26 Freelancers Share Their Number One Tip for Beginners

As a new freelancer, finding your way can be tough. There are so many things you need to learn in order to run your own business, let alone be successful at it.

One of the best things you can do to help yourself is to ask a more experienced freelancer for advice. After all, who knows better than somebody who’s already done what you’re trying to do.

To help, I asked some of the most successful freelancers out there today, for their #1 tip for beginners. Here is what they told me:

Barry Choi, Personal Finance and Travel Writer

“Not to get obsessed with what others are doing. It’s easy to read about people earning $10,000 in passive income every month, but you don’t know the details behind it. No income is ever really passive, you need to build something to get there and it needs constant maintenance.”

Elna Cain, Freelance Writer

“Just start! Too many freelancers learn, and educate themselves about freelancing, and landing clients, but then don’t do the work!”

Amy Beardsley, Content Marketing Writer 

Don’t let imposter syndrome stop you from being a freelancer.  no one knows you’re a beginner unless you tell them. Have a few articles in your portfolio and be confident When approaching a new clients and you’ll do great

Jenn Greenleaf, Freelance Writer

“I would have placed more value on my skills and abilities.” 

Choncé Maddox, Freelance Writer

“Find a mentor if you can. It’s so easy to get discouraged or have a ton of questions and no idea where to start. Start writing every day and networking with other writers who can offer you support and exchange tips and advice, because trust me, you’ll need it along the way. Working remotely as a freelance writer doesn’t have to mean you’re alone.”

 Bridget Willard, Social Media Manager

“There Is no work-life balance. There is no dream without the work. It isn’t instant. Do the work.”

Melanie Lockert, Freelance Writer

 “Go after higher paying clients sooner.”

Taylor Medine, Freelance Writer

“Don’t try to do everything alone. Ask for help and network with other freelancers. Also, perfect your craft but I understand that being amazing at your craft is not enough to get you paid. There were many times when I looked around and noticed that my peers were getting opportunities that I thought I was also good enough for. What separated them from me at the time was that they were persistent consistent, and making connections. I started doing the same and found myself getting better and better opportunities.”

Amanda Kruze, Freelance Writer

“Build genuine relationships with others in your field. This means showing up and helping out, even if in small ways. Offering to connect people, providing feedback, or simply listening are a few of the many ways to start building those relationships.”

Cat Alford, Personal Finance Writer

“10x your work ethic. you can write a lot more than you think you can in a day. You can pitch a lot more people than you think you can in a month. Turn off Netflix and lean into your business. Go nuts. Self-employment is worth it.”

Tom Hirst, WordPress Developer

“Look for mentors and build genuine connections.”

Eric Rosenberg, Finance and Travel Writer

“Just get started, and don’t under charge. You are an expert in something. Put that to good use and grow your income!”

Kathleen Celmins, Web Designer

“Stop aspiring, and do. Treat freelancing like a paid degree – do you like doing X as a freelancer? Find out by taking a job that will teach you.”

Kevin Payne, Freelance Writer

“Don’t wait. Stop reading this and get started. You won’t be good at it at first. That’s okay. A year or two from now you’ll be at a completely different level as a writer and you’ll look back and realize you wouldn’t be where you are now if you didn’t start then. You’ll probably wish you started earlier!”

Ashley Barnett, Freelance Editor 

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You don’t need to know everything. Your clients don’t expect you to be perfect or know every detail… Just have a good attitude and genuinely keep your clients best interests at heart. You’ll be fine.”

Sara Lee Cain, Freelance Writer

“Just start. Sounds cheesy, but that’s it. Think of the smallest step you need to do and do it. Then move on to the next step.”

Raina Willick, Community Connector

“Go ahead and put yourself out there. It is scary, no doubt. But you know your skills and you know you can deliver. Do it!”

Clint Proctor, Freelance Writer

“Make one client very happy and there’s a good chance that more will eventually come your way. I think focussing a little less on sending out cold pitches at a little more on perfecting your craft would be a good idea for most freelance writers.”

Laura Gariepy, Freelance Writer and Coach

“Understand both the pros and the cons of being a freelancer and be aware how working for yourself differs from working for someone else. Often times, people are caught off guard about things like the self-employment tax, how to set up a business, the need for an emergency fund, income fluctuation, and so much more. Of course, you really don’t fully understand these things (or anything) until you leave them. But knowing what pitfalls and challenges exist can help you keep a realistic perspective and can allow you to anticipate them in advance.”

Richmond, Freelance Writer

“I don’t know much about other online niches, but the personal finance blogosphere is a wonderful community to be a part of. I highly recommend getting on Twitter, writing regularly, connecting with people, and putting it out there to the world that you’re interested in freelancing. Mention that your new and willing to work for cheap but not free to build up a portfolio.”

Bobby Warren, Freelance Writer and SEO Consultant

“I don’t know that I have a number one tip but I do know it is important to be genuine. Be willing to give back just as others helped you on your path. I tell potential clients, I am happy to help you and if we do business, even better. If someone needs advice, I will give it freely. I know what it is like trying to bootstrap everything and get things done at little to no cost.”

Claudia Pennington, SEO consultant

“Start small until you find the kind of working system that works best for you. Once you find what works and how best you work, it will be much easier to grow.”

Ben Luthi, Freelance Writer

“I know the sentiment isn’t unique, but if I can do this, anyone can. I wasn’t a great writer when I started my blog in 2013. Biomate an effort to always ask my editors for feedback and spent extra time to implement it and improve my Natural Instincts. There has been a lot of obstacles and failures in my six years of writing, but staying on the wagon and engaging in relentless self-improvement have made the difference.”

Emily Guy Birken, Freelance Writer

“Write in a topic area that you were passionate about. This will help keep you invested in the job even when things are tough because you will be fascinated by the subject and your research.”

Sandra Parsons, Freelance Writer

“Just try it. Don’t expect overnight success, but do know that it’s absolutely possible to make a good living or build a lucrative side hustle as a freelancer if you’re willing to put in the work.”

Kim, Freelance Engineer

“Track your habits NOW using a time log. Know how much sleep you need, when you need  or like/need to eat,  what exercise routine you have, and how much time you like to spend relaxing with family. Then be realistic with how many hours you actually have available in a day to do your work. I thrive with full plate, but still have to be very selective with a compressed work schedule.”

Miranda Marquit, Freelance Writer

“Make time to write each day. Even if it’s one blog post after work, make time to write.”

There you have it. The best tips from 26 of the top freelancers out there today. For more advice from these and other great freelancers, head over to our interview series, Freelancer Success Stories!

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