Freelancing is a great way to make a living. I’ve been doing it full-time since 2011 and love it. In that time, I worked in a lot of trenches, took good and bad advice, found good and bad clients, and made good and bad money.
There are a lot of ways to make money freelancing. I’m a writer, and my methods may not work for freelance designers and developers.
If you’re considering getting into freelancing, there are a ton of marketplaces online to find work. Each has its pros and cons, and I’ll explain those, along with some of my own personal experiences working through these marketplaces.
Fiverr is a notorious marketplace for stupid pet tricks people will do for $5. It’s since expanded to allow you to offer an introductory service for $5 and more expensive services for higher prices. If you’re a girl, this is a great place for a side hustle writing things on your boobs. If you’re spending more than 30 minutes on a $5 project, you’re making less than minimum wage in most states. I wouldn’t recommend spending more than 5 minutes on a $5 project, however.
Upwork is the freelancing marketplace everyone recommends. It barely ranks above Fiverr in my humble opinion. Yes, there are some great-paying gigs, but they’re few and far between. You certainly won’t get them as a beginning freelancer. There are people who make $10,000 a month working on Upwork, but the platform steals 20% (10% after you’ve billed a client for $500), so they’re performing $12,500 worth of work to earn it. I used Elance, Odesk, and Upwork in the beginning of my career, but the only time I ever go back is when a client I obtain through another marketplace insists on paying through Upwork (and I tend to avoid them as often as possible). Still, if you’re just starting out, Upwork will help you find clients in a variety of industries and job responsibilities.
Freelance Writing Jobs is a freelance marketplace I check daily run by Noemi Tasarra-Twigg. From Monday-Friday, rain or shine with very few exceptions, it lists freelance writing jobs from around the web. I’d say 80% of my freelance writing clientele has come from FWJ, and I’ve used it pretty consistently since 2013. Regardless of your experience level, if you want to make money as a freelance writer, this is an essential web visit. You’ll find gigs for copywriting, journalism, blogging, editing, resume writing, and more. There’s also a blog filled with resources and advice for freelance writers.
Freelancer is a crowdsourcing website that’s the Australian-based competition for Upwork. Like Upwork, Freelancer will steal a percentage of your earnings, so personally avoid it. However, it has a larger selection of jobs than Upwork, and plenty of freelancers have experienced financial success on the platform. Regardless of what you do, you can find clients through Freelancer.
GitHub isn’t a freelance marketplace, but it’s still a great resource for software engineers, designers, and developers to showcase their portfolios. It’s a repository for source code, and you can quickly build a following by posting something worthwhile. If you have a ton of code snippets that aren’t good enough for the Play or App stores, this is a great place to post it. Not all code is posted publicly. However, if you do post a great public code, you can find yourself being discovered by companies and teams looking to hire you.
Mediabistro is an essential resource for anyone working in the media industry. It’s also a great job board you can check to get involved in media. Many of the jobs posted are full- or part-time gigs, but you’ll find contract work listed here as well. No matter what your specialty, there are careers in the media industry. I scan it a few times a year to see what’s available on the freelance writing market. Occasionally I’ll check it when I’m considering an editing job too.
Craigslist is an online classified ads marketplace for anything and everything. You can offer services here or find gigs and jobs other people posted. It’s geographically divided by city, so it’s a great place to check for local jobs. You don’t have to be local for some jobs, however. I’ve been hired by companies in Denver, Baltimore, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and more. Remote workers and virtual teams are widely acceptable these days, and you’re competing with content farms and agencies. Many companies are happy to learn they’re working with a knowledgeable professional rather than one of these content farms. Don’t ever sell yourself short.
Toptal is a niche freelance marketplace for software engineers, designers, and finance experts at the moment. It’s gotten these professionals gigs with some large companies, however. If you have a specialized skill set in one of these areas, you’ll appreciate this marketplace. It vets users, and if you don’t make it, it’s because you’re not as skilled as you thought. They do this to ensure companies are getting top talent (get it – toptal?) and draw in better enterprise customers. So if you make the cut, you’ll have a much better shot at finding well-paying gigs.
Flexjobs ia another great freelance marketplace that specializes in remote jobs. It does require registration, and you’ll get a LOT of junk email from the company. With that said, there are often great jobs posted here in a variety of specializations. If you love working from home on your own hours, this is one of the better places to seek out freelance jobs.
Indeed is hands-down the best freelancing and employment search engine on the Internet. It’s a meta-search engine that aggregates job listings from thousands of sources, including individual company websites and job boards. Companies often will only post a job opening on their website, and you won’t know unless you happen upon it…unless you use Indeed. I love Indeed and pull it up anytime I need to pick up a paid gig immediately. With thousands of jobs available, the odds are great that I’ll impress at least one recruiter by contacting them all. Check it out when you have a flow and know exactly what type of freelance work you’re looking for.