First Steps in Freelancing: Our Case Study Begins

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EDITOR’S INTRO: I’m delighted to bring you the first instalment in our ultimate freelancing case study. Sam Guss is taking his first steps in freelancing, as explained in this previous post

It’s great to see (spoiler alert!) that Sam has already picked up some writing work in addition to creating these regular features for HomeWorkingClub. It’s also notable that it’s low paid writing work. As I’ve said numerous times, everyone taking their first steps in freelancing has to “pay their dues” – especially in the world of freelance writing.

Sam’s early experiences already prove that the people who are willing to get stuck into these early projects are the people who get ahead. While these first gigs don’t make anyone rich, they all provide experience in dealing with clients and meeting their requirements; Sometimes they result in clips for a portfolio as well.

The people who turn their noses up at such jobs can easily find themselves three months down the line having not moved from the starting blocks. So, for fear of sounding patronising, I’m really glad to see Sam has embraced this work – it proves he’s the right person for this case study!

So, without further ado, I’ll hand you over to Sam. I hope you find his first steps in freelancing inspiring 🙂


My First Steps in Freelancing

I left this umpteenth interview feeling like I needed to reevaluate my life.

It had been a horrible interview. I’d displayed a complete lack of industry knowledge, and provided empty sound-bites in response to all the traditional questions. I truly wondered if I had made a huge mistake a few years ago in ditching my old career and starting this second career in IT.

I wondered what I was going to do. I was nearing 50, and struggling to find a permanent job in IT for security and longevity (although I was fine finding part-time or contract work).

It sounded like a textbook mid-life crisis – except I’d had mine in my mid 30’s already!

Book shop

It was in this state of mind that I walked into the bookstore and wandered the aisles looking for something – anything – to help my swirling mind and give it some direction. I find bookstores are good for that.

(I should, at this point, explain to you, the reader, that I am ADHD. This means a variety of things, but in this context it meant I was hyper-focused on my perceived failure and trying to find something to break the downward swirl).

And there it was. “It” being a book in the “Business and Management” section. It was called “The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guidebook,” by Yuwanda Black.

By the end of the week, I’d read most of the book. I’d also watched a few YouTube videos about online freelance work, and discovered a few websites such as Writers.Work and Fiverr.

Next, I moved onto online articles – a constant stream of them. A couple stood out, which were part of a site called HomeWorkingClub.com! So, I bookmarked it and even joined its Facebook community.

Within 48 hours of joining, a post appeared on the group requesting content for the site. A spark was born!

HWC Writing Ad

Sure, the editor, this Ben guy, had been writing articles and reviews about the first steps in freelancing for ages, and indeed so had many others out there.

They all provided advice, with Ben’s speaking the loudest to me, but what I hadn’t seen was a step-by-step article – from “rags to riches.” Everyone was writing and talking from a perspective of already having “made it.” Where were the stories about people doing this from the ground up?

After reading the submission guidelines I tailored my introductory email. I presented Ben with my idea of an on-going article series on someone starting from scratch.  The idea was accepted and here I am. It was time to get started.

Early Days

With my first writing gig in years assigned to me, it was time to get to work and discover this freelance world.

But first things first – what the heck was I going to actually do? It’s one thing to decide you want to work in the freelance world, it’s quite another to decide how you are going to do it!

I am an eclectic individual with a variety of interests, hobbies, and experiences. The first thing I had to do was decide what it was I was willing to do to get paid. So I made a list. That original list had over two dozen ideas of what I could do.

Making a list

I had to narrow it down and I actually narrowed it down into two lists: The first list was what I could do now to earn money freelancing and the second a list of what I wanted to do later down the road.

The lists look like this:

Freelance work to do now:

  • Freelance online writing gigs.
  • Home PC training and support.
  • Website design and content.
  • Smart home product installation.

Freelance work to do later:

  • Gaming supplement writing. (Have to produce them first).
  • Amazon Web Services support. (Need more training and education first).

This approach to freelancing, incorporating several different activities, is sometimes described as a “portfolio career.”

Next Steps

By now you should know where I was at with the planning stage, and are probably wondering what I did next?

Aside from my articles here at HomeWorkingClub, I submitted several article queries to other places. These included such diverse topics as anxiety research and looking at net neutrality from a small business owners perspective.

I’ve found various places on the web that will keep you up to date with websites looking for quality articles. I am currently using FreedomWithWriting.com – it was a free sign up, and every few days I get an email that has a list of potential paid writing opportunities.

I next looked into getting started with a couple of ads on Craigslist to promote the smart home product installation and home PC support services I wish to offer, but found that my area charges for these ads. Since I’m between paydays I held off on this until next week.

But in the meantime, I signed up for Fiverr and put up my first writing offer. Within 12 hours I had my first paid gig! After delivering that job, I was given another and another and another from the same source over the next few days! Then, I got my second client!

Sam writing work

I’m not going to get rich anytime soon on Fiverr, especially selling $5 articles, but I am developing a portfolio that I can share and get more business.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes! THIS is how you do it! Sam has three writing clients already – me, and two he’s met on Fiverr. If he keeps those clients happy, the time will come when he can negotiate higher rates. Every client you get is one you could end up working with for years to come. And, as Sam says, he’s building up his portfolio during this time too. 

More Progress

I didn’t stop there!

While I did need to wait on the Craigslist ads, it wasn’t because I was broke, but because I had already spent my weekly “freelancing budget” on a couple of Udemy courses, the main one being on AWS (Amazon Web Services).

Udemy courses

Speaking of a budget, I am allotting myself “x” amount every month to spend towards my first steps in freelancing. So that’s to cover books, training resources, advertising, associated costs, etc.

Last but not least, I am working on my own website, and a Facebook page that will help support my endeavours here – though neither are ready to share just yet.

All in all, it has been an eventful first week. I am well on my way to meeting my first financial goal of simply having some extra spending money.

The last thing that happened to me this week though? Remember that job interview? I got the job and start next week. So, I’m going into next week with a full-time job in IT and working on my freelance career?

That should be interesting! I’ll see you next time and tell you all about it.

To make sure you don’t miss any instalments in Sam’s first steps in freelancing, you can sign up for our newsletters using the form below.

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About Author

Sam Guss

Sam Guss is a fledgeling freelancer, commissioned by HomeWorkingClub to produce a series of articles following his first steps in freelancing. Sam does freelance writing, and provides support for domestic IT and home automation.