Freelancing is an awesome opportunity to make a living from anywhere, by
using your unique skills. With the internet at your disposal, you can
also find gigs that are perfectly suited to you. Thousands of companies,
from big corporations to little start ups, are looking for skilled
freelancers to create things that they don’t know how to do, or don’t
have the capacity for.
And they need you.
So you just need to know how to find freelance work online, that matches
your skills, and actually puts good pay into your pocket.
What Kind of Gigs Are You Looking For?
There are businesses looking for freelancers in a ridiculous number of
– Logo design
– Book Illustration (and other art gigs)
– Transcribing videos into text
– Social media management
– Website design
– Voice-over acting
– (Fill In The Blank)
… seriously, you can fill in the blank. Kite-making, treasure hunting,
doing the announcements for a hamster race; I’m exaggerating a little,
but there are people looking for experts in almost everything.
You’ll find the most work if you specialize in internet related skills.
Design, digital marketing, blogging – make sure that you hone skills
that are in demand. If your primary skill is announcing for hamster
races, you’ll find it much more difficult to find work than if you can
create a logo, or write a long-form blog post.
So where can you find eager business owners, jumping to pay a
freelancing pro like you?
Upwork is one of the primary places to find freelancing gigs on the
planet. With 5 million registered clients, and 12 million registered
freelancers, it’s also one of the biggest and best known. This has pros
and cons, but it’s absolutely the first place you should start!
Upwork is like the mass warehouse of freelancing gigs. It’s like
Walmart, or Target, for a freelancer. It’s free to use a basic account,
(technically… I’ll explain), and the upgraded option costs $10 per
month. Create a profile on Upwork, describe your areas of expertise, put
up a friendly-looking picture of yourself, and you’re pretty much good
Upwork presents gigs to you in the same way a job searching site does
(like Indeed, Glassdoor, or Zip Recruiter). It’s a feed, that lists an
endless stream of gigs that match your skills. It updates all day long,
and it never stops. There are so many options it can almost be
This endless number of options is why Upwork is a good place to start
out. Instead of hiring companies coming to you, you apply to each
individual gig. Open up the gig, read the details to see if you’ll like
it, then write them a cover letter explaining how you can help them.
It’s always good to attach examples of your work if you can.
It took me a little over a week to get my first gig, but MAN was it
exciting to land my first one! It can easily take 5, or 10, or even more
applications before you land one (at least as a newbie), so you need to
have some perseverance.
The amount that every hiring company or person will pay totally depends
on the gig. The amount they’re offering is usually listed with the job,
but others are open to negotiate. You can ask for the payments to be
hourly, paid per project, or paid per milestone within the project,
whatever you prefer.
My first gig on Upwork was a logo design/marketing flyer job. It only
took me 20 minutes, and I was paid $50 for it. This is a pay rate of
about $150/hour… not bad, right? Often, the faster and more
efficiently you can work, the better the pay rate is. My second gig was
editing marketing content and blog posts. At $5 per post, if I hustled,
I could manage $30 per hour in pay (still decent in my book).
So what are the big cons to Upwork?
Upwork is a nice place to start out, but it’s got a couple huge cons.
The first, and biggest problem with Upwork is that they take a 20% cut
of your earnings. This is their commission. 20% is a LOT! For every $100
you earn to be depleted down to $80 is a fairly large cut. A $1,000 gig
(there are a surprising number of these), would land you only $800.
Losing 20% of your earnings may be the price you may for access to the
gigs that Upwork gives you, but you’ll definitely want to branch out
once you’ve established yourself a bit more.
Also be aware – while the basic Upwork plan is perfectly sufficient in
my opinion, it DOES limit the number of connections or applications you
can send each month to 50. You should be able to land plenty of gigs
with the allotted number every month, and if you don’t, just hop to
another one of these freelancing networks.
Fiverr is another giant in the world of freelancing work, much like
Upwork. But Fiverr operates in a completely different way. Instead of
finding jobs, and applying to them, Fiverr goes in reverse. Instead of
you seeking out paying clients, you create a profile and make a public
offer of service. Your listing might say that you will manage a
marketing campaign, improve a website’s SEO, draw some pictures,
illustrate an album cover, or a million other services you might offer.
People looking for the kind of service your posting about will find your
listing (which is free to post, and should use searchable keywords so
you can actually be found), and hire you.
Fiverr sounds pretty cool in theory, and if you have a jazzy enough
profile you can REALLY make it work! But Fiverr can also be a tough way
to go. The style of creating a listing, instead of applying to each,
makes things a little more passive. The upside is that you don’t have to
write a cover message for every single gig. The downside is you can wait
for a long time before you finally land some clients, especially because
the attractiveness of your profile is so dependent on your reviews (your
clients can rate you, from 1-5 stars).
There are a massive number of people hiring on Fiverr, so don’t be
scared off. The more you land, and the more positive reviews you
receive, the flow will become easier and easier. It can just a dark day
until the sun shines.
When you make a listing on Fiverr, you can set several tiers of pricing.
You can sell a basic service for $5, a slightly more advanced service
for $10, or $20, and so on. The difficulty with Fiverr is that Fiverr
builds it’s reputation on offering really cheap freelancing services.
That’s great news for the buyers, but TERRIBLE news for the freelancers.
You have to compete with hundreds of freelancers that are offering
services for ridiculously low prices. It’s hard to compete with them,
but also ask to be compensated fairly for your time.
It doesn’t mean you can’t make good money through Fiverr, but you’re
chances of succeeding are much better if you have very specialized
skills, with not many competitors.
The cons to Fiverr are mostly summed up by the payment situation.
Competing with a wall of other freelancers all asking for pennies is
tough. Beyond that, Fiverr also inflicts a 20% commission that they take
out of your pay, like Upwork.
Making a profile and listing on Fiverr is very easy, and it can
definitely be worth it too. Don’t let me scare you off. Just make sure
that you diversify where you look for freelance work.
3. Hubstaff Talent
Hubstaff Talent is exceptional among all the freelancing networks, (and
1 of my top recommendations), for one hugely important reason: it’s
completely free. Unlike the other sites, Hubstaff isn’t really a middle
man. They don’t take a cut out of any of your profit.
You start off by creating a profile on Hubstaff, just like the others.
You also list what skills you have expertise in, and as usual tech and
internet marketing skills are the reigning champions of demand (this
includes writing, so don’t stress my freelance writing compatriots).
You create a profile, and then apply to jobs on Hubstaff much in the
same way you do on Upwork. The difference is that instead of having
hundreds and hundreds of options to scroll through, the jobs are much
They tend to be worthwhile jobs, with reasonable pay, but
prepare to bring your A game. The options are NOT as limitless as they
are on Upwork, and Hubstaff talent seekers have high standards.
Hubstaff Talent has the same kind of payment protection (guarantee you
get your money) that the other websites have, and you keep all of your
earnings, which is a huge plus. Unlike Upwork, Hubstaff strongly
encourages an hourly payment setup, instead of being paid by milestone
or project. It’s not my personal preferred payment method… when I’m
paid per project I have more incentive to get the project done quickly
and efficiently. If you stay motivated through projects that are you’re
getting paid for a in a lump sum, you can often get it done fast, and
thus be paid very well for your time.
The upside to being paid hourly is if a client hands you a project that
takes WAY long than they made it sound, at least you’re getting paid for
all of the excess time you didn’t bargain for.
Obviously, the biggest positive factor of Hubstaff is that they don’t
take chunks of your earnings. That’s huge! The downside you’ll
experience is that job opportunities are much more limited. This is
still a very good network for freelancing gigs!
Freelancer is another massive freelancer network, like Upwork and
Fiverr. Similarly, the massive number of users comes with the usual pros
and cons. Lots of jobs to choose from, but lots of competition.
My experience with this site is limited, but I can at least tell you
When a marketplace is as enormous as the marketplace for Freelancer,
there are a lot of gigs for you to apply to. This exponentially
increases your chances of getting hired. The only issue you have to
contend with is that you always need to build a reputation on the
network (i.e. positive reviews from clients who are endorsing your work,
a portfolio of successfully completed gigs, etc.). That’s how it works.
Don’t sweat it! Just keep applying.
Freelancer is marginally better than Upwork in Fiverr in that they
(typically) only take a 10% commission out of your earnings, instead of
20%. They have some other fees for upgraded plans, but you should be
able to get by with the free plan without a problem.
How To REALLY Find Freelance Work Online
So, with a list like this, what’s the conclusion? I have two final tips
for you as a new freelancer:
1. These networks are your leg up. They’re your launching point. The
more exposure you can get, the more work you’re going to land jobs, so I
recommend using ALL OF THEM! You’ll figure out over time which one fits
2. Sneak off of the networks. Hate those 20% fees they use to bleed your
hard-won earnings? Me too. It doesn’t matter with Hubstaff, because they
don’t charge anything, but for the other 3 I recommend talking to your
clients about moving OFF of the network. Of course, these websites all
have ways of trying to prevent you from doing that, but you can manage
These hiring clients are also charged fees by Upwork, Fiverr and
Freelancer, and because of this they are often just as eager as you are
to move off of the network. Go for it! It’s easy to just exchange money
through PayPal, and unless you’re doing any hourly payment method,
there’s no need to track time. Just remember to make sure you can trust
your client to actually pay!
It’s As Simple As That!
Now get out there and let some gigs!