Freelance hiring is an affordable way for companies who don't have the budget for full-time employees to accomplish important tasks. As more and more businesses are turning to remote contract workers, the opportunities to get hired for well-paid temporary positions and projects are steadily increasing. But landing a freelance job, especially a recurring one, isn't necessarily a simple process. Experts from freelance hiring platforms Elance and Freelancer.com suggest keeping these 10 things in mind when applying for and doing freelance work to increase your chances of getting hired.
Freelance work isn't just one-time projects
Traditionally, startups and smaller businesses hire freelancers for short-term ad hoc projects that the owners and their staff don't have time to do themselves. This trend has begun to change recently as companies are integrating freelancers into their core business strategy.
"Businesses across the board are increasingly adopting freelancers as a flexible and sustainable method of hiring," said Nikki Parker, North America's regional manager at Freelancer.com. "They are getting freelancers more involved in key aspects of the business and, in fact, often delegating entire functions to freelance employees."
Rich Pearson, Elance's chief marketing manager, has observed a similar pattern, noting that some freelance positions are for projects extending as long as six months. This is an important trend for freelancers to pay attention to if they are looking for steady, longer-term work.
Certain fields are growing faster
If you're the creative type, you're in luck. Pearson said nearly half of the jobs posted on Elance are for content creation, primarily in writing and graphic design. Parker told BusinessNewsDaily that design jobs continue to be the top postings on Freelancer.com as well. Another significant segment of jobs are tech-related, with companies looking for software and app developers. If those aren't your areas of expertise, your chances of getting a gig aren't dead: Pearson said that professionals in fields such as accounting, law and architecture have been hired on a freelance basis.
Think beyond local
College graduates and laid-off employees who have difficulty securing a full-time position near their homes frequently turn to freelancing as a means to support themselves. Because most freelance work can be done remotely, you don't have to stick to jobs that are close by.
"From a business standpoint, companies hiring freelancers can get better talent by escaping the local economy," Pearson said. "It helps freelancers, too, in areas where there's not much local work."
Though competing with a national pool of applicants might be intimidating, you may be more qualified for a job than someone who's geographically closer to the company. Freelancing ensures that you won't lose a job because of your location.
Read the project description
One of the most important things you can do as a freelancer is take the time to fully comprehend the project on which you're applying to work. Can you successfully complete all aspects of the job? Is there something in the description that's unclear? Don't be afraid to contact the company and ask before you put your name in for consideration.
"Each job is unique and each employer expects something specific," Parker said. "Before you contact an employer, it is important that you understand the project and that this comes across when you reach out to them."
Write a good cover letter
Just like applying to any other position, bidding for a freelance job requires a solid résumé and cover letter. Demonstrating your experience and desire to work with the company that's hiring are surefire ways to get noticed by employers.
"When writing your cover letter for proposals, be excited about the job," Pearson recommended. "Have something specific that will get the hiring manager excited, but be sure to stay professional."
Highlight your skills
Pearson told BusinessNewsDaily that 70 percent of companies that hire freelancers use them to fill very specific skill gaps in their staff. If a job description lists a highly specialized combination of skills and you have them, make sure you focus on that when contacting the employer.
"Make sure you articulate your unique selling point and why you are the best freelancer for the job," Parker said.
Always have samples
Many freelancers create virtual portfolios of their work on websites like Tumblr or About.me for prospective employers to look at. If you don't have a dedicated online freelancing profile, make sure you have a collection of clips, files and other past projects ready to go in case a hiring manager asks to see them. Having a rich history of past work can put an employer at ease when considering you for a freelance job, but be careful when choosing which projects to share: Parker reminded prospective freelancers that the sample pieces they provide should be relevant to the task they're bidding on.
Know the market
If you're using a platform like Elance or Freelancer.com and are in a position to name your price, Parker recommends bidding smart, but not necessarily cheap. Research what other freelancers are earning for similar jobs and be competitive with your pricing, but also be aware of how much your own skills are worth.
"Clients are more often than not looking for high-quality work as opposed to the lowest price," Parker said. "Companies will always be willing to pay more for a freelancer who has a great reputation and has produced exceptional work."
Communication is key
You may not be a full-time employee of the businesses that hire you as a freelancer, but while you're working with them, your point person at each company is your boss. He or she is expecting you to perform a specific task, and just like with a regular boss, you need to keep the lines of communication open to ensure that both of parties are getting what they need.
"Use chat and email to talk with potential employers, ask questions, and show off what makes you the best freelancer for the job," Parker suggested. "An employer will appreciate the effort you put in."
Once you submit a project, be open to feedback and be willing to revise and make changes to it if the employer wants something different.
The hardest job to get is your first one
If you've never freelanced before, getting your foot in the door can be difficult. Without a track record and samples of previous projects, it can be hard to convince a company to hire you. Once you start have a few jobs under your belt, you'll be able to show your work to future potential employers, but you may have to do a small pro bono project to prove yourself initially. Parker recommends taking part in freelance contests as an easy way to build up your portfolio.
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.