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If you are just breaking into freelancing, you might be realizing how scary the industry can seem at first. With so many more freelancers available than ever before, you may be wondering how your skills and experience can measure up to others. 

Thankfully, once you book your first client, it is often smooth sailing from then on, as you will start to build a portfolio of your work. For those feeling stuck, here are some tips on how to get your first client as a freelancer.

Volunteer Your Services to a Friend or Family Member

The reality of freelancing is that you may have to do some work for free to build your portfolio prior to booking your first client. Potential clients love to look through your previous work. If you don’t have anything to show, many individuals may not feel compelled to pay for your services. This is where your personal network comes to your advantage. Reach out to your friends and family to see if there are any projects you can help them with. For example, if you are aiming to be a freelance graphic designer and you have a family member who owns a pizza shop, ask if you can design some marketing tools for them to use. This will result in a satisfied customer who may want to use your services again in the future. They may also refer some of their friends to you. Begin looking for these opportunities and get your work seen.

Network, Network, Network

Networking is a huge part of building a successful business. It is also a scary word to many. However, networking can be as easy as reaching out to someone on social media or meeting another parent at your child’s sporting event. The biggest factor you must remember during networking is that you must be firm in what you say. For example, many freelancers who are just starting out tend to say, “I’m hoping to get into freelance work.” Rather than shying away from the topic, you should instead confidently express, “I’m a freelance _______.” You may feel a little bit of imposter syndrome kicking in, but establishing your career even though you may not have a client yet is a key part of networking. When you introduce yourself as such, you never know whether the individual will say something along the lines of, “Oh, my neighbor has been looking into hiring a freelancer! I’ll have to give her your information.” 

Create a Website

In order to showcase their past work, all freelancers should have a website. This is a great way to show your work, create a space for testimonials and have a contact form for potential clients to reach you. 

If you are inexperienced with web design, there are many easy-to-use hosting sites out there with pre-designed templates, making it simple for you to drag and drop your content into the site, such as Weebly and Wix. Many of these are free if you choose not to purchase a domain. 

The journey of landing your first client looks different for everyone. Don’t rush the process or feel like a failure if you are still in this process. This process takes time, but do make sure you are putting in the work to grow your business and establish yourself as a professional freelancer in the meantime.