Several years of freelancing have taught me one thing more than anything, it’s all about the hustle and staying on it all the time. Once you stop hustling work begins to dry up and you’ll be left with no work before you know it. So let’s talk about how to hustle a little, hustling isn’t about hustling anyone, it’s about getting out there and getting the work, getting your work done and keeping fresh business coming in so you can stay working. So how do you go about finding new clients?
Yeah I know some of you are probably thinking Craigslist if you just want crap work. That hasn’t been my experience though, while it’s full of scams and work from home type listings, I’ve found numerous good jobs and a couple long term well paying gigs on Craigslist under the Computer Gigs and Web/Info Design Jobs categories. I’ll generally wake up in the morning, scan through these categories in numerous large metro areas, you might even pick up some decent local work if you check your local listings once in awhile. I have the best luck in the SF Bay Area, Chicago and Los Angeles but have gotten jobs and clients from all over the country through Craigslist. I’ve only ever had one small Craigslist client not pay me.
While I prefer the direct no middleman approach of Craigslist, there are numerous freelance sites, I mainly like Guru.com. Keep in mind that when you get work through these sites there’s a fee for taking the work through them, some sites like freelancer.com charge for currency conversion etc. For instance for a recent job at Guru.com for $250 total I end up receiving about $225 after they took their fee/cut. The price of them sending you work. So keep that in mind when you bid on jobs on these sites.
Guru gives you something like 10 free bids a month and then you can buy more if you want fairly cheap, I just use the free ones myself. At Guru my approach is generally to only bid on jobs for people that have already hired others in the past, so I know I’m not wasting my bid on a job that is probably never going to happen. I’m very selective about what jobs I bid on and only bid on jobs within my skill set.
While hustling through all the job listings and separating the wheat from the chaff, I write highly detailed bids and proposals for the jobs that I think I can do a great job at. Sometimes I might spend 20 or 30 minutes writing out a proposal while other times I’ll just quickly ask for more details and information etc. Addressing what they need done though is key and showing them that you’re the best person they’re probably going to find to do it. If it’s an SEO job show them some examples of great rankings you’ve achieved for your clients.
Hourly vs Flat Rate
You have to be very careful here, you don’t want to make a low flat rate bid on a large project and end up working for $3 an hour by the time it’s over. But if you know you can complete a flat rate job in a set amount of time and still make a nice hourly rate it might even be to your advantage to take flat rate jobs. I prefer my hourly rate myself but I will sometimes bid on a flat rate job and have learned not to screw myself after a couple bad experiences.
Occasionally I’ll make a deal with a client who can’t afford my regular rate or is just the type of person that wants a deal, to do some work for them at a reduced rate. With the agreement being that I’ll be working on their project only in my spare time when I don’t have better paying work to do. While I’m pretty set on my base rate, I’d rather work a little cheaper occasionally than not work at all.
My quotes to large businesses are usually a bit higher than what I quote a small mom and pop business, or individual. To a large business I’m just a part time outsourced employee on the payroll where as to a small business or individual I’m likely making more than they are and a major expense.
Do A Great Job
Delivering and doing a great job for your clients is key, don’t bid on things you can’t do or stuff you’re not familiar with. Don’t get in over your head.
Stay On It
Even when you’re busy and swamped with work, take a little time to look for more work and make new contacts. Once you stop hustling the work usually dries up plus you never know what you’re going to land.