General Question

aprilsimnel's avatar

Freelancers, how did you start?

Asked by aprilsimnel (30699points) January 14th, 2009

I haven’t had a job for a few months, save for some temp work here and there. Not a lot going on at the agencies where I’m signed on right now. I’m going to see a career counselor tomorrow to tease out transferable skills from my past experience.

Here’s the rub: I’m loathing a return to the 9–5 world and using my skills to make someone else rich.

How did you figure out what to do with the skills you enjoy using? I’m sure I can find the nuts and bolts stuff, like how to handle taxes, elsewhere. I figure I have an opportunity to opt out, but I don’t know where to begin. Suggestions?

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9 Answers

Jack79's avatar

Job ad in the newspaper actually. I called, there was an answering machine, I left my details and they called me back and asked me to come in for an interview the next day. I was just lucky because they needed someone fast and not many people had called yet.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Are you working for someone else or for yourself? I’m looking to find out how people started working for themselves.

kapuerajam's avatar

What type of freelancing writing or photography?

damien's avatar

I found freelanceswitch.com very useful when getting started. When I started, I had a bunch of clients interested from a previous job, so I just got in touch with them and it just kind of developed from there (and then dropped seriously since sept!).

aprilsimnel's avatar

@kapuerajam – I suppose that’s what I’m asking: how did you who are freelancers drill down to figure what work you would do? I’ve worked as a production assistant—> secretary—> coordinator—> associate producer in film, TV and corporate media; I’ve done some simple presentation work in PPT for banks, I’ve been a script reader, etc, but this was all through regular employment for others.

I have writing skills, but I wouldn’t know how to begin writing on a freelance basis. I wasn’t originally thinking of photography, but I have some talent at that too. I was thinking a blog, but unless you’re Steve Pavlina, I’m not sure how to rake in $4k/ week blogging.

@damien – Are you in web design? I have no talent or skills in that area, but thanks for the website suggestion.

damien's avatar

@aprilsimnel Yeah, I’m in web dev and that website is mainly focused at web designers, graphic designers, writers and photographers, but a lot of the advice is also pertinent for other fields.

For example, this article has a lot of ideas which would work in pretty much any field.

Sorceren's avatar

I started freelancing in 1995, because I had to: My silliest sister played me some music she’d written that made me think she was about to break the music world wide open, so I had to get my ass in gear and succeed.

My main skill is spotting errors in printed text. Any and all kinds of errors. And I had been trained in proofreading, which — contrary to popular belief — is not what editors mostly do. But in that proofreading training I had realized that I had a skill that most of the authors I was proofing didn’t have: I could take a passive sentence and wrangle it into active form, quickly. And I could replace any ill-chosen terms — “reticent” when you mean “reluctant”, for example — at lightning speed.

So I styled myself a freelance copyeditor, drafted up a super one-page “Hire Me” resume, and faxed it to every publisher in Fort Worth.

One of them called me, brought me in for a test, and hired me. And when you edit copy for a publisher of niche magazines, you get to know what they need pretty quickly. So when they asked me to write, bob’s your uncle!

I’ve been editing and writing ever since. Freelance. It’s gone from fax to e-mailed Word attachments and to my buying Adobe and InDesign to meet my clients’ needs, but that’s just a benison. Now I’m teaching myself to really use them, so that I can design and edit text.

When people ask me how I got my start in this or in voice acting, which I also do professionally, I say, “Wanted to.”

Georgia_Printco's avatar

Networking…. I often go to socials (such as chamber networks or corporate grand openings) and mingle, which always results in the question “what do you do.” From that point, you’ve got an upper hand and I immediately pull out my card. Often people who own small businesses like the idea that they don’t have to blindly choose a business to do their design work so you’re immediately a foot in. Once you get a couple, everything is word of mouth from there. Small businesses often grow to larger businesses and if you take care of you clients, then you will grow as your clients grow :0) Same thing works for corporate networking… I am the Web Marketing Director for a grand format printing company… I mingle and find people who could use my service and the connection is what makes the sale. **personal connection & customer service** Good Luck :)

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