This is a common question, especially when you’re new to the freelancing world. At the start, it can seem difficult to compete against more established freelancers. And it can feel like slow progress finding clients when your competitors already seem to have tons of feedback. So how do you compete as a newbie freelancer? I’ve been there and I remember how tough it was at the start, so here are my top five tips on how to compete.
Look to your network
While many new freelancers start out by signing up to a freelancing site and expect the work to roll in, your first clients are more likely to be the network you already have. These are the people who will buy your services because they like you and have faith in your skills. It might be friends, family, or former colleagues. These people get the ball rolling—they give you great feedback or a testimonial, then clients who don’t know you start buying your services.
Try different methods
New freelancers often start out with one method, such as a freelancing site or their own website. But most successful freelancers gain their work through a variety of sources, not just online—and that’s what you need to do too. Be it a freelancing site, your personal site, your personal network, professional networking, word of mouth recommendations, volunteering, and even occasionally offering a freebie. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Prove your worth
Before you have client testimonials or feedback to verify your skills, you need to demonstrate your skills through a sample portfolio or winning pitch, or both. Create an amazing portfolio of previous work that you can show potential clients. If you can’t share previous work, then create new samples. If you’re applying for freelance jobs, keep in mind that each job gets multiple applicants, so you need to write a great pitch.
Offer something worth buying
It sounds pretty obvious, but to compete against established freelancers, you need to offer something that buyers actually want to buy. This means that you need to research your competition, set competitive prices, and have a USP. Your profile and service offerings need to be clear, compelling, and competitive. If you’re not getting hired, double-check these aspects. You might also want to ask objective friends to check your profile and be honest about whether they’d buy your services.
Some freelancers make the mistake of trying a freelancing website for a while and getting little or no business, so they give up or switch site. The thing about freelancing is it takes time, patience, and effort to succeed. Becoming a successful freelancer doesn’t happen overnight—whichever platform you choose, whichever method you go with. For some freelancers, success takes a few months; for others it takes years.
It’s only temporary!
Although it can feel pretty miserable when you’re not getting any work, bear in mind that it’s only a temporary obstacle. The same as people walk past a brand-new restaurant and go for the old familiar one until other people have posted reviews—clients often don’t want to be the first one to try you out. But if the place looks appealing enough, someone will give it a go. Then if the restaurant starts getting great reviews, more people will be willing to try it, and if it gets tons of great reviews, suddenly everyone wants to eat there. It’s the same with freelancing.
How long did it take you to become a successful freelancer? What worked for you? Comment below or get in touch.