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Why and How to Start a Freelance Career

Why and How to Start a Freelance Career

Michelle Taute

How to Start Freelancing

OK, here’s the big, scary thing for new freelancers: Where the heck do you find clients? In short, they’re everywhere you look, but you need to help them find you and make them feel comfortable enough to hire you. Ease into it with a few simple marketing efforts.

Step one: Reach out to your friends and family. People like to work with designers they know and like—or that someone who they know and like recommended. So send out a brief, casual email letting your circle know that you’re looking for freelance work. Politely ask them to share any ideas or leads with you.

Step two: Work your professional circle. Repeat step one with individual notes to colleagues, former co-workers and classmates. Most people respond well to a short, low-pressure email. Follow up in a couple weeks with a phone call. If you’re friendly with an old boss (even from an internship), offer to buy him or her coffee in exchange for freelance advice. You might walk away with your first project or a referral.

Step three: Expand your circle. Yes, you need to do good work to land freelance projects, but you also need to work on building relationships with people who might someday hire you or pass along leads for freelance jobs. To start, join a local group for designers or young professionals. Focus on giving first: volunteer to help with events, serve on committees and share knowledge.

Finally, be patient. It can take a little time to find that first freelance job, but it gets easier over time. And once you land that first gig, come back here to read Part 2 in this series, The Fine Print: Money, Taxes and Contracts.

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