The Freelancing Market is Getting More Competitive

Get Noticed: How to Improve Your Freelance Career

Whether you’ve just begun your freelancing journey or have been working on your business for a long time, you’re likely noticing the fierce competition among freelancers these days.

Why is this happening? Well, we've found four core reasons why:

1. Globalization of the Gig Economy

After the move toward more remote work, clients can come from anywhere—but that also means they have the entire world of freelancers to choose from. Some freelancers will be overlooked if they are not finding ways to stand out.

2. Clients Want More Specialized Generalists

Clients are seeking both niche skills as well as classic craft skills—encouraging people to be either a jack-of-all-trades or a specialized generalists. If you can do more than one thing really well, you’re more likely to be chosen for the job. 

3. Ever-Changing Algorithms and Platforms

There are more places than ever to be found on the internet. Simultaneously, it’s easy to be drowned out by the competition. It’s tough to know what platforms are “worth” the time. Algorithms that constantly change don’t help—one day you find lots of engagement. Another, zero.

4. Economic Woes

Since last year’s battle with inflation and economic downturns, many clients have tightened their budgets and lowered available rates for freelancers. There also may be fewer positions available within these tight-budget times, leading to more competition.

So how do you stand out? 

1. Find Ways to Improve Your Offering

Market research is important and will help you know where you need to make adjustments. Use your happiness as a litmus test, too, but also find ways to be flexible within the current demands of your industry. What do you love to do? What do you hate to do? What would you love to learn? Look around at the current landscape and ask yourself these questions. Get clear on your own goals and how they match up with your current favorite job postings. Then get clear on the steps you’ll have to take. Do you need to do more learning? More networking? Do you need to brush up on negotiation skills? Figure out where you need the most improvement and start there.

2. Update your Portfolio with A Mix of Trendy And Timeless

Being a jack-of-all-trades is not always the best thing for everyone, and without clear boundaries on what you’re willing to do, you may burn out. On the other hand, if your portfolio is too niche or trendy, you risk getting lost or fading into obscurity. Instead, strike a balance with your portfolio—show the depth of what you can do, but still include your specialties. List one trendy project high up on your website, but keep tried-and-true projects that reflect the depth of your specialties. If you have more than one discipline (aka, a multi-hyphenate or slashie), create a separate portfolio or at least different pages within the same site for each discipline. Don’t neglect the power of SEO and AI—these tools can help you find the most important keywords to include around your skills, helping you get found online.

3. Network Strategically and Every Day

Do you have to email a million people each day? No, doing this will likely result in crickets. Remember that the first part of networking is research—find the people, learn about their companies, and what they’re looking for before reaching out or asking a buddy for an introduction. The more strategic and genuine you can be when networking, the greater the chance of receiving a response. Utilize social media strategically, too, placing yourself on platforms where your people are and you feel comfortable posting or updating a few times a week. Your daily research will help you find more opportunities, leading to potential new connections.

4. Remember to Strengthen and Discuss Your Soft Skills

Your effective communication skills, leadership skills, organization skills, and more, can set you apart from everyone else in your industry. If you know you’re incredible at meeting deadlines, staying organized, and are great with communication, these are skills you need to discuss when applying for work. Make these soft skills present in your portfolio case studies, pinpointing the soft skills you excel in that other people might not discuss. Being a pleasure to work with is one of the biggest selling points for freelancers—the more clients love working with you, the more clients will keep you around and recommend your services.

TLDR; If you’re a freelancer, you’ve likely noticed how steep the competition is for gigs right now. Between the vast freelancing gig economy, fewer opportunities, tighter budgets, and ever-changing algorithms, it can feel hopeless. But there are ways for you to strategically stand out. By remaining flexible, doing a bit of research, networking, and showing up with awesome soft skills, you can help yourself stand out above the crowd. 

If you’re a freelancer looking for opportunities, placing talented creatives like yourself is our specialty.

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