If you wanna make money right now, here’s my best advice for you, best advice ever: don’t be a YouTuber, do this instead. You have a better chance making your first $100 being a freelancer than waiting around for a check from Google and YouTube.
Let’s talk about it. Hey everybody, this is Roberto Blake of robertoblakecom, helping you create something awesome today. Welcome back to the channel. If you’re new here; I talk about topics like online entrepreneurship, marketing yourself, creativity, and a lot of times, I talk about freelancing and how to make money online, whether that’s active income doing a freelance business, or whether you want to make passive income by developing digital products or leveraging platforms and social media.
So, if that’s something you’re into, if that’s something you think can help you out, subscribe, check out the 1200 videos here on the channel, hit notifications if you want to get the other cool stuff that I’m gonna be putting out, ’cause YouTube is YouTube and you’ll never get the videos if you don’t hit that bell. Yes, I’m salty, that’s just the way it is. A lot of you have questions about how to get started as a freelancer, I’ve done a couple of videos on that.
STARTING AS A FREELANCER
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They’ve been well-received by the majority of you and you still had some questions, so I kinda wanted to run through what it’s gonna take for you to start as a freelancer, and how I kinda make the decision to hire people. How do people convince me to part with my money as somebody that’s a, you know, small business owner, somebody that’s hiring people for design, or illustration, or video editing, or freelance writing? How do they get my money? How do I decide that they’re worthwhile? How do I even know that these people exist, and how do they get on my radar? I’m gonna tell you guys exactly what you need to know about that.
- Know your marketable skill: I’d say, if you’re gonna start as a freelancer, the first things you need to do is you need to decide what is your marketable skill, and then do research on how much that’s worth, and then set a rate card for yourself, so people who are paying you know exactly what the deal is, what the price is.
- Go with flat rates: I don’t like hourly rates for freelancing. I’ll do a whole dedicated video on why, But I like flat rates because, as a business owner, I know what to expect, as somebody who’s freelancing and looking forward to getting that money, you know what to expect as well, and you’re not gonna have to pad hours or drag anything out. If you charge for a task instead of for your time, you’re rewarded for efficiency and getting better at it and getting faster at it. If you charge for your time, you’re punished for speed and efficiency Short version of why.
Charge flat rates, set a rate card, put it out there, it becomes a yes or a no, I’m either gonna pay you that price or I’m not. It’s a buy button, just like a product. So now you know what you’re gonna do, you know what the market demand is, you’ve set a price, you need a body of work, you need a portfolio. You need to be able to show me those . So, if you’re a writer, I was a freelance writer, I wrote for Print Magazine, Creative Pro, How Design, I’ve written, like, over 100 paid articles, for sure.
I think it’s more than that, but that’s the number that I know is set in stone, okay? So, I have experience with this beyond just hiring people and writing checks .What I did to get on people’s radar is, for those 100 paid articles I did, guess what? I did maybe 150, 200 articles on my own blog and in other places for free before I ever did that I did things like post articles on LinkedIn, and my own blog, and then later, Mediumcom, and it got people’s attention because there was traffic, there was search engine traffic from Google, there were ways to promote this on social media, there were other people sharing it if they found it interesting, so it gave awareness to people who wanted the talent that I had and were willing to pay money for it.
And then, I was able to ask them what it is they normally charge when I didn’t know, and then when I got an idea of what the normal rate was by talking to other people, other freelancers, asking questions, doing research, I was able to start setting a rate for myself, and it worked out really well for me.
Always ask what’s in the budget if you can help it. If you’re new and you don’t have a rate card yet, ask people what’s in their budget, because if you throw out a number and it’s too low, they’re not gonna tell you that it needs to be higher, not a lot of the time, okay? They’re gonna say, yep, I’ll pay that, and if they say yes so easily, it means they would’ve paid a little bit more; maybe not much, but maybe as much as 10 or 20% more, so just kinda be aware of that. Now, if you know what you want and you really want to get a fast turnaround and gain clients, set a rate and live with that rate, you can raise it later if you want.
Some people will pay it, some people won’t. But Roberto, how do I build a body of work and portfolio if I don’t have any clients, nobody’s hired me yet? It’s a simple answer, and you’re not gonna like it, but you’re gonna have to suck it up I’m aware of how harsh that sounds, I’m aware of the easy for you to say answers, but look, I’m gonna tell you the truth This is what you’re gonna have to do, you can take it or leave it.
This is how people get hired, this is how the industry works, and there’ll be people who’ll cry about it, and guess what, a lot of those other people, they’re either not getting anywhere, or they’re already where they want to be, so they can tell you, don’t do this, don’t do that, because they don’t need money right now, they’re very comfortable in their situation, okay? But I’m gonna tell you the truth, and here’s the truth: on occasion, when you are first getting started, or even when you’re already established, to get some of the things you want, on occasion, you’re going to have to work for free. I know, I know Oh, god, I don’t wanna work for free! Roberto, exposure doesn’t put food on my table, exposure doesn’t pay my rent, exposure doesn’t pay my car note. That’s a load of crap! Here is a secret of success that you probably haven’t heard presented to you in this way.
You’ve heard it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. What you haven’t heard is that nepotism and networking is real. Someone is much more likely to hire someone who is a friend, a family member, or was referred by a friend or a family member If you are just starting out and you don’t have any contacts and you don’t have any clout, you need an edge over the five or six people in front of you in line that already have the relationship, because you’re a stranger, people bet on their friends.
People bet on a brand, almost nobody bets on a stranger, and that’s a very human thing that you have to overcome if you wanna do business, whether you’re a freelancer, whether you’re a contractor, whether you’re a coach. And the way people overcome that is they either build up their influence in their network by developing their brand, but that takes time. That takes years to build a reputation, and it’s very hard to accelerate that; the more work you do, obviously, the easier it is to build a reputation, but that doesn’t always mean that you immediately get a return on it. It is an investment, and it is slow, and it is painful, so in the meantime, you need a wedge to build that network and to build that relationship, and the easiest way to edge somebody out that’s the nephew, or the beloved cousin, or the son-in-law, is to offer it for free.
That’s how you’re gonna skip ahead in the line of that person that’s already got an in. An illustrator that I’ve hired, I’ve literally done over 10 or 12 projects with him, referred probably 20 people to him, Zach Dimes, and I’m not sure that all 20 people hired him, but I know some did Like, Zach Dines, he is an illustrator overseas, and he’s on Instagram, right? The only reason I knew who Zack Dines was because he did free fanart for Gary Vaynerchuk. He does paid illustrations and commissions. This is his livelihood.
But, because he was a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk, and I’m a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk, and Gary put him in his Instagram story; I clicked on Zach’s profile, saw in his bio that he is a freelance illustrator, and I loved his work, and I loved his style, and I hired him. And I think I started with three projects I literally committed I was so convinced of his work and because he was in the network of the Vayner Nation, of the Gary V’s fans, of the people who support Gary Vaynerchuk, and if Gary Vaynerchuk was willing to put this guy and feature him in his Instagram and I liked it, then I was willing to go ahead and say, I don’t know you, but I like your work, and your work was good enough for Gary, it’s good enough for me, let’s work together, take my money, It’s that simple.
And if you don’t believe in the value of exposure, my last anecdote for you is that, when I really wanna sell something, guaranteed, I buy ads I buy exposure in the form of ads, usually on Instagram, dabbling with Facebook ads. Really like the ROI of Instagram a lot better, to be honest with you, So yeah, I buy ads on Instagram when I want the guaranteed traffic for something that I want to sell. And so, if you want to sell your service, then a level of exposure puts you in front of somebody that can afford to pay.
And if you have to use doing work for free to build a body of work that’s worth paying for, then that’s something you might have to do. And working for free comes in different formats. It comes down to self-initiated projects, but those self-initiated projects have to reflect what you are selling and who you want to buy from you, who you want to hire you If you want to work with people that are in the music industry, you have to do work that is reflective of the work that people have paid for that are in that industry, you get what I’m saying?. So, you have to have a body of work that represents the work you wanna be hired for.
At a bare minimum, you need 10 to 12 pieces to showcase. To get your best 10 to 12 pieces, you have to do 100 pieces of work, so that means you have to do self-initiated work almost every day in your free time, in addition to marketing yourself, and it also means that, to be able to have references and referrals and to build your network, you’ll have to work for a few people for free. Am I telling you that somebody who reaches out and says, hey, work for me for free is someone you should say yes to? No, I’m telling you that you should pick and choose, and that you should work with people with the idea of having this work in your portfolio gets you what you want. You should be strategic in that A lot of people tell you that you can do this for charities that you like and causes you believe in.
I’m a big fan of that, but I don’t think it’s the only answer. I think you should do commercial work for people that have a network, because you’re not going to say yes to other people who say, work for me for free. But you have to show the caliber of client that you want to have, and so you need that access somehow, and this is just my simplest answer for how you get it. Now, if you’re still with me and you haven’t clicked away from this video because I dared to tell you to do anything for free, then here’s other things you can do When it comes to getting paying clients, one of the hacks that I recommend is go to your local chamber of commerce.
How to get Paying Clients as a freelancer
If you live in the Western world, go to your local small business association, collect all of the business cards from those people, and then start doing cold calling and email, and just pitch them and see what it is that they need, and what you can offer, and try and get that worked out That is a great way to get business and to get clients.
The other way is obvious: go to friends, family members, former classmates, and offer your skills to them, or offer your skills and tell them that, hey, if you know anybody that needs that, here’s my card, get them in touch with me, or here’s my website, get them in touch with me. That’s gonna actually matter, and that’s how a lot of people get their first clients for anything they do. It’s also how a lot of people get their first customers if they start a product-based business or a service-based business as well.
So, this is what’s gonna help you as a freelancer If you live abroad, outside the United States, the way I hire my freelancers overseas for certain projects, like the young woman that I use for the infographics that I put in Instagram and in my articles and in LinkedIn. The way I have those infographics made is Upworkcom, I hire from Upworkcom, I get really good rates, and I’m happy to make a difference in the life of somebody that’s outside the Western world, because I know that money stretches further over there, so I do that In terms of networking, because I met Zoe at a conference, that’s why she edits my speaking engagements with the multi-cam edits, and some of my interviews.
I hired Zoe because I met her in-person at a conference. She was another YouTuber, but she also is a freelance video editor, and she has experience, and I saw her work, and I liked it, so I hired Zoe. This is how you get business, is you network by going to events locally, or you use websites on the internet to find and attract people, or you build your own website and you try and get what little traffic you can get from that, or at least direct people you meet to your own website. If you need to build a website, I’m gonna link down below. You can build a WordPress website with bluehost.com. They’re not sponsoring this video, they’re an affiliate, but they also gave our community a massive discount, so you wanna go to robertoblakecom/bluehost to get the deal that we have on that, ’cause it’s a lot cheaper. Also, I’m gonna recommend, for those of you that don’t wanna code or use WordPress, then use Wixcom, I’ll link to that below as well
Now, what I will say is that your website is not always going to get the Google traffic to bring people in, even if you do a blog. That’s why you need to market yourself in social media, that’s why you need to put your portfolio on places like Pinterest, Instagram, Vhancenet. You need to be as present as possible to try and get leads as a freelancer, both on the internet and locally. And everywhere on these websites, make sure your bio says that you’re a freelancer and that you’re available for commissions or to be hired.
It makes a huge difference, people need to know that they shouldn’t have to guess. Now, Upworkcom, and Freelancer.com, and a lot of these websites that I’m giving you, they’re the ones I prefer to use. Not all of you can get approved for them easily, so I’m gonna have to give you a website that I hate for my own personal reasons, I despise this website, but I have a personal blood feud with them for my own reasons, I’ve ranted about it in other videos, and it’s Fiverrcom, F-I-V-E-R-Rcom.
I hate this website, but it might be helpful to a lot of you because there’s no barrier to entry. They market it with stuff starting as low as $5. Don’t charge $5 ,You don’t have to start with charging $5, You can charge more or less whatever you want, but you’re also attracting a cheaper clientele.
But, on the other hand, because they market themselves so well as the freelancing website, they have a lot of traffic, and so that can help you. The problem is that, if you’re on this website, you don’t own the relationship, and if you try to take people off of Fiverrcom or whatever to your own website or try to get that client, they can shut down your account. I’ve had horror stories from many freelancers who have used Fiverr, not just entrepreneurs who are like, oh, I got scammed, or, oh, the person didn’t deliver, or, hey, they stole a logo from somewhere I’ve heard stories from freelancers that had bad experiences with this, but I’ve also heard stories from freelancers that made a living with it.
So, you know, choose your own adventure here, be aware of the risk, do your homework, but hey, there’s no barrier to entry, there’s almost no vetting, and so if you haven’t gotten approved to work for another freelancing website, maybe you give Fiverr a shot, maybe you can make some money right away, and maybe that’s helpful to you if you’re in a crunch. Just wanted to put it out there, I’ll probably make a dedicated video about this, and yeah, it’ll be a ranty video, it’ll be controversial.
Some final thoughts for you getting started as a freelancer Like I said, pick something that you’re good at, that there’s a demand for, that pays very well, reasonably well, or pays what you want it to pay.
Take advantage of your nights and weekends, build yourself a website so that you have a portfolio or a place to have your portfolio. Be active in the social media accounts that work best for the niche and the thing that you want to do Set a rate card and have firm pricing so that people can say yes or no, and they can pay those flat rates Do not charge for your time, charge by the task, and then just get as fast and efficient and effective at it as you can, so that you have a good hourly rate built into the price that you’re offering.
Build up your network, your reputation, and your credibility, because it’s gonna make it easier for you to get work as time goes on. Do your research, talk to other people, look at what other people are doing, and understand what the norm is in your market. Understand what average looks like, understand what exceptional looks like, understand what horrible looks like in your market, and try to put yourself in the right tier so that you can make the kind of money that you want, and so you can have the kind of clients that you want to have. If the local market sucks, people don’t pay very well in the local market, you live in a small town in Middle America or in the South, you live in a developing country. Use the internet, find the folks in New York, and California, or in London with money, and make yourself attractive to those people to hire you.
It’s really straightforward, Yeah, it’s easy to say, it’s hard to do, but everything is hard to do. Hustle, if you put yourself on the radar of people that are hiring and can afford you, then that’s worthwhile, and you have a better chance of being successful and making some real money. But you have to be willing to do unconventional things, whether that’s build a website and attract traffic and do work for free, or make online content to market yourself, or again, reach out and show your work to people that you respect.
They may not hire you, but they might decide to plug you if you do fanart for them or something, or if you do a project that actually would be useful to their audience, they might decide to share that, and then you could get credit for it, and you might get a job out of that. Like I said, I’ve hired people like that all the time. So again, these are my thoughts on how you can get started as a freelancer right now, and actually make money.
Question of the day: what’s your marketable skill? Do you have a marketable skill? Let me know in the comment section down below There’s a chance that, if it’s something I’m looking for, I might actually reach out to you.
Also, if you’re a freelancer and you’re potentially looking for work, I’m actually building kind of a little bit of a freelance job board in my Discord server, so go to robertoblakecom/discord I’m gonna link that down below. And I’m looking for people so that, whenever my friends or contemporaries ask, hey, do you know a freelancer who can do something for me, or whatever, that I have people that I can refer them to, ’cause I wanna grow that network I might literally build a website or an app that becomes a freelance job directory one day.
I’m thinking about those kind of things, because again, this is something I’m very passionate about, because it’s the difference between what, you know, I did when I was broke and struggling, versus what put me on a path to success, so that’s kind of why I care about making sure that you guys have resources to have the same opportunities that I had Anyway, I just hope you guys found this helpful Like this video if you like it, don’t forget to subscribe Check out the other awesome stuff here on the channel And, as always you guys, thanks so very much for watching and don’t forget, go out there and create something awesome today.
Just set a price on it Take care.