In between the limbo and job transitioning period of late 2018 and early 2019, I started creating. I started writing - and I mean a lot - because I realized that a resume doesn't mean much if there's nothing to back it up.
I was producing 3-4 articles weekly on Medium. In part, it was also because I needed to do something and rediscover a sense of ownership over my work again. I hated going into interviews hoping that the person on the other side will just take my word for it. I had no proper portfolio - not really. When the company I worked for died, it also took everything with it - apps, GitHub commit histories, and my sense that I've achieved something with my career as a developer.
Every time I went to an interview, I was running on a trust system based on what I could fit into two pieces of paper.
Creating content was a process of finding myself and creating myself at the same time. It was also a process of creating a portfolio and having ownership over it.
That's when the work started rolling in. First, it was through a referral from someone that had read my stuff. The second was direct contact because what I was doing fitted what they needed.
How to freelance 101
The thing about freelancing is that you are essentially a business - a one-man-band kind of business. For any business to be successful, it needs to be visible.
How do you achieve this? The only way is to create content.
You can't just set up a shop and run on a hope-that-they-will-come mentality.
I stumbled into freelancing through writing. If you're thinking about freelancing, it doesn't have to be writing. It can be social media posts on Twitter or LinkedIn. These two platforms are full of people who might just be looking for someone just like you.
Gary Vee made a point about it in the slide deck below 👇
I was already making content before the slide deck came out - but it's still relevant and no bs guide on how to move towards getting people to come to you.
When you put things out into the world, you are offering up value for free. This creates trust, which in turn puts you at the back of people's minds until they need you. Then they come to you for it.
The gig is already a done deal because you don't have to convince them. They've already convinced themselves that you are the one for them. They know who you are. They know your work. And most importantly, they want you.
It's a different vibe when someone is chasing after you, wanting to give their money to you for your knowledge, skills, and ideas. You don't have to prove your worth through lengthy interviews. There's no competition against other candidates. The best part of it all - there's no second-guessing if you're good enough.
It takes about three months
From what I've learned, it takes about three months from the time you start consistently putting out content to signing on a client.
Why three months?
Because you need the time and space for them to discover you. The client might also still be in the searching stage. They're not ready to commit yet. They might still be thinking about who they want, what for, their budget, and the time frame of the project.
Sometimes, it takes a while.
But if you think of it on a continuum, when you're consistently creating content, you are opening yourself up to opportunities to hook new clients. Each time you put something out, the clock starts for that person that you've managed to hook. When you consistently create and continuously hook clients, you will start to get a steady stream of them to come through.
The point is - when you're able to be consistent, you create a backlog - a digital history of who you are, that you can deliver and show that you can maintain a certain standard of work ethic.
Freelancing is not for everyone. There is a certain level of risk involved. In the beginning, you don't quite know when the next paycheck is coming in, or if there's going to be enough of it.
But the more you create, the more opportunities and choices of clients you'll eventually have. It takes time to figure out your footing but with consistency, everything eventually falls into place.