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How to Get a Freelance Job

Updated on December 30, 2012
A job search is never easy, even for a freelance job!
A job search is never easy, even for a freelance job! | Source

In these days of low salaries and high unemployment rates, it can be difficult to make ends meet. As a result, more and more people have begun freelancing, or at least looking into offering their services on a freelance basis as a side hustle. Here are some steps you can take to get your first freelance job or increase your business and help make freelancing a viable career path for you.

Define Your Ideal Job

This may sound obvious, but in order to get started freelancing, you really ought to know what you want to get out of it and what you have to offer. First, answer these questions:

  • What services can I provide? Writing may be the first freelance job people think of, but there are tons of other jobs out there that you can do on a freelance basis. I've been a freelance editor for ten years, and I know of graphic designers, computer programmers, photographers, interior decorators, housecleaners, and teachers who make their livings freelance. Just about any skill you have can be leveraged to provide a service people need on a freelance or contract basis.
  • How much should I charge? If you're just starting out and freelancing on the side of your day job, or your spouse's income already supports your family, you can afford to take some low-paying jobs while you build your reputation. If you provide the sole support of your family, do some math to decide which jobs are worth your time and which aren't before you start looking.
  • How many hours do I want/need to work? Do you want to freelance full-time or part-time? If part-time, how many hours per week can you devote to working? Don't forget about time you need for paperwork (billing, taxes) and hunting down new clients.

Freelancing is the pefect lifestyle for some people, but make sure you know the pros and cons before jumping in with both feet.

Have a creative and atractive business card ready to hand out whenever you meet new people.
Have a creative and atractive business card ready to hand out whenever you meet new people. | Source

Networking to Find Freelance Jobs

Even in the digital age, there's nothing like good, old-fashioned networking to get you a job. You can (and should!) use your contacts and friends on LinkedIn and Facebook to find leads, but the single best thing you can do is meet people and offer them your services in person.

  • Call former colleagues to see if their employers are outsourcing any work that you can do. (This is how I get most of my editing jobs.)
  • Join your local chamber of commerce and attend networking meetings. Don't just shake hands, though — be creative in offering your services. If someone mentions designing a new website, mention that you do web copywriting and would love to help them out (if it's true, of course). If you do graphic design, bring along some sample logos or corporate branding work you've done to show anyone who asks what you do.
  • Talk to the people you see all the time. Maybe the owner of the independent coffee shop you frequent is looking to do some advertising; pitch him your services as a writer/designer/photographer (or whatever relevant skill you have). Chat with the folks at church and at your kids' soccer game. Someone out there needs your skill to get their work done!
  • Don't forget to hand out business cards (or virtual business cards) to your new contacts. They need a way to get in touch with you AND remember what you do.

Find Freelance Jobs Online

Finding freelance jobs online can get a little hairy. There are plenty of jobs out there, but many pay an extremely low rate, making them not worth your time unless you're just trying to make some pocket change on the side. Here are some of the more popular sites to search:

Freelance Job Site
Prospects
oDesk.com
plenty of jobs posted, but pay is often abysmal
Elance.com
guaranteed payment; higher-paying jobs are hotly contested
Guru.com
tech-heavy job listings
Craigslist.com
don't forget to check out gigs as well as jobs
Freelancer.com
this site gets many bad reviews; use it as a last resort

In addition to the general freelancing and employment websites (don't forget Monster and CareerBuilder), plenty of career paths have niche job websites (such as Mediabistro for writers and social media marketers) that also list freelance positions.

The Wealthy Freelancer
The Wealthy Freelancer

This is a great book for those getting started freelancing and people who've been at it for a while and want to take it to the next level.

 

Cold Calling

Your last resort for landing a client for your freelancing business will be cold-calling (or sending unsolicited resumes). The success rate for this is extremely low; you'll multiply your chances a thousand times by sending your resume to someone you know instead.

But if you're absolutely desperate, decide which company to work on. Find out who does the hiring of freelancers (it's probably not human resources), and target your pitch directly to that person. Show what you can do, but don't be pushy or obnoxious. This person did not ask for your resume and does not owe you a phone call or email if she is not interested in your services. Overall, you'll still be better off if you can make her acquaintance some way first (LinkedIn counts!).

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    • gardener den profile image

      gardener den 3 years ago from Southwestern, Pennsylvania

      Great hub on how to get a job. By doing freelance work. Keep up the great work! Gardener Den

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
      Author

      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thanks, Wacky Mummy. I recently went through a dry spell myself, and had to re-read my own advice! I hope it works for you, too.

    • Wacky Mummy profile image

      Wacky Mummy 4 years ago from UK

      Very useful hub, thanks for writing! Will keep your comments in mind :)

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
      Author

      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thank you, penlady. Good luck with your freelancing!

    • penlady profile image

      penlady 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA

      Great advice for getting freelance work. Voted up, useful and sharing via Twitter.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
      Author

      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Ha ha, Nell Rose, you crack me up! The websites are actually a good idea if you're not sure that freelancing is for you. Put in a low bid on a couple of projects so that you're more likely to be chosen. Then complete the projects, keeping careful track of how much time they take. Once you've successfully finished a few, you'll know whether you like doing the work, what skills you need to improve (if any), and how much money would make it worth your while. If you want to continue, you can start making some contacts and continue bidding on projects (maybe for a little higher rate, now that you have some experience). Just keep your day job in the meantime!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      I click onto the sites then lose my nerve! lol! I really want to do freelance work but to be honest I have no idea how to go about it properly, I will bookmark this and try again when I get the nerve up! lol!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
      Author

      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Hi, Suzzycue. I'm glad to be able to help. Good luck with your new path!

    • suzzycue profile image

      Susan Britton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have often wondered how people get started doing this and you have given me most of the answers to my questions and even provided the Web sites to get started. Thank you Brainy Bunny. I will be studying your advice. Good advice and sharing.