Are you just getting started with freelancing? Do you need helping taking the next step?

One of the benefits of freelancing is the ability to work location independent. As long as you have a computer, stable wi-fi, and a calm work environment, you can get things done whether you’re at the beach or a at secluded mountain resort.

If you are just getting started, here are some tips on setting up your profile and landing your first paid gig.

Setup Your Profile

Setting up your profile is an in depth process, much like putting together your cover letter and resume. Your main goal is to highlight your skills and hook potential clients by clearly displaying why you are the best fit for the job. I recommend detailing your strengths and listing your top achievements. Additionally you’ll want to ensure your account is verified. All you need for this is to upload a picture of your Driver’s License and a piece of mail with your address.

Concerned about having enough achievements to highlight on your freelance profile? Think about some of the things you have done that you’re proud of, for example if you wrote a paper that landed you a scholarship, list it as one of your achievements.

Case Study

In high school my four sisters and I started a Christian rock band. We faithfully practiced each weekend and got to the point where we decided we were good enough to record an album. One of my sisters and I decided to finance the recording using our bi-weekly paychecks from childcare to cover the cost. When the album was completed and we wrote out the largest check of our lives, we realized we were out of money for album duplications. It was at that stage our sales and marketing skills came into play and within 4 weeks we made over 4-figures in album sales and had a launch party to celebrate the successful release of our album. While this achievement happened in high school, I still use the same method of approaching problems with a creative solution.

Take Action

  • List out your top strengths – ask people you’ve worked with for suggestions
  • Write out your top achievements – include personal and professional highlights
  • Come up with an elevator speech – this is a brief introduction about you and what you have to offer

If you’re setting up your profile on Elance or oDesk they have several suggested articles on what makes a great profile.

Bid on Jobs

After you setup your profile, it’s time to start bidding on jobs and get hired. As you browse through jobs pay attention to companies who have setup their payment method and have a few positive reviews. Additionally when you do apply, make sure you read their requests and reply with a unique proposal.

This process tends to be a bit more time consuming, much like traditional job hunting. In order to speed up this process I blocked out an hour a day and made it my goal to apply to 5 interesting jobs every single day. With this process of applying for at least 25 gigs a week, I would hear back from clients frequently. I landed my first freelance gig within a week!

As you apply, watch out for clients that ask for a low rate. Typically you’ll end up putting in a lot of work for a very small return. Those kinds of gigs aren’t worth your time.

Get Paid

Generally there are 2 kinds of payment methods for jobs: hourly or fixed price.

Hourly is a guaranteed payment method – after you and a client agree to an hourly rate, you’ll track your hours using Work View, a technology that takes random screenshots and tracks clicks as you put in hours for the client. At the end of the work week the client has a chance to review your work and you’ll receive payment for the hours completed.

Fixed Price – after the scope of work is negotiated you and the client will agree on a fixed rate for the work requested. Payment could be sent weekly, monthly, or when the project is complete. In the case of a fixed price job you will not be protected should the client choose not to pay.

While each payment method has it’s benefits, it’s up to you to determine what you like best.

If anyone offers to pay you outside of the freelance platform, just say no. I tried this once and it took several months to finally get paid.

What I learned from freelancing

Freelancing is an excellent opportunity because it gives me the ability to be flexible with my hours and location, work on projects I truly enjoy, and learn from the clients who hire me. I’ve met some fantastic entrepreneurs, authors, and musicians through freelancing and have acquired several new skills. Early on, I was given the opportunity to become a recruiter for a gourmet food company. They gave me hands on training and prepped me to understand exactly what they look for in a new hire. Surprisingly, I enjoy interviewing potential hires and it has become one of my favorite gigs.

I also learned that:

  • I prefer hourly jobs over fixed price jobs
  • oDesk is my favorite freelancing platform
  • The more experience I gain the more people come to me (now I rarely apply for jobs)
  • Instead of focusing on social media marketing where I started, my freelance now gears towards content management

Don’t be afraid to take a break from the traditional work environment and find your own path.

Do you freelance? What is your area of expertise?

(If you missed it, check out Freelance: A Key to Freedom Part 1 for tips on finding your freelance platform).

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