Knowing that you are good at something but not having any “proven” evidence to show to potential customers is hard. You know you can do it, but how will you provide any references when nobody hires you… because you have no references, right? It is like a snake eating its own tail!
What is there left for you to do? Work for free? No, thanks! In fact, working for free will hardly attract many customers because you’ll be dedicating your time and energy to work on that free gig instead of searching for paying clients!
Now, before I go on, I’d like to point you to two posts to get you started:
- If you don’t know at all what kind of freelance business you can start, check out the Japanese secret for happiness that will help you discover your passion!
- If you’re wondering whether creatives can start a business, feel free to read how to turn your creativity into a business.
So let me give you an overview of typical freelance jobs and what you need to start working without experience:
Online Jobs to Get Your First Freelance Customers
1. Freelance Translator
📌 How to become a freelance translator:
- You have to speak at least 2 languages – your mother tongue and a second one. You’ll generally translate into your mother tongue, not the other way round.
- I’d suggest you take up a translation course to understand how the job and the industry work. Besides, if you get certified, you’ll be able to join a professional translation association, where you’ll find lots of help, info and work opportunities!
- The more you specialize, the better – There may be fewer customers looking for someone like you, but you’ll also have less competition.
📌 As a freelance translator, you’ll typically have 3 types of customers:
- Private people who need translations. This can be a good way to start getting some experience, but if you want to become a professional translator (that is, earn a living on it), you’d better bet on companies. They’ll pay better and are more likely to send you projects regularly than someone who ocassionaly needs a letter written in another language.
- Direct clients. Firms that need to have their products, services or communication translated into another language. Generally speaking, they pay the highest fares.
- Translation agencies. They act as a middle-man between the company and the translator. Therefore, their rates are a bit lower. Nevertheless, they’re a good deal for a beginner for several reasons:
- Agencies will probably provide you with reference materials for all translations.
- You’ll be translating texts from several branches, so it’ll help you choose your field.
- They usually have a proofreader in-house, who will review your translation and give you feedback before delivering the translation to the end customer.
📌 How to work as a freelance translator without experience: Try to combine your current know-how and experience with languages: Do you have healthcare knowledge? Go for medicine or pharmaceutical translations. Do you understand machines? Go for technical translations! Do you spend hours playing games? Well… You could put that many fun hours to good use thanks to game localization!
Translators with a background in other fields are highly demanded. Just remember that you have to have very strong second language knowledge.
📌 More info about what freelance translators do: Changing Careers: Freelance Translator
2. Freelance Virtual Assistant
📌 How to become a freelance virtual assistant:
- Specialization is king: Choose a task you’re really good at – or a task you’re willing to go deeper into. Dedicate all your energy to your chosen task and go for it!
- You should be online-tool savvy to be able to manage all your clients. Otherwise, you’ll have to hire a VA yourself to reduce your overwhelm.
- I’d suggest you check out some project management options, like Trello or Asana, as well as bookkeeping and invoicing tools, like Freshbooks or HelloBonsai. They’ll make your life a lot easier.
📌 As a freelance virtual assistant, you’ll typically have 4 types of customers:
- Bloggers. Blog management includes almost any task you can think of: Content creation, advertising, sales, online marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, bookkeeping… You name it. This means that if you’re able to take up one or more of these tasks, you should have no problem finding a job. Any blogger who wants to grow her blog will be craving for your help.
- Startups & small companies. Startups or small companies with an online presence will generally need the online version of a traditional personal assistant. So if you’re especially good at dealing – by phone or email – with customers, suppliers or contractors, this could be your thing!
- Physical stores. Small to medium-sized stores – like restaurants, coffee shops, for instance. with an online image will need someone to take care of their online business. Make sure you let them feel they can focus on their store – and make yourself essential for their online presence
- E-commerce. Good management and bookkeeping skills are essential for customers with an e-commerce. If you’re a techie and can help them out with their online store, you’ll be a very valuable asset for the company!
📌 How to work as a freelance virtual assistant without experience: Combine your current skills and experience with technical abilities. The more tools you can work with, the better. However, maybe you’re not a techie at all, but you’re 24/7 on Pinterest? Then you’d be more than appropriate to become a Pinterest virtual assistant!! Yep, that’s actually a thing!! Check out this post by my fellow blogger Gina Horkey.
If you don’t feel ready to work as a virtual assistant yet, you can also check out some specialized courses for VAs and choose which field are you going to specialize in. You got this!
📌 More info about what freelance virtual assistants do: Changing Careers: Freelance Virtual Assistant
3. Freelance Visual Designer
📌 How to become a freelance visual designer:
- You should become best friends with Adobe: Using Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are almost a must for any visual designer. However, if you have no experience with these software tools yet, you may want to check Canva out. It’s perfect for (not only) beginners, it has a really good free version and the results are amazing!
- Although you can sketch a website on a piece of paper (true word!), there are other tools which will let your work look much more professional, like Sketch for Mac, UX Pin or Axure.
- I’d suggest you join a visual design course. Check out SkillCrush, for instance. Classes begin every month, and they typically last 3 months, although you can take them at your own pace. The Visual Designer Blueprint includes visual design fundamental and tools, branding and identity design. On top of that, there’s a last module which introduces you into the visual design professional environment.
📌 As a freelance visual designer, you’ll typically have 3 types of customers:
- Bigger companies who need a rebranding. This means that you’ll probably have to work on existing branding guidelines, and redo them.
- Startups & small companies with no brand identity yet. You’re probably going to create an identity design from scratch! Just make sure you get enough information to know the company’s audience to design an online presence which matches that audience perfectly.
- Bloggers & freelancers. This kind of customers is kind of tricky: Generally, they won’t have any written branding guidelines, but they’ll most surely have an idea of what they want. Or what they don’t. The thing is, they may struggle making it clear. So you may not really get them. And a blog is such a personal thing that they will most likely try to let you make changes until they get what they want.
On the other hand, if they like your work, they will never want to let you go!! Bloggers have enough things to do. If they search for visual design help, that means that they are already more than overwhelmed. You could try and ease things for both of you:
- Making as many questions as you can to figure out what she wants / doesn’t want.
- Showing her examples of other sites. Make sure she tells you what it is that she doesn’t like.
- Work with mood boards and try to understand what’s the feel she’s looking for.
- Set a fix number of reviews beforehand. And have a bit of patience!
📌 How to work as a freelance visual designer without experience: You may not have work experience, but that doesn’t mean that you have no experience at all. Let me explain: Customers won’t be checking if you’ve had more or less paid projects. What they want to see is what your work looks like.
So make sure that you upload enough designs on platforms such as Behance to create a portfolio. Provide your potential customers with the link to the portfolio, and they’ll be able to check for themselves if they like your style. Other awesome online platforms for visual designers looking for their first job are Upwork or Fiverr.
Show the world your beautiful designs, and nobody will notice that you’re a newbie
📌 More info about what freelance visual designers do: Changing Careers: Visual Designer
4. Freelance Content Writer
📌 As a freelance content writer, you’ll typically have 2 types of customers:
- Personal blogs. Bloggers who would like to grow their business and invest more time creating strategies, partnering with brands, attending networking events or selling their own products still need to publish content on their blogs. But their time is scarce – and they look for freelance writers with a similar writing style to theirs.
- Corporate websites. Blogs are not only a tool to let people know your message but also a non-stop content publishing platform – just what Google likes. What’s Google doing here, you ask? Well, companies of every size need to attract traffic – aka visitors – to their sites if they want to be found online. And for that, you need Google. But Google won’t make things easy for you if you don’t create good-quality content. And that’s where you fit in this story: Your role is to create content which is good enough for your customer’s site to land on the first search engine results page – like Google or Bing.
📌 How to work as a freelance content writer without experience:
- You don’t need work experience to work as a freelance writer, but you’ll have to show how you write. If you don’t have any published work on your own, you should start doing it as soon as possible.
- The easiest way to start putting your content out there is with guest posts, that is writing posts for other blogs. In this way, your content is online and, at the same time, you’ll get known by that blog’s audience, who can become your audience as well.
- Another option is creating a blog yourself! What’s a better way to show off your writing skills than with a blog of your own? Write about anything you would like to write about for your customers, and try to include several styles – this will be your particular portfolio. Writing a blog won’t only serve you as a virtual business card, but it can also help you attract customers to your site, remember?
📌 More info about what freelance content writers do: Changing Careers: Freelance Writer
📌 If writing is your thing, check out this post about freelance ghostwriters, too: Changing Careers: What Is a Ghostwriter
5. Freelance Online Photographer
📌 How to become a freelance online photographer:
- The obvious first step is to get a good camera If you’re going to invest, try and get a DSLR camera. Price ranges are huge, but don’t forget that Christmas is just around the corner!! Check out this post about getting your freelancing equipment without having to pay way too much!
I’m not an expert in photography, but make sure you get the right lens for the photography style you’re going to focus on. What is it going to be? Flatlays for bloggers? Outdoor pics for travel websites?
- Either you are a natural-born talent, and you get beautiful pics every time you get near a camera, or you should join a photography course. There are quite affordable options. There might be a photography meetup near you. If you rather join the class from home, visit Creative Live. Their online classes are incredibly good!
- You should also get acquaintanced with some Adobe products, like Photoshop or Lightroom – especially if you’re going to sell your images online! No worries, Creative Live has you covered there as well.
📌 How to work as a freelance online photographer without experience: The good news about freelance photographers’ first steps is that – once again – what counts is not your experience, but your work. And what does this mean? That your potential buyers don’t mind how long you’ve been taking pics. They just want them to be awesome. Got it?
The thing is that you and your images have to be found. So make sure to upload enough pics on the sites mentioned above. Take a lot of pictures, research every photography platform and create a portfolio.
And don’t forget the #1 – and free – marketing tool that you have right on your PC: Social media!!! Promote your pics on Instagram and Pinterest. Create business profiles everywhere. Let people get tired of your pics.
By the way, social media isn’t only a powerful tool to make yourself a name: There’s a huge need for pictures to be used on social media!!! Take that into account and upload square images for Instagram, for instance. There are enough content creators who will be thankful for your photography!
📌 More info about what freelance online photographers do: Changing Careers: Freelance Photographer
6. Freelance Community Manager
📌 How to become a freelance community manager:
- You have to be very familiar with – at least – one social media network. If you would like to specialize only in one, do it – it’s actually an awesome idea!!
- You should be acquainted not only with the functioning of basic social media accounts but also with its advertisement options.
- Although it isn’t compulsory, I’d suggest you take up a community management course to understand how the job and the industry work. If you wouldn’t like to spend any money on such courses, read as much info as you can about every relevant social media platform. Start with one, and once you master all of its options, go for the next one.
- Social media platforms usually have their own blog or weekly emails. Join them and be the first to hear about new changes and services. Don’t let your customer tell you about it!
📌 As a freelance community manager, you’ll typically have 3 types of customers:
- Companies. If they have already a strong online presence, they’ll also have some social media guidelines. Study them by heart and keep on working on their social media accounts to allow a seamless transition to the new community manager – you!! However, if you notice there’s room for improvement, don’t hesitate to let them know!
- Small firms & startups. It’s very likely that they haven’t got any social media guidelines yet. In fact, you could volunteer to create the guidelines yourself once the job is yours. Ask as many questions as come to your mind about their company philosophy, goals, strategy and style. The more questions you ask upfront, the better! Are you responsible for creating their social media profiles? What have they done so far? What do they want to achieve with their social media strategy?
- Freelancers & bloggers. There are 2 common reasons for a freelancer or a blogger to hire a community manager: Either they have no idea about how it all works, or they are completely overwhelmed with all the tasks social media marketing involves – on top of other things they have to accomplish.
- Ask them for all their social network login details. Have a look at all of them. Analyze them and evaluate the positive stuff and the not so positive stuff Think of tone of voice, style, branding, activity frequency, post times… Offer your customer to implement your new strategy, maybe even new social platforms. Match it up with analytics… And she’ll never ever want to let you go!
📌 How to work as a freelance community manager without experience: The good news about social media is that everyone can learn it for free, right? You can show off your experience on social media giving potential clients a link to your profiles. You only have to show your numbers.
But that’s also the bad news… You can’t pretend or hide anything: So you’d better start creating a solid online presence. That should be your priority #1 if you want to get working as a social media or community manager. Check out this post about how to plan and build a strong online presence.
Think big. Don’t limit yourself to local customers. Your target market is the Internet = the world. Just don’t forget different time zones.
📌 More info about what freelance community managers do: Changing Careers: Freelance Community Manager
7. Freelance Online Teacher
📌 How to become a freelance online teacher:
- After deciding what your course is going to be about, try to offer specialized lessons, such as yoga for pregnant women, Photoshop for web designers, or watercolor lettering for bloggers, for instance. The more specific your course is, the more chances you have to stand out.
- Create a detailed outline of your course.
- Proofread the content of your course. You can either review it yourself, hire a reviewer, or download an automated grammar checker to do all the work for you I use Grammarly – it’s easy to use, highly reliable and it lets me focus on creativity and forget about grammar! As an online teacher, you don’t want to have any typos, right?
- Distribute all the content you want to teach into modules or lessons. Make sure they go from basic to advanced.
📌 As an online freelance teacher, there are several options for you:
- Create your course on the software you feel more comfortable with. PowerPoint is a fantastic option – you just have to record your voice over the presentation, and upload it to your teaching platform!
- Choose the option which best suits you for publishing your course:
- You can offer your course on sites like Udemy –> I don’t personally like this option very much because you have no access to your students’ emails and no control of your course prices.
- You can have your courses on an online teaching platform, like Teachable or Thinkific –> These are excellent options for beginners. Both take care of the techie stuff, and their teaching resources are awesome.
- If you don’t mind opting for a pricier solution, but where you can find EVERYTHING you need for your online courses, give Kajabi a try!
- You can have a member-only area on your own website, where you upload your videos. As it might be a bit complicated for beginners, you’d probably want to strive for this option in the long term.
- Get active on social media, and let the world know about your new online course!!
📌 How to work as a freelance online teacher without experience: Offer a free webinar or a mini-course about your course’s first lesson, or even with a sum-up of the whole course. Let your potential students want more from you! It’s as easy as sharing it on social media.
You could offer the course to a small group of people for a reduced price, and let them give you their feedback for you to share on your sales page. This is the best promotion you can ever get!
Create a compelling sales page to sell your course. If you join ConvertKit email program, you’ll be able to use their sales pages. Otherwise, you can use the sales pages offered at the course platform that you join. Mine is Kajabi, and the reason why I use Kajabi’s sale pages is that I like to have as many tools as possible in the same place.
📌 More info about what freelance online teachers do: Changing Careers: Freelance Online Teacher
Plan the Steps to Start Freelancing
These job types that we have seen above are just a couple of examples of online services that you can start offering without being afraid of not having any references to show. There are many more: Web designer, content manager, SEO specialist, WordPress developer… But what happens once you know what you can do? Well, the planning phase starts!
If “planning the steps to start freelancing” is something that you need translation for, download the free Roadmap to Self Employment and check the suggested steps to start planning your freelance business.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below!
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