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The Growing Freelance Jobs Market
There has never been a better time to look for freelance jobs. Business done on a freelance basis now adds up to an amazing $1.4 trillion worldwide.
Freelancers already represent 35% of the U.S. workforce, and that figure is expected to rise to over 50% in the next few years.
“The growth of the freelance workforce is three times faster than the traditional workforce,” noted Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork.
In other words, freelancing is big...and getting bigger. If you are looking for an opportunity to carve out an independent career, this is definitely the time to do it.
There are now more freelance jobs than you could ever need to keep you busy, and the numbers will just keep getting bigger. If you are sick of working in a regular day job, and crave the freedom of doing things your own way, then freelancing is a great option to consider.
Rising Freelance Incomes
Another great reason for choosing freelance jobs is the higher income that you can earn. Around 20% of freelancers make over $75,000 a year, with 12% making over $100,000.
Better still, 1 in 20 freelancers makes over $150,000 a year - so there is plenty of potential to get into the big money. In some specialist markets such as copywriting, there are even freelancers making well over a million dollars a year.
So there is everything to play for here. You don’t have to settle for the measly full-time salary offered by an employer. And you don’t have to put up with miserable working conditions and minimal benefits.
You can create a whole new career where you choose only high-paying freelance jobs that you find interesting and rewarding.
Is Freelancing Right for You?
The freelance lifestyle has a lot going for it, that’s for sure. Launch a freelance career today and you can look forward to:
- Instantly increasing your income substantially
- Working from home, or wherever you choose
- Working flexible hours as it suits you
- Doing interesting and rewarding work
- Cutting out time wasted commuting
- Enjoying a shorter working week
- Being your own boss
- Taking control of your own future
So there are many good reasons why millions of people are selecting the freelance option. However, this lifestyle may not suit everyone. Before leaping headfirst into the freelance jobs pool, consider whether you are ready for the potential downsides of a freelance career:
The risk of income gaps between projects
- Lack of a clear promotion path
- No big-company benefits
- Possible feeling of isolation
- The need to be self-starter
These are all factors to be considered for sure. And if you feel you would be more comfortable in a traditional career, that’s fine. But if you are ready for the excitement, fun and huge potential that freelancing offers, then you have a real adventure ahead of you.
Types of Freelance Jobs
When people think of freelance jobs, some kind of writing is what springs to mind. This is because before the Internet, writing was one of the few jobs that could be done successfully on a freelance basis.
In the 21st century, all that has changed. Now that we are all online most of the time, a whole new way of working has emerged. Nowadays, most desk-based jobs can be done remotely.
Communication can be handled by email or online messaging, while face-to-face meetings can be replaced by video chat over Skype, Zoom or some other platform.
We are living in the age of the virtual team. Millennials are now the largest demographic in the workplace, and they have grown up with online communications. Working with people remotely has become the norm.
As a result, all kinds of work can now be done remotely. Some of the most popular types of freelance jobs and projects include:
- Writing and editing
- Web and graphic design
- Virtual assistant services
- Data entry
- Marketing consultancy
- Social media management
- Link building
However, there are many more. If you have a skill in a particular field, you can bet your life it will be possible to make a living doing this online.
So the potential is enormous. You just need to pick the niche that is right for you and make the decision to go for it. It’s a decision that you will never regret.
Getting Ready to Freelance
So you have decided that that you want to find some freelance jobs, huh? OK, that’s great. But you have some preparation to do before you dive in. This is what you need to do to set yourself up for a great future as a freelancer:
Build a Website
When you start contacting potential clients, you can be sure that the first thing they will do is check out your credentials. And the first place they will look is your website.
You need a website which reflects your professionalism and inspires confidence in clients. Fortunately, that’s not difficult to do. You can start a blog in as little as 10 minutes, and today’s design tools make it easy to create a quality look.
You will need to include a ‘Work with Me’ page that explains exactly what services you offer, and how these will help your clients. Don’t forget to include an ‘About’ page, plus a way for clients to contact you.
Create a Portfolio
Clients will also want to know that you can be trusted to do the required work to a high standard. The best way to do this is to build a portfolio that showcases your best work.
Collect a range of samples and upload them to your website. You don’t need to overwhelm people with too much information. They just need to see that you have real-world experience of getting the job done.
If you offer more intangible services, such as online marketing, then you can use case studies instead. Write up blog posts which show how you helped clients, and the results you achieved. If you can persuade your clients to add testimonials, so much the better.
But what if you are going into a brand-new field and have no previous clients? Don’t worry. There is a way to deal with that. You can create some samples of work for imaginary clients and upload those, or do a test case study that shows how you would help a potential client.
All you need to do is inspire confidence in your knowledge and expertise. Once you have done that, signing up clients is easy.
Put Aside a Marketing Budget
As a freelancer, you will need to market your services in order to attract clients. This is an investment that will be repaid many times over as your number of paying customers increases.
So set aside a portion of your income to be used for your marketing budget. Marketing will also take some of your time, so be sure to allow for this factor, too.
Online Freelance Marketplaces
The quickest and easiest way to find freelance jobs is to sign up with one of the many freelance marketplaces. These exist solely to connect freelancers like you with clients who will pay for your services.
The volume of work done through these marketplaces has grown at a tremendous pace over the last few years. Now there is endless work in almost any category you can imagine.
Some people criticize freelance marketplaces for being a race to the bottom. The ‘reverse auction’ method most of them use encourages freelancers to bid low rates to win projects.
While there is some truth to this, most marketplaces have been working hard to address this issue. The best way to avoid this problem is to specialize in an area where you can really add value.
That way, you avoid offering a ‘commodity’ service, and can still charge high rates and win valuable projects. There are many freelancers successfully earning over $100,000 a year through these marketplaces.
Let’s look at the best online marketplaces for freelance jobs:
The biggest player in the market, Upwork is now a multi-billion dollar company with a huge number of projects offered through it’s sophisticated platform. If you want sheer volume of opportunities, this is the place to start.
Upwork is easy to use, and you can sign up for free. The company takes a percentage of your earnings as their commission, and this number varies according to the size of the project.
Be careful to only bid for projects that you have a reasonable chance of winning. If you bid for too many jobs without results, your account could be suspended.
A good strategy is to bid lower in order to win your first project on Upwork. Then as you start to pick up positive feedback, you can increase your rates accordingly.
Millions of small businesses hire people on Freelancer.com to get things done. Another major player in the online marketplace sector, this site has come a long way in the last few years.
There are plenty of freelance jobs posted on this site, but the competition can be fierce. A good strategy for succeeding here is to take some of the many skills tests that are offered on the platform.
The costs for doing this are minimal, but they make a real difference to how you are perceived by hiring companies. You can position yourself as an expert this way, and have a real opportunity to pick up paying projects.
This is a great site for freelance designers. Companies needing a new logo can host a logo contest based on their requirements.
Freelancers then compete in the contest, and the winner gets awarded the contract. The high level of interaction between hirers and freelancers makes this a fun site to work with, and you can pick up some quality work this way.
Guru is one of the few survivors of the Internet Web 1.0, way back around the turn of the millennium. The site has prospered because it has stuck to its core principle of connecting freelancers with quality jobs.
Over a million projects have been completed on the platform, and over 3.4 million different services are offered. That’s amazing! It’s well worth creating a profile here and checking it out...you could pick up some top clients.
This site is great for freelancers searching for work in areas such as:
This site prides itself in hand-curated matches so that the right person gets to work on the right project. There is plenty of work available, with lots of interesting jobs to get your teeth into.
In a few years, this site has grown from a novelty into a serious contender in the freelance jobs arena. Although originally intended to focus on very small gigs Fiverr has expanded its scope to offer a lot of high-paying gigs.
This site works in reverse to most freelance jobs services. Here, freelancers post gigs that they are prepared to do for a certain amount of money. You can increase your income by offering upgrades at higher prices.
Buyers are often attracted by the promise of getting work done for five bucks, but end up paying hundreds of dollars for higher-value services. Many freelancers pick up a ton of work through this platform.
Here’s another freelance site with a different and refreshing business model. With Creative Market, you set up a shop on their platform, and market your creative work to interested buyers.
All kinds of creative work can be sold here, but the most popular categories are:
With iFreelance, you can bid on hundreds of freelance jobs and projects every month, without ever paying any commissions. When you compare that to other sites that take up to 20% of your income, that’s worth considering.
Although it doesn’t have the high volume of jobs you will find on the biggest platforms, it also doesn’t have the same level of competition. That means you have a better chance of winning a project successfully.
This is another freelance micro gigs site in the same vein as Fiverr. Here you can offer to do all kinds of jobs and projects for a range of fixed prices.
There are gigs in many different categories, including:
- Graphic Design
- Music & Audio
- Online Marketing
- Programming & Tech
- Video & Animation
- Writing & Translation
This site is focused on web development, but also offers projects for content writers, SEO professionals, admin support and other business roles.
You can bid on as many projects as you want in return for a small monthly fee, and you get free access to a range of project management tools.
General Job Boards
Although the online freelance marketplaces are very useful, they only hold a fraction of the available advertised freelance jobs. Many remote jobs are posted on regular job boards, so these can be a goldmine if you know how to use them.
The key here is to learn how to search. Try adding these stem keywords to the skill you offer:
So if you are a web designer, you would search for ‘remote web designer,’ ‘freelance web designer,’ etc.
You need to screen out jobs that need to be done on location, and those which are really employee positions. That’s a skill that comes with practice. You will soon learn to spot the projects with potential.
This strategy works best with the biggest national or international job boards, where the widest variety of jobs is posted.
Indeed is a great place to start because it is a massive jobs aggregator. Jobs are collated from thousands of smaller job boards, bringing you a huge number of opportunities.
You don’t get a lot of fancy frills with Indeed; the interface has hardly changed in the last 10 years. But if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
What you do get is a regular supply of jobs that can be done remotely. You will soon learn to screen the time wasters form the real possibilities, and then you will be on the road to success.
Another great resource in terms of sheer volume of jobs, Monster has been around since the turn of the millennium. So the company has had plenty of time to perfect its job platform.
There are tons of jobs posted here, especially in the US. It takes a bit of time to sift through and find work-from-home projects, but they are there if you look hard enough.
The Monster app is a very useful one, and great for keeping fully up to date with the latest job postings.
This company’s tagline is ‘one search, millions of jobs,’ and the claim to help gazillions of people ‘do what they love every day.’ That sounds promising, right?
Unlike Indeed and Monster, Simply Hired has done a good job of modernizing its user interface. It’s easy to use and navigate, so you should be able to pin down freelance jobs easily.
Glassdoor started as a site where employees provided honest reviews of the companies they worked for. But over the years, it has morphed into a jobs site - and is now one of the biggest players in the jobs market.
They claim to have millions of jobs available, plus reviews of hundreds of thousands of companies. The jobs search option is sophisticated and gives you lots of ways to filter your job selections.
This is a great way to not only find potential freelance jobs, but also to check out the potential client in advance, too.
Although it’s not as big as the general job boards, FlexJobs has the advantage of being totally focused on jobs with flexible working arrangements. This makes it great for finding freelance work.
Jobs are hand-screened to ensure that they meet this requirement. You will find many freelance jobs, plus others suited to part-time or remote working.
The many different Craigslist sites get a huge amount of traffic. Because of that, their job sections are very busy, with lots of new projects posted every day.
The downside of using Craigslist is that you need to visit each of the city sites individually and search there. So when searching for freelance work, it’s best to focus on the big cities such as New York, London, etc.
Although smaller in scale than CraigsList, Gumtree has the advantage of collating everything into one site.
Another benefit is that there is a special section for ‘Homeworking’ jobs. To find it, just check out the jobs section and click on the ‘Location’ link. At the end of the list, you will see ‘Homeworking jobs.’
Although only a modest number of jobs are posted here, they are all good bets for freelancers. So it’s worth checking in regularly to see what has come up.
The best clients for freelancers are well-funded entrepreneurs who need to get things done fast. Angel List is the perfect place to find such people.
Tons of jobs are posted here, but companies are often in too much of a hurry to wait for full-time employees to come on board. As a freelancer, you are perfectly positioned to fill the gap.
Startup companies are typically very open to the idea of remote working. They don’t care where you are - they just want to know if you can do the job...fast!
Although it’s positioned as a social network, LinkedIn is one of the biggest job boards on the planet. That makes it a great source of freelance projects - especially for consultancy-type roles.
LinkedIn is great for finding higher-value roles. You are likely to be connecting with more senior-level executives who understand the value of your work. That means higher fees and a better working experience all round.
Freelance Job Hunting
While all of the above strategies are very effective, they do put you in direct competition with other freelancers. If you want to charge maximum rates for your work, you may find that it’s better to find clients directly.
That way, you not only cut out the middleman, you also cut out the downward pressure on rates. You can pick up high-quality clients according to your preferences, and build a business accordingly.
Assuming you have already built a website for your business, you are in a great position to go out and find your own clients. Here are some strategies for ‘growth-hacking’ your freelance business:
If you have a decent marketing budget, then this hands-down the quickest and easiest way to pick up clients. You can literally create an ad now and have your first client on board by the end of the day.
The obvious place to start is with Google Ads. Right now, people are googling for people with your skills and experience. If your ad appears above the regular search results, you can be sure of generating leads.
The downside of advertising on Google Search is that clicks can be expensive. You may find yourself paying several dollars for each person who clicks through to your website.
However, the numbers still work in your favor. It might cost you $100 to acquire a new client, but that client may go on to give you business worth tens of thousands of dollars. You don’t get that kind of return on investment at your local ‘savings and loan’…
Another option is Facebook Ads. Here you are not reaching people actively searching for your services, but rather targeting them by demographics and interests. If you know that dentists, for example, are your ideal clients, then Facebook advertising provides laser targeting that works.
Search Engine Optimization
If you baulk at the thought of paying lots of money for Google Ads every month, then search engine optimization (SEO) may be the way to go.
SEO is the art (and science) of getting your website to rank on the first page of Google for your most important keywords. If you get good at this, you can get a ton of business, all for free.
Sounds great, right? But hold on a second...it’s not that easy. Because every business wants to rank in Google, competition can be fierce. You will need to get good at SEO and work hard to maintain and improve your rankings.
Social Media Marketing
The popular social media platforms are an ideal way to promote your business for free. Just sharing your blog posts on Facebook could result in interest from potential clients.
But for many freelancers, Pinterest is an even better source of new business. A lot of bloggers and business owners get a ton of traffic from Pinterest. Get good at sharing content here and you can do very well indeed.
All of the above are inbound marketing, where the potential client sees your promotions and gets in touch with you. But there also a huge opportunity in outbound marketing - where you go out and contact prospects directly.
The easiest way to do this is with cold email. Do some Google research to create a list of prospects for your services. Then visit their websites to get their contact details (email or contact form).
Then send a short, personalized email to each prospect, briefly explaining how you can help. Don’t ask for work. Instead, show how you can offer real value and have an impact on their success.
Good old-fashioned cold calling still works great, too. If you are prepared to pick up the phone and talk to people, you will have a big advantage over the 99% who would rather hide behind their laptop screens.
Maximizing Freelance Rates
Once you have interested prospects, you need to negotiate a deal. And this is where many freelancers fall short. The simple fact is that the vast majority of freelancers seriously undercharge for their services.
Don’t be that guy (or girl). Make sure you understand the economics of being a freelance professional, so that you can make the income you deserve.
Expenses and Billable Hours
Remember that as an independent business owner, your finances are very different to those of an employee. You need to charge a much higher hourly rate if you are to earn an acceptable income.
You have to cover a whole range of business expenses, including:
- Marketing and advertising
- Office space
- Business insurance
- Health insurance
- Accountancy and tax preparation
- Office equipment
...and a whole lot more. Then you have to allow for the hours that are not billable, such as:
- Sick leave
- Marketing time
- Periods with no work
When you add all of this up, it becomes clear that you have to earn at least three times an employee’s hourly rate - and that’s just to keep pace.
The Stop/Start Cycle
Another major problem for freelancers is unpredictable revenue. What most freelancers do is this:
- Go out and hunt for work
- Win a project
- Stop marketing and work hard
- Complete the project
- Go out and hunt for another project
The big problem with this approach is that you regularly find yourself in a position where you are between projects and currently have no work. And that leads to panic.
‘What if I can’t get another project?’ How will I pay the mortgage this month? What will we eat?’
When a prospective project does come up, you are then desperate to close the deal at any price. You will probably quote a low rate for the job, just to be sure of winning it. And if the client asks for a discount on that price, you will most likely agree. After all, anything is better than nothing, right?
Don’t fall into that trap...it will leave you stuck in poverty forever.
The solution is to ‘always be marketing.’ You should always have marketing campaigns on the go, even when you are busy. That way, you will have a solid pipeline of fresh prospects.
With several possible projects to consider, you won’t be desperate to clinch a deal. You can ask for more professional rates and expect to get them. And if one client turns you down, another one is sure to say ‘yes.’
Charge By the Project
The best way to increase your income as a freelancer is to stop thinking in terms of hourly rates. Time-based thinking will always restrict your income.
Instead, think about the value you add to your client’s business. If your work helps them generate an additional million dollars of revenue, aren’t you entitled to a fair share of that?
When you adopt the Million Dollar Consulting mindset, you will find that your income rockets into the stratosphere. Don’t settle for an average income. Be exceptional and earn an exceptional income!
Making it Happen
Freelancing is changing the way we work, and re-shaping the lives of millions of people like you. There is every opportunity for you to be part of this revolution and enjoy all the benefits it brings.
If you are stuck in a rut, now is the time to make a change. All you have to do is make the decision to act.
The lifestyle of a highly-paid freelance professional is at your fingertips. Now it’s time to reach out and take it.
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