With more and more work being outsourced to “non-traditional” workers, opportunities to freelance have increased dramatically over the last decade. Along with the growth in opportunities, has been a corresponding boom in freelance applicants, who realize that freelancing is a great way to earn some money on the side – or in some cases, take the place of a 9-to-5 job.
If you are in search of freelance opportunities, you know how critical it is to stand out from the pool of applicants. With that in mind, below are a few important considerations to help you successfully land new gigs.
1. Find What You’re Good at
It may sound obvious, but it’s important to think carefully about the strengths you bring to the table. Knowing your limitations and strengths will allow you to best market yourself. Make a list of all your marketable skills. Are you a writer? Do you have experience as a photographer? Write down anything you think you could get paid for and then walk away from the list for a day or so. When you come back to it, narrow down the list to those where your passions and strengths align – think “skill meets will”.
2. Brush Up That Resume
Just as with traditional roles, when it comes to applying for freelance gigs, you’re going to need a strong resume to stand out from the crowd. However, freelancing job opportunities differ from traditional jobs in that potential clients will almost always request samples of your work. For those just starting out, considering taking on some free work. For example, if you are applying for a writing position, offer to take on some unpaid guest posts, choose a news article and summarize it, or write a review of a book or movie.
Another way to let potential employers know you are taking freelancing seriously is to set up a website to showcase your work and background. When choosing sample work to post or send, be sure to consider the type of job for which you’re applying. For example, don’t fill up your portfolio with blog posts if you’re seeking a web design role.
3. Know Your Worth
One of the most common mistakes people make when getting into freelancing is undercharging. Pricing your work on the lower end may attract more clients initially, but it can actually backfire. Paradoxically, lower budgets often mean more demanding clients, as $100 typically means more to a small business than $1000 does to a larger one. By definition, raising your prices will also eliminate those potential clients who are most price sensitive. Of course, pricing too high can also be an issue, especially if you are a beginner. Read up on the average pricing for freelance work to get a good idea of how much to charge.
4. Work on that Cover Letter
Another mistake new freelancers make is underestimating the cover letter. A strong cover letter should grab the readers’ attention and let them know what sets you apart. Whenever possible, identify the specific need you can fill to address a client’s problem. Avoid using a generic letter – clients can sniff one out, so customization is key. And always reread your cover letter to ensure it’s typo-free.
Hopefully the above tips can make the jump into freelancing an easier one. Like any new endeavor, you’ll likely face some ups and downs – and rejection! – but don’t give up. Stick with it and soon enough you’ll have clients calling YOU and you’ll have your choice of which jobs to take on.
Michelle Laurey (@michelle_laurey) is a freelance writer who enjoys fitness, relaxing in the fresh air, trying to live a healthy life and daydreaming about visiting new places (and actually visiting them). Her best ideas and problem solutions appear while she’s riding her bicycle.