Take the First Step: Become a Freelancer

So you’re a longtime reader of Boss Babe, maybe you’ve even joined the Boss Babe Academy, but you aren’t an entrepreneur yet. You’re curious about taking a first step to business ownership. You want to become a freelancer – but you haven’t made the leap. Well, dear readers, I was in your shoes 6 months ago and I’m going to bring you along with me on my freelance journey.

Hop in your local time machine and come back with me to October 2016. I had finished my latest editing contract, which had lasted a year and 3 months, my longest consistent employment I’d had since leaving teaching behind in 2013. I was tired of accepting editing contracts that never led to real employment, and after so many contracts, my resume was looking shaggy. What to do?

become a freelancer

I decided to enroll in a coding boot camp. In this boot camp, I learned full-stack web development in about 3 months, so by the time February ended, I could design a webpage from scratch. I could have found a traditional job at a tech company; in fact, most of my classmates followed that path. I, on the other hand, decided to pursue a pipe dream I’d had since leaving academia – I wanted to become a freelancer. I had only one question.

But how do I start?

Excellent question, former self. You may ask yourself the same question. Luckily, you already have interests and passions that you can market as skills. Where do you want to be in a few years? In my case, I want to make a living from my writing. Answer that question for yourself, and look at what expertise you already have. Think about how you can work from where you are to where you want to be. What is the smallest step that you can take?

Can you begin accepting contracts for small jobs within your current area of expertise? When you do, you’ll discover where the gaps in your market are. More importantly, you’ll know where you need to grow. For example, I learned that my web development skills are useful, but many potential clients are looking for expertise in a language I’m not too familiar with. I know I need to learn more about using that language in order to be competitive in my market.

How do I become a freelancer without any experience?

Another great question! You’ve heard the phrase, “fake it ’til you make it,” right? Turns out, that’s exactly what you should do. Make some samples of your work. Show off what you currently know how to do. In my case, I’ve made demo websites featuring my writing and web design skills. Because I completed a coding boot camp, I have several group projects that I’ve included in my portfolio. You may not have any larger projects at your disposal, but leverage your network. Maybe you know someone already in your field or who is trying to get into the industry who would be interested in collaborating with you on a more expansive demo project.

Now you’ve taken your first step toward becoming a freelancer. The road is going to be tough. Gigs may be difficult to find at first. Sometimes you’ll feel discouraged, but never fear! I am here, cataloging my journey with you, step by step.


Jillian is a former Spanish teacher, current freelance editor, writer, and web developer. She is also an armchair film critic, food blogger, amateur philosopher, and cat enthusiast. After a life of working for other people, she decided to follow a long-time dream and pursue a freelance career. She is excited to share her experiences in starting a freelance business with Boss Babe readers, both her successes and failures, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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