The 10 ways I find freelance work

There are many topics to consider and discuss when it comes to freelancing, but none seems to loom larger than the difficulty of finding quality gigs.

It’s one of the questions I see asked most often, and one of the questions I myself have pondered most anxiously as a freelancer.

Back when I started a decade ago, things were a bit more straightforward than they are now. Competition was lower; it was easier to find pretty good clients on job boards like Craigslist.

And it’s still not impossible to find listings that lead to good work. With the growing prominence of freelance work, employers are increasingly open to using freelancers and are more likely than ever to post on job boards in search of them.

But any freelance advisor worth their salt will be quick to point out that the best way to build an enduring, lucrative freelance career is to be more proactive about finding clients. Market yourself, network, pitch your services to those you’d like to work with, etc. Don’t rely on job advertisements alone.

Ultimately, you’ll want to use every trick in the book to find work. It’ll come in all sorts of places and from all sorts of sources. The key is that you’re always looking — always thinking about finding new work with at least one little part of your overloaded brain.

And once you get to a certain level of professionalism and have built up a solid network of satisfied customers and friendly colleagues, you’ll start getting referrals. You’ll get work you didn’t even look for.

To provide a realistic sense of how this all operates for those who support themselves as freelancers, here is a list of the 10 ways that I have found most of my clients over the years.

Over the next few weeks I will be adding links to more extensive explanations of each of these work-finding methods. (Click on the titles to learn more about each.)

1. Listings

I have gotten a fair amount of work from responding to gig listings on job sites, particularly Craigslist when I first started out. Nowadays there are plenty of good gigs listed on traditional job boards and on LinkedIn. With practice and persistence you can find good work this way.

2. Magnetism

By “magnetism” I mean anything that causes people to come to me instead of me seeking them out. This category includes inbound marketing efforts such as publishing a blog, putting out a newsletter, and being a guest on podcasts. You can also draw in clients by simply having your work speak for itself.

3. Asking

This one may seem too simple, but don’t discount it. Sometimes you get new work simply by asking for it. This is particularly true when you nudge former clients you haven’t spoken with in a while. But it can work with new or existing contacts, too.

4. Referrals

Referrals will be one of your most valuable sources of work throughout your career. There’s nothing like word of mouth to get new clients knocking on your door. Don’t shy away from asking people to recommend you to others; proactive is the only way to be if you’re going to make freelancing work over the long run.

5. Piggybacking

I refer to clients bringing me with them from one job to another as “piggybacking.” If you’re good, you’ll get loyalty from those who hire you. A client who hires you to work for her company may hire you again at the next place she goes… and the next… and the next. You may be able to ride her coattails for years.

6. Nepotism

Call it nepotism if you’d like, but in the Wild Wild West world of freelancing, we are all about finding quality clients wherever we can — even among friends and family. If that means your brother wants to hire you to freelance for his company, why not? If you’re really good at what you do, why shouldn’t he?

7. Networking

A professional network is by nature amorphous, dynamic, and full of potential. You can’t control it or expect anything specific from it. But you also can’t be passive about it and expect it to help you. All you can do is pour energy — positive, generous energy — into it, be proactive when you see opportunities, and be ready to engage when something comes your way.

8. Groups

In the last five years or so, online networking groups for freelancers have exploded on social media sites. These groups can be gold mines for new work. Joining professional groups can also be a good move, especially if you engage actively online and in-person at events. It’s a trial-and-error process to find which groups give you the most value.

9. Pitching

Pitching means reaching out to a potential client to present them with either yourself or your ideas. Pitching is most commonly used in writing, where editors wait to hear from journalists with proposed ideas for articles. But sending letters of interest (LOIs) to potential clients is a pitching strategy that can be used in any industry.

10. Marketplaces

Over the years an array of sites have sprung up with the goal of connecting freelancers to employers. Few have lasted long, though new ones always take their place. Most have tended toward downward price pressure, which will hamstring a freelance career. But there are ways to strategically approach these sites to make them work for you.

I’m sure there are methods I use to find work that I am forgetting here. And there are definitely methods I haven’t used, such as online advertising, that may work for freelancers in other industries.

The point is that there are a whole lot of different ways that freelancers find work, and you should be using as many of them as you can.

67 thoughts on “The 10 ways I find freelance work”

  1. Hmm it seems like your site ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess
    I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say,
    I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any recommendations for inexperienced blog writers?

    I’d really appreciate it.

  2. Hi there! This blog post could not be written any
    better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous
    roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I
    will send this information to him. Pretty sure he’s
    going to have a very good read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  3. Hiya very cool site!! Man .. Beautiful .. Wonderful .. I will
    bookmark your site and take the feeds also? I am glad to seek out so many useful info right here
    within the submit, we want develop extra techniques on this regard, thanks
    for sharing. . . . . .

  4. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea
    shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.”
    She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside
    and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell
    someone!

  5. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do
    some research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more clear from this post.
    I’m very glad to see such fantastic info being shared freely
    out there.

  6. Very good website you have here but I was wanting to know if
    you knew of any message boards that cover the same topics
    talked about in this article? I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get advice from other knowledgeable individuals that share
    the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

    Appreciate it!

  7. Hi there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new apple
    iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Carry on the superb work!

  8. Hey There. I found your weblog using msn. This is a
    very smartly written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to
    learn extra of your helpful info. Thank you for the post.
    I will definitely comeback.

  9. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who had been doing a little research on this.
    And he in fact ordered me dinner because I discovered it for him…
    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this topic here on your internet site.

  10. Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this website.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times
    it’s challenging to get that “perfect balance” between user friendliness and visual appearance.
    I must say you have done a very good job with this.
    Additionally, the blog loads super fast for me on Opera. Excellent Blog!

  11. We stumbled over here different website and thought I may as well check things out.

    I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward
    to exploring your web page again.

  12. Excellent post however , I was wanting to know if you could
    write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate
    a little bit further. Bless you!

  13. My brother recommended I might like this web site. He was totally
    right. This post truly made my day. You cann’t imagine just how much time I had spent for this info!
    Thanks!

    my homepage; 188bet

  14. After looking over a number of the articles on your web site, I seriously appreciate your way of blogging. I added it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my website as well and tell me what you think.

  15. Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this web site before but after looking at a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

  16. After looking into a few of the blog articles on your blog, I honestly appreciate your way of writing a blog. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my web site too and tell me what you think.

  17. I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog. I really hope to see the same high-grade content by you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own, personal site now 😉

  18. I was extremely pleased to uncover this web site. I wanted to thank you for your time just for this fantastic read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it and I have you saved as a favorite to look at new stuff in your site.

  19. Good day! I could have sworn I’ve visited your blog before but after browsing through a few of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m certainly pleased I came across it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

  20. I was very pleased to uncover this website. I want to to thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every little bit of it and i also have you book-marked to look at new stuff on your blog.

  21. Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after looking at many of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m certainly pleased I found it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!

  22. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It’s always helpful to read articles from other authors and use a little something from their websites.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *