you. Take this scenario, you go to Amazon to buy an item but you are not sure if you would be satisfied with the quality.

The first thing you do is you go see what people rated the item for and then you look at what they are saying about the product. It doesn’t matter who the buyer is, you trust the people who already bought the product.

This is exactly why you need to leverage the testimonial into your portfolio. It would best practice to add the testimonials at the start of the project you worked on. That way the new client will see it first and already feel rest assured.

Another amazing thing that testimonials do is they let people see results from other people. Your new client would most likely tell you that they want a similar service you provided to a certain person or business.

How Should I Market Myself

With the 5 guide process, you have completed 4 of the 5 steps, all that remains is that you get out there and market to the same clients you have been serving. It is as easy as that.

So what if I don’t know what my marketing message should be? How will I charge my clients for my services? How do I reach my clients and what do I tell them? If any of these are of concern to you then I will address it briefly here. I will create follow up articles on each of these topics as well.

Your marketing message can be as simple as this formula, I (what do you help businesses with) + (time frame) + (what pain do you remove from them). So let me create an example for you.

I help business owners with a high converting website within 45 days that turns their business from losing clients into buying clients.

Does that make sense? Would you buy from me if I could build you a website that converts actual prospects into clients proven over and over again?

So I want you to try the formula above and ask your family and friends if your message compels them to buy from you. If they answer most definitely then you use that message as your Facebook ads, your tweets, your opening and closing statements.

At the end of the day, clients are looking for one thing and one thing only… RESULTS! They want to know that the money they invested in your will bear fruit in the short, medium and long run.

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Freelance Questions

Can I Call Myself A Freelancer?

Can you call yourself a freelancer? I have spoken to many business owners as well as other fellow freelancers to ask their opinion about this topic. Today I want to share some of the responses that I have gathered from them and from my experience of being a freelancer for over 8 years.

Quick Answer:

You can call yourself a freelancer if you have a skill or service that you can trade in exchange for a currency. The currency I am referring to is not limited to money. Freelance in short means self-employed whether that is full-time or part-time. You can freelance even if you are employed by a company or entity. In this regard, you are exchanging your personal time for currency. As long as your skill or service does not conflict with your place at the company. 

What Determines Your Title

  • Unique Skill or Service

The number one thing that determines your title comes down to your service or skill. This is your unique identity that distinguishes your footprint in the market. Your title can be something like a freelance carpenter or part-time freelance comic animator.

  • Niche

The question you need to ask is what skill are you adding to freelance. This is really what makes you stand out and memorable when clients need to find someone who specializes in a field or direction also called a niche.

  • Community

Another reason that determines your title is your following. I follow a few freelancers and one that stands out a lot because of the unique niche he is in is called Wintergatan. He builds musical instruments like marble machines and others.

If you know Wintergatan it is actually his bands’ name. He got so much traction for creating a modern marble machine that the community has dubbed him Wintergatan – The Marble Machine Creator. If you follow his YouTube channel you will see how and why he became so famous.

  • Authority

The last thing that determines your title is your authority in the niche you are going into. Now everyone needs to start somewhere but that does not mean you can’t become an authority in your niche when you see others doing the same thing as you.

You can develop unique skills and use that with your talents to create a unique combination of creative content in your niche. Using Wintergatan as an example again (The guys’ name is Martin FYI) he combined engineering and music as well as his skill with carpentry to create a musical phenomenon.

Just because of that one thing he created, he became famous and then a lot of people creating their own versions of machines and replicas. But a unique skill he has is that he also writes the music the marble machine plays. I mean watch this video and decide for yourself.

 

Things To Keep In Mind When You Create Your Freelance Title

Ok now that you know what determines your title, let’s take a step further and see what you need to keep in mind while you create your freelance title. The reason this is important is that you don’t want to come across as somebody that is bold, confident and strong when you are actually somebody that shy and laid back.

So by figuring this out, you can create a title that not only fits your niche but also fits your personality. Does that make sense?

So where do you fit into society as a person?

  • Open To Experiences (Inventive or Curious)
  • Conscientiousness (Efficient or Organized)
  • Extraversion (Outgoing or Energetic)
  • Agreeableness (Friendly or Compassionate)
  • Neuroticism (Sensitive or Nervous)

People usually make the mistake to skip over this step and decide on a name that they classify as “cool” and this makes life harder down the road. Remember you are creating a brand, even if you are not known yet. This step is just as important as the rest.

Alright, so the second step would be to list all the services and skills that you have and can sell in exchange for currency. So when you list your skills or services you can then decide which one of those you want to focus on the most.

The reason you’re not going to focus on all of them is that the learning curve can sometimes be steep and if you try to focus on too many skills at once you will end up mastering none.

Lesson 1: Relatable Title

  • Decide on a title that has meaning to you and that your clients can relate to

You are creating an identity and something that your clients will relate with. I spoke to a business owner the other day about how times have changed. Back in the day people connected with brands and companies but in today’s time and age people connect with people.

Lesson 2: Key Personality

  • Decide if you want to add your personality to your title for extra flair

I guess this would be a perfect place to make a quick example of what I mean when I say add a bit of flair with personality. Say I was someone who was open and inventive with a graphic design skill. I would then call myself ingenious designs.

Another example could be a web developer that is in the extraversion personality category. I would look at buoyant development (In my mind I am thinking, rising above the rest in either competition, skills wise or by what I’m offering clients that are unique in the industry).

Lesson 3: Is This Brandable

  • Have a quick look in google search by typing in exactly what you want to call yourself.

If you see that there are people popping up in the search results that do similar things to what you are doing. Then you are on the right track. But if you called yourself something like Metallica Designs then you will most likely find yourself seeing massive results of the band Metallica and or the band’s logo.

While you are in the search add the word logo behind your title and then go to logos and see if your new title has not been used by someone else already. So if you wanted to call yourself Metallica Designs then you would search for “Metallica Designs Logo”.

If you don’t see any logo with your name then you are good to go.

The last step is to type in the search “Your Title” with the quotes. This will show you all the pages or websites on the internet that has to do with that word combination. So if you want to see where and how your title is being used then search for example “Metallica Logo”.

Lesson 4: Create Value

  • Look at what other people in your niche are selling and what services they are offering their clients

Yes, you heard me, go spy on your competition and look at what they are doing and see how you can improve on what they have. They key here is to see how you can create and generate value for your potential clients. It will also give you an idea of what is going on in the market.

A lot of markets are a real bloodbath. The competition is stiff and you have to sometimes push hard to get products out into the world. But you can save yourself a lot of trouble if you think about improving what is already out there.

Let me give you an example. I am going to use a graphic designer again. Let’s say that your toughest competition is releasing a tutorial every Monday of the week to start a following on platforms. Then you are going to learn and create tutorials on Mondays and Thursdays.

Another example would be that a graphic designer might only do 5 revisions of a logo for their clients, you can beat that by giving unlimited revisions in a certain timeframe. Now you have just increased the value of your product which is the same service your competition is selling.

What Not To Brand Yourself As

You want to avoid branding yourself with names or titles that are well known like:

  • Bands
  • News Channels
  • Erotica names
  • Famous People
  • Companies

If your title is already a part of a branded company or any of the above… Avoid taking that name altogether. You will get sued and on top of that, when people look you up they will never find your website or brand because it is competing against all these entities that have been established in the market for many years.

Conclusion

You can call yourself a freelancer if you have a skill or service that people find of value and in an exchange offer you a currency to get that service or skill. There are also a few factors you need to keep in mind when you call yourself a freelancer.

So to sum this up, when you think about creating a freelance title then think of the following questions:

  • Are my clients able to relate to my title
  • Does my personality show through my title
  • Will I be proud to brand myself with this title
  • Does my title offer brand value

When you answer YES on all four these questions then you have accomplished your title creating goal.