Why Freelancing Is Not Really “Free”

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carmen portfolio

A portfolio is a fixed expense for a freelancer.

I dove into the freelance world right after college with a few ideas on how the whole thing worked. My professors talked about it constantly during those last weeks of class, and this gave me a taste of what I’d deal with after graduation day.

“Never leave your house without a business card,” they said. “A written thank you card can get you places.” Their stories gave me an idea of what it meant to be a freelancer, but they didn’t tell me how much it would cost me—literally.

***

It’s been few months since I started this roller coaster, and I think I have an idea of what I got myself into: a never-ending search for the next big gig.

In this competitive industry, you always have to be on the lookout. Because of time and money, freelancers come and go and positions constantly change. The one constant is that people want to finish their projects. The faster you find these opportunities, the faster you get hired.

So Many Job Search Sites, So Little Cash

In order to stay ahead, I signed up for multiple job search sites that email me as soon as something pops up. These sites give you an idea of what’s happening in the industry, but they may charge you for these leads. This is not ideal for this post-grad on a budget.

So, after getting recommendations from my coworkers and dealing with these sites myself, I narrowed my subscriptions to four options. Two are free; two aren’t. I like the free ones because even though I need a job, I also have to afford living in NYC. But the ones I’ve paid for have been worth my money. Here’s my list:

Portfolios Cost Money Too

In addition to paying for leads, I also shelled out money for something to impress the employers I applied to: a portfolio.

From stories I’ve heard, your résumé needs to grow and improve to be in line with experience you’ve gained. You want to impress new contacts who can keep you on the train of motion. It’s kind of: “Keep your friends close, but keep your future bosses/partners closer.” To do this, you always need have a personal website—and make sure it has fresh HTML code.

There are free hosting options out there, and I personally use strikingly.com. They offer a basic plan (you can build a site for $0), but there are more expensive options depending on what features you want. Wix.com and Squarespace.com are other options I’ve heard mentioned on this NYC flow. Regardless, I feel that this is something a freelancer must invest in—either via time, money, or both.

Your website can reflect who you are, but it can also challenge you to make it as awesome as it can be.

***

I’m learning that “freelancing” isn’t free, but it does offer a sense of freedom. A freedom to move around to what you want to accomplish in a set amount of time and showcase your work at the same time. That’s liberating. And exhilarating.

Are you a freelancer? What financial lessons would you share with people heading down that path?

This blog represents the thoughts of the contributor only, and SALT™ does not endorse any products described here.

(Photo: strikingly.com/carmenguzman)

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  1. Shane McNichol February 28, 2014 / 5:21 pm

    Rather than pay for workinsports.com, I’d highly recommend anyone looking for a job in athletics head to http://www.teamworkonline.com. Every professional sports team/league and many college athletics programs post their jobs there (Some post exclusively on that site). And it’s mostly free. They have some paid services, but nothing the average job searcher needs to pay for.

  2. fiverr March 7, 2014 / 11:19 am

    It’s nearly impossible to find educated people
    for this subject, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about!
    Thanks

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