You don’t have to “start small” if you follow these steps.
When I started my freelancing journey in January 2021, I didn’t list myself on Upwork and take the route most new freelancers do.
I started working with a premium client right in my first month. And this happened because I had three unfair advantages that I’m going to discuss in this post. You can steal them from me and make them your own.
Before we get started, here’s how I define premium gigs:
- Your client expects solutions to challenging problems and urges you to think out of the box.
- You have a more “complex” role that doesn’t involve simply writing. Often, your decisions can change the direction of the company.
- They are long-term contracts with incremental “salaries.”
If you’re a new freelancer tired of selling your soul for a few dollars, this article is just for you. Here’s how I landed a premium client for my very first gig that paid me more than $10,000 USD in 6 months.
1. I wrote for free for 6 months
Technically, I didn’t write for free. I wrote on Medium. The partner program paid me decent amounts for the effort I invested.
When I wrote on Medium for 6 months, I wasn’t simply writing 30 stories a month for $200. I was building my brand, picking my niche, and establishing myself as an expert in a field.
This, combined with the fact that articles published on Medium are treated with respect in the writing world (compared to writing on your own blog that has 1000 monthly visitors), and I was effectively building my resume by writing on Medium.
My profile caught the attention of a company owner I’d been talking with. They offered to hire me at an amount almost thrice of what I was earning on Medium at that time for doing a fifth of the work. There was no reason I’d say no!
How you can apply this
- Pick a platform and start writing articles on any topic you wish.
- After you’ve written 50 or 100 articles, go through your stats and analyze which articles are doing well.
- Note down the topic and the style of writing in the top 20 highest performing articles, and narrow down on what’s common between them.
- This will answer the million-dollar question: What does my audience want from me? This is your niche, the field you can claim expertise on.
- Then, you can zero in on your niche and keep producing quality articles.
- Soon, your backlog of articles will serve as a virtual resume, and you can share this with any prospective freelance client you talk to.
I stole this system from Nicolas Cole and personalized it to suit my talents and needs. Feel free to steal it from me and make it yours.
2. I talked to people without any expectation
Many of the freelancers I talked to don’t really jump into a meeting unless it’s absolutely necessary.
I, on the other hand, jumped into every survey call, every networking session, every “office hours” I got invited to. Once I was in a meeting, all I had to do was to put forth my views when a relevant topic was being discussed, bang, an impression was made.
I’ve had people reach out to me on LinkedIn or Instagram after a meeting, saying they agreed on what I had to say about some topic and would be interested in talking further. Such conversations can turn into job interviews if you treat them right.
My first freelance client knew me from one such “office hours.” Had I not shown up that day, I’d have never talked to this company owner, and I’d still probably be floundering my way around the cut-throat competition of the world of freelancers.
How you can apply this
- Show up in every meeting you’re invited to be a part of. Observe who the “alpha” of the group is, as in, who’s the person who speaks for longer durations and has the most number of questions directed at them. This indicates every other person cares about the alpha’s opinion.
- Dissect what sets the alpha apart, and then emulate as many habits as you can. Slowly, with practice, you’ll learn to develop your own style.
- No matter what conversation you walk in, lead it. Nothing sets you up as an expert as directing a group chat session according to your wishes.
- Focus on people and try and understand what they want. Deliver on these rather than doing exactly what they asked you for.
Effectively, show up when it’s okay to not show up. Focus on making an impression and building connections.
3. I made content in various forms
Every reader on Medium might not be present on YouTube. Every video-consumer on YouTube might not be present on LinkedIn. But I was on YouTube, Medium, Facebook, Quora, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Being visible on so many platforms helped me expand my community further.
Often, I’ve landed hundreds of dollars worth of deals just after posting something new on LinkedIn. There was a time when I even made $300 off a single Tweet.
The point is: you never know which post might turn into a life-changing deal. But to welcome these opportunities in your life, you’ve got to open up space in your heart for this bounty. And for that, you need to be visible as an expert.
How you can apply this
The only way to apply this is to make your digital footprint as wide as possible. Post regularly on several social media platforms and establish yourself as an expert.
- You don’t need to take pictures or make videos to be present on multiple social media platforms. Spend some time to shortlist the platforms that are best suited to the kind of content you create and focus on growing your reach there.
- Even if you’re shy, showing your face is important as it helps your audience connect a face to the name. This makes you a person, not just a name on social media. Readers and potential clients will be more likely to initiate virtual conversations with you this way.
- Being present on several platforms doesn’t mean working yourself to the bone and then burning out. Learn to repurpose and re-package old content. Work smart, not hard.
Landing a premium client for your first gig as a freelancer opens the door for better, higher-paying opportunities. It raises the bar high for your subsequent clients and gives you a nice confidence boost.
If you’ve made it till the end, you’d notice that these so-called “unfair advantages” don’t come from privilege. Rather, they come from consistent hard work and the compounding effect of small successes over time.
If you apply the right strategy, you can price your time higher as well. What are you waiting for? Start spinning the gears and get working.
If you’d like to book a coaching or consulting service with me, fill this form and I’ll get back to you.
Watch the same in video format with more details and personal stories+insights here:
For more talk on freelancing and expanding your income streams as a writer, find me on YouTube.