It’s a question I’m asked constantly- Where do I find freelance work? Putting aside for a moment that freelancers tend to focus on this too much and that I’ve created a course that answers this question in depth, I’ll try to break down the basics.
Really, there are a ton of ways to find work. But I divide them into 4 categories to make them less overwhelming.
If you ask virtually any freelancer how to get work, they’ll probably include networking in their answer. For me personally, it provided the majority of my work throughout my career.
If it sounds terrible, you can unclench your butt cheeks a little. Networking isn’t about going to big shill-fests and schmoozing everyone who will sit still long enough for you to corner. It’s about building relationships with people and earning their trust in you and your expertise.
Applying to job listings, whether they be on a freelancing platform or elsewhere, can be a low-barrier way to start finding work. Here is a ready-to-buy client actually asking for freelancers to contact them. There are a vast array of sites to choose from, many of which are industry specific.
The disadvantages of direct applications stem from the same reason. Because job listings are so low-barrier and easily accessible, there is a lot more noise to contend with. Your prospective clients are likely fielding hundreds of responses so you’d better figure out a way to stand out.
Services include any company, such as a staffing agency, that finds work for you. My own company, Black Chip Collective, would fall under this heading.
While services can be useful, especially for those who have industry experience but are new to freelancing, it’s wise to be wary when entering into an agreement with one. And this is coming from someone who founded one. Staffing agencies can often put a 100% markup on your rate, forcing your rate down and increasing client expectations. There are certainly ‘good eggs’, services that will treat you well and not gouge your clients, but the biggest agencies are not among them.
Cold calling, social ads, PPC ads, direct mail, content, etc. These are all encompassed in the B2B sales category. Many of these methods are, undoubtedly, effective but none are appropriate for every situation.
Cold calling offers the quickest turn around time, although it has a much lower conversion rate than networking. Content can be especially effective for experienced and dedicated professionals but has a very long lead time and requires a large time investment.
It’s a bad idea to try to machinegun these methods, simply trying as many as you can to see what sticks, but it’s unlikely that you’ll get all of your work from a single source. All of these things take time, both to have an effect and to learn how to do properly, so you need to be prepared to stick with whatever you’re doing for some time before you start seeing results.