Ever wonder where to start freelancing and how to make money online? The idea sounds promising, but taking steps to accomplish that can seem overwhelming.
I know exactly how that feels. At the start of my career, making my first $1,000 as a freelancer felt like a huge milestone — and it was. It gave me the confidence to pursue freelancing full-time.
It wasn’t an easy road but it did change my life. I’m about to tell you exactly what I did to get my first freelance job with no experience and how you can earn your first $1,000 as a freelancer.
How I found my first freelance job
Prior to landing my first freelance job, I didn’t have much experience in a professional setting of any kind. At the time, I was in college and working in the service industry. It didn’t take long to decide that this wasn’t the right path for me. So, I began exploring work from home opportunities.
Then, I found a website offering remote jobs and internships. Since I was interested in writing and marketing, I applied for several of those gigs. Within a few days, the CEO of a small start-up saw my application and invited me to a Skype interview. Before I knew it, I was hired to write blog content and social media updates for the company. The rate? $80 per week.
It wasn’t much, but it completely changed my perspective on what was possible and what my future could be.
After spending a few hours working with my new client, I got back on the site and began pitching more gigs. I didn’t have a niche or a website (and I had no clue what I was doing). I just kept pitching until I had enough gigs to pay my expenses. Within a few months, I made my first $1,000 as a freelancer.
Getting a freelance gig: start with speed, not perfection
Many new freelancers fall into the trap of trying to set up the perfect website or online presence before they make a dime. This is a huge waste of time.
I’m here to tell you: Don’t wait until you know EXACTLY what type of clients you want to work with or until you look like a total pro. Getting the perfect gig isn’t the goal here. Not yet. Getting gigs quickly is the goal.
There’s a reason why I don’t believe newbies should focus on picking a niche or crafting the perfect online presence. It’s because these things take time that you could be spending on learning new skills, working with clients, and getting paid.
The progress principle states that the more frequently people experience a sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run.
Translation, getting quick wins, and landing paying clients fast can have an impact on your success as a freelancer.
Making yourself look like a pro if you’re actually a newbie can only get you so far. Getting gigs quickly and learning along the way is how you become a pro and build a profitable career as a freelancer.
How to earn your first $1,000 as a freelancer
So what are “the right things” to focus on as a new freelancer? There are a lot of different opinions on the subject. I’ve even written a post about all the tools I think freelancers should have. However, I think there are only two things you need to earn your first $1,000 as a freelancer.
A freelance portfolio
You can start pitching freelance gigs with just 1-3 samples. Those samples can serve as the foundation for a freelance portfolio that you display to clients. Not sure where to start with your freelance portfolio? Do some digging to find out what clients are hiring freelancers to do. Then, create your samples based on what the best practices are for that kind of work.
Once you have your samples ready, it’s time to get out there and actively market your services. Learning how to craft a compelling pitch is one of the most important things you can do for your business.
Need help writing your freelance pitch? This post will give you the tips you need to write a client-winning pitch.
Where you can find your first freelance job
Next, let’s talk about where you should actually look for your first freelance gigs. While I got my start on an internship site, I understand that may not be a fit for everyone. Knowing what I know now, I recommend getting your start by using one (or both) of these options.
Option 1: Freelancing platforms
Many people will tell freelancers to stay away from platforms like Upwork. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I completely disagree with that advice. If you want to earn your first $1,000 as a freelancer, Upwork is a great place to start because there are thousands of jobs available for you to pitch. Yes, there are pros and cons to using platforms, but there’s no doubt in my mind that they are worth trying.
To learn more about freelancing on Upwork, you can read this post where I go into more detail about the site and what you can expect.
Option 2: Job boards
Like freelancing platforms, job boards are full of clients who need you now and will tell you exactly what they’re looking for. Using freelance job boards allows you to get work fast without investing in your own website or choosing a niche. You can pitch jobs and start gaining experience quickly. The competition can be fierce, as many new freelancers start here, but it is certainly possible to land paying gigs.
Bottom line: What it takes to earn your first $1,000 as a freelancer
Putting together a portfolio and pitching gigs should be your top priorities. Good samples and consistent pitching will help you land your first clients and get the experience you need to become a well-paid freelancer.
Writers: Are you ready to land your first freelance job?
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