Actually Getting An Online Job

Getting an online job is hard. Very hard. This is because the competition is stiff. This post is an extract of an email in which I explain how to best prepare yourself so that you can actually get an online job.

First off, please do everyone a favour and only apply for jobs that you are actually qualified to do. Do not bid for a web design project when all you know is how to use Microsoft’s Frontpage. Keep in mind that you are competing with experts in their fields. You must also be an expert, or at the very least very good at what you want to do. Whoever is going to pay you is interested in your expertise and experience.

Even if you know your stuff backwards and forwards, getting the first few gigs online will be extremely hard. This may be due to many reasons but I think it helps if you understand what potential employers are looking for:

  1. They need to hire someone who is skilled at what he does
  2. They need assurance that you are trustworthy and reliable
  3. They need the best price

The first two are the hardest to achieve. In our experience, people looking for online jobs really need to create a portfolio-like document where they will attempt to address issues #1 and #2 above. A portfolio is a job-hunting tool that you develop which gives employers a complete picture of who you are – your experience, your education, your accomplishments, your skill sets – and what you have the potential to become – much more than just a cover letter and CV/resume can provide. You can use your portfolio to showcase a point, to illustrate the depth of your skills and experience, and to show off previous work and accomplishments.

In you portfolio, you need to talk about yourself as regards the job that you are applying for and market yourself as having the skills and experience to do the job to a high standard of quality. Specifically, you need to include:

  • A list of similar jobs that you have done in the past. This is important in that the potential employer can see that you can actually do the work and that you have the experience and wisdom of having done it before.

    What do you do when you do not have a list of past jobs done? You may be asking this if you are absolutely new to the whole idea of freelancing. Hmm, well, no one said you have to give a list of jobs that you did for other people, did they? If you are a writer, why not write a few articles in your spare time and put them in your portfolio as “samples of work done”? Same thing goes for web designers, artists, etc.

  • A list of testimonials. This is a list of people who you have worked with in the past and who can vouch for you and say that you rock! How do you get testimonials? Well, always try to ask for them after every single gig. Not many people will refuse to give you. 🙂

    How can you get testimonials if you are new to freelancing? This is tough. Your best bet is to do some jobs for free for people on condition that they give you testimonials. Do not make the mistake of writing fake testimonials.

Cover Letter
You have your nice portfolio, which is like your CV/resume and you are all set, eh? Well, not quite. Never forget to send out a suitable and meaningful cover letter with each job application.

When applying for an online job, most people just write a one or two line application that generally reads, “see my attached portfolio”. This is wrong! A cover letter should always accompany the portfolio. It should be used to introduce yourself and why you are emailing. It is also a unique opportunity to showcase your unique personality or traits that could not be put in the portfolio. Always write a good cover letter.

That’s all you need, really. Put up a good portfolio and tailor it to suit each and every job that you apply for. And write a nice cover letter for each gig you apply for. Sooner or later you will get a job. Once you get the first one, you’ll find it easier to get more. Before you know it, you’ll be rich like her.

The Importance of A Website
You do not need a website to get an online job.

However, most of your competition does not have websites. Why not stand out? It will certainly make things easier on you. I always take people more seriously if they have a site. Why not put up your portfolio on the site? It can open many more doors for you…

Incidentally, Nickel Pro does offer a simple website package perfect for this use.

The thing about online job sites
Most online job sites have a “rating” feature where all the freelancers are rated according to how the job providers like them/their work. When you are starting out, you will find that some of your competition have hundreds of 10/10 ratings. Such people will easily win bids instead of you because you are not rated, being new. This makes life for newcomers very hard indeed. How do you overcome this? I do not know. Sheer diligence should work. Just keep trying, as long as you do everything right then you must succeed, at some point. Everything that you sow, you must reap!

Good luck.

PS. If you wish, you may hire us to help out in this. We’re experts!

Additional Resources


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