What suggestions would you have for individuals seeking freelance creative jobs?
I have been seeking freelance work outside of my full-time job to help pay off some medical bills, and it’s hilarious to see some of the things that get posted out there on sites like Craigslist. Even on more reputable sites, it’s hard to tell what is a scam, and so many jobs out there are trying to hire writers to infiltrate online networks and push their products. -Jenny
I’mma go tough love on this one: you’re wasting your time if you’re looking for freelance gigs on job boards. See, freelancing isn’t about finding job listings — it’s about marketing your skills and networking non-stop, so that work finds you. Trawling job boards or Craigslist is easier than marketing yourself and networking (which is why scammy companies target people doing it), but it also just isn’t nearly as effective.
I’m speaking from personal experience here: Back when I was freelancing, all of my freelance work came from my network of colleagues … folks I met through past temp agency jobs, people I rubbed elbows with at conferences, coworkers of former coworkers, etc. That’s how I ensured the clients I worked with weren’t sketchy: I had contact with most of my freelance clients socially or via another job or a mutual friend before we ever talked business.
As for scammy writing jobs you see listed on job boards, I’m going to be a bummer and wager that most work-at-home freelance writing gigs on job boards are somewhat suspect. In the 10 years I spent freelancing, I can’t think of a single gig I got from a job board or Craigslist. From the other side of the equation, you’ll never find an Offbeat Empire gig listed on a job board. EVER. When I look to hire people, I want people who are familiar with my sites and services. I think many employers feel the same way.
Basically, I’m saying this: if you’re looking for freelance work, stop looking at Craiglist and start networking your ass off. When you’re looking for freelance gigs, Facebook is a better friend to you than Craigslist. Contact every person you’ve ever worked with and let them know the kind of work you’re offering. Ask them to share your contact information with anyone they might know who might need your services. Make sure you have a clean, straightforward website about the services you offer. Have great testimonials from people you’ve worked with before. Start finding ways to mention your freelance work to every single person you meet. You’ll feel intolerable and obnoxious and irritating, but you know what? That’s how you find gigs. If making money as a freelancer working from home was easy, everyone would be doing it.
Final tough love: if you want to be a freelancer, you have to commit to at least five hours a week of self-promotional whoring. If that feels like too much or marketing yourself and your skills makes you uncomfortable, freelancing may not be a good fit for you.