A perennial problem for freelancers is finding steady work.
To fill up your calendar effectively you often have to use a combination of resources to search out new gigs. Ongoing clients, people you met networking, referrals from fellow freelancers, and work you find online – by using these resources in unison you’re far more likely to keep a full diary.
Freelance job sites can be a blessing and a curse – there are a million job boards out there, but the quality of work on offer can be alarmingly low, and UK freelancers can lose out by being paid in puny US Dollars.
There are a few good national freelance job sites out there, and hundreds of great local boards. The advantage of finding local jobs is, of course, the personal relationship you can form with clients, which can lead to better rates and ongoing work.
There’s good work on offer if you know where to look – here are a few of our favourites.
To land the juiciest gigs you have to specialise. The best clients won’t be listing their freelance and contract jobs on any of the mass-market job boards, so you’ll need to find the best job site in your niche. Here are a few to get you started.
For the IT contractor crowd, Elevate will cut out the recruiters and place you with the best clients quickly and easily – and with no finder’s fee carved out of your day rate, you’ll probably end up earning more. Upload your CV and get job matches automatically.
If you’re a writer, Contently is worth investigating. You might have one of their free portfolios already, but there’s a whole agency setup lurking behind the scenes, connecting brands look for content marketing expertise with writers. Rates are usually in the hundreds or thousands of dollars per article, and Contently is worth checking out for its game changing payment-on-submission alone.
The private members club of freelance job sites, OnSite is an invite-only network for the digital crowd. Project Managers, Developers, Designers and the like will find quality, curated jobs from top brands and agencies. If they can get in, of course.
Freelance journos may well frequent Journalism.co.uk anyway, and while their jobs section features mainly permanent positions there is a whole other section of the site where freelancers can list their services and location, letting editors quickly find and hire beat reporters for one-off stories or ongoing work.
We would be remiss not to mention our local digital advocates Wired Sussex, who operate a members-only jobs board with both full-time and freelance gigs. Equivalent regional organisations exist all over the UK, so if you’re not in Sussex search around for yours.
YunoJuno is a fairly new entrant on the freelance job site scene and offers high quality jobs from high quality clients. A great option for the design and creative crowd, the site promises to (in their words) cut through the freelance recruitment forest with a sharp angry axe.
The tidy little earners
You probably won’t hit your ideal day rate, but if you’ve got some spare capacity you could find some passable work here.
If you enjoy completing tasks that others might not, you could make some decent money on TaskRabbit. Currently only available in London, TaskRabbit is a people-as-a-service website that lets punters hire freelancers for hourly waged or one-off tasks like cleaning, assembling furniture or even standing in line on their behalf. You can set your own rates and hourly pay of up to £20 is possible.
The name of this site gives you a clue as to the value of the jobs on offer – so if you have a specific talent or product that can be sold cheaply and often you could make some cash on Fiverr. Jobs on offer include designing artwork for weddings, Excel data processing, photo retouching – just about anything.
What happens if you mash together Elance and oDesk, two of the biggest freelance job sites? Well, you get Upwork. That size has pros and cons, though. You’ll have a tremendous client base available to you, but you’ll also be competing with millions of other registered users. The jobs available are also worldwide, and a well-paying job in Bangkok translates to peanuts in Basingstoke. Nonetheless, there’s some good work available if you look hard enough.
A UK-centric spin on the Upwork model, featuring both remote and on-site work, as well as fixed-price projects and “hourlies”. The GBP pricing certainly increases the earning potential, and jobs like £400 for a day of filming are not uncommon, and even more lucrative fare (£35,000 for a few month’s 3D modelling work, for example) can be sniffed out.
Not to be confused with the unmentionable Mike Myers film, Guru is another outsourcing site, but with a focus on larger projects rather than bite size individual jobs. Many of the “gurus” for hire have minimum project values in the tens of thousands of dollars. If you fancy getting your teeth into a big contract, give Guru a look.
Desperate for some pennies and not having any luck elsewhere? Give these job sites a try.
Amazon mechanical turk
If completing mind-numbing menial tasks floats your boat, becoming a Turker could be just what the doctor ordered. Jobs are called Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs), and include transcribing text you see in images ($0.01 per job, 12,000 images available) or pulling the salary out of Canadian job postings ($0.04 per job, 1,900 available).
If you’re an opinionated type, InboxPounds will pay you for taking surveys, watching adverts, and generally performing various kinds of market research tasks. Rates for completing tasks range from pennies up to a few quid for more involved activities.