Freelancing is one of the aims for anyone starting with programming. Many articles and YouTube channels say it's easy to start with freelancing, yet many people have no clients and are struggling to find one. That's because these creators don't complete the sentence. The complete sentence should be - "It's easy to start freelancing if you have enough experience and are constantly learning and showcasing your skills".
In this article, I'll show you how to get started with freelancing and share my journey about getting started with freelancing. So, close the Twitter tab you're about to go to and read this article!
Prerequisites to freelancing
Just like any other course or tutorial, this article has some prerequisites. If you don't follow these prerequisites, you won't have the best experience freelancing. These aren't difficult to get to but always worth looking at:
Selecting a maximum of two niches (for example - "I want to work for clients who need customised websites using Next.js and Tailwind CSS")
Being an expert on the niches you chose. You should select fewer niches and be an expert rather than choose a lot of niches and be average on them. If you want better-paying clients, you need to be an expert at what you're doing. Keep refining your skills daily. It will be difficult to tell if you're an expert; honestly, nobody is an expert in programming; everyone keeps learning. You can start freelancing when you feel you have enough projects to showcase.
Be aware of the latest developments in your niche. Keep learning new things every day and keep your knowledge up to date.
If you're a beginner programmer, I'd recommend not jumping into freelancing just yet, and keep learning. If you jump right in, you might not get the quality clients you are hoping for.
There are quite a few ways to get started with freelancing. I've tried some of them; sometimes they worked, and sometimes they didn't. Only you can tell what's best for you.
Using platforms like Upwork
There are a lot of platforms which allow freelancers to connect with potential clients who need work. These platforms help you reach clients according to your niche. Let's look at some pros and cons of using these platforms:
Discoverability - you get access to many people who need services that match your niche. You don't need to constantly find different places to get hold of clients who need your services but use the freelancing platforms with a constant flow of such clients.
Ease of use - the platform prepares you to start the work. They generate the contracts and verify the client is a legitimate one. They arrange the payments for you so that payments are on-time.
Reputation increases quality - if you have worked on these platforms before, you can ask your client to leave you a testimonial on the platform. This way, potential clients can see the experience of other clients who worked with you and decide if they want to work with you.
Security - these platforms ensure that you're not getting scammed and always protect assets with themselves using various dispute-solving methods.
Difficult to get a proposal accepted - even though you have access to many potential clients, they would not accept a proposal with an empty profile. Getting your first client is always difficult on these platforms. Once you have a few testimonials, it becomes easy to find more clients.
A large fee - the discoverability and security don't come for free. These platforms cut a hefty amount of fees from what you get from clients for themselves. Sometimes these fees are a lot, and it seems unacceptable to work on the platform.
You get dependent on the algorithm - algorithms run these platforms, and your next client depends on if the algorithm is kind enough to show you quality clients or not. One day the algorithm might decide to feature your niche less, which will deeply impact the number of quality clients you have.
Using word of mouth
Someone in your network might need a service from you that you're capable of fulfilling. They can also recommend you to other people who need similar services. This cycle continues, and you keep getting clients if your current client recommends you. Although this should not be the only way to get clients, it should instead be clubbed with other ways to have the best results. That's because not everyone takes the time to recommend you, and it depends on the quality of work you provide to your client, which might depend on various factors like time and budget.
Potential clients are converted comparatively easily. When someone recommends you to a potential client, they take it more seriously, resulting in easier client conversion.
It can be clubbed with other methods of freelancing. For example, if you got a client from Upwork, and the client loved your work, they might recommend you to other potential clients giving you more opportunities.
Quality of work is a hit or miss. You might not always get the quality clients you're hoping for. Sometimes, you might get clients who are not easy to work with.
Potential clients know how much the other client paid you. This limits your potential earning by a lot, and increasing the rate becomes a difficult job.
This is the way I got my first client. You need to constantly showcase your skills and work on social media platforms to get noticed by potential clients themselves. This is also called inbound marketing. Content creation is time-consuming and might not give you quick results. It requires you to be consistent with your content.
You can attract quality clients. Many clients see who has the best content online to know more about who they want to hire for the work. If you have an amazing social media presence, you might get reached out to by many potential clients willing to pay a lot to get their work done from you.
Since content creation is also a type of inbound marketing, you can control the time and budget of the project, unlike in the cases of freelancing platforms or word of mouth. This is one of the biggest pros of inbound marketing. And for the projects you want to get paid more, you can just negotiate with the potential client.
Opportunities are endless. Once posted, content can last forever and can be used to attract more and more people who require your service. The more content you have, the more opportunities you get.
Content creation is very difficult. You might go through phases of demotivation when nobody watches your content or if the engagement is too low. Content creation is very time-consuming, and you need to be extremely patient for this to work.
Everyone has different experiences. Even if you are consistent with your content, it does not guarantee to work for you.
Probability of getting scammed is high. If you don't use proper contracts and payment solutions, you might get scammed by the other party. Make sure you always take advance payments.
My experience freelancing
I started content creation without any hopes of getting clients or earning money. I just liked to write articles, and I wrote several articles on Medium. One of those articles popped out and got over 100K+ views.
Since many people saw this article, I got emails asking if I was open for work. I accepted one of them, and that was my first freelancing client. I still am writing coding articles for them to date.
In January 2022, I took my YouTube channel more seriously and started posting content regularly. As of this writing, I'm at around 850 subscribers, which has helped me land two clients who found my email in my YouTube videos.
Content creation changed my life, and I don't think I'll stop creating content anytime soon.
I think I have provided enough details about how to get started with freelancing; the rest is up to you about which method you want to choose among those three. If you're serious about getting new clients, you must start taking action as soon as possible.
Have you done freelancing before? How was your experience? I'd love to read your experiences in the comments section.