The experience has taught that to be a freelancer, Be a networker first!

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It was a lazy summer morning of 2017 when I decided to be a freelance writer. Not for the love of writing, but to kill my free time. And fast forward two years, here I am sharing my story, my journey as a freelancer… as a freelance content writer and content marketer.

Being a newbie, it had been troublesome for sure. But, as I started grabbing projects, simultaneously learning the ins and outs of freelancing and the ‘business’ of writing, confidence started building up. And for now, I can say I am addicted to this roller coaster ride.

Working during my favourite early hours of the morning or sulking over the creative block during the day; browsing through my social media feed, chatting with my amigos or typing the hell out of my Asus; whatever it is, I love it all.

And it began with a casual profile on Upwork – a website for freelance projects.

Taking it up with Upwork

Upwork was my gateway to enter the world of freelancers. And I tasted my share of success there. I worked with many supportive people over the next few months, made some money, piled up feedbacks… But I felt stuck. I was unaware of the ‘market’, I knew no one to seek help from, and I had no idea about the professional competencies that I need.

I was like a frog in a well.

That’s when LinkedIn came into my life, and I took the leap.

Learning with LinkedIn

As I signed into LinkedIn, I faced an overwhelming wave of alienation. I connected mostly with writers, and they were doing things I knew nothing about. Yeah, that’s when I realised that a freelancer’s life isn’t only about working from anywhere. You need to learn a variety of necessary skills to survive.

It took me six months to settle in that new environment. LinkedIn became the source of knowledge and inspiration for me. I started observing and learning the nitty-gritty of freelancing as well as writing through other’s posts. Came across new terms, discovered various skills which fellow freelancers possess and explored the services and websites they talked about.

Yep, it was a long and time-consuming process. But somewhere in between, I found how to earn from LinkedIn. The secret is to establish yourself as a professional who people can trust.

Earning from LinkedIn

To earn from LinkedIn, you need people to know you and what you do. When people acknowledge your existence, you’ll find it easy to get jobs or freelance projects.

Once the secret was out, the journey began. Writing posts relevant to my industry and work, interacting with others and assisting them with tips and tricks are among the various activities which helped me get known in my community.

And as people started knowing me, through the experiences and stories I shared, they started connecting with me. Proposals soon started pouring in; proposals to work on projects. I still post regularly, I share my views on other’s posts, and I market myself. Tips related to writing, tech hacks (shhh!), my published works, client testimonials and the worn-out keyboard, all helped me establish an identity.

That identity, my friend, made my hunt easier. Apart from me seeking out assignments and clients sending me queries, I also get referred by the fellow writers, graphic designers, entrepreneurs and other professionals there. That’s how I earn from LinkedIn, through the help of my network.

Building a network

Yes, you need a strong network (even more if you’re a freelancer) to thrive professionally. However, you don’t need to connect with every possible person on earth. Connecting with thousands of souls about whom you know nothing and who don’t understand a bit about your work, will do no good.

Instead, find and connect with those with whom you can have mutual benefits. You can get it done on LinkedIn, from the comfort of your home. LinkedIn isn’t a site where you find jobs; it’s where you e-meet professionals.

Here, I will share a quote, inspired by Saul Goodman (from Breaking Bad?) –

“You don’t need to know and connect with the whole world! You just need to know a few guys who know a few guys who know another few guys who…”

Keeping in touch with other professionals, building a relationship with them and following what they shared helped me to be updated with the best practices. Moreover, when you interact with people, they get comfortable being around you and thus, help you when needed.

LinkedIn works in a way similar to real life. Help, and get helped in return! You have to find people who you can trust. That’s how you can strengthen your network and build yourself professionally.

I learnt to market, to tell stories, to design, to handle websites and also, to attract with words; every bit of learning came through LinkedIn in some way.

A few final words…

I read it somewhere that if you’re a freelancer, you need to be on LinkedIn, and I will say the same.

If you too want to embark on this adventure known as freelancing, be prepared to face the uncertainties. It will take time to build a sustainable life while you freelance. You don’t have a permanent work or get a fixed earning. But, better you’re at projecting yourself as a reliable and professional freelancer; higher are the chances of getting projects. So, get on board, show your expertise, share your experiences, give as much as you can and stand out from the crowd.

Learn, upskill, earn… And repeat!