Hanging out my shingle.
June 12, 2012 10:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm a NYC area freelancer and I'm running out of work at the end of the month. How can I make sure I've always got a gig going on?

I'm a jack-of-all-trades freelancer living in Brooklyn. I have designed websites, written corporate blogs and newsletters, organized webinars, edited video, created soundtracks... I have a wide range of skills. But I'm not an expert at any of these, and my experience has been that low-level jobs are mostly circulated via word-of-mouth and professional contacts, not by spamming resumes. So, I'd like some suggestions on how to do the following things:

- make more contacts, so I get more job offers
- develop my skills, so I am qualified for more work
- solicit work from my casual work contacts in a polite way, aka "network"
- meet other freelancers like myself to work on skills together and trade gigs
posted by modernserf to Work & Money (5 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Hit the phone and let your satisfied customers know you're looking for more contract work. Be clear that you're not asking if they have work, but if they know of anyone who does. If they don't get the names of 2 people they think you should talk to.

Generally speaking, people who you have helped in the past actually care about you, and want to see you succeed. The trick is to avoid hitting them up again, but just asking for a little "help" with a referral, even if the referral can only send you on to someone else.

Ultimately, though, when doing business development, if you aren't getting stuff over the transom, it's time to start hitting the phones hard. Devote a couple of hours to it every day, and you will show some results (although the time to project will take at least 4 weeks... at least).

Good luck!
posted by KokuRyu at 11:10 AM on June 12, 2012

Best answer: 1) Freelancers Union
2) Industry events/meetups
3) StackExchange
4) You need to budget 20% of your time to maintaining your pipeline. In that time, you need to maintain and nurture your professional relationships, suss out more work, work on your skills, etc. Maintaining a pipeline of active work is critical to being a successful freelancer.
posted by swngnmonk at 11:12 AM on June 12, 2012

I'm going to focus on the second part (get more job offers). These are things that I do, although I don't know if it will or will not carry over into your particular freelance areas (I will also admit that I tend to be lazy and don't do the networking part but I do check in with old clients):

• Linkedin. List your specialized skills or unique projects (don't have it just say freelancer or you will never come up in a search a company). Make it obvious that you are working independently/list contact information/and put a link to your web page. You don't need to worry about who your contacts are.. if you have a skill set that someone needs, companies will look for you. I can't tell what you done from your description -- but if those are big companies (e.g. "corporate blogs"), list it.

• Approach companies. There are phenomenal lists at the NY Business library and it includes contact info. If you sent a letter *briefly* describing your skills to a company that does the type of work that you do, it can turn into work (not kidding...email companies/just one email). There is no need to limit it to NY or Brooklyn by the way (not sure why you brought up where you live...projects can come from anywhere in the US or even overseas). Also google companies that you find interesting, find their "about us" email...and send them a brief blurb. Again, only if it is targeted and related to what you do.

• If you have completed work for past clients (and you got along well with them) send an email from time to time (depending on your rapports it can be "upcoming availability" to "got projects?"). Try to send a yearly CV/resume with new skills to your past clients.
posted by Wolfster at 11:18 AM on June 12, 2012

I don't know how obnoxious this is, but in my normal Yelping, I've seen some FSM-awful business websites. So many consider using Yelp as another way to find potential clients?
posted by smirkette at 2:55 PM on June 12, 2012

Could one problem be that you're a jack of all trades? If you tell people you're a web developer, they'll think of you when they need that service. If you tell people you do lots of stuff, they'll think of you for nothing. Choose a specialty (or specialties if you must).

But that's beside the point. You need to reach out to people and companies you think might have work for you and that you want to work with. You need to go to networking events. And yes, send emails and letters, but also call prospects on the phone. Call lots of 'em. Then call some more. What's the worst that can happen? Nothing really. What's the best that can happen? You'll get work.
posted by Leontine at 6:49 PM on June 12, 2012

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