When we started the expedition of becoming freelancers, we saw all the ads on social media making working from home (or working from anywhere) look super easy and where jobs would simply fall into our laps if only we’d pay this minimal fee, or we hear about it from a friend or relative who just so happens to do such and such direct sales company if only you’ll buy this business kit!
First, let me tackle the social media thing. There are websites and businesses that advertise all over social media that say they will help you work from home as a freelancer. But…you have to pay them to get access to their jobs. Or their system. Or their whatever.
Look, if you can take 15 minutes and do a basic Google search, you can find places that hire freelancers and remote workers. That doesn’t mean that getting clients will be easy, but you can find places on your own without paying some third party an arm, a leg, and your first born.
Now, those other paid sites might tell you simple little tips and tricks to help you get the job, but ultimately, their whole business is to take your money and convince you that their way is the best way. Our grandparents spoke about snake oil salesmen…and they are our generation’s version of the same thing.
And those friends and relatives with their direct sales side gig? Maybe they know what they are talking about and maybe they don’t. Their information could be helpful…but it might not. I can tell you this, though, unless they are actually making money (as opposed to losing it – and don’t listen to them tell you about how it takes time to make money…because you already know that), you don’t need their advice. In fact, you should probably point them to this episode of our podcast. Not everyone is going to be helpful on your journey…and that’s okay. People do not have to hold our hands the entire way. We eventually want to be able do these things on our own.
Places to Find Freelance Work – Show Me the Money
Yes, I mentioned money. Honestly, you shouldn’t quit your day job if you have one. It takes a lot of time and effort to build a business…let alone build it to the point that you can tell your day job to kiss off. Or bid them a fond farewell. And without experience as a freelancer, you may not start off making the same amount of money as you currently make in your day job. Sure, you should get paid what you’re worth for your current experience, but that’s not always how it works. Sometimes, we take the first few gigs for a little less just to get experience as a freelancer…so that it makes it easier in the future to find freelance work. Anyway, that’s a topic for another time.
Almost all freelance jobs that pay well are on websites that charge freelancers in some way as well as charging clients to post their jobs. Some either charge you to buy bids or they take money off the back end of what you earn…or both. Do your homework so that you understand how you will be charged. And also understand that these companies are businesses. They have fees they must cover…just like you. It is not free for them to run websites and pay their employees and market their services to attract clients. Don’t hate.
Below are some of the larger websites, and what they charge as of January 2020:
- Upwork.com: Free to look, but freelancers must buy connects in order to apply. Connects are very inexpensive. The idea behind connects is that it keeps inexperienced freelancers from bidding on things they aren’t qualified to do. Also, freelancers pay a small portion of their earnings to Upwork. The amount of what they pay depends on how much they’ve earned with each client.
- PeoplePerHour.com: Free to sign up. Much like Upwork, they take a portion of the freelancers earnings.
- Flexjobs.com: 14.95 per month; you can also buy a quarterly or yearly membership. Flexjobs.com is a bit different than other freelancing sites. While they have freelance positions, they offer a database of remote jobs. You can find jobs from Apple, United Healthcare, and a lot of other places. You can find salaried positions as well. Generally, there are discount codes you can find online to help defray the cost of sign-up.
- Fiverr.com: Free to sign up. Fiverr makes its money the same way other freelance sites do: by taking a cut of the money earned by the freelancers and by adding a fee to what clients pay. The name of the site is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, you can find some $5 gigs, but freelancers can also have gigs that cost more. Buyer beware on some of the less expensive gigs. At the same time, all clients should be willing to pay livable wages, whatever that means to the freelancer based on the freelancer’s location.
- Freelancer.com: According to the site, while freelancers can sign up for free, they get only eight free bids for month. They can purchase bid upgrades. Freelancers who win fixed projects pay a portion of the fee to Freelancer.com as a fee. It is either 10% or $5.00, whichever is greater. For hourly projects, freelancers pay a 10% fee. Compared to Upwork, hourly freelancers who work for a client for a significant amount of time will eventually pay a fee as low as 5%.
- Indeed.com: Indeed is free for you to use as a freelancer or a remote worker, but it does take some time to learn. You also need to practice due diligence to ensure that you’re applying for paying work, that the work being offered really is fully remote (or that you’re okay with it being partial remote), etc. By the way, make sure you are following this blog and that you’ve liked our Facebook page, our Instagram page, and that you are following us on Twitter because we’re going to offer training on how to use free resources very soon!
As a Freelancer, It Is Up to You to Look Out for Yourself
Regardless of the platforms you use, it is up to you to find freelance work. As my wife says, there is no client fairy who will drop clients off on your doorstep. Sure, you could build a business that primarily relies on referrals. Referrals make up a significant portion of our business. But that took time. I’ve watched my wife refer people to other freelancers only to watch those freelancers blow those people off and then wonder why their business shrivels up and dies. It is up to you. It is up to you to look out for yourself. You have to find the work. You have to write the proposals. You have to nurture relationships. You have to do the work.
While Robin Bull is a Top Rated freelancer on Upwork, neither Danny or Robin Bull or their opinion or this site represent the opinion or outlook of Upwork, Fiverr, Indeed, Freelancer, Flexjobs, PeoplePerHour, or any other freelance site. This is based solely upon our individual experiences.