So, I have long discussed how you should never, ever work for free. And I’ve talked about finding clients, maximizing social media, how to price yourself, and how it is free to start a service-based business.
But how should you get started? Where should your focus and energy and time go?
What about at the beginning, when you don’t have much work and need to build up your portfolio?!
First of all, you do not need a portfolio. I’ve said it a million times, and I will say it a million more. Do not EVER work for free for clients and you don’t need a portfolio.
You do need writing samples. So even if you are completely inexperienced and unpublished, you can just go write 2–3 writing samples, no more than 500–750 words on any topics you choose.
Your samples are proof of your writing abilities and general style. You can send them as Word or PDF to a potential client, or you can put them on your personal blog or Medium and send them as links.
How do you know if your writing is good enough? Simple. Stop judging yourself and look for clients — which is free to do. If people are willing to pay you, then your writing is good enough.
That is not to say that you shouldn’t continue to improve and grow and learn and evolve your writing, but if someone is ready to pay you real money, then your writing is at least good enough for them, which means it will be good for others, too.
Creating a portfolio is something people do as a distraction from actually starting a business.
The same goes for spending time and money creating a fancy website, business cards, taking more classes, and everything else you can think of.
Until someone has agreed to pay you, you cannot know if your idea or service is a viable one.
So, instead of spending time designing the perfect website, you need to spend your time looking for clients.
First, create your writing samples.
Then, immediately start looking for clients. Use social media, your contacts, your connections on LinkedIn, anything that can help you.
Do cold reach outs to companies whom you feel you could help with blogging or website copy. Email them with personalized, individual emails about how you can help them and what direct benefit they would receive.
Ask questions, do some market research. Set up some calls with business owners and ask what their pain points are. Discuss things you could do to assist them and ask if they would be interested in hiring someone for such a service.
Once you have a couple people/clients who are paying you money, then spend your time on the website, business cards, and everything else that comes along with building a business.
I have seen so many would-be entrepreneurs spend weeks, even months or years “perfecting everything” before they ever get near a client.
That’s not to say that wanting things to be nice is necessarily a bad thing. It is simply detrimental to actually starting a business and making sure it’s a viable service in your area.
GET A CLIENT.
Everything else. Every single thing that keeps you from finding a client. Every doubt. Every WordPress theme. Every business card design.
It is all a distraction from what you truly need.
It is all just keeping you from doing the one thing that will prove your business can work and is a good idea.
Stop what you’re doing and go find a paying client.
Then everything else will make more sense.