How I got my first freelance position (Chiang Mai)

  • Ross Edlin
  • 19th Oct 2017

I left London around 5 months ago, jet setting off to Thailand to pursue three goals:

  • Travel more
  • Start freelancing (short-term money)
  • Focus on my long term financial goals

I’d just finished working 7 years in corporate jobs, moving between companies gaining top end experience and becoming a well-versed web developer.

With 5 years of studies and 7 years of experience I knew in my heart I could travel for 7 months with little problems, I set aside enough money for 6 months and locked away the rest to avoid temptation.

If I had not got some decent income by then, then the plan was to head home and rethink.
Before I talk about how I got my first real client, let’s talk about what a real client is.

A real client is one where you don’t worry about them not paying you, one who gives you regular work and communicates well, treats you with respect and you feel very comfortable about the security of your position.

How did I gain a real freelance position?

The simple answer is perseverance and trying everything that came to mind.

If you want to know the full story, keep reading… ;)

Starting the beginning of August 2017, I went through about 9 clients until I found myself earning decent money, per hour with regular work (30 hours a week).
It was an arduous task and honestly, at some points, I was near to giving up.
But I kept repeating the same thing.

  • You only need one decent client.
  • You only need one decent client.
  • You only need one decent client.

Well, it wasn’t my first, my first client literally paid me $5, yes, $5.
why so little you?

I did it for my first review on the freelancing platform I was using; I got my first 5-star review from the job; I was told to do this by the experts to get your first review, an important milestone.
Honestly, I didn’t care about the money at that point; I was convinced I would get a return, so I spent the two hours doing the job.

A simple colour change of a button, at least that’s what I thought when I saw the job posting, that’ll take 5 minutes I said to myself.

Well, if you factor in how long it took to get the job, how long you spent talking to the client, how long you spent waiting for the client to send you FTP details etc. Admittedly, they’re in America, it’s 8pm at night so they’re probably exhausted from a long day at work. 
I can imagine how they feel, it’s like when you’re out having fun and your colleague or your boss sends you an email late after work, asking for information immediately.
 I know from my own personal experience is a terrible feeling and you often delay the response.

Yea… you can see why it really took 2 hours to do the job.

I thought it would get better, but I found that most clients are like this, well at least from freelancing platforms, so after repeated attempts with similar clients I gave up with freelancing platforms.

The game changer for me was…I focused on LinkedIn instead.


Simple, if you get a bad client, you’re not screwed with a bad review.
The reason most clients treat freelancers like dirt is simple, you have no power on most freelancing platforms.

One bad review and you’re screwed, it also affects your Job Score, which if it drops below 85% good luck finding new clients.

But with LinkedIn, you control your profile, so no bad reviews.
LinkedIn is also social, decent clients want to work with a person, not a robot which is what I felt the freelancing platforms were.

So how did I play it on LinkedIn?

First things first, I used my portfolio website to great effect, I also used my C.V. and applied as a normal job would.
Basically, I created a kick-arse application.

Then I would connect with someone at the company in a position of power and send away.
But the way I apply to jobs is different to most, I don’t apply for a job and “hope”, I stand out.
I do something different.

A phone call!

How do you get the phone number?
What do you say?

Simple, if you see an email address you know their website from the domain.
Most websites have a phone number, sometimes the job advert has a phone number, in that case, they’re expecting a call.

Call them up, talk to them, explain why you’re good on the phone, 95% of people won’t call them, so now just by calling you’re in the top 5% of applicants.
The number of jobs I got because I called is staggering and I’ve been told before.

I’m glad you called but if you hadn’t we’d of never called you and yet, you’re perfect for the role.

Also, most decent companies use recruitment agencies these days, they get paid to find you a job.
Use them, if you find a good recruiter he will actively find you work.
They’ll take a percentage, but he or she is finding your clients, so it’s worth it.
The biggest problem with most decent recruiters is, they get flooded with applicants.
Most have 100 applications a day, most are terrible but around 10 are good.

It probably took me about 100 job applications before I found the right one and I worked with about 8 different recruiters but I’m sitting comfortably now.
I’m earning enough to live in Asia three times over and I’m not living cheap either.

So, what are you waiting for, get on the phone!