The internet has changed the way we work. Gone are the days of the office cubicle, as more and more people become remote workers, or digital nomads. But, in this increasingly huge market, the trick is securing enough remote work to keep your lifestyle going.
I often see posts asking how people find clients for remote work. Whatever your job, from freelance programmer to content writer, or social media manager, there are plenty of ways to find remote work.
As a copywriter and marketer for the past few years, these are the channels that either I have used, or that I know have been successful for others.
I’ll also explain, in very short terms, how to make a success of your approach when applying for remote work on these platforms. However, you’ll need to remember that success doesn’t come overnight. Your first attempt might be a failure, but keep going, take stock of what went wrong and try again.
One more thing. I don’t use one single channel for my freelance work, but rather I use different channels when I need to. These all have their pluses and minuses, but if you have your fingers in lots of pies, you’ll find more than enough work.
OK – enough chit chat. What are the best ways to find remote work for you digital nomads out there?
Before you write off this post as another list of ‘race to the bottom’ content sites, hear me out on this one.
Upwork is THE BIGGEST platform for hiring remote workers. Yes, there are lots of things wrong with it and there are a lot of shit jobs paying nothing. Ignore them. If you’re working remotely, you really should have an Upwork account. Whatever it is you do, there will be work on here.
My approach is to use Upwork as a backup and apply for jobs when I’m having a quiet work period. I have bought on several decent clients this way, with some of them paying me thousands over the course of a year.
How much does it cost: Its free to have a profile, but Upwork take 20% of your pay up to the first $500 for each client. After that it slides down to 10% and then 5%.
Upwork recently started charging for bidding on jobs, although I haven’t actually seen this in effect yet.
Tip for success: Complete your profile, and write a sort of standard pitch. However, always tailor your pitch to the job. Mention why the job piqued your interest and how your experience relates.
This is another huge platform for hiring freelancers and if you’re looking for work you should definitely have a profile here. We actually had a guest write a post about how to be successful on Fiverr, which is an interesting read.
How it works is, you set up a gig providing whatever service you want to provide. No, you don’t have to charge $5. You can charge whatever you want. My service starts from $35 and goes up to the thousands.
Getting your first sale is the hard bit. But, once you get going it kinda snowballs.
How much does it cost: Fiverr takes a flat rate of 20% on whatever you make.
Tip for success: Being successful on Fiverr means taking care of the details. Make your gig images appealing, ideally with nice graphics and bold text. Start low with your prices to tempt those first sales and then gradually put prices up over time. Be responsive, deliver on time and always deliver best quality or above.
In all honest, I signed up for this platform and then never used it. However, I know several people who have done very well using People Per Hour as their primary remote work platform. It is definitely popular for digital nomads and other remote workers looking for clients.
Similar to Upwork, you make a profile and then bid on jobs when they come in. A good alternative if you’ve been kicked off Upwork or Fiverr (which does happen).
How much does it cost: Its free to sign up and bid for work on People Per Hour. When earning, PPH take between 20% (under $500) to 7.5% and 3.5%. It’s the best margin of the three so far.
Tips for success: As mentioned I didn’t use the platform, but it’s always good practice to have a complete profile and to tailor and optimise your job application.
Of all the ways to find freelance work for a digital nomad, this is my favourite. Why? You’re in complete control of the type of clients you get and best of all, they pay you direct. No middle man.
But how do you find clients on Linkedin? Well, that is a whole other blog post that I will write one day. In a nutshell: Have a completed profile with a good image of you and a good heading. Sum up your work and experience clearly and without too much technical jargon (unless yours is a technical field). And make your work experience reflect the work you want to do.
OK. That’s just the first part of the puzzle. If you’re looking for remote work, make sure you make lots of connections. Introduce yourself when you do, but don’t spam people or even mention work. Be genuine and ask how they are and what they’re up to. Again: DO NOT MENTION THAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR WORK. Thats crucial info there by the way.
Next up. Make a strategy of posting useful information on a daily or weekly basis. Engage with people and comment, like etc. Then, use the search function to look or the work you want and apply, comment, engage etc.
That is a very simple overview. But if you follow those tips, I promise you’ll find some freelance remote work before you know it.
How much does it cost: Nothing
Tips for success: I’ll write an in depth article soon. Promise.
Connect with me on Linkedin (tell me where you saw the link too)
There are plenty of groups on Facebook for digital nomads. If you’re a freelancer trying to find remote work, search for a group related to your industry and join it. Be active, join discussions and keep an eye out for opportunities. There is usually someone offering something or a tip for where to apply.
Although in the early days I did use Facebook, I haven’t used it for a while and I believe it can become a bit of a time suck. I don’t like Facebook anyway and avoid it as much as possible. But… If you’re starting out, it’s a useful channel to have.
How much does it cost: Nothing
Tips for success: Join groups, participate, be active.
Again, social media can be good for finding remote freelance work if you know where to look. First things first, make sure your profile is clean and tidy. If you’re a bit racist or you troll Greta Thunberg, maybe make yourself a professional profile which you don’t use to do nasty stuff. And then, keep it clean!! No reposting alt-right crap or commenting on stuff about Brexit.
On your profile, use the hashtags for what you do and link to your portfolio or website (Linkedin if nothing else). Then, like, chat and retweet stuff that is professionally relevant for you.
How much does it cost: Nothing
Tips for success: Look for hashtags such as #hiring #werehiring and #remotework. You can also fine tune your search for specific areas, so look in places like London, San Francisco etc, for hotspot employment areas.
There are also lots of remote work Twitter profiles, so follow them and keep an eye out for relevant roles. Another tip is to follow the CMO or other C level execs from the companies you want to work for. If a role comes up, they often retweet it.
Another site that I used ages ago, but in honesty it left me cold. Similar to Upwork, I found that a lot of the work here was race to the bottom type stuff and there was too much in the way of getting their certificates. Although this is useful for employers, it wastes my time when all I want to do is apply for a job.
Basically, I’m not a fan of Freelancer. But give it a shot and prove me wrong.
How much does it cost: At 10%-5% it’s cheaper than Upwork.
Tips for success: Feel free to come back and tell me…
Looking for freelance remote work in Reddit? Yes, there is actually plenty. The tip is in joining the right subreddits. My fave are:
There are loads more, so just search or groups using terms like ‘freelance’, ‘remote work’ and ‘hire a X’, X being what you do for a living.
Like all the other social media platforms here, the key is in engagement. Keep an eye on relevant groups and be a useful contributor. You never know how far being nice will get you.
How much does it cost: Nothing
Tips for success: Post your service in subreddits that allow you to. Keep an eye out for HIRING tags and keep your profile clean. Again, no weird alt-right stuff. Keep that for your troll account!
Tips for Getting Paid
One of the things with being a freelancer is getting paid. It’s one thing to find remote work, but if someone skips out on you with a huge bill this can cause big problems.
Fiverr, Upwork, PPH and Freelancer all have their own escrow systems. Basically, keep all work on site and you’ll be fine. With Upwork, they have a downloadable time keeper than makes your earning official. Even if your client skips off without paying you, Upwork will cover it. Trust me. Get this download if you’re working on Upwork.
For clients away from the main platforms, I work on a basis whereby:
- I will do a test job and let them know they need to pay before any more work is carried out
- For the first few weeks/months, I may invoice them weekly, or if it is high value perhaps daily – at least until I trust them to pay and not run away
- Make sure you have their office address and/or other contact details
- Add them on Linkedin
I wouldn’t bother setting up Escrow as that can be a pain in the ass (and costly). We took a look at some of the best options for receiving money transfers here.
So there you have it. As a freelance digital nomad, these are the best ways I use to find remote work. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll pop them in this article…