How To Get Hired Freelancing

As most of you know from my income stream reports, I do a lot of freelance work.  The funny thing is, I never intended to do any of the work that I currently do, I just sort of fell into it.  I actually tried to do some freelance work purposefully, and it didn’t work out as I had planned.  So, from both my successful ventures, my failures, and the offers I currently get now, here is my advice on how to get hired freelancing.

 

Fill a Need

Freelance Email

The Email That Started It All

I started my freelance writing business for two factors that lined up at almost exactly the right moment:

  1. I wanted to earn extra income
  2. A major player in the freelance writing business suddenly up and closed their doors
As it turns out, since I’d been blogging for a long time, I could pick up and write exactly the same type of content this company did, at the same rates, and still be profitable.  I also knew a lot of this company’s customers, and could fill the void instantly.
For many freelancers, this won’t always be the case, but the bottom line is that you need to look for a need that must be met and people are wiling to pay for.  Here is what happens if you don’t:
As part of my original search for extra income, I thought I could help people setup their websites, especially for small businesses.  I had been remodeling my home, and so many of these good (and some great) companies didn’t even have websites for people to find their services; they only used word of mouth.  I thought, wouldn’t it be great if I could help them setup a quick and easy website and charge for it.  I could do it in an afternoon.
There was only two problems:
  1. I didn’t do any research, so I didn’t figure out why these business never built a website
  2. I didn’t have time to sell my product to them as this was supposed to be a side freelance gig
As a result, I got one customer.  Just one.  They were very happy, but I realized that it wasn’t going to work for me.

 

Don’t Try to Compete

The second lesson I learned was that I couldn’t compete directly with the people on oDesk, Elance, or Fiverr.  First, I didn’t have any feedback, and a lot of customers want vetted freelancers.  Second, these people could easily match, and sometimes beat my prices.  With such a competitive marketplace, I just couldn’t compete.

However, I learned I didn’t have to compete.  Why?  I had a superior product for my niche.  Freelance writing is a diverse niche, believe it or not.  There are a lot of different types of content requests, which doesn’t always translate on a platform like oDesk (I don’t want to bash oDesk, because I’ve used it for other things before, but it is just not suited for freelance writers per se).

As such, I would focus on a core service: blog articles.  I offer two tiers to suite most bloggers, and it has been very successful – beyond anything I could have imagined.

 

Promote Your Services

It is important that you promote your services as a freelancer, but you don’t necessarily have to do it blatantly.  I’m a big proponent of letting your work speak for itself.  Satisfied customers are the best way to promote your services.  As such, rely on their recommendations and allow them to recommend you.

I know as someone who uses freelance services, currently everyone I’ve used has been recommended by someone else in the blogging community.  As I highlighted before in 5 Key Steps to Hire a Freelancer, the only time I really got burned was using a freelancer on oDesk who wasn’t recommended by anyone I knew.  Even though he had positive feedback, he took my money and ran.  Now, I stick to recommendations, and most of my new customers find me through recommendations as well.

Second, I suggest that you promote your services through forums that are geared to your niche.  Since my product is geared towards bloggers, I post in a blogging forum occasionally about my services.  I usually do it as an offer to help, and go from there.  Also, some of my customers recommend me in this forum, which is always awesome!

Recommendation

I would note that it is important to frame your promotion as an answer to a call for help.  Never spam your services, and it is a sure way to get people to avoid you.

 

Always Over-Deliver and Stick to Your Word

Finally, in freelancing, your reputation is all you have.  All of your business relationships are built on trust, and you need to come through on your commitments and over-deliver the final product.

In my niche, that means always delivering my product on time.  It also means setting out realistic time frames so that I can do that.  My goal is to always beat the time frame I gave a customer.  The reason?  If they were happy with getting their article in 72 hours, they will be even happier getting it in 48 hours.  It’s not always possible, but I try to over deliver every time.

 

If you want to get hired freelancing, keep these thoughts in mind.  The more professional you are, the better the quality of your product, the more likely you are to get hired.  Freelancing is no different than conducting other forms of business, especially when it comes to selling yourself and your product.

 

Readers, if any of you freelance, what advice do you have to get hired?

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Comments

  1. I never intended to do any of the work that I currently do, I just sort “of fell into it.” Same here. I never knew I had the knack for words and can write an interesting article until a boss asked me to. He s”super liked” the article that I made for him. That was the start of my blogging and freelance writing career and the rest is history.

  2. Great post! You definitely have some awesome tips in there! I started a service called “By BMR Posts” 3-4 months ago that people could use to outsource their writing of BuildMyRank posts for cheap. It filled a HUGE need as TONS internet marketers were using BMR and were paying up to $2.00 per 150 word post! However, I was able to use VAs and get that price down to $.70 per post! I was amazed after doing little promotion, I got my first sale on the first day of launching! I made $1000 the first month and was ready to keep expanding – when BOOM! BuildMyRank closed and effectively took away all my customers :(

    Although it did not end well, this proves that when you solve a need within a niche market, you can definitely succeed. However, I had some extreme bad luck. I am going to definitely try something like this again and this time I am going to learn from my mistake and NOT offer only one service, but diversify so that if a company goes out of business or something bad like that happens, it won’t hit me as hard!

    Thomas

    • Yes, it can be tough to be so dependent on one company. But it goes to show how filling a need can definitely pay off! Nice job using VA’s as well. It can be almost as much work to manage them as it is to write little articles.

  3. I started freelancing for extra income also, but it might lead to more social media work with one client. You never know how one gig will lead to others.

  4. This is an excellent post. I particularly like what you said about “over-delivering” for the customer. This is a part that I have trouble with sometimes; when you have multiple deadlines to keep track of it can be difficult to achieve 100% or better. You have inspired me to get organized and bolster my freelance reputation!

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