It’s possible to seek out and even “create” your own freelance opportunities, whether you’re a copywriter, graphic designer, web developer, photographer, or other creative entrepreneur. The freelance landscape is broader and more varied than ever before, so it’s a great time to start or grow your freelance business.
These days, almost half of working millennials are already freelancers. And with the economic landscape in constant flux, many believe that sticking with a freelance life–and the diversified income streams that come with it–is more stable than a traditional job.
Creating your own freelance opportunities requires time and dedication, but it’s possible to build a career that works for your life and allows you to hone your skills. Today, we’re looking at seven ways you can create your own freelance opportunities.
- 1 1. Acquire a Wide Variety of Skills
- 2 2. Build a Strong Portfolio
- 3 3. Get Word-of-Mouth Referrals
- 4 4. Schedule In-Person Meetups
- 5 5. Connect with Agencies and Form Partnerships
- 6 6. Check Out Job Placement Services
- 7 7. Utilize Job Boards, Gig Sites, and Social Media
- 8 How to Keep and Replicate the Freelance Opportunities You Create
1. Acquire a Wide Variety of Skills
The phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” is pretty popular, but it shouldn’t deter you from learning any seemingly-unrelated skills that appeal to you. For me, simply having a wide array of useful skills has opened the door to many freelance opportunities, especially when I was starting out.
This may be true for you, too. In fact, according to this survey from Slash Workers, 61% of freelance professionals actually have two to three skills they rely on to get gigs.
I’ll share a few of my own skills and experiences as examples:
- I’ve been a strong writer since I was a kid, and an editor since high school. I earned a degree in professional writing, which covered a wide range of styles and disciplines.
- I was a graphic design major for a hot minute in college. That little bit of art education, combined with self-taught skills in Photoshop, gave me the chops to do light graphic design for clients occasionally.
That seemingly random range of skills has landed me full-time and freelance opportunities in technical publications, e-learning, marketing, journalism, and editing. While it’s great to niche down as a freelancer, it’s also useful to be able to dive into a number of different gigs, especially when you’re starting out and need the work.
Pay attention to how seemingly unrelated skills can actually tie into one another and lead to opportunities (i.e., proofreading + XML coding in my tech pubs job). Eventually, you’ll hone in on your most valuable skills and the kinds of clients you most enjoy working with, and your scope of work will naturally narrow itself down.
2. Build a Strong Portfolio
The first thing most freelance prospects are going to ask you is whether you have a portfolio they can see. So if you haven’t built one yet, it’s time to get going.
Keep track of your completed work and add whatever you can to your portfolio. There are a few ways you can go about sharing your work. For example, you can create a public portfolio that’s an overview of the work you’re able to share. You might also want to create private, specialized portfolio links that are tailored to specific types of clients in certain industries.
3. Get Word-of-Mouth Referrals
My first few freelance opportunities came through word-of-mouth referrals, and I still get the majority of my work that way. Some freelancers are like me and tend to work most often on recommendation. Others find their jobs through job boards, cold pitching, or via local clients near them.
Getting great referrals relies heavily on your ability to build a strong network and turn around high-quality work on time. If you’re just starting out, invest time and effort in building a strong network of other professionals. It’s great to have both colleagues and mentors in your corner. All it takes is a few strong referrals, and you’re off to the races.
Need extra pointers on building your referral network? Here’s a more in-depth guide to building that momentum.
4. Schedule In-Person Meetups
Networking and regularly meeting colleagues, clients, and prospects in person can boost your chances of securing freelance opportunities. Making that face-to-face point of contact means so much to your relationships with the people in your industry. Additionally, sharing your expertise one-on-one can elevate you as an expert in your field.
Whenever possible, schedule times to meet with people in your network. In addition to one-on-one meetings, it’s also valuable to attend professional conferences and events in order to expand your circle. Your efforts to show up won’t go unnoticed.
5. Connect with Agencies and Form Partnerships
Connecting with agencies is a fantastic way to pick up freelance opportunities. Agencies often subcontract client projects to freelancers, including copywriters, graphic designers, developers, photographers, project managers, social media managers, and more. In addition, forming partnerships with other freelancers, small business owners, and agency owners can be mutually beneficial ways to attract more work.
6. Check Out Job Placement Services
Sometimes, job placement services can be a great source of freelance opportunities. Placement services are great when you’re a new freelancer or need help getting matched to clients who are a good fit for you. If you do excellent work, these jobs will help you build your network and hone your skills.
When I started freelancing as a marketer, I started out as a virtual assistant with a job placement agency. That agency matched me with a few fantastic clients, and I was able to learn the ropes of online marketing while getting on-the-job experience. Eventually, I decided to build out on my own as a full-time freelance writer. But, the relationships and connections I established along the way helped me springboard into the business I currently have.
Some freelancers have great success finding their freelance opportunities on job boards (Remote.co, FlexJobs, etc.), gig sites (Upwork, Fiverr, etc.), and social media platforms such as LinkedIn.
Beyond official job boards, you might also make direct connections with potential clients or find opportunities posted in groups or the main feed. Make sure you set up a completed, detailed profile and/or business page in order to put your best foot forward.
If you want a detailed guide to the best job boards you should be watching for your next gig, you can get that here.
How to Keep and Replicate the Freelance Opportunities You Create
To keep the work you have and continue bringing in new projects and clients:
- Turn in consistently high-quality work
- Keep your portfolio up-to-date and ready to share
- Don’t go MIA on social media or in your brand marketing
- Check in with existing clients from time to time to gauge their satisfaction and make adjustments where needed
- Ask for (and share!) testimonials from your clients
- Don’t stop looking for the next gig
- Keep in touch with your network regularly
- Do everything in your power to give your clients a positive experience working with you
With persistence and consistency, you can absolutely create freelance opportunities for yourself and build a solid business. Good luck!
Do you have method for creating freelance opportunities that we didn’t share here? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Drop them in the comments section below.
Featured image via Graphic farm / shutterstock.com
Thanks Haley for this great post. It is good to read similar steps that I have experienced in my freelance journey. My unique challenges consisted of how to have and grow a successful freelance business while holding a full time job. As a freelancer, I did all 7 steps. I can honestly say, it can be time consuming, but the ROI is WORTH IT!
Great post here. #6 is something that I’ve been exploring a lot. It’s easier than applying for job boards or pitching cold. It helps get you in front of audiences that will take a long time for you to reach by yourself.
Job placement is a good way to find freelance opportunities.