Whenever I do workshops, or speeches or trainings on freelancing—I always get this ONE question.
“Can I become a freelancer with no experience?”
And yes, you can. But it does not happen overnight.
But I actually did the same thing 15 years ago—I started out as a freelance writer without any prior writing experience.
So today I want to share with you my personal journey of freelancing, what role does “experience” play in success, as well as a couple of tips on how YOU can make the same transition seamlessly.
So… to the big question, can you make it as a freelancer without any real experience?
Yes… but there is a catch.
Think of launching a freelance business as a race, as a sprint.
In this race…. winning—or crossing the finish line—means having good clients, working on fun projects, and generally enjoying life as a freelancer.
Good news, though.
In this race you do not start from zero.
Through your knowledge, skillset, languages spoken—and even geographical location you might have some advantages or disadvantages.
So even if you feel like not having “ANY'' experiences, you have some kind of a head start. Nobody is starting this race from completely zero.
The more experience you have in your respective field, the better your starting chances are in winning the race.
So what’s the catch?
The catch is that even if you have a good head start—if you don’t put in the hours, you can fail at this.
I’ve seen seasoned industry professionals trying to make the transition from a regular creative job to freelancing, but failing, because they thought it would be just “handed to them”.
But don’t worry, this is GOOD news for you.
Because I’ve seen the exact opposite of this: people fresh out of high school, hustling hard to find that extra income that puts them through college.
Hey, I was one of these people.
And really that is the only key ingredient to freelancing success. Putting in the work hours. Aaand… if you have a bit of a head start, if you already have some skills and resources, you might have to put in less of these work hours initially.
But that’s it.
Now, let’s talk about maximising your chances in winning your race..
…and this brings me to some quick tips.
How did I start out? How did I land my first ever gig? And what would I do differently if I were you, today, starting out with freelancing without any experience?
Try to find something that you like… something that people have already complimented you on.
Like your aunt saying “you are very talented at design”, or your friends complimenting you on your “funny writing”, or on your “creative tiktoks” that you do.
Don’t stress too much about this tho.
Picking your freelance service is like going on a road trip. You can just pick a direction and go with the flow. If you don’t like where you’re headed, you can always turn around and try a different destination.
How do you know that something is in demand?
Well, check UpWork and fiverr, and see what other established freelancers do. Are there a lot of other people offering, for example, “youtube thumbnail design”?
If yes… then that’s actually great news. Don’t be afraid of the competition, there’s always room for one more. Competition means that there is REAL demand for that service, it has been validated.
By this I mean finding another established freelancer in the same niche as I, and just trying to learn what they are doing, what makes them successful… I would try to imitate their success, and eventually, ask the question of: OK, how can I be even BETTER than this guy?
A couple of examples of your work… But wait, how do you present a body of work without working for a client? Simple.
Assign yourself “test” challenges. If you want to be a designer, design a logo for a fictional company, if you want to be a tiktok editor, find an up-and-coming tiktokker and offer her to do a couple of edits—if you want to be a writer, write an article about something that you care about and put it on medium.com.
When I started out freelancing and pitched to get my first gig I did the following. I acknowledged that I”m a beginner.
I told my client that this is not a bad thing, in fact, this is GOOD for them. Why?
Well, I told them that as a fresh freelancer I would be working TWICE as hard to prove myself. For another established freelancer this is just another gig. For me, this is a life or death scenario.
I turned my negative into a positive.
And it worked.
My first client actually wrote back and told me that this approach really resonated with him!
So follow these steps… don’t worry about your personal advantages and disadvantages, there’s no reason for you to wait for a magic sign or whatever—get started with experimenting with freelancing, and you will eventually win at the race of freelancing.