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How did you land your first paid gig?
I asked this question in several freelance and side hustle related Facebook groups.
This is a common stumbling block for many first time side hustlers and entrepreneurs.
Great on ideas but often struggle to make that first sale… Or even get off the bench and implement.
The biggest suggestion from experienced entrepreneurs and side hustlers is…
But with that sage advice the newbie often gets stuck on the…
So here’s some answers to your question,
“How do I land my first paid gig?”
The item in parentheses is the Facebook Group name the person responded from. If you’re looking to get your side hustle off the ground, I’d recommend checking some of these out.
George Krahn (80/20 Entrepreneurs)
About 10 years ago, I helped my massage therapist sell nutrition supplements online using Google AdWords.
It didn’t pay a lot, but the great results I was able to get and use as proof of success, allowed me to land my first big client.
That led to me eventually quitting my part-time job and going all in on freelance AdWords management.
From there, our agency grew to a team of 4 employees and 2 subcontractors: https://ProvenResultsAgency.com
Lee Hills (SH Nation)
Happy to share mine! Mine was through a freelance website PPH. I had the idea for an explainer video service. Back before explainer was a word or thing.
The service was based on explainer videos I had created for myself. I put it together as an offering and someone bought it. This confirmed that there was demand so I kept going! Began to develop the offering and my brand as things grew. Let me know if you want more of the story or more info 😉
Tiffany Dawn (SH Nation)
I do graphic design and sent an email to a number of my closest business contacts. Told them what I was doing, where I was hoping to taken it, and to please keep me in mind if I could help. One person responded and hired me to do the graphics for her campaign for Board of Directors for a national association. Word of mouth picked up from there! She continues to be one of my biggest cheerleaders and advocates, and has become a mentor.
Al Clunnie (Side Hustle Success Lab)
Way back I was chatting to an old friend and telling him I was learning about web development. He said he knew a guy that needed a website and put us in touch. That was it! I’m still working with this client on retainer even though I would never take the same type of client now.
CherylAnn Crego (Side Hustle Success Lab)
- Right after my marriage ended, before the divorce, an acquaintance asked me to lead sing in his gypsy jazz band, for pay. I know it was motivated by compassion. It was a kindness and it gave me the confidence I needed to become a voice teacher. That was 6 years ago. I started teaching 4.5 years ago. I think our rural area really needed a voice teacher and I filled a void I hadn’t recognized existed. I was used to traveling 6 hours to see my teachers. I said I was doing it and a year later I had a full studio of voice and piano students via word of mouth. When I think back, it makes me emotional. There is a lot more to that story…like it never could have happened if I’d still been in that marriage, I’d forgotten/not listened to the people who said I should do it for years before I did, when I decided to do it I did not believe I was ready or qualified but showed up, transparently, anyway. This work doesn’t pay all the bills but it is consistent and brings me joy.
2. We started teaching cooking classes out of our home. Then someone who knew we were doing that asked us to be private chefs for a vacationing family. Since then, private Chef work is making a bigger percentage of our income every month. We’ve done a lot of FB ads, have a very active FB page, and stay in front of our email list.
Really, long story short, we take risks and show up, giving all of ourselves to each person/family we work with. And we have a couple angels who helped us launch in both music and cooking. I hope to do that for someone someday…be an angel that launches them into their fulfilling future.
Tracey Minutolo (Side Hustle Success Lab)
When I made the decision to offer virtual services for podcasters, I reached out to a few podcasters I’d been following for awhile and asked them a few questions (which looking back now, amounted to some solid target market research) about what types of tasks they outsourced to virtual assistants, what they liked/disliked about their experiences with VA’s so far, etc. Two of those three podcasters became paying clients. 🙂
Jo-Elle Byrne (Serious Bloggers Only)
I’m lucky, my friend works as an SEO specialist and decided to set up his own business. He landed a gig for a shed company of all things and asked me to do the content marketing for it. Believe it or not it was a great gig and I learnt a lot from doing it. Plus, being paid to write was the dream right? ☺
Becky Gallion (SH Nation)
Threw up a post on craigslist.
Matthew Miele (Hobby Hustler Community)
Hey Mike, for me it was reaching out to local businesses and offering help for free.
I know some people who went straight to Facebook ads to an offer and that worked well too.
Dharmesh Barot (Hobby Hustler Community)
I got my first photography client when I offered free photos as part of a dog trainer’s classes.
My first freelance design client was one of the acquaintances I met during social events. Told them what I do and what I can offer to their part time business. They were so happy I got my 2nd project with them soon after.
I learned this technique from a book I read “Getting The Money” by Susan Lassiter. She said tell everyone you meet what you do and soon people will start recognizing you.
It took me 2-3 events and coffees to show my value.
Brian Seim (SH Nation)
I just started selling my services to non-profits I was involved with.
Kelly Boyles (Hobby Hustler)
Back in 1985, can’t recall how I found this guy. But I wrote five holiday-themed poems for a funeral home for $100. You can’t make this stuff up!
Jonathan Wilson (80/20 Entrepreneurs)
I circled back around to people I’d formerly worked with in other places.
Donna Regen (Serious Bloggers Only)
Mike McRitchie I am now getting some paid gigs after a few unpaid gigs, but the unpaid gigs served as published work samples, and that is what helped in securing the paid gigs. So I would would say they are worth doing.
Beverly Boerner-Reynolds (Hobby Hustler Community)
Hey there Mike. My shortened story goes something like this…9 years ago, my son was born to us through adoption. Shortly before that, I was contracted to created an animated training course, much like Cardone University, for the 10xers in this group. I have 20 plus years of training and instructional design experience and that was the first assignment that caused me to get a DBA, buy my own software versions and learn how to do all pieces of the project.
So, not only did I have to learn some of the software, but I knew that at anytime during the project – our son could be born and make us new parents. I was under a time crunch, but finished it without the audio – they contracted that piece separately and paid me accordingly. That was the first major project that taught me on the fly that I could do all aspects from the writing, development and animation!
Before that project, I didn’t think I could do it, but the project sponsors loved my corporate work and trusted my services, so I had to trust in me!!! This was not my first gig, but my first LARGE-SCALED gig!
Heston Glenn (80/20 Entrepreneurs)
Desperation. I was trying to pitch a family member a pyramid scheme, and failed. I needed money, so I asked them if I could coach them in their current business for free for a month. They agreed, and we’re still going 5 years later.
Brandon Traynor (Hobby Hustler Community)
Not a huge break, and not my main business, but a while ago I actually got a job delivering pizza 2 days a week just to get to know the owner. Now I run the social media for all his stores for a good bit of money a month. Obviously no longer deliver pizzas 🤣
Brian P. Hower (80/20 Entrepreneurs)
I learned something of great value, applied it first for myself. It proved to be a fantastic system and concept. At that point I knew that just about every existing small business and/or business minded individual/entrepreneur should also be doing it. I had no trouble gaining my first paying client because I am supremely confident that my offer is great, that they need it and that I am the best one to help them.