After graduating college, most people begin looking for a normal 9-5 job with benefits and an office. For an actor, writers, video producers and graphic artists, jobs are difficult to find unless the person is searching in a large city like Chicago, Los Angeles or New York. Even then, most of us are relegated to only the über-flexible temp jobs and hospitality. Looking in the normal places for employment, like Monster and Craig’s List, is like looking down into an empty well for nourishment while everyone around you seems to be sipping on Mai Tais. The key for these creative-types is searching for work in freelance. Websites like Elance, Odesk and Freelancer have an endless supply of hundreds of jobs in several categories. Finally, creative jobs have their own oasis.
When I made my transition to entertainment from sales , freelance was my first stop. With $100 in recording equipment and an Elance profile, I started booking voiceover work before I had even made a demo. But, even if someone doesn’t want to leave their day job, freelance offers an opportunity for a nice little side business that can be completed at any time. Freelance websites provide new jobs every few minutes from all over the world and connect employers to employees. In the past, international trade was only for enormous companies. Now is the time for individual people to share in globalization and everyone is on a level playing field (according to The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman). As America slides down the list of the top richest countries, freelance provides employment from countries like England, Australia and Canada that can offer jobs to creative people at competitive rates.
With a free account, freelance users begin at the bottom with a portfolio, employment record and possibly a college degree. Each website has a section where users can post jobs or apply for jobs. I recommend signing up as an employer so you have the bonus feature of hiring a freelancer in the future. Having a good portfolio or profile is crucial to gaining frequent online employment. Include a picture, give your employment history, education and take a few skill tests on the site. Fill in your time zone since you’re working worldwide and then start looking for jobs. Narrow the results by category since most of these websites only let you apply for jobs in one category whether or not you can work in two (however, users can pay a little extra and choose two or more categories).
After narrowing down the results and finding a job, it’s time to really examine the job that has been posted. Let’s say there’s a job opening that pays $20 an hour for 6 weeks. After clicking on the job, users can see a full description. They will also be able to see how many other users have applied for the same job. If it’s over 15 or 20, it may be a good idea to move on to another posting unless your qualifications are better than everyone else’s qualifications. It’s also a good idea to see how long the job has been posted and apply to the most recent jobs rather than those that have been up for a long time. On occasion, jobs are put up and no one is hired. Look at the person or company posting the job and see how often they hire people before applying. If the employer has posted ten jobs and never hired a single person, find another job. If the job meets these requirements, fill in an honest proposal including how much you wish to make and when you can deliver and then wait for the employer to choose a candidate.
Before applying as an actor, there are a few other items that need to be covered. Depending on which employer users are working with will depend on what programs they need to understand how to use. All the programs are FREE and simple, but there are three that are necessary for most jobs. The first necessity is understanding Google Drive (formerly called Google Docs). Fairly simple, the program comes along the top of the page for those who have a Gmail address. Google Drive allow for multiple people to work on the same document at the same time as it constantly saves the work. It’s compatible with all standard document types: .doc, .pdf, .xls, .jpg, etc. Another great program is Skype. It allows for employers and employees to chat online for free. This is ideal if there is any sort of interview for a job. Finally, Dropbox is important for sharing projects and backing up work. By inviting others to Dropbox, people can share large documents (like multiple images & videos) within a few minutes rather than sending a ton of emails back and forth. It also serves as off-site storage/backup that’s web accessible.
After completing a few jobs as an actor, users will start to earn ratings on each website. It’s better to stick with one freelance website until you get the hang of it instead of signing up for multiple sites. A person can really make enough on one site if their score is decent and they search for jobs continually. After a few months, users with high scores may not even need to apply to jobs anymore. The websites suggest these users to employers when they post jobs and the employers can invite users for free. The difference in searching for a job and being invited is using a bid. The website Elance, for example, gives users fifteen free bids each month and then users can buy more for a monthly payment but invites are always free. Finally, there are payment methods. After turning in the work, both parties agree and money is moved into escrow, which can be collected through check, direct deposit or even Paypal.
Freelance is a simple way to make some extra money or work full time. It allows its users to start personal profiles and eventually move into a small business and hire others to help out. With extra income and being able to choose their own hours, freelance is great for most anyone, especially those who like to travel. These online communities allow for creative people to work from a laptop in any country, at any hour. Users can work freelance and not open a brick and mortar location and charge a little less since they’re not paying business rent and other expenses. Check out Elance, Odesk or Freelancer to begin a profile and include past references to make the best portfolio to start earning extra income and working globally.