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How to Get a Freelance Order If You Don’t Have a Portfolio?

by Randall Hobgood

Many beginner freelancers have problems finding their first orders. Usually clients consider candidates with a portfolio. But what to do if you don’t have one? We discuss ways to get orders that will be useful to beginners without experience.

Consider the techniques described above. They will help you get started making money in freelancing faster.

Choose Your Clients Wisely

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Newbies shouldn’t write to every single client in a row. It is better to look for experienced clients who have been working with freelancers for a long time and know how to choose them, hire them, and organize the work process. They can appreciate talent, and are interested in hiring a capable specialist without a portfolio, as long as he is gaining experience and his rates are low.

Working with a client who has a reputation is also beneficial for you, as a beginner. There is less risk of being cheated on payment.

Therefore, monitor the exchanges and other sites for freelance projects from customers who have long been in the service, have testimonials, high ratings, and at the same time consider beginners. They usually offer not the highest rates, and they may indicate in the assignments themselves that they are willing to cooperate with beginners.

If the project says that candidates without a portfolio will not be considered, there is no need to write. In 99.9% of cases, you will get a rejection.

Write to Your Clients Correctly in Order to Get the Job

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You can take the following letter structure as an example for writing feedback on projects.

Greetings It is better to write “Hello!” It’s a neutral greeting. Don’t write “Good afternoon” – some people find that phrase annoying. If you know the customer’s name, it’s probably best to include it.
Description of your main advantage For example, a client is looking for authors for a construction site. You have specialized education and experience in this field. Then you can start the letter with the phrase: “I have a higher education in the field of construction. Work experience in this area – 5 years. I will be happy to prepare texts for your site. I can share my personal experience on many issues. Add information to the article, which is not on other sites, photos from the objects that I made.”.
Handling objections In this part of the letter, you need to handle the problem of the lack of a portfolio. Think about how to convince the client to start collaborating without examples of work. For example, you can write something like this: “I don’t have a portfolio yet, but I’m ready to write a test article” (if you are really ready to do a test assignment).
Ability Demonstration You can suggest interesting ideas, or attach sketches to the letter to illustrate your suggestions (Especially if you are a designer. You can see different types of designers here.). This will help interest the client. It shows your level. The client can see that you’re interested in working with them, and that you’re serious about your work.
Question It is better to end the letter with a question. For example, “Please let me know if you are ready to start cooperation?” or “Please let me know if you can send the terms of reference for the article?” In other words, you need to ask a question that the client needs to answer. The question at the end increases the chances of getting an answer, because in our culture it is customary never to leave a question unanswered.

Don’t Make Rookie Mistakes

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The chances of getting an order are drastically reduced if the following mistakes are made:

  1. You start the letter by saying that you don’t have a portfolio. The client will immediately close the message and may not even respond. You need to get them interested in something first, and then move on to the portfolio issue and handling objections.
  2. You send a typical response, or a standard job posting, which you send out to everyone. The client may think that you have little interest in his project, since you send a generic letter.
  3. You ask whether the project is relevant, whether there is a set of performers and similar questions. Such letters are usually ignored by clients.
  4. Do not send in a letter the information requested by the client. For example, in the project, the client asks to send your resume, and you do not attach it. This is a mistake. The client will think you are inattentive, and will not give you the project.
  5. You offer to do the work for free. This is not an advantage. The client is not interested in free labor, but in the quality of the task. You need to convince the customer that you are capable of doing the work before it comes to terms of cooperation or price.

Where Can a Newbie without a Portfolio Find Orders?

  • Practice shows that getting the first project can take from a week to several months. Therefore, it is not profitable to use paid sites to find customers. There is no guarantee that you will immediately receive orders, but you will spend money on exchange services. Therefore, it is better to look for orders on free sites, which are also on the Internet.
  • Find companies and teams that are constantly hiring freelancers. They are usually interested in young talent.
  • If you are willing to work for the future, you can become an active member of professional communities. There you can make connections and get clients. Someone may come to you when they see an interesting comment or piece of advice. But this technique does not work right away. You need to communicate in the group for some time to attract attention to yourself.
  • Check the vacancies for remote work in the large companies. If you are a young professional, you may find interesting options for employment. Even if you do not have a portfolio.

The right approach to the hiring process will help you get your first job much faster. As you gain experience, it will become easier to find new orders. The main thing is to get and complete at least one project. Everyone starts out and looks for their first customer at some point. If it works for others, it will work for you too.