Overview of the Online Freelancing Project Process and Freelancing Marketplaces
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One of the benefits of a full-time job is that you don’t have to try to find work: plenty of it will be waiting for you every morning when you step into the office. It’s quite different for freelancers, though, who need to look for work every day—at least, if they want to get paid! Online freelancers accomplish this task largely through the use of online freelancing marketplaces: websites that facilitate the connection of clients who need work done, and freelancers who want to do it.
You’ve probably used eBay before to sell items, and even if you haven’t, you understand the idea behind an online auction. A seller uses a site to list an item for sale, and people who want to buy it place bids. In most cases, the one who places the highest bid wins, pays the seller, and receives the item. Freelance marketplaces work in the same general way, but in reverse: instead of an item being sold, a service is being bought. The client lists the work to be done or problem to be solved, and freelancers place proposals describing both how they will accomplish the task, and what they’ll charge for their services. The client chooses the one he or she likes best, the freelancer does the work, and the client pays. In addition to being an inverse of the eBay process, another important difference is that the client’s decision is usually based on a number of factors, not just cost.
Understanding how freelancing sites work is critically important to making online freelancing viable. So important, in fact, that I have devoted a huge part of this Guide to an extensive analysis and review of the major sites. Three of the other five chapters of the Guide are devoted to providing you with information and advice on how best to use these sites to find, win and complete projects—and the remainder of this topic summarizes these three parts of the process.
The first stage in getting online freelancing projects is searching through the listings on freelancing sites. Some freelancers really hate doing this, viewing it as unproductive, since of course you don’t get paid while doing it; others really enjoy the “thrill of the hunt”, and get excited about the prospects of finding a new client or job. You’re going to have to do this, though, regardless of how you feel about it. As your career progresses and you develop your client base, you’ll be able to spend less time looking for projects and more time doing them, but even experienced freelancers generally must spend time looking for new work.
Here are some of the specific tasks associated with the project hunt:
The chapter Finding and Evaluating Online Freelancing Projects will include a full discussion of the project search, including tons of tips to save you time and hassle as you look for work.
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Last Site Update: October 21, 2011
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