Long gone are the days of the traditional 9 to 5 job, late nights at the office, and traditional work weeks as the only means of building a successful career. An increasing number of individuals are discovering the benefits of freelancing, and many are leaving their full-time employer to start carving out a role for themselves in the gig economy. While freelancing can be lucrative, it can also be competitive — especially if you haven’t identified your specific area of expertise.
According to Intuit, the gig economy now represents 34 percent of the workforce. How can you make sure you stand out? The best place to start is by putting together a great profile on one of the many online freelance platforms that showcases your work. The next step is to maximize your online visibility to attract clients. These are four of the best freelance platforms workers can use to show off their work and collaborate with great clients.
Upwork is an online marketplace that allows freelancers to build a detailed profile that will make you searchable to those looking to hire. Each freelancer profile includes feedback from previous jobs, examples of your work, skill-based test results, and more. Hiring parties can search all of the freelancer profiles on Upwork based on differentiating factors like specialty, rate, availability, location, experience, and number of bids.
A great advantage of Upwork, as opposed to other freelance platforms, is that freelancers can view and apply to job listings on the site — almost like a freelancing job board. After viewing your profile, potential clients who are interested in hiring you have the option to reach out to you directly. You and your client can then collaborate and decide on the best way to get paid (hourly or project-based payment).
The only downside? Upwork requires anyone who hires through their platform to use Upwork’s payment system, and takes 20% from every transaction as their service fee (10% after you make a certain amount of money with the client).
How to stand out: If you find a job posted on Upwork that you’re really interested in, send a personalized message to the hiring party that directly addresses your prospective client’s needs. Describe how you can use your experience to handle their requests.
Fiverr is similar to Upwork in that it is a freelance platform with a marketplace design, but the difference is that most “sellers” (read: freelancers) on this platform sell or focus on a specific gig or skill. Think photo editing, logo design, website development, etc.
Fiverr was initially developed as a place where freelancers could sell any service for five dollars, but now, most freelancers on the site offer extras or customizing options that can increase the amount made from buyers. However, Fiverr’s payment system is similar to Upwork’s. They keep 20% of each transaction as their service fee.
How to stand out: Include a video pitch. Sellers that include videos on their profiles increase orders by over 200%. On Upwork, you can include an introductory video on your profile page, but the advantage of Fiverr is that you can send a video tailored to the client’s job directly to them. Take advantage!
If you are a seasoned freelancer or consultant in the software development, design, or finance industry and looking to increase your income, Toptal could be for you. This company differentiates itself from other freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr by instituting a rigorous application process that only hires three percent of freelancers who apply. Toptal then matches freelancers with top companies, so work should always be readily available and with fairly prestigious resume builders.
How to stand out: Do some research into people who have been hired by Toptal and reach out to them for advice about handling the tests and interviews. A simple Google search will reveal blog posts and details about interviewing and testing from those who have successfully joined the site. For more on Toptal, check out this super-informative review from TimeDoctor, a service for business owners that automatically tracks employee work hours and productivity levels.
Guru is another one of the best freelance platforms, where freelancers can submit proposals to posted jobs, communicate with clients on the platform, and track time. Clients can also send proposals for work directly to freelancers.
While Guru is very similar to some of the other platforms on this list in terms of concept, what makes Guru different is the amount control and creativity freelancers have when it comes to their profiles. Not only does it provide a streamlined layout to showcase work in an organized and attractive way, but freelancers can also add cover photos to their profile heading. Profile pages look more like portfolios than a basic list of experiences.
Another major advantage of Guru is that creating a profile is free, and they never take more than 8.95% of each transaction as their service fee (much less than other platforms). You can also lower this fee by upgrading your membership status on the site.
How to stand out: Use an engaging cover photo that offers some insight into what you do. Also, be strategic with the keywords you use so that clients can find you easily.
Get To Work!
Freelancing is not the easiest career path, but it brings a sense of freedom and flexibility that is worth the time it takes to put yourself out there on these freelance platforms. These sites give you direct access to clients that are looking for your services. You never know when a new client is right around the corner, so take a moment to research the site that works best for your services and get started on a profile today.