Part of a successful career is making sure you have enough time for your freelance job search.
When I first started freelancing, I didn't have a lot of gigs, and I often found myself with a great deal of free time. When you find yourself with more time than you know what to do with, it's a perfect opportunity to improve your freelance job search, and maybe do something about that “extra time” situation.
Consider Your Job Search as Part of Your “Work”
The first thing you need to do when you start working as a freelancer is to use a set schedule — for at least some of the time. I like the freedom of my freelance lifestyle, but in the beginning, as I looked for work and did what I could to pay the rent, it didn't always feel like freedom.
I made it a point to work on client projects when I had them. When the client work was done, I submitted to content farms willing to pay up front for content. The right content site, like Yahoo! Voices, offers a small payment up front, and then recurring payments, based on pageviews. Content farms aren't the best sources when it comes to building your byline, but they'll pay the rent when you need the money, and if you have recurring income, you end up with money coming in regularly. It's not usually a ton, but it can be enough to give you a little breathing room.
After spending a little time working on immediate earnings, it's time to expand the freelance job search, looking for higher paying gigs, and landing more clients so that you don't have to keep working at the lower paying jobs.
When you're at the outset of your freelance career, there's a lot of downtime. It's a good idea to use that downtime as effectively as possible. If you've set aside three hours to work, and you've only worked for two, spend the next hour working on your freelance job search. Some of the more productive things you can do include:
- Update your resume and your social media profiles
- Search the job boards for gigs you can apply for (and apply for them)
- Write a great piece for your own blog so that you have a great portfolio item to share
- Research rates and other information that can help you up your game and boost your rates toward the higher end of the market spectrum
- Get ahead on other client work
Your work time should include activities that help you with your freelance job search. In some cases, it makes sense to make time to engage in these activities, rather than waiting until you have “extra” time. There were times that I cut short what I wrote for the content farm in order to devote time to the freelance job search.
It's a delicate balancing act. How much time do you devote to earning money at a lower rate? And how much time should you spend applying for additional gigs?
You need to think through your situation and consider what is the most efficient use of your time. It might make sense to cut your time short on low-paying gigs in favor of the possibility of earning more with a better gig. Consider the best use of your time. It's not always an easy call, but sometimes considering your freelance job search as important as the client work is a good step.