Freelancing appeals to many people because it entails a certain level of freedom that you don’t get by working full-time for a single company. Freelancers can enjoy more flexibility in terms of the kind of work they do, their working hours, when they take time off, and where they work. However, there is a trade-off involved. If you want to reap the many benefits of freelancing, you need to learn the art of being able to find and attract new clients.
Whenever I tell people that I freelance, I’m often asked how I go about finding work. In my experience, there are many different ways to find work as a freelancer. By drawing on all of these different methods, it will make it easier to freelance on a full-time basis, and ensure that your freelance career is fruitful and sustainable.
1. Job Boards
You are probably aware of many of the big job boards out there, such as Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and so on. And these job sites do list many freelancing opportunities that offer regular work. However, it’s also worth browsing sites that cater specifically to freelancers and remote workers. I personally have a list of sites I use to look for new clients when work dries up – and I’m always happy to share this curated list with others looking for remote or freelance work. Some of the most useful of these sites include:
- ProBlogger (targeted at writers and bloggers)
- We Work Remotely
- Working Nomads
- Hubstaff Talent
A handy thing to do is to create a list (perhaps with the above sites and additional ones you find relevant) and spend some time in the week going through that list, checking for new job listings. Another tip is to sign up to daily job updates from these sites.
Knowing how to network is vital if you want to find work as a freelancer. This means being able to build contacts. It’s a subtle art that combines people skills with the ability to sell yourself. But, it doesn’t have to be a daunting task where you have to put on a fake persona and come up with a scripted sales pitch. Networking can take many forms. The most important thing, though, is to effectively highlight your skills, passion, and goals, and to communicate what value you can add to a client’s business.
You can network by asking friends and family if they know anyone working in the particular industry you work in. A polite and friendly email or phone call with this connection can get then get the ball rolling, perhaps leading to an informal chat at their offices or a coffee shop, and building a relationship from there. Networking can take place online, too, by getting in touch with connections on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You can also find out about networking events on social media or on sites like Meetup.com.
3. Freelancing Websites
Many freelancers begin their careers by applying for gig work on freelancing sites, with Upwork being the most popular. There are, however, alternatives that you should keep on your radar, including:
When applying for gigs, you have to make a bid, which is a short statement you submit to your potential client. This statement underscores what it is that you can offer, in terms of experience and skills.
The downside is that, with sites like Upwork, you are competing with freelancers from all over the world who will be willing to work for an extremely low price – lower than the minimum wage in your country. Nonetheless, if are willing to work for low pay at the beginning, you can build and maintain excellent ratings and reviews, making work easier to find. In addition, many freelancers gain reliable, high-paying, and long-term work from sites such as Upwork.
There are also freelancing sites where you don’t have to submit a bid. Instead, you create a portfolio and a profile, where you can specify your level of experience, availability, and rate. Clients are then matched to you and they will get in touch if they’re interested in collaborating. Examples of such sites include Contently and ClearVoice.
4. Social Media
Social media is a useful way to not only network but to find listings of freelancing opportunities. On Facebook, you can join a number of freelancing groups – for writers, this would include groups like Freelance Journalists UK. Here, you will often find members posting about freelance work that is available, either providing the necessary contact details or by posting a job listing.
On Twitter, you can find work as a freelancer by searching for relevant hashtags, such as #journorequest, #bloggerrequest, PRrequest, and #bloggerswanted.
5. Attracting Clients Through Your Website
One of the best ways to attract clients as a freelancer is to have a professional website. As a freelancer, your website should be clean, easy-to-navigate, include a portfolio of your best and most recent samples of work, have some sort of ‘work with me’ page, and a contact page. It’s also important to regularly update and maintain your site to show clients how you have an active interest in your line of work. This might mean having a blog and posting content (perhaps once a week) where you express your knowledge and views on a particular topic.
An impressive website is invaluable. It can help you attract clients, as opposed to having to spend hours searching for them. Moreover, you can start to use your website as a way to generate a side income, alongside your freelancing work. This can involve publishing sponsored posts, including ads and affiliate links on your site, and selling e-books and courses.
Putting the effort in to improve your website can help you to widen your skill set and gain useful knowledge about things like SEO, marketing, and analytics. This will make you stand out when applying for a freelance job or speaking to a potential client.