If you are a “creative” freelancer (e.g. writer/Web designer/voice actor/graphic artist), using outsourcing sites such as Craigslist, Freelancer, or Fiverr to land new jobs can be frustrating. Most of the time, you end up competing against numerous candidates for each position, and getting paid far less than you are worth. You need a better way to look for your next job; something that might take a little extra effort, but will yield far better rewards for the extra time you put in.
Here are three solid sources that dependably offer more than the standard “gig” sites:
- Social media (specifically LinkedIn)
- Creative-oriented staffing agencies
- Trade organizations for creative professionals
Connecting on Social Media: The LinkedIn Way
To land jobs on LinkedIn, you primarily need two things: a portfolio of your work (which should also be located somewhere else online) and a well-written and engaging profile. We will assume you have the first one, and we will discuss building your profile and how to use LinkedIn to find jobs once your profile is set up.
A great LinkedIn profile has:
- A primary Experience section that acts as a summary of your freelance work: Put in a company name and the date ‘Present.’ Include a half-to-a-dozen testimonials from happy clients, a short video or slideshow of some of your top clients and the kinds of work you did for them, and some ‘benefits not features’-style bullet points about yourself and your work.
- Secondary Experience sections for unique duly impressed clients: If you were hired by someone that most people would recognize (e.g. you wrote for a major legal publishing company such as Thomson Reuters), or you did a job for someone who wrote an amazing testimonial, give that job/employers its own Experience section. Put the start and end dates of the job (only keep the first Experience section as ‘Present’), and in each secondary section just put 2-3 bullet points about the work you did and results you achieved (along with a testimonial from the client). Note: if you are planning to use keywords to target specific jobs (and you should) this is the place to do it.
- Use the Projects section to discuss unusual or particularly impressive single jobs you performed: Move the Projects section to the bottom of your profile to reduce clutter, and use it to list things you did that are not quite in the wheelhouse of your primary Experience section. For example, if you generally write blog posts and marketing articles, but you ghostwrote an inspirational book for a national tennis champion, put that under Projects.
- A Summary section that is your sales pitch: Use the summary section to tell a story in the first person — your story. Explain why you write. Lay out your unique selling proposition (USP) clearly and using inspiring, positive language. Include overwhelming social proof of your abilities. Close with a call to action.
Once you have created your LinkedIn profile, looking for jobs is fairly straightforward. Click ‘Advanced’ to the right of the main search bar, and select the “Jobs” option. Make your way through the filters, using them appropriately, and look carefully through the results to locate jobs that match your skills.
You will also enjoy the benefits of having a wider range of geographic locations to choose from. Whether it’s working in the heart of Silicon Valley – perhaps Mountain View or Palo Alto – or something more rural like the wine country of Sonoma County, your choices will be wider.
Linking with Professional Agencies to Expand your Network: Kinetic Search’s Connectivity
Kinetic Search is a staffing agency that matches the proven skills of creative professionals with the established needs of employers. You could use them to look for a long-term job, but they are just as comfortable connecting freelancers with shorter-term gigs. This is a great arrangement for many freelancers as it allows them to focus on work without having to constantly market themselves in order to land their next gig.
To get the most out of a relationship with an agency such as Kinetic Search, it is important to provide the best possible information about your skills and talents. We are not going to explain how to write a resume in general; you have probably done that before. But when you are writing for Kinetic Search to help them match you with the right employers, there are some tricks you can use to greatly improve your ‘match rate.’
- Design your resume like it is a sales document: That means keeping it down to one page, with plenty of white space, bullet points to draw out the most salient information, and keeping everything as concise and to-the-point as it can be.
- Open with an objective statement that makes it clear what type of work you want to do: “I want to write 1000-word blog posts for small-to-medium sized businesses looking for branding, content marketing, and SEO.” When the agency sees a statement like that, they do not need to look much further, because your objective statement alone tells them not just want you want to do, but that you know why someone would want you.
- Immediately after the Objective, list your qualifications: In big bullet points. Using simple sentences. Or even fragments. Bullet points make fragments okay. Agencies look through numerous resumes every week. The more clear and concise your qualifications, the easier it is for them to locate work.
- Make your pitch in 2-3 sentences: “I have written thousands of blog posts for hundreds of clients in industries from legal professionals to gutter installation to yachting in the Mallorcas. I have written an average of 8 posts a day, 40 posts a week, 2000 posts a year, for the past decade.” Keep it short, to the point, and impressive.
- Include keywords related to the jobs you are targeting: Most staffing agencies use optimal character recognition (OCR) and a database to keep digital resumes. This means that including keywords related to your industry and your specific desired jobs can ensure that your resume pops up more frequently when a staffer does a search.
Personal Networking: Joining a Trade Organization
This method is not quite like the other two; joining a trade organization does not usually involve giving someone a big list of information about your skills. It can if you use the organization’s job search, but that is only one of the reasons to consider joining.
Let’s discuss why joining a trade organization may be a good investment (because it can cost up to $500 per year or more depending on your location and which organization you join):
- Job Search: The aforementioned job search is one good reason you would pay that much money to join a trade organization. For example, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) has a listing of jobs from all over the world that pay real money, because they are posted by larger companies looking to hire true professionals.
- Certifications: There are some fields where getting a certification is barely a formality, but when it comes to working for bigger businesses especially, having a stamp of approval from a major trade organization is a big plus. Certification will probably not land you a job all by itself, but it is certainly a resume enhancer.
- Local Chapters: Surprisingly, the local chapters of trade organization are an excellent way to market yourself, even if you only work from your home office. Chapter meetings offer an opportunity to get dressed up, hand out some business cards, and meet like-minded individuals and prospective clients in your local area. Even if you do not land a new long-term client on the spot, you can often get the ball rolling and connect with these individuals (on LinkedIn for example) to deepen the relationship.
When it comes to landing good paying freelance jobs, it is best to avoid sites such as Craigslist and Fiverr and go where there are professionals willing to pay what you are worth. Put in the extra effort to present yourself to prospects on social media sites such as LinkedIn, a top San Francisco Bay Area staffing agency like Kinetic Search, and trade industries such as IABC, and your efforts will pay major dividends both now and well into the future.