The Practical Guide: Freelancing (Part Three)

Check out our previous sessions in this Freelancing mini-series:

Part One: Gaining Experience

Part Two: Building and Preparing Your Business

Finding Work

You have the experience, you’ve prepared yourself to have a real from-home business going, and now it’s time to get work! As we discussed in Part Two, it is important to have business cards for yourself. You need to advertise yourself and put yourself out there in order to find work.

Only a few weeks after making my business cards, I attended a huge conference. It was the perfect opportunity to do some networking. I didn’t get any freelancing gigs out of it, but I made some good friends, and I also learned how best to market myself to strangers. I met dozens of people and exchanged business cards many, many times during the conference, so it gave me lots of “practice” with marketing.

Keep business cards in every bag you carry and coat you wear. You never know when you’ll meet someone and need to exchange cards. I keep a stack of business cards at one of the offices I work at and it led to my third freelancing gig.

Sending your resume to companies you would feel comfortable working for is also a good idea. Research the company to check that their philosophies are in line with your own. E-mails aren’t as professionals as a hard-copy of a resume, and e-mails are also easier to delete without reading; sending your resume by mail will catch your potential employer’s attention and increase the likelihood that they will read your cover letter. It takes more time and effort to print out a resume, find a mailing address, put it in an envelope with stamps and take it to the post office or a mailbox than it does to fire off a quick e-mail. Your potential employers will recognize that.

Besides business cards and resumes, you should also focus on building relationships. This is key to success in everything you do. I’ve worked with some excellent people in the publishing and communications fields of work, and I would point people in their direction in a heartbeat. If you are also efficient at your work and genuinely interested in ensuring that the work you perform is of the best possible quality, you will generate more work for yourself. Word of mouth is the best possible way to make more work for yourself.

Four of my first six freelancing gigs started up because they had heard good things about me from someone else. The best form of advertisement is the one that speaks for itself: do a quality job and it could lead to three more.

What are your tips for finding work in the freelancing world?