How to Make Money Online as a Freelancer

Posted on February 28th, 2013

by Megan Flemming

Freelance at the office

This is What Freelancing Looks Like In Real Life

With the changing economy and the ongoing explosive growth of nearly every category of
online media, more people are considering finding work or supplementing their normal income online. Myths and misconceptions about online
work are prevalent. It’s possible to make money freelancing online, but your odds
improve with a few simple techniques.

What Is An Online Freelancer?

Dictionary.com defines “freelancer” as “a writer or artist who sells services
to different employers without a long-term contract with any of them.” The term
has been broadened a bit in the digital revolution, where freelancing can
encompass many sorts of activities including, but not limited to: writing,
proofreading and editing; foreign language translation; multimedia work,
including corporate branding and similar advertising-related work; sales and
marketing, including writing Search Engine Optimized (SEO) copy, telemarketing,
email and viral marketing, lead generation, and writing business plans; admin
and staff support activities, including data entry and transcription;
engineering work including CAD design; small chunks of legal work, including
writing or checking contracts, essentially any work that can be
“unbundled” from a larger legal representation or endeavor; and
Information Technology (IT) work including computer programming, website design
and maintenance, and system administration or other technical support.

This short and incomplete list should be enough to get across the main idea. Due to the
increasingly specialized job market, freelancing is not only becoming more
popular, but it is also continuing to expand. This is good
news for anyone about to engage in a hunt for online work. A range of work
exists from traditional writing and artistic work to new computer-created specialties,
including simple data entry at the low end and complex programming at the top. Some simple tips which can help you get started in an online freelancing career follow.

Join a Freelancing Site

Sites such as Elance.com and Guru.com make applying for freelance contracts easy. Signup
is free on most sites, although they generally rank job applicants on various
factors including whether their identity is verified (for a price). If you’re going to create a
profile on one site, you might as well join several. Since jobs will trickle in
at first, anything to broaden your appeal and multiply your potential earnings
will help make you successful more quickly.

Fill Out a Complete E-Resume

Just like in the face-to-face world, potential employers want to know who they’re hiring,
even if individual online freelance contracts tend to be small. The way
freelancing sites work is that the employers post a job and can generally specially invite
certain freelancers to apply. Everyone else also is given an opportunity to
bid or apply for the job.

Freelance employers tend to gravitate to profiles and resumes that boast
relevant experience. A nice-looking online photo is a must. Any fairly recent
headshot will do well, and local pharmacies will scan a photo for a low price
if you don’t have the capability at home.

Verification is another important step. On some freelancing sites this will require a web
camera, which can be bought online for a few dollars if necessary. If you have any professional licenses, enter them and have them
verified as well. It may give you a bump in the rankings for certain contracts.

Make sure to fill in information for every category. For example, in job history at least
add enough tidbits to help someone roughly understand your background. Don’t
leave any part blank. This will almost always result in a lower profile
completeness score and lesser rankings as seen by potential employers.

Freelancing sites also usually have a way to provide work samples. Take advantage of this
at all costs. If you are applying for writing contracts, make sure to have at
least one or two writing samples on your profile, preferably of different
types. If necessary, write a sample.

Finally, take advantage of any opportunities to show your skill levels such as online
tests. Elance.com, for example, has various online skills tests for a range of
disciplines. These can be invaluable for a new freelancer because they help to show
your ability even without the benefit of past job ratings.

Try To Stand Out From The Crowd

Most advice for crafting winning, memorable resumes applies to the world of online
freelancing, but tenfold. Employers will generally see a reduced version of
your profile in the list of applicants for their jobs, usually with a short
tagline or two. With only a few words to make a first impression, do you want
to blather on about professionalism, like everyone else will be doing, or to
grab someone’s attention and never let go? Think of something, anything, that
can serve the main function of getting someone’s attention so that they click
through to your full profile. The only criteria are that the tagline has to work to garner attention, and it has to remain
professional.

Here are some more tips on this from Mason Hipp:

Carefully Check Your Profile

Ridiculous as it may seem, freelancing websites are full of would-be writers and editors
with glaring proofreading errors in their own profiles. Even if you’re a
perfect speller, spell-check your entire profile. For good measure, have
someone else read it over as well.

Take First Jobs With An Eye to Building “Cred”

Like other information about you, potential employers can see how many jobs you’ve been
hired to do, and what your past employers have thought of your contract
work. Elance, for example, has a five-star rating system. This naturally
leads to a preference for contractors that have been proven to deliver a
quality product.

What this means for a new freelancer is that you’ll be facing proven and reliable workers with
higher ratings than you at every turn. Thus, like beginners everywhere, you
will need to start by taking jobs that are less rewarding than ones you hope to
get years down the line. Don’t shun the grunt work. Embrace it. You need to build up the
earnings and experience on your profile to gain a reputation.

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