Most opportunities come when we least expect them and high-paying freelance work opportunities aren’t an exception. When we submit our proposals or bid on projects, the deep silence from prospects makes us lose confidence in getting hired. But remember the best part of it. It is not always our fault. Many complex reasons influence clients’ decisions on who to work with and who not to. The good thing is, freelancers have control over most of these complex reasons.
After I delivered my first freelance task on Hourspent, I felt like putting together this guide will help new freelancers navigate the freelance market. Actually, it was a note I wrote for myself but I decided to write an article from it. It was mid of August 2021, I was a new freelancer, and had lots of thoughts on why I couldn’t get hired;
“The market is over-saturated right now.”
“There are not many opportunities in the freelance industry.”
“There’s just a few employers here.”
My thoughts ran so deep . . .
Even if the market is oversaturated, people are getting hired with good pay, right? Good. So, why is your case different?
1. You are your own problem
I’ve stood in my own way many times. Like the times I would call back a guy who always makes me feel like crap. I always go back despite my intuition saying the opposite. I sabotaged my own growth until I sought help and summoned the courage to let go and become a better version of myself. Okay, enough about my life. Your life may not be as messy as mine was, what about your profile? You need to improve your profile especially if it’s yielding little or no results. Your profile is what’s going to get your foot at the door. You must set up a professional profile to increase your chances of getting approved on freelance marketplaces let alone finding high-paying freelance work opportunities.
Too often we scramble to set up our profile and end up filling them with the “Don’ts” One of the don’ts is you being a jack of all trades. On your profile, you’re a software engineer, marketer, and translator. What are you exactly? You made silly typo errors. Typo errors leave bad impressions and can make the prospect assume you are not paying attention to details. Focusing on one area of expertise could be your ticket to your next high-paying job. Highlight and add your core area of expertise. Anything else you’re good at can be added as a hobby or interest. Make your profile concise and clear. Polish your profile and make it shine. Grammarly or similar typing assistant tools can help fix those typos/errors.
2. Your attitude is in your proposal
In finding high-paying freelance work opportunities, attitude is everything. It’s created by our thoughts, and we choose our thoughts, it didn’t just happen. Unlike the usual interview process where the recruiter watches your body language to determine if you’ll be a good or bad employee, it doesn’t work that way in the freelance market. The proposal submitted to the prospect, client, or employer is likely the first thing they’ll read, not your body language. Because we choose our thoughts, they’ll likely reflect on our proposals as we write them.
Navigating the freelance market with the right attitude has a profound impact on the way we respond to freelance work opportunities starting with our proposals. It affects the way we communicate with prospects too. E.g., When we allow low prices on project descriptions to influence our thoughts, we’ll likely ignore such projects or submit generic proposals. Sometimes, clients don’t know the market value of projects they need freelancers to do and we forget that the prices even on fixed-price jobs may be flexible. Therefore, submitting tailored proposals with our price quote gives us an edge over other generic proposals clients would receive.
Ultimately, our attitude shapes our successes and failures. A negative attitude can sway prospects against even the best skill set so be polite in your proposal and communication with prospects. If you look deeper, you may likely see the potential for collaboration or partnership with them and not just getting hired for the job. Do not use slang or foul language. To learn more about writing the perfect proposal, see how to write the perfect proposal that leaves prospects with a wow feeling.
3. Your skill is in your portfolio
Not literally though but freelancers aim to clinch their next jobs with their portfolio. When a prospect reads your proposal, then checks your profile, next is your portfolio. A freelancer may have written an excellent proposal and polished her profile but if the portfolio is underwhelming, it will lead to a yawn instead of a wow and have clients clicking away to the next freelancer.
Portfolios make skills shine hence why many of us grapple with how to create the perfect portfolio. Looking for freelance work opportunities without a solid portfolio is like navigating the freelance market with no skill set.
The main goal of a freelancer’s portfolio is to get the freelancer a job.
A freelancer’s portfolio needs to stand out and make an impact. It’s quite unfortunate that only a few freelancers succeed in this.
What then makes a good portfolio?
A good portfolio is not a collection or directory of your previous work. It’s a collection of how you think. It needs to have a compelling value proposition focused on a specific market. A well-crafted portfolio should showcase a freelancer’s strategic problem-solving skills and understanding of how the skills deliver value. Here’s how to build an ideal portfolio if you’re keen on finding high-paying freelance work opportunities. Now that we have the ideal profile and can write excellent proposals with a solid portfolio, where can we find these freelance work opportunities, and what measures to take?
Freelance Marketplaces like Upwork, PeoplePerHour, Andela, Fiverr, Toptal, etc. made it easy for freelancers and contractors to find jobs. Newer platforms like Hourspent are taking this further by not only matching freelancers to freelance work but also building project management solutions for project owners, employers, freelancers, and contractors to organize and get work done which can drastically reduce disputes among freelancers and clients. However, each platform operates differently as they target different audiences. E.g., While Hourspent and Toptal target high-growth startups, companies, and top talents, Fiverr attract low-level jobs, talents, and businesses. Therefore, you need to know which freelance markets work best for you. Not every freelance platform will work for you. Here’s how to know if a freelance market will work for you or not:
If there’s no rigorous review process:
Any freelance market that has no review process or has an easy review process attracts scammers. There’s no guarantee you’ll get paid even if the client deposited funds into the Escrow system so you can start working. One way to identify these platforms is if it’s easy for you to get in and start applying for freelance work. These scammers can be employers and even freelancers posing as employers.
Read honest reviews about each freelance market
Almost everyone has bad experiences with businesses, whether online or in brick-and-mortar stores. There’s no perfect business out there, same with freelance marketplaces. But, reviews about them can help you know exactly what you’re getting into in finding freelance work opportunities on such platforms. Up to 84% of consumers noted that reviews were important in their purchasing decisions. Are freelancers complaining about not getting paid? Or their earnings disappearing? There’s no point finding work opportunities on such a platform as you likely won’t be getting paid too. Therefore, it’s important to read honest reviews about each of them before investing your time and resources into them. Also, be able to differentiate honest reviews from paid reviews. This has a lot to do with putting your instinct to work when reading those reviews. You can read about ways to use your gut instinct for better decision-making.
Invest in your freelance careers
Most of our earnings are spent on house rent, groceries, etc. while we keep applying for more freelance jobs hoping to get “lucky” one day. We forget that we need money to make money. There's a need to invest some of our earnings in freelance markets to get the best out of them. E.g., On Upwork, you need to buy Connects to reach out to more clients and let them know you're interested in their project. On Peopleperhour, you need to pay to promote your services (formerly called hourlie) to get to the top of their search engine and attract sales. On Hourspent, you need to subscribe to the Highflier plan to increase your chances of getting high-paying freelance jobs and $0 commission fees. These premium offers do not mean that there’s no free route. There are many free ways to find high-paying freelance work opportunities. While busy going through the free route, other freelancers are investing in the freelance market to attract high-paying clients. The goal here is to work smart, not hard.
The freelance market is not a bank
Smart freelancers know it’s risky to leave earnings in their freelance accounts. To reduce withdrawal fees each time we request for withdrawal, many of us leave our earnings in our freelance account. Once it reaches our target amount, we then request for withdrawal. An Indian freelancer told me how he saves up to $200 on withdrawal fees by not requesting withdrawals each time he earns. What if the freelance market deactivates his account? Elon Musk once said it's easier to make an extra $30k than trying to save the $30k you already have. Many of us are taking huge risks by saving our earnings in our freelance accounts. What’s the point of getting paid and increasing the chances of having it taken from you? It's no brainer why the rich keep getting richer.
If your goal is to find high-paying freelance work opportunities, adopt this guide to achieve that. The extra effort you make today will have a big impact tomorrow.