How To Start Freelancing

Are you a freelancer feeling the challenges of finding clients in a crowded marketplace?

Unless you are established in your field and have very strong name recognition you will have to invest a majority of your time into marketing your services to potential clients.

Less than 30 days after accepting freelance work I have attracted several large projects while spending very little money on advertising. Granted, my work is in web developement and custom web applications are larger, more expensive projects. Your results may vary based on your services and pricing.

Instead of chasing work you want to set up everything so that your ideal projects will come to you, Most of my work now comes without me actively searching for work.

Getting Started With Freelancing

The tips below are based on experience, and can apply to designers, developers, writers or consultants With them you should notice an increase in prospects, It is up to you to follow up and close the deal.

Define Your Market

When defining your target market, ask your self a few questions.

  • Would you like to work with local buinesses or individuals, or with anyone across the globe?
  • What industry would you like to cater to?
  • What skills and experience do you have to offer?

Brand Yourself

Create your business identity under your name or company name. If your name is difficult to pronounce or spell, consider a pseudonym (pen name) or opening up shop under a business name.

Showcase Your Work

Before marketing your services, build a portfolio of your best work. If don't have many examples to show off, create some examples for the projects you would like to work on. You can also work for free on select projects untill you have built up your portfolio.

Set Your Price

If you do not have a large portfolio, you'll have to start your pricing lower than your ideal price. Don't set your price too low however, as you want to make a profit.

Be Easy To Reach

Have a clear means of contact with several ways that potential clients can reach you such as email, phone, twitter, skype, etc.

Announce To The World

Ask family and friends if they know anyone who could use your services. The best form of advertising is by word of mouth. Make it very clear on your website or portfolio that you are available for hire.

Avoid Distractions

It's easy to get distracted when working on a computer, whether it is reading articles, news stories, or participating in social networks. Leave these tasks for extra time AFTER a large chunk of work is done for the day.

Network, Network, Network

Chances are there are others in your area that could use your services, even partering with local agencies can and other freelancers can bring in regular income. Find others who do what you do either locally or online and start a conversation.

Be Active On Forums

Find forums in your field and become a contributing member adding value to the community. Edit your signature with links to your portfolio. Be selective though, fourms can be a huge time drain.

Design Galleries

If you are a graphic or web designer submit your best work to the design galleries. If you're project is featured you'll recieve traffic, links and recognition.

Start Blogging

I'll be the first one to admit that I am late to the blogging party. If you have not already started blogging, whether on your own blog or by guest blogging, now is the best time to start.

Teach, entertain and help your audience solve problems. Writing is an excellent way to establish your expertise in your field and build brand awareness.


Craigslist is a great way to find work. Subscribe to the "jobs" or "gigs" feeds under the cities of your choice. Repeat and respond as quikly as posible with a who you are, what you do and a link to your portfolio. Make each response short, to the point and as relevant as possible.

Job Boards

No need to join the project bidding sites, there are plenty of job boards related to your work. If you build websites for example, most blogging platforms, CMSs and Frameworks have a forum with job listings related to the software. Subscribe to these listings in the feed reader of your choice.

Payment First

Require a deposit of at least 50% for large projects. Smaller projects can be paid in full if you choose. You'll save a lot of time and headaches by collecting a deposit up front.

Take Action

Whether you have just started providng freelance services, or are simply looking to attract more clients, following these steps will help you find your path to success. The main point to remember is that these techniques will work only if you take action.

I build stuff, like Narien, the Useragent API and the Email API