A freelancer or freelance worker is a term commonly used for a person who is self-employed and is not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term. Freelance workers are sometimes represented by a company or a temporary agency that resells freelance labor to clients; others work independently or use professional associations or websites to get work.
While the term “independent contractor” would be used in a higher register of English to designate the tax and employment classes of this type of worker, the term freelancing is most common in culture and creative industries and this term specifically motions to participation therein.
Freelancing started out being prominent in creative fields like Script Writing, Animation etc. but is now also found in Accounting, Programming and other Financial work as well.
If you are interested in starting a freelancing career, you are probably wondering how to find freelance work even though you may have no work experience as a freelancer.Whether you are interested in getting into freelance graphic design, you are looking for freelance writing jobs for beginners, or something else, finding your first client can feel difficult.
Mostly everyone has dealt with this problem before – the entry level job you are wanting to apply for asks that you have experience. The truth is, you need experience in order to gain experience and this applies to freelancers as well.
So, how do you gain experience for a job when you don’t have any?
Below are my tips on how to find freelance work when you have no work experience.
- Start a blog if you are interested in learning how to find freelance work.
If you are looking for tips on how to find freelance work (mainly if you are interested in providing services related to blogging such as finding freelance writing jobs for beginners, website management, etc.), I highly recommend starting a blog of your own.
This way you can learn about all of the different things that go into running a website, writing, and more. This can be a great way to gain valuable skills when you have no work experience. Your website can be used as a portfolio or resume for potential clients to look at.
Starting a blog of your own is also a good idea to see if you even like the idea of freelancing. You can see what areas you enjoy and what services you wouldn’t enjoy.
Having a blog of my own is how I got into freelancing. Without it, I don’t think I would have tried any of my online side hustles as I probably would have never thought about them. Also, most of my clients found me through my blog, so I personally know that managing a blog of your own can help attract freelance clients.
- Submit samples if you have no work experience.
If you don’t have a portfolio of past work that you have done, you may have to create sample work to show to possible clients.This is something that many people skip, but it is very important if you are interested in learning how to find freelance work. Extra work may be needed, but it will pay off in the end.
For example, if you are interested in finding freelance writing jobs for beginners but have no work experience, I would recommend that you create a few sample articles to send off to possible clients. This way they can still see your writing style and see if you would be a good fit.
- Look for low-paying or even free work if you have no work experience.
In the beginning, I would not get your heart set on extremely high-paying freelance jobs. Those are usually reserved for those with experience.
In the beginning, you should be more focused on getting your name out there, gaining valuable experience, and building your portfolio. You may have to take low paying or even free jobs in the beginning in order to do this.
Don’t be scared though, sometimes these jobs can be great and many quality news publications don’t pay. Writers who accept these type of jobs realize that getting your name out there and gaining experience is sometimes more important than payment.
The key to providing low-pay or even free work is to find clients that will help you build your portfolio the correct way. Just because you have no work experience doesn’t mean that you should be taking any job, as you might actually end up hurting yourself if you take low-quality and certain low-pay work. Instead, see how your free or low-paying work can can actually be advantageous to you.
- Put your name out there.
Once you have sample work or a portfolio that you can be proud of, you should start networking with others and reaching out to possible clients.
This can feel scary at first, but I promise it’s not. You should search freelance job boards such as on ProBlogger, find clients on oDesk or Elance, become active on forums where clients that you want to work for often are, reach out to others and see if they know of any openings, cold email possible leads, and more.
CASE STUDY #1: INTERNSHALA & YOUTUBE
Combination of above can help you nab your first assignment. In one of my previous articles, I had already given an explanation on how you can register yourself at Internshala (Pretty simple! Just use your Google account).
Once in, apply for your choice of work (also look for unpaid works as well). In college also, there is always someone working in some project. During my MBA, I had applied for a book chapter work which helped me in applying for freelancing work in Content Writing at several startups. So do lookout for work which can help you get good credentials.
Youtube can help you for a teaching profile. You can create and upload videos of your projects (Eg: apps uploaded on GitHub, Windows Store, Google Play; websites built for companies…you know the deal). If you are a champ at MS Office, you can create case videos explaining the concepts used in various scenarios.
Even those who have studied Accountancy and its related subjects, uploading videos provided your concepts are strong can help you practise what you have studied which really helps you prepare for job interviews.
In the next section, we’ll hear the story of Indian Freelancing environment from Varun Mayya who has been working Freelance since age 13.
REALITY OF INDIAN FREELANCING
I’ve been in the design and development freelance business for a good amount of time. I’m still 20, but I’ve been in the freelancing circuit for almost a good 7 years. I remember the first time I wrote HTML and CSS at the age of 14, still in the early stages of what would be the most powerful relationship I’ve had with anything in my life. And of course, good code pays good money.
A few days ago, I was looking for a rewarding Ruby on Rails project on oDesk(a freelancing website) to apply for, when I spotted a web design post all the way at the bottom of the page. The post title simply said “Looking for a Web Designer for a series of projects”. What really caught my attention, however, was what was directly beneath it, in blaring capital letters:
“IF YOU ARE INDIAN OR BANGLADESHI, PLEASE STOP READING RIGHT HERE. WE DO NOT WANT TO GO THROUGH YOUR POSTS. PLEASE DO NOT APPLY OR SPAM THIS JOB POST WITH YOUR APPLICATIONS.”
Being an Indian, and a fairly experienced front-end engineer, I was immediately taken aback with some sort of sudden pseudo-patriotism, convincing me that the poster of the job deserved to earn a report for blatantly telling a certain part of the world that they suck and that they should therefore not apply.
But before I did that, I thought I’d run a small experiment first. I created a new account as a “client” and posted a slightly complicated post looking for a web designer to create a website for me. I logged back in the next day to find hundreds of applications, 80% of which were by Indian agencies. Poor grammar, stolen portfolios and people with little or no experience had applied to the job, some with hourly rates set at as low as $2. I had specifically asked in my post for experienced designers and I’d also mentioned I was willing to pay well.
Blatantly disregarding my requirements, some individual freelancers from India even claimed outrageous things that could easily be proved false with a simple Google search by any client. The ones who didn’t lie had portfolios with screens that looked like they were made in paint. No personal online presence, no references, no history.
Is it really fair that some of us, who do this for a living, and who’ve been doing this for a really long time, lose our work and livelihood because of a few people trying to make a quick buck? I know that there are some of us Indians who put time and effort, day in and day out, to make sure we craft pixel perfect delicacies for every client we commit to, well paying project or not. Why is it that we are rejected simply because of a few people that want a fast break with little or no effort?
Every client I’ve worked for has always exclaimed “I’m surprised you’re Indian! Why don’t I find more of you guys out here?” to which I promptly throw back a standard reply:
“There are a lot of us out there. We’re just hidden among all the others. If you want a good freelancer, you have to do your research.”
FINAL PIECE OF ADVICE
In its simplest form, your contract terms should cover:
- The work that you produce is original and not plagiarized.
- The client’s proprietary information stays confidential.
- Your payments terms. (How much you’ll get paid and when during the process.)
- That once the client accepts the completed work, they accept full responsibility for any further processes in which the work is used (e.g. printing, putting the logo to use, etc.)
- You and the client have the right to terminate the services, and what that entails for you both.
Having some basic terms in place for every project will help protect you, but more importantly, will help inform the client of how you work.
- Always get a downpayment before starting work.
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘NO’.
- Use niche strategy in creating your freelance business in Phase 1.
- Showcase the work you want to take on.
- Be honest with your clients.
Freelancing has become the next best emerging profession in India. Scores of youngsters prefer taking up Freelancing as it not only helps build their profile, but also gets them good money to pay for their tuition fees, personal stuff etc. But starting off is never easy,
Having good contacts through Social Media and with several new-age Universities encouraging Research work, it might be possible and much easier than before for people to take up this activity.
There have been numerous examples of current celebs having gone freelance when they started out after tasting success (Eg: Kara and Nate, my favorite travel vloggers). But it was only possible when their tactics and plans worked to their advantage.
Discrimination and other negativities are part and parcel of society and will be present everywhere wherever you work but one must always keep in mind that there are also good people in society who are in need of help and have work available for you.
As great people have said that “Hope is what makes the World go as it goes”, similarly one must keep hope and not lose it if one intends to work hard and succeed in life. Keeping bad opinions aside, one must keep on working hard, persevere and win.
I end this article with the saying: “Rest if you must, but don’t quit.”