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5 Steps to Optimize Your Freelance Job Search

Many people who do freelance work don’t do it full-time, or don’t jump into it headfirst. It can be a struggle to freelance when you’re already working a job. The least-fun part of it is the search, often squeezed into small blocks of time. But here are 5 steps to optimizing your freelance job/gig search.

1. Stake Your Hunting Ground.

Every good hunter knows where the best hunting ground is. Do you do well on Craigslist? Forums? eLance? If you’re not sure, take a look at what these different places are offering. Ask whether you’d be able to do it, whether you’d be willing to work for the prices and whether you’d get along with the types of people who are offering the work. This step may also mean asking other freelancers in your field where they find jobs and using Google to find postings sites (or lists of such sites).

This part can be done in one big block or in little blocks as you discover new places to look.

2. Set Your Traps.

Use whatever means are available to make sure you don’t lose track of these sites. If you use multiple computers, consider bookmarking on delicious. Or bookmark in a folder on your browser. Or subscribe to postings feeds (create a folder in your reader so that these don’t mix with pleasure or other reading).

Maintain these traps—delete the ones that are never working and add new ones as you find them. Otherwise you end up overwhelmed in postings you don’t want or missing out on ones you do.

3. Visit Your Traps.

This can be done in a few minutes here or there. Got 5 minutes, 10 minutes? Do a quick scan of your bookmarks of job posting feeds and see what catches your eye.

4. Gather.

Find the best way of storing potential jobs for use in applying when you have time. Evernote? Google Docs? Notepad? Wordpad? I suggest avoiding larger programs which take forever to open–like Microsoft Office and Open Office.

Be sure to put in a link to the posting!!

If you can be disciplined about it, consider making a tentative job bookmarks folder. But only do this if you’re going to delete the expired ones.

5. Apply!

Some of your postings may expire before you have time to apply for them. Don’t despair, delete and move on. Applying normally takes longer blocks of time, but if you prepare some response templates ahead of time, then you can use larger blocks of free time to apply for the jobs you’ve rounded up.

Happy hunting!

(No cute woodland creatures were harmed in the making of this post.)


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Craig October 9, 2009 at 11:12 am

And network, cause most freelance jobs come from networking and word of mouth.

Miranda October 9, 2009 at 11:25 am

I agree with Craig: Networking can be a great tool. I have actually got three gigs through my connections on Stumble Upon, two through Twitter, and four through LinkedIn. It’s amazing what can happen if you are involved…
.-= Miranda´s last blog ..Young Women Taking the Financial Lead =-.

Shadox October 11, 2009 at 12:25 am

I also agree that the best way to land projects is through networking. Nothing works better than getting projects through people who know you and appreciate your skills and work.
.-= Shadox´s last blog ..Medical Insurance: Small Battles of Attrition =-.

mrsmicah October 12, 2009 at 8:05 pm

@all I agree, networking is critical. It’s where I get at least half my clients. I’m afraid it’s harder to quantify networking.

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