“…but how do I find freelance work? I don’t have a clue where to begin.”
This is one of the sentiments I hear most often from readers. They want to dive into freelancing as a way to support or transition into a location independent lifestyle, but they don’t know how to go about getting their first client or paid gig.
And let me tell you, the first one is always the hardest! Once you have some experience under your belt, however, getting paid work will become easier and easier, especially if you’re producing quality work and delivering in a timely manner.
While I’ve managed to find most of my freelance work through connections and networking, this may not be an option when you’re just starting out.
To give you a leg up on finding those first paying clients, here are a handful of great online marketplaces to list your freelance services and start reeling ’em in.
Upwork is the outsourcing platform that was born when two other sites, oDesk and Elance, merged into one. To increase your chances of being hired on Upwork, users suggest taking the skill tests relevant to your work, being specific when listing the services you offer (instead of ‘Marketing,’ say things like ‘Copywriting,’ or ‘Facebook Advertising,’), and pricing your services on the lower end until you’ve got a number of reviews and past projects to back up your profile (having a fantastic portfolio outside of the platform won’t matter to potential clients on Upwork).
Read More: How to Make $1000 per Week on Upwork
Being an avid buyer of Fiverr gigs myself, I can tell you it’s certainly possible to find well-paid freelance work through this platform. There is a lot of competition, no doubt, but with enough persistence, Fiverr can help freelancers in any field augment their income. Seasoned users recommend starting with $5 gigs to test the market, then slowly increasing prices and offering add-ons only after you’ve built up a reputation. In the beginning, your focus should be on delivering outstanding work and a great customer experience and less about the total you’re earning. I recently set up a gig offering proofreading and editing; I can’t wait to report back with the results!
Toptal is a network exclusively for freelance software developers and designers. Toptal’s screening process for freelancers is rigorous–so much so that on average, only 3% of applications are accepted. That said, if you’ve got talent and experience in the tech sector, this could be the perfect place for you to find the rewarding work you’re looking for.
Read More: Toptal Review: The Interview Process
Guru allows you to create a profile so your freelance services and portfolio are discoverable by potential employers and also allows you to search job listings that may match your skills. You can also easily showcase the amazing work you’ve done previously and stay informed of potential job matches with daily notifications so you never miss an opportunity.
Read More: How to Get Writing Jobs from Guru.com
Think of the PeerHustle mobile app as the Tinder or the Uber of the freelance world. It relies on geolocation to match freelancers with employers seeking their services and expertise. It allows them to communicate in real-time with in-app calling and video and provides a secure payment option. This can be a great way for people with a full-time job to earn money on the side, or help traveling freelancers find work as they go.
This one might seem painfully obvious, and that’s because it is. People search for all kinds of stuff on Craigslist, including services and small tasks they need to outsource. I once found ongoing work as a Spanish tutor by posting on Craigslist; the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. You can also search by major city to find jobs that can be done remotely.
More Helpful Tips for Freelancers
- Actively seek and apply for the jobs you want–don’t just set up a profile and expect the work to come rolling in.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Clients can split in the blink of an eye, so it’s important to have money coming in from more than one source at any given time. It’s also a good idea to set up profiles across multiple platforms for maximum exposure and job potential.
- Reach out to friends and acquaintances who may need the kind of work you’re providing and offer to do a job for them at a low rate so you can start building a portfolio and getting reviews under your belt. Just make sure they give you their honest feedback.
- Don’t write off jobs as one-time events; create a database of clients and maintain relationships with them, checking in every so often so you’re on their radar for future work.
- Always be hustling. Even in between gigs, you should still be working–networking, marketing yourself, and improving your skills.
It’s Time to Take Action
Want to get your shiny new freelancer life off to a strong start? Choose one of the above marketplaces and go set up your freelancer profile right now.
It doesn’t have to be perfect; just complete it as thoroughly as you can for now and you can come back later to polish it up.
Finally having the freedom to work from wherever you want or the ability to bring in that little bit of extra cash each month will be well worth the effort.
There’s no sense in putting it off–there will never be a perfect time to take control of your life.
What are your favorite marketplaces to list your freelance services? Have you used any of these platforms?