As a homeschooling, freelancing mother, time is never on my side. Between running a home and providing a sufficient – hopefully more than sufficient! – education for my children, I have had to find efficient ways of making the hours I am able to work every week count.
A lot of freelancing involves pitching for work, applying for opportunities, hoping you’re selected. The reality of blogging, however, is that you never really know what the client is looking for, so you may or may not be chosen for the project, whatever it is.
I’ve been freelancing for 5 years now, and here are some of the ways I go to look for work – hopefully they can help you find work as a freelancer.
1. Relationships with clients
When I started blogging, way back in the days of yore – sometimes it feels like back in ‘the olden days’ – you’d feel elated when a PR emailed you, offering you pretty much anything in exchange for a post. Back then I used to take pride in replying to every email, whether I was interested in the opportunity or not. A few years in and sometimes over 100 emails a day, I looked at my newborn baby trying to crawl across the floor one day and I realised how much of her babyhood I’d missed by trying to reply to every email, for no return.
Politeness costs nothing, but it does take time. For a freelancer, time is money. I now use an out of office with an explanation of why I might not respond, but asking the emailer to get in touch again next time. Some people don’t like it, but my time is more precious than the opinion of someone who doesn’t think enough of me to pay for that time*.
That said, relationships are essential to ‘easing’ the work load. I have a number of clients that I have an ongoing relationship with. Every few months, I’ll get an email requesting extension of an advert, for example, and for the time-cost of 3 or 4 emails, I earn a repeat advertising fee. This is ‘easy money’, but it comes off the back of relationship building, and repeat business.
2. Email approaches
The above said, it’s still really important to be visible as a freelancer. You might not love being on social media all the time, and you don’t have to be, but you do need to have a profile and be reachable. I’ve received approaches through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, in comments on the blog and even on Instagram. The most important thing is to be contactable. Make sure your blog has your email address on it. You won’t get the work if they can’t get hold of you.
3. Sign up with assignment-based websites
If what you’re looking for is sponsored posts or reviews, sign up with companies that offer those. Look at websites like WeConnect* or Bloggers Required where you can keep an eye on what’s available. You need to pitch for these, telling them why your blog is the right one for their assignment, and the brand will then get in touch with everyone it’s chosen. Most of these aren’t paid opportunities, but sometimes what you’re able to review makes up for it since generally you’re able to keep the product. Make sure your skills are marketable too – something that is really essential when working with for example google adword agencies.
4. Sign up with networking websites
Websites like LinkedIn and Hiive are great for finding longer term projects. Sign up with them, and network. I think most people know LinkedIn now – the online place where people can connect with others in the same fields and areas of interest? Hiive is pretty similar, but with more of a focus on creative people.
On Hiive you can create ‘swarms’ or join someone else’s swarm, and get involved with their projects, see what’s going on in your field across the web, apply for job vacancies, connect with professionals in your niche and usefully, take some of the courses they offer online too.
I think the most important thing about being a freelancer is staying current, taking advantage of the opportunities out there, and moving with the times. Old fashioned principles – politeness, kindness, courtesy and patience – will always stand you in good stead, and with a little bit of time and luck, you’ll be a successful freelancer in no time.
*I don’t respond if it’s just not something that’s relevant to me, I don’t dismiss all unpaid work as sometimes that has value too.