6 tips to help you get started with freelance marketplaces, by Unmarketd’s Julia Samodurova

By Julia Samodurova, Founder of Unmarketd.

Signing up to top freelance marketplaces is an effective way to get your first few clients when starting out as a freelancer. However, as a new freelancer, you may be eager to join more platforms than you should. As you start building a name for yourself, you should instead focus on one or two platforms at most. By only focusing on one or two platforms, you’ll be able to maximize not only your time but produce the best results to showcase in your portfolio.

It is, therefore, essential to follow the proper steps before you get started, such as – choosing the right platform for your specialization. As there are various platforms out there, it’s recommended you take the time to understand the different types of freelance marketplaces available.

  • Generic, allowing services from basic copywriting and social media management to complex IT development and Business Intelligence
  • Tailored to a specific niche such as technical development or performance marketing
  • Appealing to specific clients from micro-businesses or solopreneurs to VC backed startups to larger corporates
  • Having various degrees of entry requirements from simple registration to the multi-stage application process.
  • Known for discounted prices vs premium marketplaces

Having a better understanding of the different platforms should help you select the right one and form your application strategies.

Decide which platform is best for you

Start with understanding your skills and how they match what the marketplace clients are after. An excellent place to start if you haven’t been in the industry for a long time are marketplaces offering lower prices to work with micro businesses. If you have 10+ years of experience and want to charge a premium fee, a premium platform with a narrower offering would be your first choice.

Decide how much time you want to spend freelancing. Be objective about your availability. If you register on the platform catering to VC-backed startups, projects are likely to be time-consuming and requiring daily availability. That is probably not the right fit if you only can allow a few hours a month for freelance work.

What is worth looking at as well, is the competition and demand. Would your profile be just one of many, or can you offer a unique skill set that makes you stand out among other freelancers? Are the services you provide in demand?

Define the types of services you want to offer

There’s an ongoing debate about whether it is better to be a specialist or a generalist. Still, it is widely recommended to limit yourself to a few skills to deliver the clients’ optimal value. If you go with a single skill, you may restrict yourself as most clients, especially SMEs, are looking for several things at once. If you list all the possible services, potential clients may get the impression that you are not particularly good at any of them as it takes years to learn and specialize in a specific skill.

An exception is niche marketplaces offering premium services. As clients looking for 5 per cent of service providers, it makes sense to list only one service you offer, for example, Facebook Ads management, instead of listing all advertising platforms you have experience with.

Register and complete a compelling profile

The next step is to craft a compelling profile. Do your homework and do not copy-paste. Think critically – would you hire yourself based on what you’ve just written? Showcase your past work as much as possible – create case-studies, update your portfolio. Highlight the quality of your work measurable as a specific KPI. Indicate your punctuality and that you are deadline-driven in addition to offering competitive pricing.

When it comes to applying to jobs with some marketplaces, it is sufficient to submit the profile. In contrast, others ask you for an interview and invite you to the next stage of the application process, and only applicants who completed all these stages would be allowed to start working with clients.

You’re now ready to start looking for jobs!

Each platform is different and has its own application process for each project, as well as the clients’ expectation vary. It is almost universal that being responsive, and on-time is critical in getting the job. Always remember to follow up regularly and reply to your clients because if you don’t there’s a very good chance your competitors will be.

Ensure you are prepared and have researched the client you’re going to be working with

Treat a freelance platform job application as if you are applying for a standard full-time job. Research! Look up the client and their business online. Think through their requests and prepare a list of the potential solutions you can offer. Tailor your offering to the client’s budget and the timelines. Research your potential competitors on and off the platform and make a compelling case of your competitive advantages. Remember that the price is the only one of the available ways to compete, don’t resort to discounting unless necessary. Most clients are after value for money, not suboptimal services at the lowest price possible.

Attention to detail is everything once you commence work

Lastly, your work would begin when you secured the client through a marketplace, and nothing is more important than the quality of the work you do. Each client is an opportunity to get more clients, and the more satisfied they are, the easier it is to get more jobs via the platform of your choice. Ask your client for feedback throughout the project, not just at the end of your job. Doing this shows your ability to receive feedback while trying to meet your client’s expectations. It will also help you to stay on track and course-correct if necessary.

And finally, there is no better time than the present to register on the freelance platform. Get started today and start building your professional portfolio.