Long after the lockdown has been lifted, freelancing will be a good option for Indians hoping to offset the financial loss caused by COVID-19. But where does one find freelance work? In this post we will address this topic in detail.
Rather than working full- or part-time for one employer, freelancers work for one or more employers on a project or hourly basis.
Freelancing has become a reliable way for skilled workers to make money from anywhere — even their homes.
How to land freelance assignments
If you have the required skill in one field, you can make money as a freelancer. Here’s how to get started:
- Package your services well.
- Go through your contact list.
- Build a portfolio.
- Scour popular job boards.
- Network like a pro.
- Don’t be afraid of cold pitching.
Before we explain the six steps to getting freelance work, let’s lay the groundwork with a definition.
What is freelance work (and what are its advantages)?
Freelancing is a model of work in which you work for a business or organization on a contractual basis. As a freelance worker, you offer your services to clients and either charge per job or sign a contract for a retainer.
Experienced freelancers have the luxury of accepting only the jobs they want to do.
Advantages of freelancing include:
- Work from home (or anywhere you fancy)
- Be in control of your workload
- Work on your own schedule
- Can be done on the side of a full-time job
Stepping into the freelancing world can be a challenge, but on the plus side you get to be your own boss. It’s especially timely as India’s workers are likely to be under lockdown or working from home for the foreseeable future.
10 skills you can freelance
So what skills are businesses looking for in a freelancer? Here’s a list of 10 skills in high demand (not in any order):
- Video creation
- Content writing
- Web design and development
- Graphic designing
- Social media marketing
- Virtual assistants
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Data entry
While these are not the only skills needed from freelancers today, they are the ones that have the biggest demand.
You have the skills, how do you find freelance work?
Finding freelance work can be a task if you don’t know how to go about it. So what steps do you need to take to earn money while confined to your home?
1. Package your services well
One of the first steps to take in order to find freelance work is to package your services. Keep in mind that the words you use to describe your area of expertise might be different than what an employer would call it.
You should also think about all the different services you can offer and combine some together. This will not only show your clients the exact deliverables they get, but make it easier for you to upsell related services.
Here is how to package your services:
Do your research
Check out how other freelancers in your niche are packaging their services. Which services are included in the base hourly rate and which are offered for an additional fee?
Bundle related services together
For example, if you’re a web designer, you can bundle web design and maintenance as a package. This is a smart play, as monthly or quarterly maintenance can bring in more money over time than a one-time design project.
Freelance writers might combine:
- Keyword research
- Topic ideation
- The actual writing
Detail out each package to set the right expectations for clients. For example, a web designer would want to spell out the maximum number of hours they will spend per month or quarter on maintenance.
Give clients enough choices
Creating different packages that clients can choose from is a way of making certain options more appealing. By offering something at various price points — from low to high — it becomes easier to seal a deal.
Now that you’ve properly packaged your services, it’s time to look at some client-attracting strategies.
Editor’s note: That free email ID you’ve been using could make you look unreliable as a freelancer. After all, you’re unknown to prospective customers. Make a good impression with Professional Email — it comes complete with your own one-of-a-kind email ID!
2. Go through your contact list
Many freelancers don’t realise that they’ve probably met their ideal customer already. They’re just hiding in their network.
Whether you’re looking for freelance work as a side hustle or planning to turn it into a fully-fledged business, the first place to start looking is with people you already know. These are people:
- You’ve worked with before
- In your friends and family circle
- You met at an event
As long as you’ve had contact with someone who seems likely to need your services, reach out to them and let them know you’re available.
3. Build a portfolio
While it may be easy to sell your services to people you know, those you don’t know will need proof of your abilities. And that’s where a portfolio comes in.
A portfolio is simply a collection of past work you have done. While many newbie freelancers struggle with this stage, there are a couple of ways you can build a portfolio:
Work for free
This is one of the easiest ways of getting samples to showcase in your portfolio. Once you have some experience, you can start charging for your work.
Create your own samples
Another way of creating samples to show in your portfolio is to do work for yourself. If you’re a graphic designer, create graphics for imaginary clients and put them in your portfolio. A freelance videographer might create short videos for local nonprofits to fill his or her portfolio.
A portfolio will help you earn trust, leading you to land more freelance work. Remember, every gig you get is an opportunity to beef up your portfolio. So make sure to ask your client for permission to include their project in your portfolio.
4. Scour popular job boards
Some of the best places to get freelance work are online job boards. These are the perfect starting point as most of them are beginner-friendly. (Granted, in the beginning, you’ll probably start off by getting low-paying freelance work.)
As you gain experience and make a name for yourself, you’ll be able to command better rates.
So which freelance job boards can you find work on? Below are a few examples. And the best part is, they cater to freelancers based in India.
Founded way back in 2002, Freelance India is one of the most reputable and renowned freelance platforms in India. Thanks to its large database of clients from all over the globe, breaking into freelancing is easy on this platform.
Freelance India offers both free and paid memberships.
Another great place to find freelance work in India is WorknHire, a service that connects freelancers to clients. Whatever freelance skill you have to offer, be assured there’s a client in need of it on WorknHire.
Note, however, that WorknHire charges you (the freelancer) a small commission on each invoice amount.
By far one of the biggest freelance platforms in India, Freelancer is definitely the place to check out as a beginner. Like Upwork, you will have to bid for projects on Freelancer (the free membership will only allow you to bid for a limited number of projects but that’s fine at first).
Upwork is undoubtedly one of the most popular freelance platforms in the world.
While getting accepted on Upwork can be tricky, once you’re in, you can make a very good living here. Learn how it works here.
Freelance job boards are a great way to get freelance work. While you may need to put in some work promoting your services (not to mention the patience factor), once you build a good reputation, you could have a steady stream of projects coming your way.
5. Network like a pro
One client-finding hack many freelancers overlook is networking. Networking is a great way to meet potential clients and land paying jobs.
Here are a few tips:
Attend relevant events
Is there an event your ideal clients will be attending (on or offline)? If possible, attend the event. Use it to introduce yourself and showcase your talents. Don’t forget your business cards if it’s an in-person event.
Don’t be too salesy as you interact with business professionals in your community. Instead, build relationships with them first. This way, even if they don’t offer you work, they’ll trust you enough to refer you to their business colleagues.
Connect with fellow freelancers
One great thing about freelancing is that most established freelancers are more than willing to help out other freelancers. So instead of ignoring them, connect with other freelancers. Not only will you get moral support, they might be willing to pass work your way.
Don’t take networking for granted, it is a powerful way to help you get started with your freelancing career.
6. Don’t be afraid of cold pitching
Cold pitching is the process of reaching out to businesses or individuals you’d like to work with. You can find their email addresses on their websites or use a tool like Hunter.io if you have their company details.
Once you’ve done that, craft a professional email to them offering your services. Your email should include:
- A brief introduction of who you are
- Samples of your work (preferably a link to your portfolio or online work)
- A call to action asking them to respond
While cold pitching is a great way to land freelance work, note that it’s a numbers game. This means you’ll have to send out a lot of emails and follow up with phone calls to land one or two jobs. While the majority will not get back to you, the few that do and end up as clients are well worth the effort.
Finding freelance work is work on its own
Ready to get started with freelancing?
But you have to know that finding freelance work is work on its own. From honing your skills to marketing yourself, a lot of energy and time have to be expended. As a start, most of your work will involve:
- Building a portfolio
- Searching for freelance work on job boards
- Pitching your services to potential clients
Here’s to your successful freelancing career.