Life is hard for those just starting out on their career paths. Indeed, for the generation that have had to accept crippling student debt that a staggering 83% may never be able to pay off within their lifetime as a tax on their aspiration, it’s harder than ever. We live in an era where graduate unemployment is high and the number of graduates working in stop gap non-graduate jobs is even higher. Moreover, for the sparse few graduate level positions out there, competition is rife and cutthroat. Is it any wonder that today’s twentysomethings have chosen to eschew the greasy pole that is the corporate ladder in droves, and take their livelihoods into their own hands as freelancers.
Wherever your skills lie, whether it’s in blogging, graphic design, app development or animation and illustration, there’s a good chance that you could make good money, achieve financial independence and even build yourself a thriving business by taking your skills to the freelance market. Still, since you likely have a roof to keep over your head and bills to keep paid, it’s best to start off doing this as a side hustle alongside your underpaid and under-stimulating day job. Play your cards right, however, and you could find yourself transitioning into full time freelancing sooner than you think and waving goodbye to the 9 to 5 rat race!
Build a portfolio of work
Of course, before you start marketing your skills, you need to build a portfolio of samples that can show off your style, your versatility and your appeal to the legions of prospective clients out there in the digital realm. Remember that a sample doesn’t have to be a finished project, nor does it necessarily have to be something you got paid to do (although this is obviously advantageous). Anything that can show a prospective client that you know your onions and could bring your skills to bear on their project is suitable for inclusion. Here are some great tips for building your portfolio.
Never stop building your skills
While your day job may be physically and mentally exhausting, it cannot be allowed to sap all of your creative energy. One of the best ways to ensure that you still retain the passion and the talent for your freelancing activities is to keep working on your skills. Whether you’re going to night school for Microsoft Visio training classes, undergoing online learning or simply working on your own projects in your free time, working constantly on your skills can give you a competitive edge. It can ensure that you stay at the top of your game and keep the flame of passion alive.
Establish your presence as a freelancer
When you have the skills and some great examples of the work you do, it’s time to establish yourself as a freelancer. Set yourself up on sites like LinkedIn, Upwork, People Per Hour, Constant Content (for writers), Elance, GetACoder or iFreelance. While you can set yourselves up on as many of these as you wish, I recommend that you limit yourself to two or three to keep things manageable. Moreover, don’t expect people to just start coming to you with lucrative offers of work. It’s up to you to start hustling for work. This is one of the most important skills a freelancer needs and in order to do this, you must…
Keep on building a network of contacts
Hustling for business doesn’t mean spamming businesses or prospective clients on social media until they hit the block button. It’s more a matter of building contacts and nurturing harmonious relationships so that while they may not be able to throw work your way initially, they’ll keep you in mind should the right project come up. Go to seminars, attend networking events and start making the contacts who will become lucrative clients in the future.
Keep it on the DL at your day job
As excited as you will undoubtedly be to make the jump to freelancing full time and say goodbye to a day job in which your skills are wasted, it’s essential that you keep quiet about your freelancing activities at work. While many employers are supportive of extra curricular activities, some may clamp down hard on anything that they may consider a conflict of interests. Don’t mention your freelancing to your boss or your colleagues and certainly don’t use work time or resources to develop your freelance business. If you play your cards right and invest enough time and effort, you could find yourself stepping out of your day job and into a new era of fulfilment and prosperity as a freelancer.