Where to Start Finding Freelancing Work as a Beginner

finding freelancing work

Talk about posts for beginners, but finding freelancing work isn’t always simple when you don’t know where to look. In my earlier days as a freelance writer, I often zoomed off in the wrong direction and began hunting down more scams than legitimate sources of an online income.

Today, I work on various platforms. Most of them target freelance writers only, which means they’re not useful for everyone. So, in this post, I’ll help you hone in on sites that make finding freelancing work easy.

Finding freelancing work through platforms for freelancers

finding freelancing work

I’ll start off with a controversial one: Upwork. Many veteran freelancers decry Upwork, as not every job on there offers the best rates. However, if you’re willing to dig around, you’ll find a client who pays a decent price, respects your qualifications, and pays you on time.

As an example, I currently have three clients who pay my desired rate and provide me with work in my niche as a freelance writer: medicine and healthcare. So, here are some freelancing platforms and job boards for your consideration:

  • Upwork; As I’ve mentioned above, you do have to put in a little effort to find a decent paying client. However, I’ve been able to find freelancing work there from the start – which was seven years ago – so I am confident you can too. You can sign up here.
  • Guru; Guru is a lesser-known platform, which is similar to Upwork. Freelancers of various niches can find work through it, but you have to sift through the poorly paid jobs before finding one that’s appropriate for you. Like Upwork, it does have an Escrow system, so you can spend less time chasing invoices and more working. You can sign up here.
  • PeoplePerHour; Again, PeoplePerHour works on the same premise as the above two sites. Freelancers of almost all kinds can find work there, but with a bonus. You can advertise ‘one-off’ packages that are similar the ones you would sell on Fiverr. See this as a source of passive income, but remember to switch the packages off if you go on holiday. Personally, I’ve only found a few jobs via PeoplePerHour. While the site isn’t old, it doesn’t have the same degree of attention as the above two. You can sign up here.
  • FlexJobs; I won’t trot through the ‘it’s very similar to the above’ thing again, as it’s getting as boring for me as it is for you. There are a couple of factors that make FlexJobs unique, though. First, you eventually pay a monthly fee. Second, you can find offsite work too. Finally, the jobs are almost always better paying. I’ve only ever found one client through FlexJobs, so I couldn’t justify paying a monthly fee. However, if you’re interested in finding freelancing work that pays well, I would try it for at least one two two months before making a decision.
  • Fiverr; Before you poo-poo the idea of using Fiverr for finding freelancing work, I’d like to highlight that it has grown significantly since its initial days of five dollar only gigs. You can now pretty much set up packages and determine your rates. However, I would like to point out that you shouldn’t take any shit from clients who see your newbie status and decide to use it as an opportunity to squeeze out extras. Stick to your guns on what you’re willing to receive regarding payment and treat it as a passive means of getting the occasional one-off client. It’s pocket money until you establish yourself on there, it isn’t the biggest earner.

finding freelance work

The above sites are excellent for finding freelancing work if you can conduct a lot of it online. So, as a freelance writer, it’s up my street. However, I understand you may want to freelance using a skill that can’t be delivered in the form of a digital file. So, I’ll introduce you to the world of crafty sites below.

Niche sites, such as Etsy if you’re a crafter

freelance writer

Let’s say you love to knit, make cards, or create your candles. Or, maybe you’re into repurposing furniture and creating art. Whatever your crafty niche, finding freelancing work through the sites below is possible.

  • Etsy; Etsy is a site that many of us are familiar with, and to a degree, it is still saturating rapidly, so you need to be yourself and take a niche approach to stand out. One of its most significant perks is that the posting and renewing fees are low for when you add a new item, and you can customize your storefront for branding purposes. In short, it’s a site that allows you to open your store, sell things you’ve made/are making/are willing to make, and it provides onsite advertising solutions too. You can sign up here.
  • Zazzle; While Zazzle isn’t as well known as Etsy, it is less saturated. As such, there’s an argument that you stand a stronger chance of selling your crafts there. The premise is the same; you make an item, no matter how niche, advertise it and then hope that others buy it. I’ll detail below how adding your wears to sites such as Etsy and Zazzy requires more than just a few photos and a blurb, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Sign up here.
  • Fiverr; Okay, I felt as though Fiverr was worth a mention twice. Although it caters to a lot of the ‘standard’ freelance roles well, it’s also ideal for those who want to read palms, tell fortunes, embellish messages on their chest, and offer relationship advice. Remember, being a crafter doesn’t always mean producing a physical product. Again, you can sign up here
  • Not on The High Street; While Etsy and Zazzle may offer a little more leverage when it comes to what you sell and how you advertise it, Not on the High Street is a little more demanding. For starters, there’s an application form. However, if you’re serious about your products, you have an existing business, and you want to expand it, it’s the way to go. Not everyone passes their stringent application tests, but since putting the effort in and signing up, a good friend of mine has seen her business bloom to the point that it’s now a part of the AVIOS program. You can sign up here.

Don’t forget to network via LinkedIn

finding freelancing work

Admittedly, networking via LinkedIn is something I rarely do myself. But, if you take the time to build a profile, you experience the following benefits:

  • According to their statistics, you’re 40x more likely to receive the job offer you want.
  • You create an online CV that you can quickly send to others, or that those seeking freelancers can use to find you.
  • You can participate in debates and discussions that draw attention from prospective freelance employers.
  • The more significant your network becomes the higher your chances of landing a juicy gig are.
  • You can treat it as another social network, but in a professional manner where your posts attract job offers or make you appear as a prospective candidate.

LinkedIn doesn’t have to take hours of daily work. Again, it’s something I fail to engage in all that often myself. I am working on it, though!

Sites such as Craigslist and Gumtree are useful too

Freelance writer

Did you know that Gumtree now has a section dedicated to finding freelancing jobs? It took me a while to realize it also, and although it’s not always a goldmine, it is suitable for those who don’t operate in professions where working from home is always possible. For example, laboring and carpentry.

If you do want to use Gumtree for finding freelancing work, head here. You can narrow your options down according to location and industry, making it easier to sift through the jobs that aren’t relevant to you.

Craigslist for finding freelancing work

Craigslist is a little trickier. It’s sometimes full of scams. Said scams usually involve handing over money and no legitimate employer will ask you to do that. Similarly, some of the jobs attract low pay, or they’ll direct you towards sites where you sign up and wait for work to come your way. In other words, they’re not actual job ads; they’re posts aiming to obtain more subscribers for new freelancing networks.

However, there are ways to use Craigslist for finding freelancing work. You have several options here:

Just use the search bar

Craigslist has a search bar. The first and easiest way to find freelancing work is to enter “Freelance X” and see what comes up. You can either limit the suggestions to your local area or stratify them, so you find telecommuting positions from across the country.

Narrow your options

On that note, there is a sidebar that allows you to narrow your options. Select “telecommuting” to ensure you don’t find jobs that require on-site commitments, which are rarely conducive to the freelance lifestyle you’re seeking.

Search in big cities only

Think of the most prominent cities in your country and search for jobs in those locales only. For example, here in the UK, I might try London, Cardiff, Manchester, and Edinburgh.

Make sure you know how to identify scams in advance

As I’ve already mentioned, there are lots of scammers on Craigslist. In addition to avoiding the posts that ask for money, watch out for:

  • Those that claim you can make thousands in a day. If such jobs existed, they wouldn’t advertise them widely via sites such as Craigslist.
  • Ensure that the job details and the pay are clear and concise. If it states “pay dependent on experience,” feel free to apply, but stick to your guns regarding your rates.
  • If the job seems too good to be true and it states ‘no experience necessary’ or promises higher rates after working for low ones, avoid them.

Apply quickly

Finding freelancing jobs on Craigslist usually means putting in a quick application. Why? Because those who post then receive hundreds of applicants rapidly, many of which will fail to stand out. In addition to applying quickly, make sure you have a decent CV to hand. Finally, be wary of the fact that Craigslist may take jobs down because minor factors contribute its posting guidelines, or the owner may take it down due to applicant saturation. As such, you shouldn’t just bookmark the link and return later. If a job catches your eye, go for it immediately.

Finally, newsletters and Google alerts for finding freelancing work

Finding freelancing work

 

Finally, there are newsletters out there which will deliver jobs to your inbox at a set time every morning. One I rely on is the Morning Coffee Newsletter, which highlights some of the best freelance writing jobs available each day.

The downside to this letter is that thousands of others receive it too, which means I find myself in the same position as those who are applying to Craigslist jobs. One way around this is to craft your versions using Google Alerts.

Google Alerts allows you to type in a keyword and receive notifications relevant to it at a time set by you, specific to your time zone. I stumbled across this when I began researching ideas for Tweets and posts by signing up for alerts on ‘freelance writing.’ Set up alerts that are relevant to your industry and you may receive related notifications too.

Ultimately, finding freelancing work is about hustling smarter, not harder. Don’t spend hours sending email after email. Highlight the area that’s most relevant to you, advertise where necessary, and dedicate a set hour or two each week to growing your business through pitching, tweaking your ads, and promoting specific products and services.

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