In April of this year, I signed up for a platform designed to connect freelancers with employers.
The decision to sign up was only slightly more serious than an April Fools Joke played on myself. I was trying to inspire my husband, a software developer, to consider freelancing as an alternative to squatting in an office all day. (Meanwhile, I was squatting in a laboratory all day). I signed up as a freelance writer, because I had always had a passion for reading and writing, and I took a few tests to bolster my profile.
Predictably, as I made no effort to reach out to clients, nothing happened for the first week….or the second week…but on the third week, a job offer came out of the blue. Miraculous! I went along with it and did the very best I could for my first client. After she gave me a glowing review, the floodgates opened. I became one of those people who checks their phone every ten seconds because so many job offers were rolling in. Each one brought a spark of surprise with it.
Fast forward six months, and I am sitting in my living room, in a new country, writing to you about the unexpected career change that allowed me to get here. I may not have been able to reach Brazil without the extra income and freedom I discovered with freelance writing.
Lots of people have asked me about freelancing, so I thought I would throw together a quick guide about how to get started. This is just based on my experience, but hey! It worked for me!
Step One: Compare freelance platforms.
With a quick Google search, you can turn up dozens of websites designed to connect freelancers and employers. I’m just going to mention the websites I’ve worked with, but I encourage you to explore other sites as well.
Upwork. Upwork is my home base. Most of my clients find me on Upwork, and I most of the money I make runs through Upwork.
Pros: You don’t need a lot of experience before you build a profile. There are lots of nifty features built into the platform, like a time-tracking app and tests to help you flesh out your profile. The market is huge. As far as quantity is concerned, Upwork beats all the other freelance platforms.
Cons: I don’t feel like there is a lot of respect trickling down from the big cheeses at Upwork. They recently upped their commission from 10% to 20% and sent all of their freelancers a very demeaning message to explain the change. I’m very aware that, as far as Upwork is concerned, I am just a cog in a money mint’s wheel.
Reedsy. I dream of working for Reedsy someday. I hired my editor from this beautiful platform, and I have a ton of respect for their service.
Pros: Freelancers are held in high-esteem at Reedsy. The platform has lots of helpful features, and both freelancers and their clients can expect a lot of personal care from the Reedsy team. This is a class act business.
Cons: Breaking in at Reedsy is hard. You’re competing with people who have worked at some of the best publishing firms in the world. The bar is high.
Zencontent. Unlike other platforms, which support a variety of different types of freelance work, Zencontent specializes in connecting content writers (we write basically everything you’ve ever read on the internet) with jobs.
Pros: Because Zencontent is highly specialized, the people who hire you on Zencontent will be knowledgeable about what you do. They have clear expectations, and they value what you do.
Cons: This platform is far from zen! It took me forever to figure out how to navigate it, and even when I did learn my way around, I was still stressed about by the setup. You can get locked out of a job very easily. I’ve done more than one job on Zencontent that I never got paid for because of a system glitch.
Workana. Honestly, I don’t know that much about Workana. It serves the Spanish-speaking community, which is great because there is a serious skew towards native English speakers on most of the other freelance platforms. My husband likes Workana.
Post is getting a little bit long, so for now, let’s call it to be continued…