Does your bank account look like an empty refrigerator by the end of the month? You don’t need to take on a second job to pay your mortgage or keep the utilities running. Chances are you have a skill which is a good match for some of the many freelance opportunities available.
Benefits of Freelancing
Most freelance work is flexible. You work where you want and when you want. Have you ever dreamed of being able to work from home during your free time? Freelancing may just be for you.
Freelancing also allows you to work with different businesses, get to know different people, and learn different ways of doing things. So, if you’re thinking of changing jobs, it gives you a glimpse of what’s out there. And, if you’re happy in your current job, it lets you stay at your job, while earning extra money.
You can also think of it as trying on a couple of hats. If you take one opportunity and find the work doesn’t suit you, you can move on to a different job when the first one has been completed. You never have to be stuck with doing one thing for too long.
Types of Freelance Work
Many skills can be put to work on a freelance basis. Here’s a sample of some of the most in-demand freelancing skills:
- Design and development: If you can build websites (front-end or back-end development) or design anything well, there’s freelance work out there for you.
- Social media management (SMM): Business owners need people who can develop and implement social media strategies, increase brand awareness and engagement, and optimize their online presence.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): While SMM involves going to where your target audience is (i.e., social media), SEO is about getting your target audience to come to you (i.e., your website). If you’re an expert at SEO, a lot of clients would like to work with you.
- Teaching or tutoring: The latest classrooms are virtual and, with today’s software, teachers and students can communicate as easily as though they’re in a classroom with walls. So, you can work as an independent contractor for an online school or you can create a profile at a tutoring website and find students yourself.
- Writing: Good writers are needed for blog posts, advertising copy, product descriptions, resumes, cover letters, and a lot more. Good grammar, spelling, and punctuation are a nice starting point, but you also need the skills to develop what you’re writing, while keeping your target audience in mind.
- Proofreading: Proofreading starts with being able to spot and correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. You also need to be able to fact-check and check for inconsistencies.
- Legal consulting and legal research: Legal expertise is needed to write legal documents, research areas of concern, review existing agreements, help with family law issues, and assist with various other matters.
- Virtual assistant (VA): Each job as a VA is unique. Clients pass on numerous tasks to their VAs, including customer service, bookkeeping, scheduling, data entry, email management, and research.
Whatever your skills are, choose a niche where you have specific knowledge. When you have enough experience in it, market yourself as an expert in that niche.
Where to Find Freelance Work
Going online is often the starting point in the search for freelance work. So, searches at job board sites, such as Upwork and Guru, will bring up ads for freelance and ongoing work from around the world. It’s also worth cruising local job boards online for freelance opportunities as your ideal client might actually live nearby. Also, local companies tend to target more local sites.
For example, in New York, New York Jobs is a regional alternative to aggregator job sites, such as Indeed and Monster.
While online, update your LinkedIn profile and search posted jobs. Even if you don’t find freelance work on LinkedIn, a current and informative profile may help you when you apply for freelance work elsewhere. People hiring both employees and freelancers often view LinkedIn profiles before deciding who to hire. Most of them will also do online searches for your name and background; so, it’s important to make sure your online presence is tidied up.
Read How to Find Freelance Gigs on LinkedIn for more details on how to use this social portal to find freelance work.
Remember the value of personal connections as well. Online job postings may receive dozens or more applications, making it difficult to stand out. But, when you talk to people in person, they’re more likely to remember you.
So, let your friends, family members, previous employers (if relevant), and other personal contacts know that you’re available for freelance work in your field. Go to job fairs and meet-ups and give out your business card, after talking to people face to face. Be personable; your goal is to leave a lasting positive impression.
Finally, you can contact companies directly. Find out the name of the person who might hire freelancers with your skills and send your resume directly to that person. Read 5 Steps to Cold Pitch Prospective Clients as a Freelancer for more tips.
How to Pitch Your Services
You can pitch your freelance services directly to people in person and online (as described above) or you can market your services in online profiles at job search sites and on your own website (if you have one).
Remember, potential clients want to know how you can help them. So, in online profiles, write about your accomplishments in terms of how you helped other clients. Read job ads carefully and respond only to those where you have the right skills for the job. In your applications, detail how you will provide what the client specifically needs. Also, provide relevant samples of your work.
When talking to potential clients directly, learn what their specific needs are and then address those needs. At every step, be professional. Listen carefully to what your clients and potential clients tell you and ask questions if anything is unclear.
Also, when you are awarded the freelance job, do your best work every time. In fact, you should exceed expectations. Your clients may become repeat clients or may provide recommendations to help you get more work. And, your bank account will be less empty.
This is a guest post from Susan Ranford, an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for New York Jobs. In her blogging and writing, she seeks to shed light on issues related to employment, business, and finance to help others understand different industries and find the right job fit for them.