How To

Mailbag: Getting Started as a Freelancer

Getting started in a career for helping? Where do you actually start?

Neil asks:

I am a web technician and proficient in Wordpress. I’ve worked on a number of WP sites, as well as other types of scripts/sites. Some of my work has been volunteer, and assisted by Dreamhost’s non-profit hosting. Would you have any suggestions as to how or where one might be able to start in obtaining freelance work? I know it’s a bit presumptuous but I thought I’d ask- I’ve seen many of your posts in the Dreamhost forums helping out. Kindest Regards, Neil

I should preface this with a reminder that I’m not a freelancer for a reason. I hate the constant hustle of it.

I don’t think I’m really qualified to answer this one. But you know who is? Chris Lema. And you know who talked on the Matt Report about how to become a great freelancer?

But that doesn’t answer where one gets freelance work.

If I had to start from zero, I’d pick the WordPress Jobs Board and snag a couple people there. Chris Lema supports Codeable, though, so that’s also a really good pick.

Hey readers, who do you use?

1 reply on “Mailbag: Getting Started as a Freelancer”

In addition to those great suggestions, Neil, I’d also recommend getting involved in your local (or nearest) WordPress meetup. Not to troll for clients specifically, but to network with WP users (getting to know the kinds of things they are needing/struggling with), and to meet other freelancers (who when they are flooded with projects, could be looking to bring someone on to help, or refer projects to you that aren’t a good fit for them). Get yourself “known”; give a presentation at a meetup (even something simple like “The Difference between Pages & Posts”).

Freelancing (especially in the beginning) is hustling to keep work coming. Having a niche area you know something about can help bring credibility — for me that was nonprofits, for others, it’s restaurants or real estate. When you see a business or organization that needs a site, don’t hesitate to give a business card (people who need help with their sites still use business cards) and tell them you can help. For every 100 cards you give out, you might have one or two interested people, but that’s better than no interested clients. Just don’t come off as desperate for work. 😉

Also, think ahead about how you can maintain relationships with clients (with services like keeping their sites updated and backedup, for instance–which have the added benefit of some recurring income), so that they are “close” when they need additional features or an updated theme. Repeat clients take less onboarding.

Good luck, Neil!

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