Starting a Freelance Career

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My first official freelance gig was about 3 years ago — an ad I saw in Craigslist. The client was a small VA firm and my job was project management. Since it’s a small company, I basically handle a lot of tasks: communicating with clients, managing the agents and interviewing new hires. It did not last long because salary is always delayed and I figured the pay is not worth all the workload given to me. Just like any other careers, a freelance career is only meaningful and fulfilling if you enjoy what you do and your client treats you fairly. Thankfully, I had several other (and better) clients after that, and my friends keep asking me how come I easily get online gigs while they seem to have trouble landing a good one. Below are the tips I give them:

1. Identify your skills.

Once you’ve decided about going freelance, the first thing you should think about is your marketable skills. Deciding the type of services that you want to offer should be easy esp if you’re a skilled professional. Think of your past (and current) jobs and list down the skills that you would want to showcase in your resume. This is necessary so that when you start “job hunting,” you can easily pinpoint the positions that apply to you.

2. Update your resume.

Based on my experience, most companies hiring for virtual jobs prefer those who’ve had VA experience. If you had done any freelance work in the past that you don’t count when applying for corporate jobs, add it in your resume when applying for home-based jobs. Don’t worry about needing COE because they rarely ask for it!

3. Update your online presence.

Before you start applying, make sure that your Linkedin, blog and any other public profile of yours are updated. Yes, clients Google the names of their potential hires so make sure that they match what you wrote in your resume!

4. Set-up your Paypal account.

Majority of clients pay via Paypal so make sure you have this set-up as early as possible! Some of them don’t even hire people who don’t have Paypal accounts yet.

5. Bookmark all sites that offer telecommuting jobs.

Here are my most-visited sites you can consider:

Upwork
Craigslist
Onlinejobs.ph
Jobspresso
Remotive
Virtual Staff Finder

6. Watch out for red flags.

Craigslist and Onlinejobs.ph are a hotbed for scams, but I continue browsing there because I often find hidden gems that offer great pay and benefits. Rule of thumb when determining if a job ad is a scam is if it is a two or three-liner without much information about the position.

Other things to look out for:
– No job description
– “Everyone” is qualified
– You need to answer some sort of survey
– “Earn money fast” headline

7. Write a short but compelling cover letter.

If you are applying for a virtual assistance job, summarize your skills in your cover letter so that it catches the employer’s attention and prompts him/her to know you a little better. Keep it short and concise.

Sample:

Hi,

I would like to apply for the position posted below. I am tech-savvy and highly skilled in WordPress and Magento. Please see attached CV for more info on my skills and work experience.

I am available for an interview anytime via Skype at your convenience. I look forward to hearing from you!

(Link where you found the job ad) 

Kind regards,
Kat


8. Check your email daily.

Clients communicate through email so make sure you check it at least once a day to check if you’ve landed an interview!

9. Do your research prior to the interview.

Find out everything you can about the company you are applying for and be ready to showcase your skills. Most VA employers go direct to the point and ask your knowledge about the skills they need so make sure you are ready to prove how good you are!

10. Don’t be afraid to negotiate your salary!

Know your worth and make sure to decide on a fixed amount of pay you are willing to take. Do your research on the industry-standard salary and casually ask the employer if the pay is negotiable. I’ve encountered a lot of job offers that are way below minimum for a skilled employee (don’t ever accept a $1/hr pay even when you’re desperate!). Firmly say no and move on.

Final note: Whether you want to be a freelancer for work/life balance or something else, realize that being one is more than a career-change, it is a lifestyle change. So make sure that you are 100% prepared for it. And just like in any other career, hardwork is always the key to succeed in this business. Goodluck!

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