You want to learn how to start freelancing with no experience. So much so that you constantly daydream about it — the extra time you’d have to spend with family and friends. The joy you'd feel with being your own boss. The extra money you’d have to accomplish your financial goals.
Well, you’re in luck because I was once in your shoes, working a job that paid $32,000 a year with no way to work my way to the top. Desperate to break free, I learned how to become a freelancer with no experience. So, today I’m going to show you exactly how I did it. Plus, I’ll cover 28 freelancing ideas to help you get started.
How to become a freelancer with no experience
I’m living proof that you can learn how to start freelancing with no experience. When I started freelance writing, in just six months I was earning enough money to replace my 9 to 5 income and then some.
These are the exact steps I used to make it happen:
1. Pick which type of freelancing you want to do
There are a million different ways to “freelance”. The first step is to identify your passions so you can figure out what type of freelancing you want to do.
If you’re more of a creative type, you may choose freelance copywriting or video editing. If you’re technical, you may go with freelance web developing or coding. We have over 28 freelancing ideas at the end of this article, so use those if you need some inspiration.
If you feel paralyzed by all your options, check out our tips for overcoming indecisiveness. The key is to choose whichever idea resonates with you the most, then take action on it immediately. You can always change it up later.
2. Get into the right mindset as you learn how to start freelancing with no experience
Anytime you embark on a new journey, imposter syndrome can rear its ugly head and tell you you’re not worthy, smart, or talented enough to make it happen.
So, if you’re just now learning how to start freelancing with no experience, give this mindset work a try and see if it helps you get in the right headspace:
- Practice affirmations: These help reframe your attitude and strengthen your confidence
- Create a morning routine: This helps set you up for success
- Practice gratitudes: This increases the positivity and joy in your life while reducing the stress and anxiety
Practicing these three habits every day can help you stay focused and grounded as you build your profitable freelancing business.
3. Create a website
A lot of freelancers get hung up on creating the perfect website when they’re just getting started. But remember this: your website doesn’t need to be perfect. It’s merely a place for potential clients to view your portfolio and learn more about who you are.
So, set up a basic site and get it live as quickly as possible. You can always go back and tweak it as you gain experience. Here’s what I recommend doing:
- Set up a basic website with Squarespace. (It's the easiest platform for those without website design experience.)
- Create web pages for your portfolio, rates, and about me.
- Add a contact page where they can schedule a discovery call with you.
- Add a Calendly link to your website so they can schedule a call directly with you without having to email you or submit a form first. (Optional)
4. Build your initial portfolio
The next step is to create a portfolio of three to five pieces you can show off to potential clients. Now you may be thinking, “But I'm trying to learn how to start freelancing with no experience! How do I build a portfolio when no one wants to hire a newbie?!”
Let me let you in on a little secret… Are you ready? Here it is: You don’t have to have real clients to create your portfolio. You can do all the work as if someone hired you to do it.
So, if you’re a logo designer, this may mean creating some logo packages for hypothetical, ideal clients in your niche. If you’re a website designer, it means creating a few websites that showcase your best skills. As long as potential clients like your finished product, it doesn’t matter if they were for made-up companies.
Important: This tip may not work for any freelancing that relies heavily on experience (such as financial coaching, fitness training, or pet-sitting, for example). So, if this is you, you may want to forego building a hypothetical portfolio and jump straight to this next step:
5. Find your first few clients
Finding clients as a freelancing newbie may seem daunting, but trust me. There are surefire ways to get those first few customers. Here are three places to look:
Look on job boards
Upwork and Fiverr are great places to get some fast wins when you’re first learning how to become a freelancer with no experience. But you’ll typically want to move off these sites once you’ve gained some experience.
Not only do they take a large cut of your earnings, but a lot of the companies that use them are looking for the cheapest work possible.
Tap into your network
Reach out to friends and family and see if any of them are interested in free or discounted work. (You could even ask them for a testimonial in exchange!)
This is exactly what our CEO, Bola, did when she started her photography side hustle years before launching Clever Girl Finance. She started by taking photos at her best friend’s wedding. Then, she asked others in her social circle to be her “test subjects” as she developed her skills. They didn’t say no to free photography!
In short, if you're wanting to learn how to start freelancing with no experience, reach out to people you already know! It just might surprise you.
Cold email companies you admire
This last one may seem super scary, but trust me! Cold emailing is the best way to get new clients. A lot of companies are completely overwhelmed with work and are juggling multiple projects at once. Therefore, one good cold email could land you a stellar freelancing opportunity.
But here’s a catch though — you need to have a portfolio before you start cold emailing. This is because companies need to know you can produce the quality of work they’re looking for. So, if you don’t have a portfolio yet, build that first before you start reaching out.
Once you have your portfolio in hand, use these cold email tips to grow your client roster:
- Create a cold email template that’s personalized, establishes your credibility, and focuses on the recipient’s needs above all else.
- Add an email signature that provokes trust. (Hubspot has a free signature generator.)
- Follow-up after five business days if you don’t get a response. (However, stop emailing them after your second follow-up. You don’t want to annoy them or get marked as spam.)
- Understand that it’s a numbers game. (For example, you may only get one response for every 20 emails you send. That’s okay! Keep at it, and the results will follow.)
6. Raise your rates and keep going!
Once you have three to five portfolio pieces under your belt, it’s time to raise your rates and keep going!
How do you price freelance work, you ask? One common method is to identify how much money you want to make each month, then work backward to create your hourly or per-project rate.
If you’re charging per project and have time to write five articles a month, then your rate would be $200 per article (1000 / 5 = 200). If you’re charging per hour and estimate it’d take you about 12.5 hours per month to write five articles, then your hourly rate would be $80 (1000 / 12.5 = 80).
7. Buy a course that teaches you how to start freelancing with no experience
Want to supercharge your success? Find an online course that teaches you how to become a freelancer with no experience.
This is exactly what I did when I started freelance copywriting. I had absolutely no experience, but I found a copywriting course that was created by a seasoned pro who had already made all the mistakes and learned to do it the right way. Within six months of buying her course, I had replaced my full-time income with freelancing and had quit my 9 to 5.
Could I have built a profitable freelancing career without the course? Yes. But would it have taken me a much longer time to do it? Absolutely. So, if it fits your budget and learning style, consider investing in a freelancing course that can help you jumpstart your success.
28 Freelancing ideas to try if you want to learn how to start freelancing with no experience
There are lots of ways to earn money as a freelancer — even if you have no experience. Below is a list of 28 freelancing ideas, broken down by category, so you can find a job that suits your skills best. Read through the list below and choose the freelancing idea that jumps out at you the most.
Creative freelancing ideas
Firstly, if you have a knack for writing, editing, illustrating, or any other creative endeavor, give one of these creative freelancing ideas a try:
- Freelance writer
- Copy editor
- Freelance marketer
- Social media manager
- Video editor
- Graphic designer
- Logo designer
- Voice artist
- Website designer
- App designer
- Web developer or coder
- Ux/UI designer
- SEO expert
Administrative freelancing ideas
On the other hand, if you’re more of a data-driven type, you may like one of these administrative freelancing ideas a bit more:
- Virtual assistant
- Data entry specialist
- Tax consultant
- Fundraising consultant
- Management consultant
People-based freelancing ideas
Lastly, if helping people is more your thing, here are some freelancing ideas that will get you connected with others:
- Coaching (financial, wellness, general life, or business coach)
- Nutritionist or fitness trainer
- Pet sitter or house sitter
Which of these freelancing ideas will you try first?
In short, it’s totally possible to learn how to start freelancing with no experience. The key is to choose a freelancing idea you’re passionate about, build your initial portfolio, and go after clients who will pay what you’re worth.
One of my favorite self-love affirmations is: My fears do not hold me back from going after the things I love. I possess the power I need to create my future. Above all, remember this as you learn how to become a freelancer with no experience: You have what it takes to build your dream life.
Also, if you want help staying organized as you embark on this new journey, check out our Clever Girl Finance 6 Month Business Planner. It’s designed to help you create the life of your dreams with intentional planning. Plus, it’s undated so you can use it at any time.