We are all feeling the pinch of the economy but my heart goes out to the young, however they do have one benefit - there are opportunities if you think creatively. One way I try and help is to publish guests posts to show the talent out there - here is this weeks.
Every student who wants to launch a freelance career has the same goal: to build a brand and gain experience. The problem is finding opportunities to build that brand when you have little to no job experience. Everybody’s got to start somewhere, so you’ll want to make those first freelance jobs pay off in big ways.
Your driving ambition doesn’t have to stall out at the starting gate if you try these 4 ways to jump-start a freelance career!
- Go Pro: Pro Bono, that is!
Offer your services to a charity, school or organization that could benefit from your particular skill set. You’re exchanging work for word-of-mouth advertising, which is extremely valuable in any field. Reserve the right to prominently display your blog or contact information on your product, and if the beneficiary of your hard work is pleased with the product, don’t be shy about asking for a referral or letter of recommendation. Don’t overlook the power of referrals on social media such as Facebook or Twitter, either!
Pro Bono Bonus: You’ll get a good idea of how long projects will take, any time-management challenges you’ll face, and how much to charge a paying client for comparable work.
Red Flag: pro bono work can take over your schedule, as you may become invested in a good cause. Keep in mind that you’re working without pay; it’s no excuse not to do your best work, but pay close attention to the time you spend on volunteer projects. Don’t let pro bono work rob valuable time from your studies or paid projects.
- Become an Intern.
Internships can become very profitable opportunities. As with pro bono clients, they carry plenty of possibilities for referrals and recommendations. In some cases, internships offer a salary on top of the extensive experience in your field and ample networking. Use an internship to do the work you only read about in your college classes! You’ll empower yourself to apply practical skills in real work situations, and you can also gain focus on skills you wish to highlight as you build your brand.
Internship Bonus: you can sometimes get credit toward your degree for work you’ve completed during your internship. Check with your academic adviser before beginning an internship to find out how to get course credit, and you can consider that internship an essential stop on your road toward a diploma.
Red Flag: Don’t expect to get paid well for internships; in some cases, you won’t be paid at all. Make sure all arrangements are clear in advance.
- Get Help and Get Hired.
A freelancing service will allow you to focus on the job rather than the networking. It will help match you to jobs that best fit your skill set. This is a huge time-saver, especially for students who have little time to spare.
Service Bonus: you won’t have to handle your own marketing or billing. All you’ll need to concentrate on is providing excellent work.
Red Flag: Avoid services that charge a fee for signing up. All fees should be paid by your employer.
- Blow Your Own Horn.
While you hone your skills in your chosen field, don’t neglect your own online profile. Current clients and future employers will go online to learn about you, your abilities and your work experience.
Self-promotion bonus: You can build the social-media skills your clients will depend upon as you develop your brand.
Red flag: Be careful about what you post online—it’s all a reflection on you.
Use one or all of these methods to build your career as a freelancer—and don’t miss an opportunity to take advantage of the bonuses each method provides. It’s all about maximizing the return on your investment of effort, energy and ingenuity. In the meantime, you’ll be building a brand and a professional reputation.This guest post was written by Amelia Hadfield, a recent university graduate and freelance writer, currently working with UK promotional gifts distributor Ideasbynet on their personal branding series. This resource helps guide job seekers through the ins and outs of developing an online personal brand.