Starting a freelancing business is hard AF.
That’s what you’ve been telling yourself for a month, maybe even years.
In the wise words of Professor Farnsworth from Futurama, “Good news, everyone! You’re wrong!“.
Becoming a freelancer (even when you have ZERO experience) is much easier than you think. Sure, it’s going to require determination, time and resilience – but it’s not IMPOSSIBLE.
By the time you’re done with this post, you’re going to know the exact steps you need to take to get out of your head and do the damn thing!
Here’s how to start freelancing with no experience!
Psst…Want to know more about going remote and achieving that location independent lifestyle? Check out these posts:
- The Best 40+ Sites For Finding Remote Work Online
- 10+ of the Best Side Hustles for Introverts
- Best Tools for Freelancers: What You Need to Run Your Online Business
- 20+ Work From Home Essentials That’ll Make You Feel Like a Boss
- 10 Tips For Working From Home To Maximise Your Productivity
Table of Contents
How to Start Freelancing With No Experience
Step 1: The Mindset of a Boss
In my course, Road to Remote, I have an entire module devoted to mastering your mindset.
Because having the RIGHT mindset will dictate your success as a freelancer.
If you don’t believe in yourself and you don’t back yourself 1000%, you’re going to manifest failure.
Think about it this way. We all have these stories that we tell ourselves.
Maybe yours are:
- “I’m not successful”
- “Making money is hard”
- “I don’t deserve money or success”
- “No one will buy from me”
These stories end up becoming beliefs that influence your actions.
And if you believe that your business is doomed or that it’s hard to become a freelancer – you’re going to self-sabotage yourself and call that into your reality.
So before you create your portfolio site or start pitching to clients, you need to get your mindset right and embody your success before you achieve it.
Think about how you would act if you had already achieved your goal. Like you have that thriving full-time freelancing business that lets you travel the world whenever you felt like it.
- You’re not going to worry about money because your business is profitable and sustainable.
- You’re going to be organised and have processes in place.
- You would be saving money for your next trip.
- You would believe in your business and that what you’re selling can help people.
That is the mindset of a boss.
Action Step: Identify the limiting beliefs that are holding you back, call bullshit and start acting like that successful freelancer.
Step 2: Choose a Niche
“What the heck is a niche?!”
You yell at your computer screen.
A niche is a PROBLEM you solve or a segment of a market you want to help.
The reason you need to niche the f*ck down is that you can’t be anything to everyone.
Trust me. I’ve tried it.
It didn’t go well.
When you aren’t SUPER clear on who you are trying to help as a freelancer, it’s going to make it hard to:
- Position yourself as an expert.
- Find potential clients and land freelance jobs.
- Figure out how you can best serve your clients.
Think of it like this:
The whole world is the market. You can’t sell to the whole world because not everyone needs your service.
So you need to funnel that down until you have that one group of people you serve. You want one group that you can master.
Action Step: To figure out your niche, ask yourself: Who do I want to help and why?
Step 3: Identify Your Skillset
Out of all the DMs I get on a weekly basis, the number one question I’m asked is:
“What can I do as a freelancer? How do I become a freelancer?”
To be honest, that’s something only you can answer.
Things would be a bit too easy if we just had to message a stranger on the Internet and ask them what to build a business around.
The good news is that it’s “figureoutable” – and you have the answer even if you’re aren’t aware of it right now.
So what can you do to get clear on what you want to do?
- List all your current skills and interests.
- List what you want to know more about.
- Identify which skills you can translate into a remote role.
- Identify gaps in your knowledge and what you need to learn.
For example, maybe you freaking love Instagram. You have a passion for the platform, you’ve managed to grow your account to 10K followers, and you want to help other people reach this platform.
You can use your knowledge to become a freelance social media manager and specialise in Instagram.
Maybe the gaps in your knowledge are the nitty-gritty business details like client onboarding and sales pages, or you want to take an Instagram course to solidify your skills.
Read More: 10+ of the Best Side Hustles for Introverts
Step 4: Create a Website
If there is ONE INVESTMENT you need to make at the start of your freelancing career, it’s getting a website with a custom domain and a professional email address.
Some people say this step isn’t necessary, but I disagree.
We live in a digital age, I don’t know about you, but I automatically expect any business to have a website.
So why should you be any different if you want to get paid for freelance work?
A professional website will:
- Help you look professional
- Reinforce that you’re an expert
- Capture the attention of potential customers
- Give you an easy way to display your portfolio and services
The easiest way to get your freelancing website up and running within a week or less is with Squarespace.
It’s an all-in-one solution which means it will save you time and money.
For $16 (R300.00) per month, you’re going to get:
- Professionally designed templates
- Free custom domain (if you buy the annual plan)
- Professional email from Google (free for the first year)
- Website analytics
- Email marketing integration
- SEO features for boosting site visibility
- Mobile-optimised websites
- Free stock photos that are integrated into the platform
- Features like Memberspace and so much more
Step 5: Set Your Rates
Another thing that holds a lot of freelancers back from starting their business or going full-time has to do with rates.
I get it. It’s scary.
I struggled with it A LOT when I started my freelance writing business in 2016. It’s the reason why I took $20 gigs for 1,000-word articles.
I thought it was the industry benchmark when in reality it’s daylight robbery.
There are three techniques that have helped me figure out my rates and feel good about what I charge my clients:
Method #1: How much does your dream life cost?
Have you sat down and calculated exactly how much everything in your life costs? It’s a super simple exercise that will give you a hard number to work with.
- What is the total for your business costs?
- Do you want to get massages every week?
- Want to save up for that trip to Bali or a house?
Once you know the total of your dream life, you can work backwards and figure out how much you need to make yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly. When you have those numbers, you can look at your prices and see how much you would need to sell to make that a reality.
Method #2: What are the industry benchmarks?.
If you’re South African, you can get benchmark rate from the South African Freelancers Association.
It will give you a good idea of what everyone else is charging and make it easier to figure out a fair rate for your services.
Method #3: Do your rates challenge you?
When I created by course, Road to Remote, I had to come up with a price.
A simple exercise that sent me into a tailspin.
Why? Because online business courses range from $99 to $20,000.
That benchmarking technique? It goes out of the window.
What my business coach, Erin May Henry, recommend was choosing a price that scares me, but is achievable.
So if you’re comfortable selling your service at $50, why not push yourself out of your comfort zone and try to sell it for $80?
Pick a number that challenges you, but isn’t completely unrealistic for you to achieve.
Step 6: Learn How to Pitch
Hands down, the most important skill for you to master as a beginner freelancer is learning how to pitch.
You’re going to need it for:
- Replying to job board ads
- Writing cold emails
- Your LinkedIn profile
- Podcast interviews
- Guest posts
- LinkedIn introductions
And whenever else you need to communicate what you do and how you can help people.
If you can write a pitch that does all that, it’s going to make it much easier for you to land that dream client, and start seeing sales in your freelancing business.
An easy formula to include in all your pitches is the following:
- Identify a problem
- Solve it with your solution
- Position yourself as the expert
- Back yourself up with testimonials, case studies, results or samples
If you have NO work experience, create niche-specific samples and host them on your site. You can also work for free for a short period to get testimonials and then transition those clients onto a paid module.
Step 7: Optimise Your Social Media Platforms
If you want to become a freelancer, it’s not enough to create an Upwork profile and hangout on freelancing websites.
You need to make sure your online presence is attracting clients to your business.
After all, pitching every single day is going to eat into the amount of time you have each day to work. By optimising your LinkedIn and Instagram profiles, you won’t have to generate potential leads manually – they will come to you!
Here’s what you need to do for each profile:
- Add your main keyword to your “Name” section and username if possible.
- Add your niche statement to your bio, so people know what you do.
- Use a “Call-to-Action” for your bio link.
- Add your niche to your headline + related keywords.
- Add your best testimonials and results to your about section.
- Add keywords and skills people would use to search for you in your about section and work experience.
- Use LinkedIn Publisher to answer questions for your niche.
- Add your website to your profile.
For example, if you are a freelance writer, you could add the following:
- Headline: Freelance B2B Tech Case Study Writer | Copywriter | Content Marketer
- Skills: SEO Content Writing, Blogging, Ghost Writing, Technical Writing
- LinkedIn Publisher: 5 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Case Studies and How to Fix Them!
Step 8: Create Your Business Processes
The final step to how to start freelancing with no experience has to do with ADMIN.
You need to tie everything together to make sure you ready to welcome your first client. Make sure you have the following processes and tools set-up:
- Client introduction pack
- Client onboarding process
- Invoicing and accounting software
- Client off-boarding process
- Project management
Woo-hoo! You made it to the end! You know how to start freelancing with no experience – got questions? Hit ya gurl up in the comments below!
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