When I began writing online for money, I knew I had to branch out.
I started off with one or two content mills. When I wasn’t fervently writing to clock up a survivable hourly wage, I did more research into freelancing. More specifically, online freelancing.
At the time, I had just moved to Essen, Germany. A few of my friends were freelance English teachers. They taught English at various companies, mostly on a contract basis. When I discovered a thriving freelance writing business online, I was overjoyed. “Great,” I thought, “I can sit at home all day, sip wine and write for cash!”
I sipped a lot of wine. I wrote for (not so much) cash. So I knew that I’d better get serious. That’s when I discovered freelance job boards.
Upwork, oDesk, eLance, Guru… whatever. There was a plethora: some went defunct days after I signed up. Others I stuck around on long enough. I managed to snag quite a few decent-paying clients and even forged one or two long-term (business) relationships. I kept the content mills for “slow” times and, overall, still had an okay living for someone who was in their early twenties, living in an affordable city.
That’s the abridged version, anyway.
One thing that struck me was just how much work freelance job boards are. They provided me with a good education in just how difficult it is to actually run your own business in the first place. The searching, the bidding, working on projects just to get an interview… I spent hours of work without even a guarantee of getting a job.
For the few months, it sucked. I hated it.
The sad truth is that a lot of freelance gigs are just as competitive and difficult to get as part-time and full-time jobs. The same can be said for remote and telecommute jobs: this is work we’re talking about, and prospective employers/clients receive hundreds (if not thousands) of applications a day.
That’s why it’s important to evaluate these job boards and determine whether they’re right for you. I’m not saying that these platforms are worthless: they definitely have value. Many people successfully find steady clients, gigs and full-time work on them. However, they are not the only avenue of success. You should definitely put some effort into crafting an application and a profile, but always remember…
Freelance job boards are PRIMARILY to be used as a means of visibility.
This has a lot to do with creating a personal brand. You should be growing your network online through social media. Applying to as many companies as possible – and you should definitely make your job application process as efficient as possible. Remember, freelance job boards are just a tool. One of many.
Increasing your chances of success on freelance job boards
Since freelance job boards are only one method of getting work, you need to take a look at the platforms that are relevant to your industry. There are a lot of them around these days. In order to maximize your reach, simply do the following:
- Define just what you are (copywriter, digital marketer, software engineer, virtual assistant, etc.).
- Craft the “perfect” profile for yourself: describe who you are and what you do, detail your experience and have a (small) portfolio of your best work (if relevant – VAs, for example, can list the clients they’ve worked with).
- Remember to be creative: Forget about any one particular platform for a moment and simply craft a unique, “online resume” that you think accurately describes your work experience and what you offer.
- Then, find job boards/platforms relevant to your industry. There are bound to be quite a few.
- When you create your account on these platforms, simply fill them in with information from the “perfect” profile you’ve created. Sometimes, you’ll be able to tell your whole story: however, many sites will restrict what you can display about yourself. So, make sure only to display the best!
It can be frustrating applying to a job and not hearing back. We’ve all been there. But remember: Having a strong presence on as many freelance job boards as possible will increase your reach and your chances of being “found”!