Looking for freelance work? Regardless of your experience, there’s probably a freelance market for it. Here are 8 tips to help you find freelance work.
The freelance economy is booming, and it’s not hard to see why. The need to allow employees to work remotely during the pandemic has made it clear that there are many jobs that do not need to be done on-premises. If a company can hire a contractor to do the work instead of hiring an employee, the company can save a lot of money.
Each employee costs the company much more than just their salary. Social Security, Medicare, insurance, and money spent on office desks, chairs, computers, and phones add a significant amount to the actual salary paid to an employee.
When a company hires a freelancer, it eliminates these additional costs. You only need to pay the cost of the work.
For these reasons and many more, if you’re going to enter the freelance market, don’t let people belittle your idea. Many people make a great living as a freelancer, but as with any business, what you get out of it depends on what you invest. Here’s how to find freelance work.
1. The first look inside
If you’re not currently in the freelance market, chances are you are working for someone, or were in the recent past. If the business could benefit from freelancing, suggest your current or past employer, assuming you left on good terms.
Those who hire freelancers are constantly worried about hiring the wrong person. Since your current or past employer already knows you, anxiety around freelancing is reduced.
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2. Stick to the areas you know
There are freelance jobs for just about everything. That doesn’t mean you have to apply for everything. A common mistake new freelancers make is to aim for work they shouldn’t be doing. If you are a programmer with a lot of experience building websites, limit yourself to these jobs.
A job as a database administrator or a website graphic designer might look appealing, but if you don’t have experience doing these tasks, you’ll probably spend too much time on the job compared to the pay, and your product won’t be as strong as those , who are already experts.
Remember, your reputation is everything.
3. Be prepared to work cheap
Consider working less at least in the beginning. If you took a job with a new company, you would expect to “pay your dues” over a period of time. It can mean less money, less hours and hard work. Freelancing is similar. You won’t be paid what you’re worth at first, but if you do a good job, your rates will quickly increase.
4. But don’t work for slave wages
When trying to break into the freelance business, you may be tempted to work much less than you need to. Yes, you’ll have to pay dues, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be working for almost free.
If you are an expert in your field, you know the current rates. Working 25 percent less has its benefits when you look, but don’t work for a fraction of what you need. If you establish yourself as someone who is willing to work very cheaply, it will be difficult for you to break that reputation later on.
One workaround to avoid being limited to low rates at the start is to let the client know that you’re offering a special rate for just one project or a limited period of time so they can see the quality of your service.
5. Use freelancer sites
Sites like Upwork can help you find people who want to hire a freelancer. Just like looking for a regular job, finding quality freelance work takes time.
Freelancers from all over the world use Upwork and Fiverr to find work. This will make it difficult to find work at suitable prices. Guru.com is another place where freelancers find work at possibly higher rates.
Instead of browsing the most famous sites, find those that are further afield. People know Craigslist as a place to buy and sell old trinkets and gadgets, but it’s also one of the best places to find freelance work.
Use one of Craigslist’s search engines to find job postings nationwide, not just in your area.
6. You need a website
When someone is interested in you, they first ask you to show them your work. Often freelancers work for clients all over the world. The best way to show them your work is to direct them to your website.
It is not so important that you use your website for advertising; freelancers often make the bulk of their money through word of mouth. Your website should be simple, clean, professional and easy to navigate. A couple of pages is enough.
With even the most basic knowledge, you can put together a portfolio of your work without hiring a web designer.
7. Go old school
If you wait for business to come to you, you won’t make it as a freelancer. Like anything, it takes money to make money. You’ll need money to attend conferences, take people out to dinner, travel, and host meals.
The phrase “pound the pavement” certainly rings true in the freelancing world. Those who are successful understand old school marketing. Email is not enough. Meeting people and building relationships is very important. Most consumers and businesses still prefer to do business with people they know, or feel they know. therefore, declare yourself through the local network.
And yes, you will probably have to make some cold calls.
8. Save your money
Some people enter the freelance market as a result of being laid off, but others dream of quitting their jobs to become self-employed. If you’re the latter, make sure you’ve saved up three to six months of living expenses.
Many freelancers will tell stories of being swamped with work for a while and then going through a period of slow business. Freelancers know that always saving a portion of their earnings is essential to survival.
Are you a natural born salesperson? Do you enjoy working hard and not having a traditional work day? If this is you, freelancing is for you, but the hardest part of the business is finding work. Plan to spend the bulk of your time exploring, especially early on.