Whether you want to make some income on the side or grow your current freelance customer base, this guide contains expert advice.
When it comes to freelance job opportunities, there’s lots of work to be discovered if you know where—and how—to look. Whether you just want to see what freelance jobs are out there, make some income on the side, or grow your current freelance customer base, this guide contains nine great ways to discover new work opportunities for any freelancer.
Before we dive into the nine ways, there are a couple of things I suggest you have set up before you start hunting for work:
Build Your Own Website / Portfolio
Do you have one website where you can direct potential clients to learn more about your freelance services and see your best work? If not, be sure to do this before looking for jobs. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy—just a simple one-page design that gives visitors some information about you and your business, your samples, and your contact form will be sufficient. You’ll want to keep this handy anytime you inquire about new freelance gigs.
Add Your Freelance Specialty to Social Profiles
Are you on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, or other social networks? If so, you should make sure that anyone who visits those profiles can see quickly that you are a freelancer.
This also goes for freelancers who have their own blog or contribute to other blogs—your freelance specialty should be listed in your author profiles so people who see your content can find out quickly that you’re available to hire.
Once you’ve got your website and social profiles set up, you’re ready to get going on these 11 ways to find work:
1. Use Social Search to Find Companies Who Need You
Twitter has one of the best social search engines that you can use to find freelance job opportunities. Simply type in some of the following search queries in the search box at the top of the screen. Replace writer with your specialty.
- “freelance writer wanted”
- “freelance writers wanted”
- “freelance writer needed”
- “freelance writers needed”
You can run these searches on Twitter and save them for future use, or you can use Twitter management tools to save the Twitter search for continuous monitoring. Some suggested tools offering varying degrees of sophistication are TweetDeck (free), HootSuite (free and paid versions) or SproutSocial (paid).
2. Use Google Alerts to Get Alerts about Freelance Gigs
Google Alerts (or Talkwalker Alerts if you want a Google alternative) allows you to receive email notifications when new Google search results become available for specific search queries. You can use the following search queries—just replace writer with your own freelance specialty.
- “freelance writer wanted”
- “freelance writers wanted”
- intitle:”freelance writer wanted”
- intitle:”freelance writers wanted”
- “freelance writer needed”
- “freelance writers needed “
- intitle:”freelance writer needed “
- intitle:”freelance writers needed “
The results will likely be a mix of ads from freelance and job networks as well as ads placed directly on company websites.
3. Frequent Freelance Job Networks
There are many reputable freelance job networks that connect companies with the freelancers they need. First, you have the general freelance job networks that allow freelancers to create free profiles and search for jobs in a wide variety of specialties.
- oDesk – Freelancers can search for jobs in administrative support, business services, customer service, design, networking & information systems, sales & marketing, software development, and web development.
- Elance – Freelancers can search for jobs in administration, consulting, design, engineering, legal, marketing, programming, and writing.
- Freelancer – Freelancers can search for jobs in business, data entry, design, engineering, mobile phones & computing, product sourcing & manufacturing, sales & marketing, translation, websites, and writing.
- Guru – Freelancers can search for jobs in administrative support, broadcasting, business consulting, engineering, ERP & CRM, fashion & interior design, finance, graphic design, illustration, legal, marketing, networking, photography & videography, programming, sales, and writing.
- iFreelance – Freelancers can search for jobs in accounting, administrative support, business consulting, engineering, graphic design, legal, marketing, networking, photography, programming, training, and writing.
- People Per Hour – Freelancers can search for jobs in administration, business support, creative arts, design, marketing, mobile, search marketing, social media, software development, translation, tutorials, video, and web development.
- Flex Jobs – Freelancers can search for jobs in a wide variety of categories, from account management to writing. When you choose your category, use the dropdown to search only for freelance jobs.
Then there are job boards that allow you to search for jobs and contact the offering companies.
- Freelance Switch Job Board – The popular freelance blog has a job board with listings in design, development, Flash, illustration, and writing. To apply for jobs, you will need to subscribe to the job board for $7 a month.
- Smashing Magazine Job Board – The popular design site has a job board with freelance job listings for designers and programmers. Contact information for each job is available in the listing.
- Mashable Job Board – The popular social media and technology blog has a job board with listings in advertising, business, design, development, marketing, public relations, social media, and technology. Jobs are a mix of full-time and freelance positions. Contact information for each job is available in the listing.
- ProBlogger Job Board – The popular blog about blogging has a job board with listings for bloggers, editors, and podcasters. Contact information for each job is available in the listing.
There are also lots of freelance job networks and boards for different specialties. Freelance writers, for example, can find jobs on FreelanceWriting.com, FreelanceWritingGigs.com, and JournalismJobs.com. You can search for specific job boards and networks like these for your specialty by using the following queries on Google—just change writer to your own area of expertise.
- freelance writer jobs
- freelance writer job board
- freelance writer job listings
Try variations like freelance photographer and freelance photography, or freelance writer and freelance writing. Also, get specific—instead of programmer, try PHP developer, WordPress developer, Magneto developer, and similar.
Last, but not least, you can look in traditional job boards and searches for companies in need of freelancers. Particularly try the following.
- Monster – Use the main search or advanced search for freelance plus your specialty, such as freelance writer, freelance designer, or similar searches.
- CareerBuilder – Use the main search or advanced search for freelance plus your specialty or try the following URL – http://www.careerbuilder.com/Jobs/Keyword/Freelance-Photographer/ – and change photographer to your specialty.
- Simply Hired – Simply Hired is a search engine that looks for jobs on other smaller networks. Use the main search and clear the location to find freelance jobs nationwide.
- Indeed – Indeed is another search engine that looks for jobs on other smaller networks. Use the advanced search to find jobs with freelance in the job title or use the advanced search operator title:(freelance writer) in the search box, modifying it to fit your freelance specialty.
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn allows companies to post jobs on their network. Use the following URL – http://www.linkedin.com/job/q-freelance-web-designer – and change web-designer to your freelance specialty.
- Craigslist – Unlike CareerBuilder or Monster where you can search for jobs nationwide, you will have to go through Craigslist by city. If you want to speed up the process, you can use the following URL – http://losangeles.craigslist.org/search/jjj?query=freelance&zoomToPosting=&srchType=T – and change “losangeles” to the city of your choice.
4. Get your RSS reader to Find Freelance Jobs For You
Want to keep a lot of these suggestions in one place? RSS can help you do that. When you find a resource that consistently lists new freelance positions, look for a text link for RSS or the traditional orange RSS icons. You can find them in specific job listing categories on Elance…
On the RSS subscription page for the FreelanceSwitch Job Forum…
In the sidebar of the ProBlogger Job Board…
At the bottom of the page on Craiglist search results…
To subscribe to these RSS feeds, create an account with an online RSS reader like Feedly. Whenever you see a RSS feed you would like to subscribe to, like the ones shown above, right click and copy the RSS URL. Then go to your RSS reader and paste it in to add it to your reader. Once you’re finished, you can quickly browse all of the newest jobs for your freelance specialty in one place.
Even if you don’t need freelance work, setting this up as you come across new job sources can keep you confident that you’ll always be able to find work.
5. Compete for Crowdsource Projects
Do you enjoy a little competition? Crowdsource networks allow companies to post a contest where the person who designs the best logo, t-shirt, illustration, business card, etc. wins the job.
6. Get Listed in Directories and Resource Pages
Just like there are tons of different freelance job boards, there are also tons of directories (depending on your specialty) and resource pages that companies could be browsing to find talent.
So how do you find places to get listed? Try some Google search queries, of course, and change writer or WordPress to your specialty!
- freelance writer directory
- WordPress developers
- WordPress developer network
- recommended WordPress developers
Some examples to get your mind going in the right direction include the Society of Professional Journalists Freelancer Directory, Shopify Ecommerce Website Developers, Genesis Developers, Freelance Designers, and SmartShoot for freelance photographers.
7. Partner Up
There are lots of complementary businesses out there. Web designers may need help with copywriting. Writers may need help with editing. Marketing consultants may need help with graphic design. If you know other freelancers who aren’t the competition, reach out to them to see if they or their clients need help with the things you are good at doing. You never know—it could turn into a good referral-based relationship.
If you want to strengthen a relationship with another freelancer, be sure to send some work their way when it is out of your scope. They’ll likely remember you when something that fits your experience comes their way.
8. Don’t Neglect Previous Clients
Why start from scratch when you can re-establish an old relationship? If you parted ways with a client or former employer on a good note, reach out to them to see if they need anything. Maybe they ran out of budget in 2012, but now they have enough to renew your previous contract or start new projects.
9. Write about Your Expertise
If you can write well, there are lots of sites that will pay for content. For example, freelance writers can earn money by submitting posts to the following sites about the freelancing business.
- FreelanceSwitch – Create tutorials for freelancers and entrepreneurs. Last listed price was $50 per post.
- Make a Living Writing – Help educate freelance writers on how to grow their business for $50 per post.
If you’re a graphic designer, you can get paid for detailed tutorials on the following sites.
- PSDtuts+ – Submit tutorials, tips, articles, and video content about Photoshop for $50+.
- FlashMint Tuts – Get paid $150 for Flash, Flex, ActionScript, and animation tutorials.
- Vector Diary – Create tutorials about illustration and earn $150 per tutorial.
If you’re a programmer / developer, you can get paid for posts on the following sites.
- SitePoint – Submit content on client-side development, server-side development, web strategy, web business, and general tech. Last listed at $100 – $250 per post plus bonuses based on views.
- Smashing Magazine – Web design and development authors earn $100+ per post (payment information sent via email).
You can find more paid writing opportunities in this Google Drive Spreadsheet I created. Just bookmark this spreadsheet and keep it on tap in case you need some extra income.
Okay, so those are nine great ways to find freelance jobs. But before we part, I’d like to give you one other creative way to find work:
Bonus way: Offer Phone Consultations
Enjoy a good phone conversation? Clarity.fm connects experts in a range of topics from advertising to web design with people and businesses who need their advise.
Based on your experience, you can charge anywhere from $1 to $10 per minute or higher. You can get an idea of what other freelancers have to offer by looking at freelance experts on Clarity.fm or browsing the people in specific topics.
As you can see, the freelance world is exploding with opportunities if you know where to look. What are some ways you go about discovering new freelance work opportunities? Please share your strategies in the comments!
More great ideas to grow your business
For more on how to grow your business online, see Kristi’s popular post on how to use SEO to draw traffic to your website.