Upwork and Freelancers Union predicted in a 2017 study that freelancing and contingent labor would make up more than half of the U.S. workforce by 2027. As a result of an unprecedented number of startups’ heavy reliance on freelancers, the gig economy is experiencing a period of unprecedented popularity.
Freelancing has a number of drawbacks, including a lack of job stability and traditional benefits, but it also has many advantages for employees who are self-motivated and can stick to a schedule without supervision.
Many veterans have found that working for themselves has its advantages, including the freedom to set their own schedules, more time for family and community involvement, and the possibility of taking on more challenging or creative projects that they wouldn’t have access to in a more traditional workplace.
Where to Find Work as a Freelancer
Freelancers who don’t want to return to the 9-to-5 rat race need to be proactive in their pursuit of new work. Thousands of independent contractors rely on these tools to secure steady employment in their fields, both online and off.
Upwork is one of the most popular freelance marketplaces in the United States, with annual member earnings of over $1 billion. Some of the most forward-thinking institutions in the United States recommend it, including UCLA and Accenture as well as Airbnb and Microsoft.
Upwork’s primary industries consist of copywriting, web design, graphic design, marketing, customer service, virtual help, accountancy, and business consulting.
More people apply to jobs that require less specific skills, such as writing for websites and designing logos. Complex positions, such as OS-specific development, may be easier to fill.
You’ll have an easier time competing for desirable tasks if you’ve established yourself on Upwork and built up a good reputation, earnings history, and body of work that impresses clients.
It also helps to have a good reputation. New members of Upwork are encouraged to make accurate and detailed profiles that showcase their relevant skills, experience, and education. The process of finding employment on Upwork is not easy.
When you find a job posting that interests you, you’ll need to submit a proposal detailing your experience, how long you anticipate the project to take including a breakdown of how long you anticipate each deliverable will take, and how much you expect to be paid whether by the hour or as a flat rate.
Clients typically pursue bids that provide the best balance of relevant experience, necessary abilities, and acceptable cost. Except in the case of one-time events requiring only a few hours of work, most professions require at least one phone or Skype interview before hiring.
All payments made on Upwork are protected by the platform’s payment guarantee, so if a customer fails to pay you for your job, you can take legal action.
Upwork has a sliding scale of fees that it deducts from every client’s payments:
- The payout percentage for the first $500 in lifetime billings with the same client is 20%.
- 10% of all lifetime billings from the same client between $500 and $10,000
- 5% of any future billings from the same client exceeding $10,000.01
You can get paid using a variety of channels, including PayPal, Payoneer, direct deposit, LTT, and wire transfer.
Freelance authors are the sole focus of Textbroker. Much like Upwork, it acts as an intermediary between clients and writers, taking care of financial transactions and mediating any disagreements that may arise.
A writing exam and human approval are required before you may start accepting employment, although registration is free. The first rating of two stars out of five sets your potential salary range for jobs that are advertised to the public.
After Textbroker takes their 35% share, even a 2-star writer makes less than $0.01 per word. After taxes and fees, $5 per 1000 words is what 5/5 authors make.
Even though these numbers haven’t changed in a long time and are low by market standards, Textbroker’s huge work volumes and streamlined, consistent process help it out.
Prolific writers can earn volume bonuses from Textbroker ranging from $150 for quarterly earnings of $3,000 to $500 for quarterly earnings of $10,000. Writing in one of Textbroker’s international verticals such as Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, or Italian can increase your earnings if you’re fluent in a language other than English.
Textbroker conducts quality checks on your writing many times a year and may promote or demote you in the rankings depending on the results. When more work is submitted, grades are given out more quickly. Typically, there is less rivalry for jobs and more opportunities at higher ranks.
Assuming you’ve already built rapport with your audience, you’re free to charge whatever you choose for your writing services. In addition, customers have the option of assembling specialized writing groups comprised of their own personal picks, all of whom work for a certain price per word.
Textbroker also administers accounts for content development for larger clients, many of whom pay substantially more than the average 5-star rate. Any order submitted to Textbroker may be revised as many times as necessary before final approval, at which point payment will be made.
Payments for completed orders are made weekly to the writers’ individualized escrow accounts. Once an assignment has been approved by either the customer or Textbroker in the case of the client being unreachable, payment is assured.
Accountemps is an online marketplace for temporary and contracts accounting and administrative jobs, operated by the Robert Half Company, a large personnel consulting organization.
It outsources tasks like data entry, loan origination, audits, tax preparation, and collections to medium and big businesses. Accountemps receive an agreed-upon percentage of their client’s overall compensation for placing employees.
In many ways, the application process is the same as it would be for any other type of job. The organization has over 300 offices throughout the world, so you can apply at any of them or upload your résumé or LinkedIn profile online.
A member of the human resources department either meets with you in person or via video chat if you’re selected for an interview. Candidates are put through a battery of tests measuring their knowledge of accounting software like Excel and QuickBooks as well as more general concepts like data input and record keeping.
Due to Accountemps’ stringent requirements for employment, inexperienced candidates may not pass the screening process. As soon as you accept a project, you’ll be eligible for the company’s extensive perks, such as a 401(k) plan, health insurance, a learning management system, and financial aid for further education.
You can get paid more and have more time off depending on how many hours you put in each week. A connection mediated by Accountemps may be project-based, but it is typically more long-lasting than one negotiated on a self-service site like Upwork.
Projects can last anything from a few weeks to a year or more, and those who do a great job on them may be offered permanent roles or given other advantages in the future.
Professionals in many fields, including design, development, accounting, administration, writing, translation, marketing, and law, can be accessed through Guru, which serves both individual individuals and businesses.
Guru’s freelancers known as Gurus actively sell themselves to clients, as opposed to the passive approach of Upwork and Textbroker, where clients must post specific jobs and accept applications from freelancers. Prior to disclosing project information, those customers can choose Gurus.
For their part, clients can post job openings for which Gurus can then apply. There is no bidding process involved with hiring a guru; they are paid either an hourly or set rate. Freelancers with a higher cumulative income and higher client satisfaction ratings have a better shot at landing high-paying gigs.
Registration with Guru as a freelancer is totally free. A premium membership option is also available on the platform, with prices ranging from $11.95 per month to $49.95 per month billed yearly.
There are additional benefits with these as well, such as higher annual bid limits, better customer service, and free ability exams that may be used to earn higher-level credentials. In order to take a skills exam, Basic and Basic+ members must pay up to $4.95.
When you join Guru, you’ll be prompted to build a profile in which you may detail your professional history, areas of expertise, and salary expectations.
Following a client’s hiring, Guru will hold payment in escrow until the project’s deliverables have been reviewed and authorized, or at the conclusion of each agreed-upon milestone if multiple have been established.
Depending on your membership level, Guru takes a cut of between 4.95% and 8.95% of the final price for each job. People that join at a higher tier get to keep more of their money.
Considering Guru serves a diverse and not especially specialized workforce, the platform’s boast that its freelancers have earned over $250 million since its beginning is quite impressive.
Freelance designers can post their work for critique and feedback on the 99designs marketplace. Various types of artwork, from digital advertisements to screen prints, are showcased here, including corporate logos and book covers.
An unlimited number of designers are given seven days to produce mockups for each task, and the process is modeled around a competition. After that time, the client decides which design they like most and pays the freelancer. Membership is always free of charge and there are no joining fees.
Each of the four membership tiers offers a different price to host a contest, with the bronze package costing $299 and the platinum package costing $1,298. Prize money for the winning designer is indicated in dollars.
On average, 99designs retains 40% of the prize money before paying out to the winners, though this is reduced for larger projects. Competition in contests is often fierce because of the large number of entries. And remember that clients don’t have to guarantee payment, so it’s feasible for them to back out even after they’ve chosen your design.
PeoplePerHour is an online marketplace headquartered in the United Kingdom that connects businesses with independent contractors offering a variety of skills. The remit is somewhat extensive.
Work in administration, customer service, marketing, social media, software and web development, design, writing, translation, and multimedia creation are all examples of niches you could pursue.
Making a PeoplePerHour account and submitting a formal application for access to the site is the first step. If you are selected, you will be asked to establish a profile detailing your skills, experience, and required salary.
You will then be able to receive unlimited direct solicitations from customers who have reviewed your profile and believe you might be a good fit for their project, as well as respond to up to fifteen client-posted tasks per month at no additional cost.
In the same way, it takes time to reply to clients that submit jobs on Upwork. Submitting a proposal stating the work to be done, the timeline, payment, and other parameters are required, and acceptance is not assured.
Direct client solicitation is the best way to get hired. Know that you are competing with other freelancers for pay, many of whom are based in countries with cheaper labor costs. At first, you might not make as much money as you’d like.
However, your earnings history, recommendations from previous customers, and the number of finished projects all boost your appeal to potential customers. In the WorkStream control panel, you may oversee all of your current job advertisements, proposal submissions, and other administrative tasks.
PeoplePerHour is registered in the United Kingdom, however, you can be paid in dollars if that is more convenient for you. Freelancers often receive either an hourly rate or a predetermined flat rate.
Client payments are held in escrow until the job is complete and the invoice has been sent. To help cover operating costs, PeoplePerHour takes 15% of your monthly earnings up to 175 pounds ($202), plus 3.5% of your earnings above that. Other charges may also be necessary.
Freelancer.com is a major outsourcing platform with millions of users and submitted projects, rivaling Upwork in scale if not sophistication. Freelance computer and mobile app developers, authors, designers, accountants, marketers, data entry operators, lawyers, and administrative assistants are among the groups it serves.
Freelancer.com offers two methods for locating work:
- Participate in a Bidding Process for a Publicized Project. Users can post tasks similar to Upwork and have freelancers bid on them. You can place up to eight monthly bids with a free account. Include the deliverables you plan to give, your desired salary, and the timeline for the project in your bid. Assuming the client has accepted your proposal, you can begin working on the project and opening lines of direct communication. Once the client approves your work, payment will be made to you using the escrow service provided by Freelancer.com or another agreed-upon method. Choose the former option if you care about your safety.
- Compete in a Contest. Although contests are most frequent in creative fields like marketing and design, you can enter one in any of Freelancer.com’s categories. Find a competition that fits your interests and skills, then enter something original. In the event that your submission wins the contest, you will be paid the stated prize amount via the escrow system on Freelancer.com, less the platform’s fees.
An account on Freelancer.com can be created without cost, and a profile outlining 20 of your most marketable abilities can also be created without cost. Free accounts on Freelancer.com have a 10% fee deducted from hourly earnings and a $5 fee deducted from fixed-price earnings. Your money can be withdrawn via bank transfer or prepaid debit card.
To access member-only profile features like listing additional skills and bidding on more projects each month, freelancers can sign up for a paid membership plan on Freelancer.com. There is no clear or consistent membership rate, however, if you pay for the year at once instead of monthly, you can save 20%.
Similar to 99Designs, DesignCrowd is a crowdsourcing, contest-based platform that serves as a conduit between clients and freelance graphic designers such as logos, t-shirts, print, and web designers.
In contrast to 99designs, DesignCrowd allows clients to pay any amount they choose for the winning design as long as it’s more than the per-contest minimum currently $30 but subject to change. There are usually lots of submissions to a contest, making the competition fierce.
Paying more for a competition means more people will participate and that the entries will be of a higher quality. An entry into a contest is free of charge. WordPress design competitions and t-shirt design challenges are just two examples of the types of contests you might look for.
If you come across a competition that interests you, don’t hesitate to submit an entry. Clients can ask for revisions to your design if they like it but aren’t ready to accept it just yet. Your idea will be thrown out if it doesn’t measure up to their requirements, and you can go on to the next project.
Client funds are held in escrow by DesignCrowd for the length of the contest, with the majority of the prize money going to the winning design less a standard 15% charge. Quality designs that don’t win the grand prize are sometimes compensated with the place, participation, or extra awards.
The same 15% commission will be deducted from these sums. Although you do not own the designs, you can ask the customer for permission to include them in your portfolio.
The more contests you win, the more likely it is that clients will encourage you to participate on their own, boosting the likelihood that your entries will be accepted. DesignCrowd serves as an arbiter for disputes involving payment and approval.
As a competition platform, Crowdspring is ideal for those in the fields of creative writing, web development, web design, and packaging design.
You can submit as many entries as you like to the contest, and registration and participation are both free, but Crowdspring will keep up to 40% of any prize money you win. With a starting price of $299 and a time frame of three to ten days, clients can determine the value of contest prizes to suit their needs.
If you’re a designer, you can win rewards worth more than $500. There may be many levels of prize eligibility for some types of contest packages.
In the Elite category, for example, the winner receives 50% of the prize money while the runners-up receive 25% each. Client payments are held in escrow during the competition and awarded to the winner once the competition has concluded.
Direct, private orders with a client’s preferred designer start at $149 after Crowdspring takes their cut. Any design that is accepted by the client will result in the submission of copyright by the designer.
As a result of its reputation for accepting questionable listings, many well-known independent contractors avoid Craigslist. There is no on-site mechanism for judging integrity, though users can report possibly illegal posts and frauds after the fact.
Freelancers who don’t mind sifting through a fair share of spammy job postings will find Craigslist to be a valuable resource. Listings here are organized by region, unlike on some other sites, and this makes it easier for freelancers and their clients to meet in person.
Because of the low listing prices, it is also a favorite fulfillment tool for smaller or one-time employers, such as individuals in need of an editor or ghostwriter or boutique marketing businesses in need of someone to design a logo or research a white paper.
The cost of placing a job ad on Craigslist is covered by the hiring company, which ranges from $10 in less populated areas to $75 in more populated, high-demand areas like San Francisco and Boston. Freelancers can utilize it for no cost but at their own peril. Craigslist does not act as an escrow service or provide dispute resolution.
Mediabistro, an aggregator of media-related material and educational resources, features a typical job board in addition to a freelancing marketplace for writers, editors, developers, and other professionals in the field.
The former category encompasses both contract and permanent positions. Employers cover the expense of ads, so job seekers don’t have to worry about spending any money. There is a concentration of these more traditional occupations in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.
Mediabistro does not intervene in pay or dispute matters once you’ve been engaged. You and the customer will conduct all subsequent negotiations independently of one another. The freelancers on this site include many seasoned media experts, so if you don’t have relevant work experience, you may have a hard time landing gigs.
12. LinkedIn ProFinder
LinkedIn, the professional networking powerhouse, runs a freelance talent marketplace called ProFinder.
Freelancers called “Pros” on ProFinder don’t have to pay anything to sign up, but they do have to prove their expertise and experience in one of ProFinder’s core verticals such as software development, IT services, design, writing and editing, marketing, business consulting, legal services, financial services, accounting, coaching, real estate, photography, insurance, home improvement, events, or wellness during the application process.
Generally, ProFinder will make a decision on the eligibility of a proposed Pro within two business days. In the event that your application is declined, you may rest assured that you will receive constructive criticism to help you improve for future submissions. If you are accepted, you will be prompted to complete a ProFinder profile in addition to your standard LinkedIn profile.
Whether it’s a job posting or a client inquiry, you can answer either with a comprehensive proposal for the work. In order to proceed once you’ve submitted 10 proposals, you’ll need to upgrade to a LinkedIn Premium Business plan. When paid annually, LinkedIn Premium Business subscriptions cost $59.99 each month. Clients and Experts never interact with ProFinder’s pricing or payment systems in any way.
Working as a freelancer may seem like a great option if you’re fed up with the office environment. Advantages include more time at home, the ability to choose your own hours, and the pursuit of more interesting or difficult projects.
Nonetheless, there are several obstacles to overcome, such as the unpredictability of a project-based pay scale and the absence of any benefits for employees.
If you’re self-employed, you’re also responsible for making Medicare and Social Security payments in full as per your FICA requirements under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA).
These costs equal 15.3 percent of a freelancer’s gross revenue, compared to 7.5 percent of an employee’s total income. You can’t just sit around and hope for a job; you have to actively seek out opportunities and build clientele.
There are many helpful tools available to freelancers of various skill levels. All that’s required is a little bit of foresight.