When you’re a teen who is still going to school almost every day it’s almost impossible to keep up with a regular job. It leaves no time for studying, chores and not to mention – a social life. Freelancing gives you the freedom to be able to choose your hours and work around your regular life without having to give up things you enjoy or are necessary for your education. And since I started freelance writing at the age of 17 I think I can help you guys out a little bit.
We will start with some basics and then we will move on to the more serious parts. Although, I’m just going to talk about a basic outline of what you need to do first. This is not a step by step guide, you will need to fill in some gaps.
What kind of work should you choose?
“Freelancing’ itself isn’t a job. It’s a way you work, by yourself and free as a bird. Within the freelancing industry there are many professions you can get into, which will be the first step you have to take before doing any work.
Do you like to draw? It might be worth turning to digital art and creating it for people. You wouldn’t believe how much some people would pay for a minimalistic logo (I should know, I hired someone for this website’s logo). But Youtube thumbnails, sprites and fanart is also really sought after.
Or maybe you’re into writing like me. Then you can go ahead, cold-pitch to websites or search job postings. Blog writing pays really well if you go to the right person and it can be really fun if you can write about what you love. I should know, currently I get to research spells and create my own articles about them. Yes. Spells as in witchcraft. (And I love every second of it, don’t judge.) Writers can also create articles for newspapers or descriptions for entire companies or products.
You might be into music. If you can create simple beats or melodies you have a good shot at making it on Fiverr. Musicians are approached there very often and you should be able to build your portfolio pretty quickly.
Or there is a chance that you aren’t good at any of these and can’t think of anything similar. Just ask yourself what you can do. There surely is something that you are good at and someone is willing to pay for. Worst case scenario is that you can get into voice acting.
Put yourself out there
You NEED to have a LinkedIn. I wish someone had told me this sooner, as there are plenty of people there who are looking to hire freelancers. Unfortunately I only got into promoting myself there recently, so I’m pretty behind. That’s why you should start now. Please don’t wait around to create one, you can just leave it there and post a piece of your work whenever it gets done. That’s enough.
You can also create a Fiverr and/or your own website. That way people have a way of seeing you, your work and possibly even some reviews. Then share it on your Twitter, Facebook and whatever other social media you have. The bigger your already existing following, the better.
Get your first clients
Here are a few places where you can look for freelancing jobs:
Don’t you dare go on Upwork. Just don’t. It’s a race to the bottom and most freelancers are paid pennies for their hard work. Please don’t willingly exploit yourself there. Especially if you like in the US or the UK. There are a lot of people who are from India, Turkey or other countries that have a different economy and thus, they are willing to work for way less. For example, here in Hungary 3$ for an hour of work untaxed is already pretty good, especially for a student, but if you are from the US for example, then you would want at least 13-15$ an hour. This drives down the prices and unfortunately the quality as well.
If you can’t find anything on these websites you can search Google for “[insert job] freelance wanted”, quotation marks included, otherwise you will only get job boards. Then look at the websites and apply. There’s a good chance that you will only find free guest post applications though, so you might want to look up relevant sites for your niche and cold pitch to them.
This phase will probably take a little bit of time, as new freelancers can’t really get jobs in a fast manner. So be patient, keep going and if you can’t do anything else just polish your portfolio.
Be careful with your first few projects
When you finally have your first clients you need to chill out a bit and slow down. There will be an insane amount of excitement there, but you can’t get done as fast as possible and “get it over with”. Sure, the speed matters to the client as well, but this is the time when you have to establish what quality you provide. If your first few works are even slightly lower quality your customers won’t come back and you will need to start finding new ones (which you will learn is pretty hard in the beginning).
Take time, use several types of software if you need to (Grammarly and Hemingway Editor for writing, Photoshop for pictures and graphic design) and don’t stop working until you feel like you have done everything you can. This is the time to act like a perfectionist. Ask the client for more details if you can (tone of voice, emotion you want to get across, their goal with the final product), as this can help you make the end result so much better.
After some time you can start slacking off a tiny bit more, of course. We can’t always do our best, some projects are harder and mentally more challenging than others and that’s okay. Just make sure you still deliver something that you’re proud of.
And finally, you need to advertise yourself once you have some good portfolio pieces. Put them on Facebook, Twitter or wherever you have followers and ask them to either support you or share the post. This way you don’t come across as a demanding and entitled person, just someone who is starting out and willing to accept any help that comes their way.
You need to get your name out there. You can go that with a blog (like mine, hey, yes I do freelancing, take a look at my other site if you want a blog post, contact info on the bottom of the page), a Twitter account, Pinterest, Mix and many other sites out there. Just don’t be afraid of your name spreading all over the world and coming across as pushy or something. That’s fine, you want people to know about you and the fact that you don’t mess around.