Great Tips for Freelance Job Success

Stand out from the crowd! Maximize your profile, resume and portfolio! Identify the right jobs and submit compelling proposals!


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Freelancing is surging in popularity, and that means the competition for the best freelance jobs is intense. Being good at what you do is vital, but it's not enough: you need to make a compelling impression on prospective partners, and you have to make it fast. If you want to land the best opportunities and maximize your earnings, you need to get a step ahead of the competition. These tested tips from veteran freelancers will help you get the advantage you're looking for.

Make a Great Profile

Clients will see your profile first, and it's worth putting time and effort into making yours as good as it can be. Try to put yourself in their position. What makes your profile stand out? What keeps you reading? Some most important points to bear in mind:

Have a good professional title. Your title could decide whether a potential client reads your proposal or scrolls on past it, and it needs to be concise and precise. Don't be too general or include everything you can do: readers will tend to look for a more specialized freelancer who fits their needs.

Have a good picture. People look at pictures before they read the text. You don't need to pay a professional for headshots but have a good-quality, professional, smiling photo of yourself on your profile to keep your employer looking long enough to read your profile.

Be concise. Most freelance sites will show the first 2-3 sentences of your profile as a preview. Try to get the vital information into those sentences. Be concise throughout your profile. Brevity is more professional, keeps the reader's attention, and lets you get the important things across with no distractions.

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Write good copy. Even if you're not looking for a freelance writing job, a poorly written profile just doesn't look professional. Proofread carefully, and be clear and grammatically correct. Paragraphs should be short, focused, and flow naturally from one topic to the next.

Explain your qualifications. Clients want to see that you know what you're doing and have a history of doing it successfully. Clear and brief explanations of your experience, qualifications, and aptitude will make employers trust you more than trying too hard to sell yourself.

Fill Your Portfolio

If your profile gets attention, the next thing they'll do is look at your portfolio. Put some effort into creating yours.

Don't put in too much. It's tempting to include everything you've ever done, but too many options can just discourage a client from clicking on any of them. Include a few examples of all the major styles or forms you use and not more than that.

Include only your best material. If your client only clicks on one of your samples, that sample should convince them to hire you. It's better to have only a few pieces in your portfolio than to include anything less than your best. If you're after a freelance writing job, make sure you link to material that passes grammar checks!

Describe your work. If your platform lets you, create a brief but thorough description of each item in your portfolio. It should specify things like style, content, software used, problems you faced and solved, and so on. Clients only want to look at the items most relevant to their needs, and a concise portfolio will help them find it quickly.

Use linkable work. Clients are usually hiring you because they don't have expertise in your field, and they may not feel confident evaluating the quality of your work on their own. Linking to professional jobs you've done in the past will make you look professional and worth hiring, and give clients a basis for a decision beyond their immediate opinion to judge.

Produce work independently. If you haven't had professional jobs yet, don't be afraid to provide material on your own. Paid employment is best, but a variety of good jobs is better than none at all. Put in some time to craft excellent examples showing all the different kinds of work you can do. If freelance writing jobs are your target, consider starting a blog or doing some volunteer newsletter writing to establish a portfolio.

Choose the Right Jobs

Most broker sites have some way for potential clients to look at your job history with the site. Use that to your advantage, and build the career you want by being smart about selecting freelance job targets.

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Start small. Almost nobody starts out doing the freelance jobs they want to do at the prices they want to get. Consider small, low-paid jobs as an investment in your freelance career, and put in the time to deliver excellent work and exceed expectations. The job history and good feedback will boost the confidence of future, higher-paying clients looking at your profile.

Specialize. In the same way that it's good to have an accurate title, developing some specialization in your job history will help you decide what to apply for and will contribute to building confidence that you thoroughly know your niche. Don't pigeonhole yourself, but do look for jobs that will showcase your work positively in the future.

Look for long-term work. In addition to saving you time on job searching, successful, long-term relationships show potential new clients that you're dependable and cooperative.

Avoid problem customers. Job postings that are vague about things like pricing and expectations, excessively negative (describing what they don't want rather than what they do want), or poorly written postings are all signs of clients that will be hard to manage. By looking out for freelance jobs and customers who will suck up your time and be impossible to please, you save yourself headaches and possible bad feedback.

Create Compelling Proposals

Job proposals should be shorter and more precise than traditional cover letters: you just need to show that you can do the client's particular project. Always link to or attach a sample of your work that's directly relevant to the client's needs. There's no set formula for writing a good cover letter, but this concise, three-paragraph format is a good place to start:

Introduce yourself. The client needs to know that you understand what the job is and that you can do it. Your first paragraph should be just a few sentences long, giving your title and a briefly describing your qualifications for a particular job.

Explain your qualifications. You can include more details in your second paragraph. Describe similar projects you've completed, and quickly mention any professional or academic experience that directly relates to the client's project. Briefly describe the sample you've attached, and how it refers to the project. Every qualification you mention should be linked directly to how it will help you complete the project.

Conclusion and call to action. In your conclusion, summarize why you're a good fit for the project, give your contact information, and ask any questions you may have about the work. It encourages a response and helps show your eagerness, professionalism, and understanding of the job.

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Having control over your work and career is fantastic, but getting off the ground as a freelancer takes some time and patience. By being smart about your early job applications, you can start getting the work you want, building your brand, and creating your dream career.