Deciding to freelance can be one of the scariest decisions you can make. Sure, there are plenty of benefits to freelancing, such as the freedom of working for yourself and not having a boss breathing down your shoulder in a cubicle all day, but there are also downsides. It’s hard work and there’s a bit of uncertainty when it comes to finding clients — and that can spell disaster if you’re banking on a steady income.
Freelancing is all about marketing yourself, but the difficulty comes in finding people and companies to whom you can market yourself. Fortunately, the stigma of the freelance worker (e.g., they’re all lazy, they’re incompetent, etc.) is subsiding and there are now more places to find freelancing gigs than ever before. With a bit of luck and a lot of effort, you can even turn it into a full-time career.
I have to include Odesk and Elance on this list because these two sites are where I first got my bearings as a freelance writer. Odesk and Elance are both large enough to be international so there are thousands of jobs from all over the world just waiting for you.
It all works on a system of credentials and bids. As a freelancer, you can sign up on these sites for free and fill out profiles that detail your work history, your background and experience, your competencies, and more. Odesk even has online tests that you can take to “prove” your expertise in areas like spelling, grammar, etiquette, programming languages, etc.
With a profile complete, you can browse the job listings and bid on the project. If the project owner feels that you are a good fit and cost effective, they’ll accept. You can also set how much you require in upfront costs to help combat against scammers (which, thankfully, aren’t too common). A small cut of whatever you earn goes to Odesk/Elance for facilitating the transaction.
Do note that because these sites are international, you may find yourself competing against bidders who can afford to take on jobs for pennies. Therefore, you should look for jobs that require a higher level of education and creativity — the kind of jobs where you can really sell your expertise.
Freelancer [Writers & Coders]
Freelancer is the world’s largest freelancing network — even larger than Odesk or Elance — and it works in pretty much the same fashion: you sign up, you fill out your credentials, you bid on projects, and complete them for payment. With over 9 million users and 5 million projects, you’re bound to find some good stuff here.
Like Odesk and Elance, Freelancer has caught a lot of flak over the years. Is some of it warranted? Sure. In an open market like this, it’s inevitable that you will find project owners who are hard to work with and scammers who will try to run with your money, but Freelancer does their best to maintain the integrity of their service.
There are hundreds of job categories on Freelancer, including writing, web design, IT, coding, architecture, engineering, sales, marketing, translation, and more. Just know that you may need to slog through the rough to find the diamonds.
Craigslist [Writers & Coders]
I haven’t searched for a new writing gig in a while, but during my search period, Craigslist was one of my favorite sites to browse. It’s one of the largest sites in the world and the writing/coding sections are updated with dozens of new listings every day. In fact, there are so many new listings that there are some blogs that only exist to curate these writing gigs.
The same caveats apply here as with any Craigslist-related endeavor: if it looks sketchy or unprofessional, it’s probably not worth your time. Better to be safe than sorry, right? Check the listings a few times per day (morning, noon, and night is a good frequency) and veer towards the projects that are presented professionally.
Problogger Jobs [Writers]
Problogger is a website dedicated to helping bloggers become better at what they do. As part of that mission, they have a job listings board where project owners can post their writing ads to find talented writers. It’s a smart move for everyone involved and the best part is that you don’t find the slush here that you’d usually find elsewhere — probably because it costs money to post a listing.
The downside, of course, is that you won’t find the same volume of potential work. There are only a couple of new listings every day, so if you aren’t fast at catching them and if you aren’t extremely good at selling yourself, it’ll be pretty tough to land some of these jobs.
GetACoder is a listing site that focuses solely on programming jobs. Despite the niche market, they get dozens of new listings every day. Topics range from video games to web applications to business suites and more. Sometimes a project will even be as simple as testing and quality assurance.
If you have some sharp programming knowledge across multiple fields, this may prove to be profitable for you. Some jobs will take you no longer than an hour while others might take you a few weeks or months. Make your bid, convince project owners why you’re worth the money, and blow them away with your best code.
Admittedly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens, even hundreds, of other websites where you can find new writing and coding gigs to boost your income. With a bit of smart searching, you should be able to seek them out on Google, but for now the websites above will give you plenty of leads to start with.
For you freelancers, which websites do you use to find new work? And for those of you who seek freelancers, which websites do you post your listings to? It’d be great to hear from both sides of the coin. Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
Image Credits: kate hiscock Via Flickr