Launching Yourself as a Freelancer – Advertise and Find Work

by Simon. Average Reading Time: about 3 minutes.

Advertising and finding work as a freelancer has the potential to be extremely painful and difficult. However, having made the decision to go freelance, it is likely you are actually good at what you do, which gives you a great headstart.

In the last two parts of this series, I discussed publicising yourself and networking, both of which are great ways to advertise your wares. There are, however, more traditional routes to advertising and finding work.

Advertise Your Business

Once you’ve built up a portfolio of work and contacts, it’ll become increasingly easier to advertise yourself. But intially, finding work is a case of advertising yourself. This can be achieved in a number of ways.

You can create adverts on search engines such as Google via their Adwords service, or on Yahoo! Small Business via their equivalent search marketing service.

You could also go down the slightly more traditional route and add free or paid listings to online business directories such as Yell.com and Thomson Local.

I see little value in using the paper-based business directories, since you’re likely to be operating in the digital arena, however, niche publications or magazines may be a credible option to consider.

Find Work

You’ve got the skill and experience, you’ve built an online brand and you have advertised yourself. But still you need to find paid-for work.

Essentially there are two ways to do this, via your network or via the bane-of-everyones-life, agencies. Always prefer your network over agencies; you won’t be locked into rigid contracts and you could potentially earn more money for yourself as there won’t be a cut for the agent.

Of course, if you go through an agency, you don’t necessarily need to set up a company or do any of the complicated accounting and they have a ready-built network of contacts.

I tend to mix-and-match based upon demand. There is also the point that the agency can introduce you to a client and after a period of time has lapsed, you can go to that client directly, assuming you have maintained a good relationship.

You could also do your own research into companies carrying out work in your field and cold-call or email them. If they don’t have work available immediately, you have alerted them to your presence. They are also more likely to contact you directly at a later date, as this will save them money, rather than sourcing contractors through an agency.

There is a final area of consideration; joining networks and services such as the Lemon Foundation and 99Designs. These services effectively connect designers and developers to clients needing work to be carried out. This work could be anything from logo designs and business cards to branding and websites.

Lemon Foundation is more like an umbrella company that bids for and farms out work; they do all the client facing work — winning bids, project plans and scoping etc — whilst you do the ‘actual’ work. 99Designs on the other hand is a marketplace where you have to compete on price and reputation. It is in effect an eBay or Amazon of the designer-developer world and is brought to you buy the guys who created SitePoint (a great web development resource).

Final Thoughts

Someone cheesy wrote…

Twenty first century people aren’t afraid of challenges, of stepping outside their comfort zones, of swapping lives. No more forty years with the same organisation, here’s my gold watch to prove my loyalty – it’s all about building up a portfolio of skills, identifying strengths, capitalising on opportunities and transferring the package to the next best place. Sometimes that place is you.

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  • Good writing. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed my Google News Reader..

    Matt Hanson

  • mlgreen8753

    Finding work as a freelancer may be a little competitive with everyone turning to foreign labor, but advertising certainly doesn’t have to be with sites like Adwido that offer free packages as well as super cheap services. Online advertising is the way to reduce your advertising expenses while still growing your business.