Freelance Job Boards: Why They Should (Never) Be Your Only Option

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”!

(Easily) Avoiding “Work from Home” Scams

The sad truth is that work from home scams are common. VERY common. They’ve also been around for a long, long time. Nowadays, there are more people looking remote and telecommute jobs… Which means that the online job scam marketplace is growing exponentially. Scammers have a lot of opportunities to prey on unsuspecting people… Even if they do have to work that little bit harder for it. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself. A lot of this simply involves being aware and informed.  So, please read on if your remote job search to go as smoothly as possible.

Job scams are also common in the “real” world – although they’re a little more difficult to pull off.

Thanks to the Internet, it’s a little easier for scammers to fool even otherwise savvy people into falling for work from home scams. Naïve people exist everywhere. Sometimes, this is born out of desperate. We want (or need!) a job so badly that we’re almost willing to take anything. Ultimately, it becomes very easy for the scammer to take advantage of someone.

The telecommute job market can be particularly competitive. Which makes it tough… And emotionally draining. Sometime an offer comes along that’s too good to be true. And we take it because… Well, we’re fed up of searching.

One advantage we’ve got nowadays are remote job boards. These platforms are especially designed for those seeking remote jobs or who want to find an online job. These platforms do their best to “clean up” the job advertisements posted on their sites. Which protects applicants from scammers.

This shouldn’t, however, take the responsibility off the individual because…

…you should still be able to recognize a work from home scam yourself.

Evaluating a Work from Home Scam: What you should look for

There are a few signs which clearly point to a “job” actually being a work from home scam. As a general rule of thumb, if something’s too good to be true… Then it usually isn’t true. However there are also a few more signs that remote job seekers need to be wary of…

  • The good, old-fashioned “get rich quick” scheme. It’s a tale as old as time. Although it’s become more prominent in the online world. Sorry, but that’s not how the real world works. Unless you yourself are a (very good, nay, excellent!) and persistent scammer. “Get rich quick” and pyramid schemes definitely predate the Internet… And they’ve made a smooth transition online. So if a listing basically tries to guarantee you copious amounts of wealth in exchange for very little… Avoid! Avoid! Avoid! It’s a load of bullshit.
  • Never part with your money. Scammers can dress it up every which way – especially if they’re offering “freelance” positions. They’ll say you’ve got to pay for expensive “training”, “courses” or “software”… and that it’s part of your job to pitch in and pay for it. Nope, that’s not how it works. You’re there to provide them a service. So, bottom line? Never pay in order to work!
  • Read the job description very carefully. Is it written in a clear and concise manner? Do they seem to know the industry well? Do they seem to know exactly what they’re looking for (and if not, do they happily admit they’re not sure… But willing to try out with the right candidate?). Essentially, do you get the impression that the company knows what they’re talking about?
  • Check the URL! Simple, but effective. Scammers also try to rip off real companies. They even clone/copy a real company’s website. This is where a bit of deep research comes in handy if you’re unsure… So don’t forget to check their URL. Generally speaking if it directs to something like “unilever.com”, you’re in the clear. If the URL seems strange in any way… Then be very, very wary!

Work from home scams can be very elaborate. In a lot of case you’re usually fine if you’re trying to get a remote job from a medium to large company.

But another thing you need to keep an eye out is the types of jobs which are normally scams. Some of them seem like real jobs… At least until you take a closer look.

Remote “jobs” that are usually scams

Certain remote and telecommute jobs are, for the most part, complete bogus. The easier a job appears to be, and the higher the promised income is (for the amount of work you actually put in…) – then sorry, the less likely it is to be a real position. This is usually how work at home job scams catch people out. Although, some are getting a bit cleverer.

Some of the below “jobs” are positions that you should definitely avoid.

The Assembly “Job”

We hadn’t even heard of these until we actually did some research on job scams…  This type of “job” seems particularly mean (and depressing). The “employees” are sent starter kits to assemble craft supplies… And the products are then sold on by the company. Of course, the assembler gets paid… Not. It’s pretty obvious off the bat that this is a scam because… guess what? We’ve got machines to do that nowadays.

It’s simply not a valid business model. Forget it!

The Data Entry Job

Unlike assembly jobs, data entry is actually a valid type of work… And yes, a lot of people do it. You can actually find valid data entry gigs online which will pay you a couple of dollars. Honestly though, a full-time data entry is not only a) rare to come across and b) doesn’t pay very well. That’s because it’s quite literally grunt work. It’s the digital equivalent of stacking shelves.

Data entry is part of a host of other jobs. From VAs, secretaries to online marketers and programmers. All at different pay scales.

You’ll know that this job is a scam when you’re promised even a liveable salary.

Nope, forget it. These are usually bullshit as well.

So then what is the best way to get a remote job (without being scammed)?

There’s no magic formula to finding a remote job. It’s just like finding any other kind of positions. You need to have the qualifications and/or experience for the role you want. And during your job search, make sure you’re aware of the most common types of work from home scams. As well as any other kind of job scam.

Just being a little savvy will help you separate the wheat from the chaff… and get you the job you want.

 

Myths About Remote Work You Should Ignore

Remote work myths run rampant across the Internet. Some believe the set-up is too good to be true… Or perhaps because people just refuse to believe that an employer would put so much trust in a person.

Unfortunately, these myths about telecommute jobs still persist. If you’re current looking to work remotely, don’t let these misconceptions get in the way of your goal. The time for excuses is over!

Remote Work Myths: Telecommuters earn less money

It is true that a lot of freelancers who work from home earn less money. But this is probably one of the most common remote work myths out there. We’ve seen it countless times in the past. In fact, some companies do actually expect employees to take a pay cut due to their remote set up. Often, though, these are small, inexperienced companies.

Statistics from the Global Workplace Analytics reveal that three quarters of employees with a telecommute set up actually earn over US$60,000 annually.

Remote work is only for millennials

God damn… Millennials. The countless articles about the Millennial generation are getting tiresome. But remote work is one of the myths that is continually perpetuated by various publications. Of course, it’s pretty understandable: Millennials tend to be rather tech-savvy and rely heavily on mobile technology. And yes, quite a lot of Millennials prefer to work at home.

But in fact… The ease and flexibility of remote work often means that people of all generations embrace it. Especially older folks, who for many years suffered long and tiring commutes only to sit in fluorescent-lit buildings all day.

Remote working is for everyone!

We’re a pretty big proponent of remote work and the advantages it has for employees… as well as the companies who employ them. However, probably one of the most dangerous remote work myths is that anyone can work at home. Which is simply not true.

The best telecommuters known how to stay disciplined. They may not have to stick to a schedule, but they can still get work done. In time.

Clear, concise and timely communication are also huge factors. Remote workers also need to be able to take initiative and consistently prod people in order to get projects done effectively and in time.

Remote workers are ALWAYS on the clock

Well… yes and no. It depends entirely on the job. Certain jobs require their employees to be online during certain times of the day, unless stated otherwise. Absences simply need to be communicated. Essentially, many of them require a certain amount of “contact hours”.

But for the most part, a lot of remote companies tend to let employees set their own schedule. The most important thing? That the work gets done… within the set deadline. And of course, they should stay in touch often. Sometimes it means sending the odd email at the weekend. But that also depends on the nature of the job.

One of the biggest remote work myths… Loneliness

I’ve worked at home for most of my career. Many of my friends believed these remote work myths, but this was probably the biggest one. It’s not entirely untrue, either. But there are also plenty of remote workers who have very, very active social lives.

For the most part, this remote work myth boils down to the fact that a lot of people also use work as their main hub of social activity. You spend eight hours a day sitting at home, working and don’t see anyone.

This can certainly be true… If you’re not good at taking the initiative to have an active social life. Experienced remote workers often have a much more active social life than their in-office counterparts. Primarily because they have to take the iniative.

After all, having a flexible schedule means being able to pop out for lunch. Or take a few hours’ break to watch a football game, or stay out late and not have get up early for a commute… The list goes on!

 

 

Digital Nomad Myths – What You Shouldn’t Believe!

The idea of being a digital nomad is becoming very popular. Remote working allows us to do this… Which in turn has created a unique and fast-growing lifestyle that many want to pursue.

And as with anything that becomes popular, plenty of myths and misconceptions have made themselves known. With the spread of misinformation, its probably a good idea to clear up some of the false ideas that many people may have about digital nomads.

Being productive is difficult if you’re a digital nomad

Probably my favorite one because this myth also applies to remote workers. Digital nomads are often seen as flighty individuals who book plane tickets on a whim and disappear for months. On the surface, this seems to be true: except that for the most part, a lot of travel is actually planned painstakingly in advance. Visas are a thing, people!

That’s not to say you won’t get distracted by your environment. It happens. Everyone has on and off days. Some people are more prone to distraction than others. Interestingly, I’ve always found that having a bit of chaos around me actually makes me more productive. That’s why I like to do some of my work in noisy cafes (not all the time, though!).

If you primarily work from home, you may do so to avoid office distractions. Yes, offices can be very distracting places. Especially the disaster that is the open plan office. Not only that: office politics is often a big (and unnecessary) time-suck.

It’s impossible to build a successful career

Here’s a tip: It’s possible to build a successful career anywhere if you want to, digital nomad or not. It takes a lot of work, but humans are very good at overcoming the challenges that are thrown at them. For many, ingenuity and creativity are actually enhanced by lack of resources or major obstacles.

This myth also assumes that the only way of having a successful career is climbing the corporate ladder. Which is a load of crap. Successful careers are built on determination, collaboration, communication and a willingness to go the extra mile. That can happen in any work environment, remote or not.

It’s only for tech people!

I’ll admit I fell victim to this one for a long time. Especially when I was looking for remote work: I thought as a digital marketer/copywriter that my full-time remote work options were severely limited. Most of the remote jobs I saw were based in programming and tech… And while it is true that a significant number of digital nomads work in tech, and that many remote jobs are tech-based, plenty of careers can be worked from a distance.

As a non-tech remote worker or digital nomad, you may have to negotiate a bit more. Fight a little harder for what you want… But it is by no means impossible. In fact, customer service is one of the largest industries for remote work out there.

Digital nomads live a life of constant excitement

This is a non-work related one and I can understand why many believe this. After all, digital nomads travel constantly, meet new people and learn new languages. They also have new experiences are always up for an adventure… Well, maybe not so much. Moving countries constantly and acclimatizing to new environments is great. But it has HUGE downsides.

  • Loneliness affects a lot of people when they move away. Suddenly, you’re in a place where you have to be open to making new friends. If you still want social contact, that is. It can be quite daunting for a lot of people… And very much a skill to learn in and of itself.
  • You may have money problems. It’s always wise to have a “nest egg” to fall back on, but there will definitely be times when you have to scrimp and save. It may mean not being able to go for cocktails on the beach.
  • Let’s not forget homesickness and culture shock either… Newer digital nomads tend to be more prone to this than seasoned ones.

Conclusion

The nomad life is undoubtedly great, but its not all glamor and beaches. Every type of lifestyle comes with its ups and downs. And while you can read all the advice in the world, there’s nothing better than actually experiencing a lifestyle to see what it’s truly like!

Should You Consider Remote Work?

Remote work may seem like a distant dream for many. Everyone knows someone who works at home at least once a week… Or all the time. Full and part time telecommute jobs can be great because you don’t actually commute. Instead, you just get out of bed and open the computer.

Does this appeal to you? Then maybe it’s just one of the many signs that you should consider working remotely!

Programmers and developers certainly have their pick when it comes to work from home opportunities, but they’re not alone. In fact, there are far more companies than ever before who’re offering remote positions. Plenty of managerial positions involve strategy and organizing: which you don’t actually have to be physically present for.

These days, plenty of positions have the capability to be done completely remotely. Finding a remote job can of course be that bit trickier… But the benefits can truly pay off!

For companies, remote work offers a huge advantage. Simply put: it means less money spent on overheads (desks, chairs, electricity, food/snacks at the office etc.). Use this to your advantage, if you have to negotiate a telecommute setup!

Remote work doesn’t limit you geographically

Do you work in an industry that you love… But also dream of traveling the world? Remote work can grant you that capability. But of course, that’s the dream set up for digital nomads. Not all telecommuters are or want to be digital nomads. Many of them just want a better work/life balance and the ability to actually spend more time with their children… not just on the holidays.

Expanding your job search to include companies outside of your commuting distance can greatly enhance your chances of getting a job. With a telecommute setup, you have added advantage of not having to move your entire life.

Countless companies are located in big cities. But what if you’re more of a rural person, and like the quiet? Working remotely and traveling perhaps only a few times a month allows you to stay where your heart is… And still follow a career.

Don’t underestimate the comfortable, productive workspace that remote work offers

Many companies nowadays offer a lot of extra perks for their employees. Massages, sofas for relaxing… Even a couple offer rooms for napping. It can be pretty enticing. Yet many companies don’t offer this… and often have bog-standard offices with uncomfortable chairs and fluorescent lights. Yet that’s where remote work can help you!

Do you prefer to sit and work on a sofa? You can totally do that. Do you hate sitting in the exact same place, eight hours a day? You can switch things up: sofa, kitchen table and maybe a couple of hours in a coffee shop. For some people, a slight variation in their routine can actually end up being a lot more productive.

Or perhaps you just prefer the quiet… and prefer avoiding office gossip and politics.

No commutes!

Okay… Some telecommuters still actually commute… Some once or twice a week, others a couple of times a month. Plenty of remote companies actually have meetups several times a year, giving their employees a bit of face-time. But the best part of remote work is that you don’t have to travel far in the morning. For those who aren’t early birds, it’s a pretty good deal.