Making your first steps as a UX professional might feel like a daunting task in the beginning. You have to slowly update your portfolio with real-life projects from actual clients, hone your skills and start gathering valuable working experiences. One tried and tested method to build design credits, contacts and projects is to start offering your skills pro-bono to non-profit organizations/causes. A well-executed project with an established organization could open doors and opportunities that you could not have predicted.
When starting out it is easier to reach to your existing network for any work opportunities. Be proactive and offer your skills or communicate your availability to the people that already know you. This too is an overlooked strategy that works wonders. Even if your immediate network is small when it extends to second and third links (friends of friends, friends of friends of friends) it can reach to thousands of people. World of mouth can go a long way, both before you land your first client, and certainly after. A happy client can be your best ambassador, since he can refer your services to other people. As a new freelancer, you can also utilize online platforms for project-based work, advertising your skills to local coworking spaces or going to meetups and events to extend your network and potential opportunities. Another more lateral strategy is side projects, scratching your own itch and creating a great solution can act as a boost for your self-promotion and even land you some clients.