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Table Of Contents  The Online Freelancing Guide
 >  Finding and Evaluating Online Freelancing Projects
      >  General Guidelines for the Project Search

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General Guidelines for the Project Search
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Online Freelancing Project Search Methods
(Page 1 of 2)

Project search methods range from very general to very specific, and all are oriented around the fundamental trade-off of coverage versus time. The more broadly-based you make your search routine, the more likely you are to find project candidates, but the more time you will also spend filtering through jobs that are of no interest to you. On the other hand, the more narrowly-focused your search, the greater the percentage of projects that will be of relevance, but the higher the chance of missing something.

The subsections below overview a few methods, arranged roughly from most general to most specific. Of course, you don’t have to choose just one of these methods, nor use any of them at all—they are just here to give you ideas. Getting projects is important, but time spent on searching is all overhead—you don’t get paid for it—so it makes sense to find a good balance. Experiment until you discover what works best for you.

Full Site Browsing

The broadest, most generalized project search method is to browse all project listings on a site. The idea is simple: you load up the project listings periodically, sorted so the new listings come first. You then browse down the list, looking for project titles and other indicators of a project that will be of relevance or interest. You then view these projects in more detail to decide if you want to apply to them. Every day or few hours, you repeat the process.

This is the most time-consuming search method, but also the one where you’re guaranteed not to miss anything. It’s not for everyone—in fact, most long-term freelancers wouldn’t even consider it—but it can make sense in certain situations:

  • You’re brand new and want to maximize your chances of getting jobs.

  • You work in a variety of fields so narrow searches wouldn’t save you time.

  • The freelancing marketplace sites you use tend to be of lower project volume, so that browsing the whole site doesn’t take very long.

  • The type of work you do, or the sites you use, cause a large proportion of projects to be placed in the wrong category.

The last issue—incorrectly categorized projects—happens more often than some people realize, especially in niche disciplines. Clients in certain fields get confused about where to post projects, and some sites can add to the confusion because of how they are set up. I have on many occasions gotten projects that were in the wrong places when listed, which I would never have found only browsing my particular discipline categories.

Another advantage of broad browsing, incidentally, is that it’s a great way to “see what’s out there”: to discover the state of the market and learn what clients are after. Some freelancers use this as the basis for deciding what work areas they want to expand into.

Category Browsing

The next step down the general/specific spectrum from full site browsing is category browsing. Instead of sifting through all of the projects on a site, you choose the categories you are interested in—such as writing, design or whatever—and only look through the projects listed in them.

This is the “happy medium” that many freelancers prefer. It allows them to see everything in their discipline(s) that shows up on a site, but they don’t spend a lot of time sorting through projects that are very unlikely to be of relevance to them at all. Of course, this will not let you find projects that have been listed in the wrong categories.


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General Guidelines for the Project Search
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Next Page
Deciding How Many Internet Freelancing Sites to Use
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Last Site Update: February 1, 2012

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