If you want to be a freelancer but you have no experience, use these steps to land your first remote gig.

Freelance Beginner Checklist: 6 Steps to Getting a Remote Gig

If you’re dreaming of a better work-life balance, setting your own hours, and improving productivity, chances are you’ve considered a remote gig. You may have even begun searching. Unfortunately, for some, landing a work-from-home position can feel like an uphill battle. When you’ve never searched for a remote job or you’re not sure where to start, the steps from Point A to Point B can prove daunting. But with the right mix of resilience, perseverance, and our freelance beginner checklist, you can turn a telecommute-friendly job into a reality.

1. Figure Out Your Potential Role

Some people know what they want to do when they’re young and pursue every opportunity to achieve their goals. For others, it’s not so easy. Dreams change, and time has a way of sneaking up on you. Even if you’re happy with your current job and receive a nice paycheck and benefits, switching to a remote freelancing role may require you to leave what you’re used to. You’ll have to dive out of your comfort zone.

If this describes your current situation and your desire for a remote gig, the first step on your freelance beginner checklist is to figure out your potential role within a company. You may want to stay in the same industry. If so, your approach should center on ways to turn your work experience into a viable freelancing career. Networking is a surefire way to get your foot in the proverbial door. Still, don’t neglect the people you know from your current position. As long as it is not against the contractual agreement with your employer (also known as non-compete clauses), these individuals can become invaluable sources of work.

Alternatively, you may desire a total career change. If this is you, follow this rubric:

  • Check out a list of the best remote work industries.
  • Find a happy medium between passion and income. Recent studies suggest an income of around $70,000 secures both financial and emotional well-being.
  • Figure out which of your skills are transferable to the new job.

2. Build On What You Know…And What You Don’t

Securing remote employment is contingent upon showcasing your strengths and building up your weaknesses. You must stand out from other candidates, and that pool of potential hirees is growing. With 4.3 million Americans working remotely (an increase of 140% since 2005), finding a remote position is more competitive than ever. That’s why this second step on your freelance beginner checklist is about knowledge and education. 

If you’re new to an industry, look for online courses or certifications that increase your hiring potential. These aspects help you stick out from the pack and showcase your desire to achieve. For those who want to keep the same job but also desire to transition to a remote role, you can certainly add a certification, but you should also keep building on the strengths and knowledge you already have. In the remote world, professional stagnation is tantamount to underachievement.

Before you’re off-put by the idea of earning a certification, remember that not all industry-recognized credentials take months to complete. Some can be done in days or weeks.. The fact that you’re taking the initiative to do it says volumes about your work ethic. Your potential employer just might notice.

3. Decide Between A Contractor And A Freelancer

People often use terms contractor and freelancer interchangeably, but there are distinct differences between them. A contractor usually finds a gig with a company that doles out work on an as-needed basis. You’re not technically an employee, but it has a similar vibe and approach to a normal employee-employer relationship. A contractor may also have a set time period of employment.

Freelancing, on the other hand, thrusts you into the role of a salesperson. Your goal is not only to provide quality work in your field but also to determine what businesses need your services. This is more complicated than it may seem. Often, an employer has little or no idea they need your services. Therefore, it’s up to you to convince them of your value and keep them as clients. In many regards, it’s far more like owning a small business.

Keep in mind that this choice is highly dependent on your time, experience, confidence, and work ethic. There’s no right or wrong answer, but selecting the one that fits your aspirations or abilities can often make a huge difference. If you can’t decide, make an attempt at diversifying your job applications and opportunities. You’ll find out quickly which one you prefer.

4. Update Your Resume

An updated resume is a necessity for any potential new job. Even if you’re staying put in your industry or just want the same position in a remote capacity, don’t just tick the box on your freelance beginner checklist. A bit of TLC goes a long way to securing remote employment. Make certain to give your resume a quick refresher and then tailor it to a position by highlighting your relevant skills and experience.

  • Start with a summary. Some websites state that this impedes a hirer’s ability skim, but it also provides some insight into the role you want and the skills you bring to the table.
  • Keep it neat and tidy. Don’t use strange fonts or wording to “doll up” your resume.
  • Show you have the experience to handle the job and soft skills relevant to the position (problem solver, attention to detail, etc.).
  • Eliminate the fluff. Ideally, you should be able to fit your resume onto one or two pages. The fact that you are sending it virtually is irrelevant. Remove outdated or irrelevant jobs and experience. Not only will this provide an easy-to-read resume, but it will help you eliminate wordiness and excess.

If you haven’t updated your resume in years, you feel as though your resume-writing is a bit outdated, or you don’t know where to start, check out Virtual Vocations’s resume assessment and resume writing services.

5. Get That Cover Letter Rolling

Should you create a cover letter template or should you craft a fresh cover letter for each job application? Both have benefits, but it’s the approach to the cover letter that’s your main concern.

Never take the lazy approach. A quick Google search reveals hundreds if not thousands of cover letter templates. While copying and pasting these seems like a time-saver, don’t forget that hiring managers have their job for a reason. They can sniff out generic cover letter templates instantly, even if you’ve made minor modifications. If you are caught using one of these it is very likely you will be eliminated from job contention.

Therefore, crafting your own cover letter template and working from there is a must. Make certain to highlight your main points, but don’t forget to alter a bit of the information to reflect some knowledge of the company you’re applying to each time.

A better way to go about a cover letter, albeit more time-consuming, is to draft a fresh one for each job application. The advantage of this method is that it forces you to get a feel for the company by reading their website and the job description carefully. Doing so gives you a better handle on the company culture as well as the individuals they seek to employ. With just an extra 15 or 20 minutes of research, you vastly improve your chances of employment.

Employers in the remote world aren’t looking for cookie-cutters and redundancy. They want a fresh outlook and a freelancer who is ready to provide a new perspective to the company and step up immediately. Show them what you got.

6. Start Your Job Search

Unfortunately, not all job boards are created equal. Some job boards do not properly vet job posters, allowing scam artists and undesirable companies to slip through the cracks. Large online job marketplaces have become so massive that you’ll be fighting 500 or even 1,000 applicants for the same position. Because of the sheer number of applications, hiring managers may never see your resume or cover letter, especially if you apply late.

That’s why you should add a search of Virtual Vocations’s job database to your freelance beginner checklist. What separates Virtual Vocations from the other job boards is that every company is vetted to ensure there are no scammers or unsavory employers. The easy-to-use interface of the jobs database also allows you to search by geographic location, industry, hours, and the telecommute level. This cuts your search time and provides an effective, time-saving way to begin your job hunt. 

By following this freelancer beginner checklist you can streamline your tasks. The only thing left to do is to start your search for the remote job you desire.

Are you just getting started as a freelancer? Which tips from this checklist were most helpful for you? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to tell us. We’d love to hear from you!

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