Last week, I posted a shout out for National Freelancers Day, inviting anyone to get in touch with any questions they had about the business of freelancing.
The idea came from the emails I sometimes get from readers who are looking for advice on how to go freelance or improve their current freelancing business. Like the email from Laura, who was looking for advice on negotiating freelance rates with clients.
Following my call for questions, I got an email from Andy who was looking to find freelance work quickly as a new freelance consultant.
Here is Andy’s situation as he explained it to me:
"Until this week, I was running social media for a big brand retailer.
Unfortunately, things didn’t end well and I’ve found myself without a job and nothing in the pipeline. Needless to say, I wasn’t prepared for this outcome.
I’ve been seriously considering starting out as a freelance social media consultant for a while now, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to do so.
However, I’m concerned that I don’t have anything lined up, and I can’t approach my previous employer for freelance work.
I wondered if you had any advice for how to get up and running quickly and how to generate some business without relying on a former employer?"
In this article:
How I find freelance work quickly
Here’s my advice to Andy:
Update your online profiles: Before you start looking for work, take the time to get your CV in order, update your LinkedIn, Twitter bio, etc, to reflect your new situation. Make sure to add details on what you achieved at the role you just left, emphasising the results you achieved, not just what you did.
Approach similar companies and agencies: Google around for PR / Digital / Marketing / Social agencies that represent the big brand retailers and send them your CV, making sure to add a highly personalised cover note targeted at them. Say you’re freelance and can offer social media support, for retail brands and other consumer brands (don’t want to pigeon-hole yourself too much). They might have some opportunities for you there and then, but more likely they’ll keep in touch with you. Some of them may even have permanent roles going.
Contact freelance recruiters in your area: Recruiters will have jobs readily available for you, whether short-term or long-term contracts. I’ve had a great experience with the guys at VMA Group (tell them I sent you), but also check out Cloud Nine Recruitment. There are also plenty of freelance jobs going on sites like The Guardian and Indeed.
Reach out to freelancer communities: I’d also post a message to the following Facebook groups, saying you’re looking for work if anyone has any roles going:
- Community Managers London: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cmldn/
- Freelance PRs: https://www.facebook.com/groups/freelanceprs/
- UK Tech Journalists and PRs: https://www.facebook.com/groups/haslam22/
There’s a lot of people who are members of more than one of these groups, so make sure to make your post to each group personalised.
Try freelancing remotely: Sites like Freelancer.com, People Per Hour and Elance are full of people looking to hire social media freelancers. Although the pay might be lower than what you’re used to, they can help plug a gap in your income and you can quickly build up a reputation for yourself on these sites and start to command higher fees. Take a look at these tips for how to make the most of these freelance job sites.
So, a brief exchange but hopefully a valuable one to Andy– and to other freelancers who find themselves in this situation.
How others find freelance work quickly
Although Andy may be looking to find freelance work quickly, there can be a downside to this approach, as Carol Tice points out:
Here’s the basic problem with the “quickly” mentality: In freelancing, as with any startup business, when you take the quick fast buck, it robs you of the time you need to find the big-money assignments and to do those better gigs.
So where do you find those better gigs? Natalie Brandweiner recommends digging up those old but existing relationships:
Take a look back through your inbox and spot any potential clients that you may not have thought of before – perhaps you did some freelance work for a company two years ago, or there was that job you never got but built a good relationship with the person that interviewed you. Be imaginative with your client ‘hit list’ and don’t leave any avenue unexplored.
What would you do in this situation? How do you find freelance work quickly? What other sites out there are good for finding freelance work?
And don’t forget – I’m here if you want advice on any of your freelance challenges. Just get in touch and I’ll see if I can help.
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