9 expert tips for getting yourself hired as a freelancer
Hundreds of online platforms offer freelancers the opportunity to market themselves for a wide variety of jobs and other money-making opportunities. But freelancers who work, sell and rent their possessions through big online platforms say that the real challenge lies in the art of getting hired.
How do you get favorable client attention? And how can you close the deal? This is a particularly thorny challenge with the biggest and best-established freelance platforms, where dozens of others may be competing for the same customer.
We talked to a variety of successful individuals about the art of getting hired. Although the advice can vary depending on the type of customer you’re after, there are some tried and true strategies. Here are the best tips.
Photos, photos, photos
Whether you’re looking for work or wanting to rent out your yard, swimming pool or patio, compelling photos are the key to getting interest and inquiries. You don’t need a professional photographer. But you do need a good eye for visual details that underscore your pitch.
Trying to sell your swimming pool as an urban oasis? Obviously, you need shots of the clear water, sparkling tile, landscaping and lounge chairs. But also consider staging the scene. Someone basking on a pool float; a close-up of a tropical drink, with the pool shimmering in the background; a couple lounging in those chairs? Inspire the imagination and complete the image.
The photos you’d use when trying to get a job will hinge on the type of work you’re seeking. Consider what qualities the job requires and try to make those qualities shine in your photo. An artist’s profile on Creatively might light up with photos of your pierced tongue and tattoo sleeve, for instance. But, the same photo probably wouldn’t impress those hiring a caregiver for an elderly relative. Remember that people you’ve never met will judge you based on your profile and picture. Empathy is the key to making your profile stand out in a positive way.
Throw your hook
Justin Gignac, creative director at Working Not Working, says every job he’s ever gotten stemmed from one hook. Specifically, he packaged and sold New York City garbage. Literally.
It all started with a discussion about the importance of packaging, he says. Gignac believed that you could sell anything with the right package. His friend did not. Gignac mulled it over, and created lucite cubes labeled “Garbage of New York City.” In smaller letters, the cube declares: “100% authentic. Picked from the fertile streets of NY, NY.” Inside you see … garbage. He has sold more than 1,300 cubes for between $50 and $100 (for commemorative editions).
What have you done that’s extraordinary and shows off your potential? Lead your profile with that hook.
Be thorough but succinct
The rest of your online profile should read like a dating profile for the job you want. If you want to deep-clean kitchens and bathrooms, talk about the satisfaction you get from seeing sparkling white grout appear from the depths of grime. Perhaps you also use all-organic, cruelty-free supplies? Your potential clients would want to know.
A few before-and-after shots can also be a great selling point. Many sites, such as TaskRabbit, allow you to post dozens of shots. So in addition to posting that great profile photo mentioned above, use the space to visually, as well as verbally, explain your work.
Pro tip: Before you write your profile, visit the site as a customer, suggests Vanessa Garcia, a Los Angeles Tasker who earns more than $7,000 a month. That allows you to see how other people — specifically how successful freelancers in your niche — describe their work and what they charge.
Rock those recommendations
When I hired a caregiver for my parents, the first thing I looked for on potential caregiver profiles were recommendations from their former clients. Although you can’t manage what clients write, you can ask clients and former clients to provide recommendations when they’re satisfied with your work. Particularly with sites dealing with personal services, such as child and elder care, these recommendations can prove pivotal in hiring decisions.
What do you do when you’re new to a platform and don’t yet have recommendations? You can ask former clients to provide letters that you can add to your profile. Or you can deal with getting work through pricing.
When Dan Simms first signed up to be a Rover animal sitter, he chose to offer his services at bargain rates. His theory was that until he had numerous glowing recommendations, his best chance to compete was on price. His strategy worked beautifully. He now makes a high five-figure income and no longer relies on low rates to nab clients.
When trying to sell specific goods such as clothing, rare books and electronics, some sites are definitely better than others. Here’s our guide.
Even when you’re new, you shouldn’t price yourself so low that you regret taking jobs, adds Working Not Working’s Gignac. But setting your pricing at the low end of an acceptable range can be smart until you build a client base. Once established, don’t hesitate to hike your rates until good clients push back, Gignac adds. Freelancers often earn considerably more per hour than employees. And that makes sense, since companies don’t pay benefits and taxes on freelance wages.
Garcia also says it’s smart to open up your calendar to be available for virtually all work. By doing this, you might get last-minute work when more-established freelancers need to back out of a job. These can win you loyal clients, who appreciate your flexibility.
However, you’ll do far better if you don’t leave all the marketing to the online platform or platforms where you list your services. Mention what you do on neighborhood social media sites, such as Nextdoor. And, if you have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok or YouTube, market yourself there too. You never know where your next client might come from, so cast a wide net.
Some platforms, such as Fiverr, have “pro” designations for people with a lot of experience in their field. If you qualify, apply to join the pro ranks. It costs nothing, but it gives potential clients an added sense of security that you’ll do good work.
Learn and network
Many sites, including TaskRabbit, have “success teams” that coach new freelancers on how to best present themselves and find work. Taking advantage of the training can make you far more successful, says Stephania Ferrera, a site spokeswoman. TaskRabbit also offers community events, where taskers can get to know one another. Like any networking, it’s hard to say exactly how schmoozing it up will result in additional business or profits, but it often does.
Working Not Working’s Gignac says one way to network on his site is to “follow” other established freelancers in your field. As you get to know each other better, you may end up working together or referring clients to each other, he says.
Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent website that reviews moneymaking opportunities in the gig economy.