So the freelance lifestyle has whetted your appetite, and you’re almost ready to take the plunge. This fourth article in the series ‘Becoming a Better Freelancer’ aims to help you gauge whether there is ‘a freelance market for my skills’.
Many freelancers embark on their career having left a current (permanent) role – one in which they have seen the market for their skills, and may have even worked alongside freelance contractors of the same specialisation; giving them enough confidence to make the switch.
For many though, it is not as straightforward – they may have developed a new skill alongside their current role, or are entering the job market after a break (for a multitude of different reasons). Some plucky individuals become freelancers as soon as they graduate – and I have enormous respect for them; as they are prepared to pit their skills against those with a track record and substantial portfolio of demonstrable work. Yes, there is the argument that they ‘don’t have as many financial commitments’ – but while we sit around bemoaning how ‘they don’t know how lucky they are’ a-la Monty Python, these go-getters are going and getting!
So – making the assumption that you have arrived at a place where you have the skills to freelance by whichever path trodden; how can you gauge whether there is a freelance market in which to ply your trade?
The great news is you can comfortably do this without leaving the comfort of your keyboard and can even do it in your pants (British definition) should the mood take you.
Third party agencies
Although I do rail against the majority of recruitment agencies, there are a number of highly reputable agencies that specialise and major in the placement of freelance contractors – often within a consultancy or agency, and alongside permanent employees – on specific projects. Beware of the use of multi-tiered sub-contractors, however – and if you want a recommendation please get in touch.
Google keyword search
Although this tool is a precursor for setting up an ‘adwords’ account with Google, it will give you a great insight into what phrases (hence which sub-contractors) potential clients are searching for; and more importantly from which locations. Give it a try.
‘Facebook for adults’ (as I lovingly refer to it) is the place to be for networking, job-seeking, and proving to the world that you are the go-to expert in your niche. All freelancers I know are active users of Linked In, and if you don’t yet have an account, then you are to immediately find a reflective surface and have a serious word with yourself (before getting one). Future articles will show you how to maximise your use of this platform; but it is so straightforward to set up a profile and see what is out there.
Online market platforms
Simply google ‘freelance market place’ and you will be provided with a plethora of online market places such as:
These free-to-register platforms will take a percentage of your fees at source; but only when you have been contracted – and there is no reason why you cannot register with all of them (make sure your profiles match entirely, and that your advertised fees take into account any differences in charges from the platform though).
Registering an account with these services will allow you to see the ‘top profiles’ as a guide on how to set up your account; which will be indicative of what others are charging and the buoyancy of the marketplace in general. If you’re feeling a little bit more adventurous – you could consider carrying out a search as a client … (but I would never endorse such an approach, clearly).
In the next article I’ll examine how you develop your freelance brand, but for now I’ll hope you’ve done enough research that will give you the confidence to make the leap into freelancing.
Are you already a freelancer? What methods did you use to gauge whether there was a need for your skills? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?
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