The current economic crisis in the western world as well as global changes have placed a lot of people in financial difficulty. Even if finances and economic challenges are major contributing factors as to why many start to ‘gig’ rather than seek full-time employment, there are also other reasons. Working as a freelancer can prove to be a long-awaited alternative to spending your days in an office. Being able to work from home, having more freedom and flexibility are often mentioned as benefits of becoming a freelancer. No matter if you are just starting your freelance career or you are already well established, these seven tips will help you grow and prosper in the gig economy.
1. Showcase your skills
The gig economy works slightly different than the traditional job market. You will hardly ever go through a lengthy application process and if you are being asked to do so it might not be the best way to spend your precious time. You are self-employed and as such time equals money. This in turn means that the less time you have to spend looking for new projects, the better. If you play your cards right, potential clients will even come knocking on your door! But how can you achieve that? Having your portfolio ready and on display not only saves you time when you apply for projects (you can simply add a link to your portfolio on your application), if it’s public it can also attract the attention of potential clients.
Behance and Dribbble are two examples of platforms that allow designers to showcase their portfolio. Should you offer a different skill set, it might be more difficult to find a similar website, but don’t worry, there are other ways you can show off your skills. As a freelance writer, you could start your own blog and write about a topic that interests you. This works especially well if you don’t have a broad portfolio of work. Creating your own website that includes your portfolio might be a good idea, regardless of your skill set. Finally, LinkedIn can be a great tool to market yourself and your skills.
- Portfolio websites
- Create your own website
- Write a blog
- Social Media Accounts
Think about what works best for you and your skill set. As a social media expert, running your own successful social media accounts can definitely impress future clients. SEO experts, on the other hand, can prove their worth by having a website with a very high ranking on major search engines. This brings me to another important point: should you opt for your own website, don’t expect it to immediately attract heavy traffic. The internet is vast; there are trillions of websites out there, and yours will most likely get lost somewhere in between. If you want to use your website to be found rather than merely refering to it when you apply for projects, be prepared to hire an expert who can help you achieve that. Whether this money is wisely spent is something you have to decide for yourself.
Keep in mind that public means public. What you write, mention and publish can be read by anyone and everyone. You, as well as some of your clients, might not want that. Always ask your clients if they are happy with you mentioning what kind of project you worked on for them. This is crucial when you work on confidential projects, such as a video game that has not been launched yet.
This type of work is often called a portfolio career. Needless to say, growing your portfolio is essential to being successful in the gig economy and the sooner you start taking note of previous projects that highlight your expertise, the better. You are not being forced to showcase it in public, but should you decide to do so it could turn out to be a great way to attract new clients.
2. Freelance Platforms
There are many platforms out there that allow you to sign up as a freelancer and look for projects. Some, like Envato, are specialised in certain industries or skills. Others, such as freelancer.com, welcome everyone who deems themselves fit to work in the gig economy. As you have probably guessed already, the sheer choice and different ideas behind the platforms can make it difficult to choose the best for you. To help you make the best decision, we created an extensive list for you, as well as reviews of each and one of the platforms. You can find it here. In general it can be said that highly specialised platforms tend to have higher paid jobs available and are more suitable for top-notch freelancers. Multi-talent platforms allow you to offer several skills simultaneously, which is great if you prefer a diverse work environment or be more flexible to adapt to a fast changing economy.
Not only does LinkedIn help you showcase your portfolio, it can also be a great tool to look for potential clients. Many companies use LinkedIn to advertise job positions and numerous organizations are starting to add freelance jobs too. But this is not where your freelance job hunting opportunities stop. Join groups such as the Portfolio Career Group by Sensible Media Ltd. Grow your network, get inspired by other freelancers’ portfolios, and get in touch with companies that you’d like to work for.
4. Search Engine
‘Your favourite search engine is your best friend’ is a good slogan for freelancers. As mentioned earlier, the internet is vast. There is so much to be discovered and your favourite search engine will take you there. Before you hit the search bar, it might be worth paying these two websites a quick visit: Search Commands and lifewire. Now that you know how to look for information more efficiently, use your new skill to find fantastic freelance jobs.
5. Job Boards
Employment websites already advertise a great deal of remote jobs and are also beginning to add onsite and offsite contract work to their list of available jobs. This is only happening gradually, but keeping an eye on job boards, such as Indeed, might help you land your next project.
6. Cold Pitching
If the company you want to work for isn’t advertising freelance positions it might still be worth contacting them and offering your services. Approaching potential clients in this way shows them that you are interested in their product or service. Make sure not to send a generic message, tell them why you are interested in working with them and why they should hire you. Tell them what makes your services unique.
7. Be Creative
Being able to find new clients is one of the skills every solopreneur has to master! There isn’t just one approach that will land you fantastic freelance opportunities nor is this list complete. Being a successful freelancer requires you to be creative when it comes to finding new projects.
How do you gain new prospective clients? Share your advice in the comments and help other freelancers grow their careers!