Finding work is the biggest challenge most freelancers face, but it’s definitely one you can learn to navigate. You’ve got multiple options when it comes to finding and building a steady stream of work, and this page will help you get going.
Read these posts to get started, but below are ideas and resources for you to use to answer the work question. Remember though, you shouldn’t rely on any one method…make sure to use a combination of a few (if not all) of these, and be regularly marketing yourself. (…and don’t forget to download your Freelance Profile Workbook to help put everything together.)
Depending on your goals and background, your network can be very powerful in drumming up business. Old work contacts and even community connections can lead to productive relationships. Just remember to treat them just like you would any other client (i.e. use a contract.)
These are very useful for new freelancers to get started, feel out a niche, and build some confidence. As you progress as a freelancer, the goal should be to gradually make these a smaller and smaller portion of your client sources (unless you can make them work for you of course).
Upwork dominates this space along with Fiverr/Fiverr Pro, (here are some tips on getting more out of them) but there are a LOT of niche options like these…
Freelancer: General positions
Freelance Writing Jobs: One of my favorites for writers
Experfy: Retainer projects for big data analytics, IoT, and software & market research projects
Guru: Leans toward tech, but has a mix of niche work
Indeed: A lot of writing and even traditional jobs, so use the search function to limit to freelance and remote work
Incluzion: This site focuses on diverse talent, with a focus on contract workers, VAs, freelancers, contingent workers, and agencies.
TheBlackGirlGroup: Connects Black women freelancers with work
Toptal: A site for seasons pros
NomadHealth: Specifically for doctors and nurses, NomadHealth cuts out recruiters and middlemen to connect clinicians with jobs.
If you’re more of an independent consultant or “supertemp”, don’t forget sites like the ones listed in this article.
Community Content Platforms
Skyword and Contently are the big players here (nDash is a newer entrant) and are great for connecting writers, designers, videographers, and other content creators with very large clients that might not be open to working with an individual freelancer (think Fortune 500 companies and the kind that can really catapault your freelance reputation.) They can take a LONG time to get work through though (I’m talking 6 months+), but can pay very well, so don’t wait to apply or sign up. You never know when they’ll bring on a client who’s looking for creators with your experience (they’re always out there trying to pull in new brands), so if you wait, you could easily be missing out.
Also keep your profile updated and don’t be scared to add your profile links to your website and LinkedIn profiles…They’re public and sometimes clients and publications manage all their content creation through these sites and won’t sign you on unless you’re listed there.
Also, new sites like Konsus are trying to make the entire process even more simple by getting rid of the bidding process altogether.
This is something you get better at over time (which is why we cover it regularly in the Academy), but it’s a great way to find high-quality clients and get your business as healthy as possible. Get in the habit of hitting up just a few prospects a week and it’ll pay off especially if you start building relationships and circling back around regularly to see if they need support. Want to learn more? Start here.
Agencies can be really broad or highly specialized. Use a search engine to find ones in your local area and niche. Make sure to maintain good relationships with your contacts there and check in regularly…agencies can be helpful in keeping a steady flow of income. I like to pop in once every couple of months.
As freelancing becomes more common and organizations realize the benefits of maintaining long-term relationships with qualified freelancers, more organizations are beginning to create their own platforms for managing freelancer work.
It’s always a good idea to check the job boards of large employers to see if they advertise freelance and contract positions, but you’ll also find others (such as Deloitte and their Open Talent platform) that have stepped up their game and are aligning the way they engage labor with the modern work landscape.
This is an option mostly for writers, designers, and photographers. Keep in mind that editors are people too, so be polite and bring something to the table.
Also, don’t limit yourself to mainstream publications! Trade publications and magazines often pay better, can be more reliable, and the work isn’t even necessarily harder (just more specialized.) Up your writing game and try contacting a few different types of editors.
LinkedIn has services for freelancers (ProFinder) and I’m sure we’ll see more develop as time passes and freelancing becomes even more popular.
Also, Craigslist works great for some people. I’ve been told that AdHuntr is an efficient way to search multiple Craigslist ads. (Thanks Stephanie!)
Sometimes clients who are new to outsourcing their work come to the places we hang out to find qualified freelancers. So don’t skip out on getting included on a few.
Getting your name on lists that platforms promote can bring in work at unexpected times. (I’ve personally gotten work like this, which is why we have a similar list here.)
If you’re freelancing, you should probably be creating content for your website. If you’re in a field where SEO counts, it can draw clients in.
It can also be a way to showcase your skills (if you’re a blogger, writer, or content marketer), so use your web presence and get it working for you while you sleep.
I haven’t gotten much play from this one myself, but some people do recommend it and it makes sense…freelancers fill the same need that employed people do, so it’s likely that a few hiring managers out there are freelance-friendly and might rethink how they approach a support need. (I know for a fact that a couple of my clients work with me for this exact reason, they were just open to freelancers from the jump.)
Keep things simple by setting automatic alerts on sites like LinkedIn, just like you would if you were looking for a traditional job. Use your freelance skill set and a few keywords to get automated notification of the companies who need the kind of support you provide. Then add them to your prospect list and shoot a message/contact request over to someone in the department or HR!
Side note: I’ve got a good view of freelance resources, but I can’t see everything. You guys run into stuff I don’t, so if you have any suggestions that the community might find useful, shoot them over to firstname.lastname@example.org.