A Simple Guide to…getting Freelance jobs: 5 things not to do & how you can stand out!

Looking for Freelance jobs online can be overwhelming. There are so many places to look, from Upwork to Fiverr to Facebook Groups to Networking events, the opportunities are endless, but so is the competition.

My favourite, by far, are Facebook Communities. They’re a bit more personal and you’re generally up against fewer people than on some of the bigger sites, plus no one is taking a cut from so prices can be a little more competitive. However, you’re still going to be up against at least 20-30 other people when you apply, so how do you make yourself stand out for the right reasons in someones email inbox or Facebook ‘requests’.

Helping people get Freelance jobs and become Location Free is something I’m really passionate about. Whether you’re looking online, or you’re down in a co-working space, there’s plenty of work for you, you just need to know how to land it. There are people who want to be location-independent, and become a successful digital nomad, but will not put the work into getting the jobs. Or they make mistakes over and over again, don’t learn from them, don’t find work, and just keep going as they are without making any adjustments to their approach (which, incidentally, is the definition of insanity).

Since starting my Agency, POWERnomads, in April 2018 and also being a huge believer in Delegation and Outsourcing (Hi Tim Ferris) I have hired and worked with around 50 different people, and that’s just over the last 9 months. What I’ve accepted is that every time I put a job or task out to be delivered, I will only receive decent replies from 10% of applicants, and 5% of those will have the right qualifications. If 30 people on average apply for each job, that means 1.5 hit the mark, yet there are THOUSANDS of Freelancers. Doesn’t make sense does it? Delegating, Hiring and Outsourcing is a Skill and one I use to enable me to grow and scale multiple businesses, however it means that every minute of my day is valuable to me, so I can’t afford to be wasting time looking through countless messages saying things like: ‘Hi, I want the job’.

So, I’ve decided to write a list of 5 things that you should absolutely not be doing when you’re looking for a Freelance job. And help you find out the things you really should be doing instead.

Getting a Job as a Freelancer: 5 Things Not to Do

  1. Doing no Research

    You’d be surprised how many people apply for jobs and do no research on the company or person they’re applying to work with or for.

    For example: if you’re applying for a Digital Marketing assistant job, the sensible thing to do is pop the company into Google and have a look at their website. Spend 30 seconds reading their ‘about’ page and pull something personal out of there to use on your application. Something to show you took some interest in the company you’re applying for. If you’re applying via Facebook it’s even easier, click on their face and you’ll likely find something you can add to your message.

    When I was looking for a Digital Marketing assistant for my jewellery brand, Sederhana, I explicitly stated ‘don’t email me something generic. Please have a look at my website first and pull something from it’. Probably 50% did this, an improvement, but 90% of those people clearly just grabbed something from my homepage and closed the tab.  If your potential employer has a brain, they’ll see right through this, then you’re just wasting your time and theirs.

    Instead, look at what they sell, pick something you love. Comment on one of their services or a blog post that inspired you, show you took a little interest in them, and they’re bound to take more of an interest in you.

  2. Forgetting it’s a person you’re talking to

    Remember that this is a person that you’re talking to, not a robot or a machine. Bring them something to work with; find a commonality with them. This could be something very simple, tell them something about you that makes you special or something about your work that you’re passionate about. Maybe you were researching them and you found out you both have something in common – mention it!

    Just do something which makes you different and unique compared to everybody else who is applying, because 95% of them won’t do that. Even if you write something boring like: ‘this morning I baked a cake’ you’re going to stand out a little bit more than somebody who says nothing.

  3. Not standing out/lack of relevance to the role

    However you feel about yourself, everybody has something special about them. You may be a surfer or a yoga instructor; maybe you love your dog; maybe you are a highly creative cook – whatever it is, put something down that shows you.

    We live and work in a world of people; we’re providing skills for people who are offering their skills to other people. The people who are hiring you (particularly, if they own the company) are probably very passionate about what they do, and they want to hire people that have passion in general. So, show some passion for your work – and theirs.

    Being realistic, work can be a means to end. Work is never going to be your entire passion but you have to make them believe that it is. Find the thing you’re passionate about in your work. If it’s Digital Marketing, write something about the fact that you love communicating with people. If it’s design, talk about the fact you love looking at and creating nice things. Focus on outcomes, not tasks, and be excited about their business and what you can do for it. I’ve hired people off this alone!

    Find a way to be passionate about it. Be passionate, have some initiative, and you’re more likely to get the job.

  4. Sending one-word or one-sentence messages

    This is particularly frustrating for an employer, and so many people looking for Freelance work actually do it. Sending somebody a message saying something like, ‘interested.’ or ‘I’d like this job.’ or ‘hi‘ is not a job application. Can you imagine applying for a job in the normal world, walking into a recruitment centre and saying “hi“, full-stop, to the person behind the counter? It would be ridiculous. Say something that’s going to grab someone’s attention. Make a proper application; send over your CV and cover letter. You have to consider freelance work a job just like any other if you’re planning on making this a legitimate lifestyle change. The same rules apply.

  5. Poor spelling/language

    This is something that should be obvious but you’d be surprised how many people don’t triple-check their spelling and grammar before sending off an application.

    No employer is going to hire someone to work for them online – wherein they’re going to be using a lot of words – if they can’t type without making errors.

    For example, I put out a post on Fiverr because I needed somebody to transcribe my blogs for me. To increase what I can achieve in my day, I record a lot of my content verbally and then have them transcribed. This is for 2 reasons, the first being that I’m much better when I’m speaking and the second being that it saves me a great deal of time PLUS gives me a break from typing. You’d be shocked at how many people contacted me with spelling mistakes and poor english in their application, despite this being a job that needed accuracy and great writing. It just doesn’t look good and again, is a waste of everyones time.

    English may not be your first language, and it’s so easy to miss things, so always read over your applications and get someone to check it if needs be. Just don’t have spelling errors.

I hope these five tips have been useful for you and have shown you the kind of things employers of Freelancers are specifically looking for. There’s enough Freelance work out there for everyone, you just have to make sure you’re the one that stands out.

Hannah x


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