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Having spent several weeks at home due to the Covid-19 social distancing, I’ve become really appreciative of my career. I’ve been working as a freelance writer since 2013, which means I already have a well-established customer base. If you’re just making your first steps, however, you may be wondering how to get freelance work and new gigs.
The coronavirus has made many lose their job. Some of us also worry about the impending economic crisis that will result from the social distancing measures.
I’ve definitely experienced a slowdown when it comes to new orders and project requests.
Thus, looking for new gigs has now become more important than ever before.
Whether you already have some experience or you’re just getting started, you’ll need to learn how to get freelance work on a regular basis. Your financial security depends on never having all of your eggs in the same basket.
Based on the experience I’ve acquired through the years, here are some of my suggestions you can use to discover new gigs during the social distancing period and beyond.
Evaluate Your Current Customer Base
I probably work with over 10 regular clients who provide me with ongoing work.
Side gigs are a great thing but you need to partner up with people who will need your services time and time again.
The first thing you must to do during the period of social distancing is evaluate your current customer base. You should also determine if the coronavirus pandemic has reduced the number of orders or projects you receive.
As a writer, I’ve definitely noticed a reduction in the number of gigs I’m doing right now and that’s completely normal. Many businesses are concerned about the future and they’re cutting out non-essential services and expenses. While the situation will certainly improve once things get back to normal, it’s a good idea to seek new clientele right now.
How to Get Freelance Work: Explore Multiple Gig Sources
You cannot rely on one website or portal when it comes to new potential partnerships with clients.
Get in the habit of checking multiple gig-providing opportunities every single day.
Each one of these has its shortcomings. Some freelancers do hate the possibilities listed below but you have nothing to lose giving them a try.
Some of the websites and portals worth checking out include:
- Upwork: yes, the Upwork fees have gone up and freelancers can no longer apply to new jobs for free. Still, there are new projects being posted there even right now. I’ve received at least a dozen project invitations since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Yes, there are people working and looking for all kinds of freelance services. If you don’t have an Upwork profile already, the time may be right to get started.
- Fiverr: I’ve been quite critical of Fiverr in the past but the original website structure wasn’t the same as the one used right now. Currently, you can set up any kind of gig and you can determine how much you’re going to charge. The problem with Fiverr is that you’ll face some pretty stiff competition. Thus, to attract potential clients, you have to create an outstanding offer that potential customers will not resist.
- LinkedIn: believe it or not, freelance work is available on LinkedIn. Start by updating your profile and make sure it’s reflective of all your skills and competences. Writing some content is also a good idea to flesh out your online presence. LinkedIn interest groups are a great starting point. There, you can communicate with other professionals, find potential gigs and connect with clients.
- PeoplePerHour: in many ways, PeoplePerHour is similar to Upwork. While I’m no longer active there, I did discover a couple of great gigs on PeoplePerHour in the past.
- Guru: an opportunity similar to Upwork and PeoplePerHour but it imposes some serious limitations on your number of applications (before you have to pay to continue submitting new offers).
- Specialized websites: you will also find specialized websites that provide opportunities for certain types of freelancers. For writers, for example, ProBlogger is one such platform. DesignCrowd targets graphic and web designers and TranslationDirectory helps translators. If you do some research, you’ll easily come across such specialized opportunities in your own field.
I do not recommend websites like Freelancer since these have been taken over by low-ballers. If you value your skills and you want to work with clients who understand the cost of quality services, stay away from Freelancer.
Some people have also used Facebook successfully to find freelance work and new gigs but I’m not that confident in the effectiveness of the method.
The Perfect Time to Build Your Own Website
While staying home because of the social distancing, you also have the perfect opportunity to build your own website, optimize it and attract clients this way.
It doesn’t matter if you are a writer or an engineer. A personal website will attract the people who are looking for a specific service online. If you manage to make a good enough impression, you can win these people over as clients.
You don’t need money and you don’t need a ton of skills to set up your own website.
WordPress gives you the perfect opportunity to set up your own professional website or portfolio quickly and efficiently.
The benefit of WordPress is that you don’t need to be a developer to get a website up and running in a matter of hours.
You can use the WordPress hosting and choose a plan to have everything covered within the same package or you can opt for separate hosting. It’s really up to you. You can learn a bit more about the WordPress packages here.
Hosting is readily available and it’s quite inexpensive. Bluehost offers WordPress hosting for as little as 3.58 euro per month (about four US dollars per month). The package also gives you a free domain registration over the course of the first year, a free SSL certificate, automatic WordPress installations and 24/7 support.
If you’re looking for a separate domain name provider, GoDaddy is the obvious choice with offers starting at 5.99 dollars per year for a .com domain,
Once the technicalities are out of the way, you have to consider the following aspects of your business website:
- Fill it with high quality, niche content to build your brand and demonstrate your expertise in the field
- Learn the basics of search engine optimization (SEO) so that clients can easily discover your website when searching for services online
- Make it very easy for potential clients to contact you – the right menu or a “send a message” button will always come in handy
- Display your portfolio prominently and make it easily accessible from the homepage
- Add links to your social media profiles (professional, not personal!) so that potential clients could find out a bit more about who you are
- Keep on adding new content regularly to keep your website fresh and contemporary
- Consider adding the pricing plans – transparency is the best policy when it comes to getting potential clients interested
A final thing I’d like to share is that a professional website should not be used for monetization purposes like displaying adds or featuring affiliate links.
This is why I have two separate websites. This one is dedicated to writing and sharing something I’m passionate about with the world. It does feature ads and my personal opinions. My professional website is completely different – it’s clean, it’s minimalist and it focuses entirely on building my reputation as a writing service provider.
Expand Your Skillset
If you’re wondering how to get freelance work and find new gigs, you will definitely have to inform yourself about the current market condition.
In other words – what are clients looking for in the particular field? Do you have the skills and the experience to attract high paying projects?
Social distancing gives you the ideal opportunity to expand your skillset so that you can score new projects in the future.
Most professional niches evolve all the time. To stay ahead of the competition, you should be offering what today’s client needs.
Let me give you an example from my line of work. The techniques and strategies that worked well in the realm of SEO copywriting 10 years ago could now get you penalized. This is a very dynamic field and the rules of the game are always changing. Hence, I have to constantly research new strategies, the latest changes to the Google algorithm and the approaches bound to give my clients the best possible outcome.
You can find immensely beneficial and free professional resources online.
You can also enroll in an online course if you want to get access to more specialized knowledge.
Websites like Udemy give you such chances. Udemy has an extensive collection of courses and educational materials on all topics. Right now, you can enroll in a Udemy course for as little as 10.99 euro. Just make sure that the particular opportunity you’re interested in has positive reviews and a good standing among the platform’s members.
Cold Pitching: Does It Work?
Those learning how to get freelance work often consider cold pitching as an opportunity to get in touch with clients and communicate directly.
In my opinion, cold pitching doesn’t work and is one of the approaches you should avoid at all costs.
Ask yourself the following – how often have you received product and service offers (either on your personal or professional email)? How many of those did you delete immediately? How many did you read? Have you ever responded to such an offer?
For most people, the answer to the final question would be no.
Cold pitching is aggressive, desperate and annoying.
If you are very selective about the entities you contact and you come up with a bomb email that will get people hooked, chances are that you’ll avoid the cold pitching pitfalls. With so many other effective approaches, however, I really don’t think this is the one to try.
An Alternative: Take a Break
I know we live in uncertain times and you’re probably worried about the future.
Still, the period of Covid-19 social distancing could provide excellent opportunities to pause, recharge your batteries and take some time off.
If you feel that you don’t have the strength and the courage to begin seeking freelance gigs right now, take it slow. You don’t need to do all of the work mentioned above. Self-care during this stressful time should be your number one priority.
So, do take a few days or even weeks off. Once you feel prepared mentally, you can easily jump on the freelancing bandwagon.
Find Out if the State Offers Some Assistance to Freelancers
Many countries have launched programs and initiatives aimed at supporting small and medium-sized businesses at a time of crisis.
I know that my country has such a program, so you should definitely check out what’s going on locally.
The US, for example, has announced a massive financial aid program to combat the coronavirus economic effect. There are low-interest loans, deferred tax payments and sick leave for self-employed individuals in the form of a tax credit.
Local authorities and municipalities could also be offering some form of financial aid. If you’re struggling to find clients right now and stay afloat, these possibilities would definitely be worth exploring.
So, what has your experience been like since quarantines and lockdowns began? Have you noticed any change in your workload? Did some clients pull back or pause projects you’d initiated previously?
Don’t hesitate to share some of your experiences in the comments below. It would really be beneficial for everyone to learn how others are coping and whether the Covid-19 social distancing could actually be linked to some good opportunities.
Stay safe and healthy!