By Audrey Korir
Congratulations on your graduation! Getting that diploma or degree is a major milestone in life. What next? It is always a question that boggles the minds of many graduates. You may be tirelessly applying for jobs without getting any response or you are probably trying to figure out what to pursue with your credentials.
Well, Freelancing is a great space to venture into. Based on your skills freelance jobs like; Photography, writing, transcription or graphic design can set you on the right path. Not only will they boost your finances but it may also give you a clear direction on what career to choose.
How will I get clients? That is always the major worry when starting. Freelance work consists of projects with a limited duration, so you will constantly be looking for work.
Here are some tips to help you navigate the freelance industry:
1. People You Know
Among your friends, family or colleagues are great referral opportunities. They may need your services or better yet they may know someone who requires your services. It does not harm to utilize your acquaintances to secure freelance opportunities. Start by telling them about your decision to launch a freelance business and even go-ahead to give them your business card if you have one.
Face-to-face meet-ups, networking events, trade shows and conferences are a great way to develop relationships with potential clients. This is especially true if you volunteer to help with an event or set up a meet-up. Also, consider joining a service club and your local chamber of commerce. You are also required to do a lot of investigation and preparation to find out if your prospective clients are present at these events and are open to hearing pitches.
3. Social Media
Sites like LinkedIn are very helpful in building your professional portfolio. Consider creating an account if you don’t have one or if you do, make sure you always keep your profile updated. Join groups that target your potential clients. For example, if you are a graphic designer join businesses or organizations that require graphic design services. Once you determine your target audience, create a description of your ideal client, simply look for those groups, join and be active.
4. Collaborate with Others
You could start off building your portfolio by doing some free work for a friend or a family member. This can help you get your name out there in exchange for testimonials and referrals.
For example, you could design a logo or a business card for a friend who is starting their own business, especially if they cannot afford to hire somebody else to do it. Even though you may do it for free, their success becomes your success because anytime they get a compliment for it they will always mention your name. The word will spread because they are happy with the work you have done.
Another way to collaborate is by working with established brands or professionals. For example, you can guest post or blog on their websites, this will reflect your expert knowledge in a particular area.
As an online job service platform, Upwork serves all types of independent contractors in every job category. Freelancers can join free or pay for premium memberships, and respond to project listings with proposals. Billing and payments are handled through Upwork. When you quote a project, Upwork adds a percentage to your fee to the client – this is based on a tiered percentage — and deducts it from your payment. You receive your quoted fee in full.
6. The Artists Market
As an annual publication, Artists Market is a directory of places where you can sell your artwork or creative services. Photographers, writers, graphic designers and illustrators can look up potential clients, descriptions and contact information to build a mailing list.
The website offers affordable subscriptions which are renewed yearly. You can purchase mail listings or do the work of compiling lists yourself.
7. Talk to other Freelancers in your Field
Consulting someone who has been in the industry longer than you is a great way to start your journey in the freelancing business. Do not see them as the competition but rather as your community members.
Introduce yourself. After you establish a bit of rapport, offer to help them or pick up their slack if they’re too busy to handle their workload. There are countless networking events online and in real life. A good way to make connections with industry peers is to show how helpful you are.
Where do you find them? Social media, networking events, professional organizations, and associations. If you went to school for what you’re freelancing in, then keep in touch with classmates. And keep in touch with past coworkers.
8. Create Diverse Content and make Yourself Known
Practice on your craft to polish your skills. You cannot call yourself a writer if you are not writing and you cannot be a graphic designer if you do not have samples of your artwork to show someone.
You can start a Blog, Podcast or YouTube Channel to help make a name for yourself. Create content that benefits your potential clients especially something they can relate to.
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Starting out in the freelance business is not easy. It takes time, dedication, hard work, and persistence. Your experience may not be the same as everyone else so exercise patience and keep it at it. Rome was not built in a day.