How Successful Freelancers REALLY Get Started

Ready to freelance? Get started in the right direction by learning how successful freelancers identify and market their skills.

This is a guest post by Adam Green.

From recent college graduates to professionals with decades of experience, the allure of freelancing attracts all kinds. With the freedom to set your own hours and exert total control over your daily routine, it's easy to see why many are exploring the freelance life.

But how do you start? That was the first question I had before embarking on a freelance writing career. Thankfully, a healthy combination of mishaps and triumphs during the first year taught me a great deal about how to achieve freelance success.


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Identify marketable skills

Although many associate freelancing with “creative” professions like writing and designing, independent professionals exist in several different industries.

Ever met an independent consultant? Sure you have, but not all consultants are the same. Performing an honest assessment of your experience can help you identify specialties, which you will need to effectively market your freelance services.

consultants cartoon

Ask yourself the following questions to hone in on your expertise:

How can I leverage experience?

Let's say you were a network administrator at an insurance company. You could gear your IT consulting services toward the needs of insurance offices. In my case, three years as a teacher helped me forge professional relationships with educational institutions. Now they hire me to write copy.

When have I received recognition?

Maybe you led the event planning committee at your office and received rave reviews for your work. A former colleague of mine did just that and is now an independent events planner.

How do I add value?

Something about you is different. If you design websites, you might also have suggestions for clients about improving search engine visibility, for example.

Market your services across multiple channels

Whether you're ready to freelance full-time or just want a few projects for side income, remember that you're running a business. You're just one person, but you still need a marketing plan.

employee time waster

A solid combination of digital and “traditional” marketing methods will help you connect with clients and build a solid foundation for success. Be sure to do all of the following:

Create a Website

Tell your audience who you are and what you do. Update it regularly with fresh content that helps drive traffic and demonstrates knowledge of your industry.

Build your brand with social media

Social media lets us network round-the-clock. Find out which networks are popular with your audience and use them to make new connections.

Reach out to former contacts

One of the best ways to get business is through old colleagues. Tell them you would love a referral if they know anyone who needs your services – and direct them to your website.

Network in-person

Despite the current buzz surrounding social media, in-person networking is still extremely effective. Joining a local chamber of commerce will put you in touch with several contacts who may need or recommend you. Never underestimate the power of face-to-face interaction!

Avoid job boards

The best gigs for freelancers are rarely advertised. Good clients usually come to you via your marketing efforts, not the other way around. Although Craigslist and Elance may be full of jobs for freelancers, you will find few that pay well.

With time, effort, and consistency, a combination of the above tactics will bring clients to your door. Deliver stellar work, and watch the referrals come in.

Freelancing is hard – you're running a business, after all – but the professional freedom makes it well worth the effort.

About the author

Adam GreenAdam Green is a freelance copywriter and R consulting enthusiast. When he isn't referring to himself narcissistically in the third person, you will find him playing guitar on his front porch in Atlanta, Georgia.

If you found this article useful, you should also read One of The Most Common Positive Trends Among Job Seekers Today.

Subscribe to JobMob via RSS or email and follow me on Twitter for more ideas on how to get started freelancing.

About the Author Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

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5 comments
Jacob Share
Five Reasons You Should Not Be An Entrepreneur « Work Mercs says

[…] Exhibit C: “How Successful Freelancers REALLY Get Started” @ JobMob […]

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Jacob Share
Aaron Cruikshank says

Hi Adam,

I think this is a great piece and gives lots of good advice. I noticed a number of postings this week on various job/career blogs suggesting that people look into self-employment as an alternative to finding a job. As someone who just came out of 8 years of self-employment, I have to come down on the side of “don’t do it” right now because of the state of the economy.

I made in-depth comments about it on my blog:

http://www.workmercs.com/2011/05/five-reasons-you-should-not-be-an-entrepreneur

Let me know if you find my points useful.

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Jacob Share
Why You Must Freelance Between Jobs (and How To Get Started) | JobMob says

[…] If you liked this article, you’ll also enjoy How Successful Freelancers REALLY Get Started. […]

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Jacob Share
Top 10 Signs of the Worst Freelance Job Ever | JobMob says

[…] If you liked this article, you’ll also enjoy How Successful Freelancers REALLY Get Started. […]

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Jacob Share
Kate says

Freelancing is always difficult and always rewarding. Build a network and create a constant flow of good will.

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