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How to Strike Gold and Get Your First Big Break as a Freelancer

Whether you’re currently in college or working at a dead-end job with no further aspirations, freelancing is an option that is open to anyone. However, as exciting as the life of a freelancer sounds, getting started is one of the biggest challenges to overcome and it’s not uncommon for people to fall short of their high expectations and be put off the idea of freelancing in the future. While freelancing can become an extremely lucrative career, the reality is that you’re not going to have a big break until you’ve built some experience and gained a little exposure in your career.

Work for free… but not for long

Working for free is a great way to build up experience, but don’t let people take you for an extended ride. If people advertise freelance opportunities and sell you “exposure” instead of paying you, then try to avoid these websites as much as possible. Although building experience is a valid reason to work for free, don’t believe any lies that people tell you about giving you exposure for your work. This is incredibly important if you plan to make a creative career, such as writing or digital art, your main source of income. You should try to build your own brand, not build a brand under someone else’s company. Work for free only to beef up your experience, then apply them to the different resume types in order to give yourself a better chance of being recruited in the future by a paying company. At most, work for free at once place for no longer than a few weeks just to build up a portfolio.

Know when to pitch and when to search

Depending on what kind of freelance career you’ve chosen, you’re going to be offered different options to get work and how you approach them depends on your attitude. If you’re a confident writer, then learn how to write well-structured and concise pitches for articles and editorials. If you’re a freelance artist, then get your art posted on popular platforms such as Twitter, Instagram or DeviantArt. If you’re a programmer for hire, then show people what you’re capable of and let them know you’re available for hire. Alternatively, programmers can often be hired from job openings and don’t necessarily need to pitch their ideas to anyone unless they know they can offer something a company doesn’t already have. While you never want to sound cocky, you do need to have an air of confidence to make you seem more in control of your situation.

Never get taken for a fool

Lastly, know how to separate legitimate deals and offers to scam artists. There are plenty of horror stories out there from freelancers who worked with a company expecting it to flourish into a beautiful client-freelancer relationship, only to have their work taken and receive minimal pay for their efforts. Always stay vigilant and never be taken for a fool if you want to build up your identity as a freelancer that’s worth hiring.


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