When you start a business or decide to start freelancing, the biggest concern is making sure you’re going to have clients. Presumably, you have the skills and some experience, but you may not have equivalent experience to your bigger competitors. You have to define your specific skills and brand, display what experience you do have, and start small.
First, defining yourself is important. It’s what will tell people that you are (or aren’t) the person they need. Specializing and developing yourself within your niche will help you gain clients looking for whatever you’re best at and allow you to avoid wasting time on jobs and inquiries that don’t match your skill sets or interests. You want to know for yourself, but you also want to display for the world with your web presence, copy, portfolio and resume. Remain broad enough to get enough work to pay the bills and cover the things you can, but don’t waste time trying to do work that you don’t know how to do – it won’t be your best and it’s unlikely to please your client.
Emphasize – on your resume, your website, anywhere else your work shows up – the work you’ve done and skills you’ve gained that are specifically applicable to the kind of work you’re looking for. Rarely will experience outside of that field, however grand, help you to get a job within the field. If anything, it clouds the information you’re delivering about your abilities with other unnecessary noise. If you’re applying to a specific job where your outside experience does apply, you can always tailor your resume or cover letter to reflect that then. Use strong, active language to talk about your experience, be honest, be specific, and – where appropriate – have examples and references.
If you don’t have a lot of experience, you should start small to beef up your resume. Whether this means taking lower paying jobs, using personal connections to find work or even (God forbid) volunteering, everything you can add to your list of successfully completed projects and happy clients helps. With just a little focused energy, you can be up and running in no time.