Gigs are a low-risk way to pursue your passions or explore different professions. If you take on temp positions or accept occasional freelance projects, youre not alone. The gig economy where workers make a living with a collection of individual projects rather than traditional jobs is going strong. According to the 2016 Freelancing In America study by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, freelancers make up 35% of the American workforce. Bridging the gap between gigs and full-time work comes with a certain amount of risk. To boost comfort and ensure your financial security, make the move gradually and strategically. Whether you want to transition a temporary seasonal gig into a full-time job or turn your freelance projects into a full-blown independent contracting business, a careful plan can get you there safely.
Be Indispensable at Temp Jobs
When youre after full-time work, its helpful to look at each gig as an audition. Any project or temp job, no matter how small, is an opportunity to impress the client or boss. If youre hired as a seasonal employee, go above and beyond whats expected. Make yourself indispensable: arrive early, volunteer to fill in when someone calls in sick, and help other employees. Since a full-time job relies on the right blend of personalities, make a point to be friendly with full-time workers and show that you fit into the company culture. When your contract ends, let the employer know that youre interested in a full-time job. You may get an offer, and at the very least, you have an advantage over other candidates when applying for future position.
Do Excellent Work
A similar approach also works for turning a freelance gig into a regular stream of projects. For employers, it can be a hassle to find great freelancers, so a reliable and high-performing independent contractor is a valuable resource. Establish a great reputation and prove your worth by making the employers life easier. Send clear, professional updates to keep your point person in the loop. Adopt a friendly yet professional tone in emails, phone calls, and web meetings to reassure the employer that you can represent the company well. Most importantly, turn in timely work that exceeds expectations. This approach can pay off handsomely in repeat assignments and referrals.
Build a Portfolio
When youre hunting for a traditional job, your resume is your calling card. As a full-time independent contractor, your portfolio serves the same purpose particularly if you want to transition into a new field. A website is the easiest way to show off your projects, explain your qualifications, and help potential employers find you. Your side gigs make great portfolio pieces. Since visuals have a powerful effect, turn projects into web-friendly graphics: take photos of the marketing materials you designed for a small business, or make a chart that shows how your management consulting reduced turnover by 35% in a year. Put these graphics on your website with a short explanation of each project. As a courtesy, its a good idea to ask the project managers for permission to use your work products for self-promotion.
If youre like many aspiring independent contractors, you need a steady stream of work before you can afford to leave your existing job. For beginning freelancers, that means actively pursuing projects. Fortunately, the internet takes the hassle out of finding work. Websites such as Upwork.com, Toptal.com, and LinkedIn Profinder exist solely to connect freelancers with potential employers. Another way to find new projects is to put out the word to past freelance clients for freelancers, referrals are like gold. Put together a simple email letting clients know that youre making the transition to independent contracting, and ask that they pass along your name to anyone who might need your services. Include a link to your portfolio website for good measure.
Create a Cold-Email Campaign
Email is one of the independent contractors most valuable tools. Its free, its easy, and you can use it to market your services to potential clients all over the world. To start, make a list of email addresses for companies youd like to work for, choosing the contact person who is most likely to understand your value. For graphic design, select the creative director; for technical writing, choose the engineering team leader or marketing director. Then, write a marketing email tailored to the people on your list. Introduce your services, explain how they can help the company, and provide a link to your portfolio website. Short, concise emails can keep the readers attention and pique their interest.
Use a Multi-Channel Approach to Boost Sales
Some independent contractors depend entirely on sales. If you want to turn your occasional screen-printing or construction orders into a business, a multi-channel approach can help you reach a wider audience. Start with an online sales website Etsy makes it easy, and platforms such as SquareSpace and Shopify give you full creative control. Once your website is ready, the next step is social media. ThreeBirdNest, an Etsy-based business that does nearly $1 million a year in sales, relies almost entirely on social media for advertising. Professional-quality photos, paired with relevant hashtags, can expose your products to the world. Pinterest and Instagram, which are highly visual, are great places to start. A personal approach can also boost sales. Take your products to local boutiques to sell on commission, and sign up for craft fairs or holiday art shows. With each sale, include a card with a link to your website and social media to boost your online following. Making the leap from occasional gigs to full-time independent contracting is an exciting process. With a gradual approach and smart use of free marketing tools, you can build a successful business around your interests.