One of the questions I get most often is where do you get freelancing work? There is no right or wrong way to get freelancing work, and everyone seems to approach it differently based on their skills, network, and circumstances. What we've learned from interviewing dozens of freelancers is that there are some common themes in freelancing that will help get you started.
In this article, we'll share an overview of how to get freelancing work, whether you're a beginner or have been freelancing for a long time.
The Usual Suspects: Upwork & Fiverr
Most people have heard of the main freelancing sites and job boards - Upwork and Fiverr are two of the most popular ones. There is plenty of opportunity on these sites, but they aren't always the highest quality of jobs. If you decide to build up your profile on Upwork and Fiverr, you are likely to take lower paid gigs while you build up your reviews and show your clout. If you're okay taking lower paying gigs to start, Upwork and Fiverr are a simple way to gain some more experience and build up your portfolio.
Networking & Professional Groups
Networking & professional groups are another avenue to expand your network and share what types of opportunities you're looking for. Many different types of groups exist, and can be local to the city that you live in. When I was living in San Diego, Ad Club and Ad2 were great ways to expand my professional network and share the types of opportunities I was looking for. Many of the contract roles I've gotten over the past few years come from the connections I made while in the networking groups.
Building relationships in professional groups takes time. This isn't typically something that you can just show up to once or twice and get a new gig. This entails a consistent attendance at the different networking events, going to meetings and happy hours, and taking time outside of the organized events to reach out to people for coffee chats to get to know them better.
Your Existing Relationships
Focusing both on your existing networking as well as building your network is a helpful way of finding opportunities. From past employers, family, neighbors, and friends, letting people know what you're up to and what you're looking for is an important step in cultivating freelancing work. Whether you're sharing this on social media, sending out an email to those in your contact list, or reaching out to the most relevant contacts individually, these are steps to getting a freelancing gig.
These days, the majority of my opportunities come from my existing relationships or secondary connections. These typically have the highest quality leads that come in and have the highest close rate. There's already a level of trust that has been developed and more respect is inherently shown.
Other ways of leveraging your existing relationships to find work is for referrals. Check out our article on How to Get Testimonials for your Website or Linkedin.
I've been really surprised by how much value Facebook groups have. There are many freelancing specific groups that you can join that post relevant jobs, opportunities, and networking events. It's a really tight community of people working together to get support and find new opportunities. I've hired from these groups multiple times and am always impressed by the quality of people within these groups. Depending on your skillset, different groups will be better than others so spend some time researching different groups to join.
My mentor has shared this with me several times, but there is a lot of opportunities to be found on Reddit, especially in the subreddits for small businesses. Many people in these threads ask for support, questions, and general advice. By actively engaging with these threads and offering your expertise for free, there are often opportunities fo you to further help them in a paid capacity. Like many of these initiatives, these aren't a one-time thing, but if you spend the time actively engaging over a longer period of time, more opportunity is going to come to you.
It's up to you to determine where it makes the most sense for you to spend your time in finding new leads. Remember, it's a long process and can takes months before you start seeing some momentum. It's a marathon and not a sprint, so take your time, build sustainable habits, and keep taking steps every day to move forward.