Whatever happened to the freelance job market?_
May 01, 2008

Today was one of my semi-annual freelance ring-rounds where I call up all my contacts and recruitment companies to remind them that I’m still alive. After many chats it seems that us Actionscripters (especially those with Actionscript 3 skills) are very highly in demand, and permanent and contract roles were thick on the ground. But mention the words ‘off-site’ and things take a turn for the worst. It seems that many employers are gearing up for the forecast economic nastiness by cutting back on remote workers. Now, this doesn’t make much sense to me. Admittedly, freelancers are more expensive, but in general they get the job done quicker, don’t take up valuable office space and buy their own tea and biscuits. However, that seems to be the way of the market right now. One consultant said that they had noticed a very definite drop-off in the number of freelance opportunities on their books over the last three months, and a lot of freelancers were taking permanent jobs to ride out the storm.

So what does that mean for us stay at home boffins? Here is Dave’s handy guide to getting freelance off-site work:

  1. If you have contacts, use them! Folks you have worked for before are more likely to want to use you for any freelance work (unless you botched it for them, in which case you probably shouldn’t bother).
  2. Always be available for meetings. Even when working off-site it is fairly common for your clients to want to meet up to discuss project progress and talk through alternatives. You may need to factor travel costs into your daily rate.
  3. Keep your CV up to date and post it all over the web. I’ve found LinkedIn an invaluable resource for getting work.
  4. Keep up to date with the technology. Work out whatever the latest buzz is and play with it in your spare time. For example, for Actionscripters Papervision3d is the new big thing so if you don’t know it yet sit yourself down and have a play.
  5. If you have a website, do your very best to get it into Google under search terms related to your freelance skills! There isn’t really an easy way to do this but read up on SEO and do your very best. Bear in mind that it can take a long time to see any results.
  6. Get someone else to find the work for you. An excellent new resource for this is www.onlinepersonalassistant.com which basically allows you to hire a PA for a certain number of hours per week and they’ll crawl the web, make calls, promote you and do generally good things. I’ve used them a number of times and can’t recommend them highly enough.

And finally if none of that pays off get yourself a short-term contract in an office somewhere. You’ll get yourself new contacts, working in a team can be a lot of fun and you get free tea and biscuits. And maybe even a pool table.