Blog Post

Leads and Letdowns: How Do You Find New Web Work?

Recently, I was commiserating with a friend looking for a new job about the unpleasantness of that task. I remembered the hours of fruitless toiling, sending countless resumes off into the void, along with unique, individually tailored cover letters for hundreds of positions. Days that first seem like a pleasant extended vacation eventually become a drawn-out reminder of just how little money you’re making, and just how unproductive your waking hours actually are.


Thing is, I realized that was what it was like before I became a web worker, when my ideal job was still a cozy 9-to-5 in an office somewhere, with a salary, benefits and a paid lunch hour. Once I gave up that ideal in favor of pursuing freelance opportunities online, the dreaded Job Hunting Process, which I thought was written in stone, largely ceased to exist. Sure, what replaced it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, either, but for all its faults, it definitely beats the cold dread of Workopolis and

Instead, when I want to find work these days, I generally tap friends and contacts in one way or another. Often, people will suggest me for projects that seem to be up my alley when they come up in conversation, and I’ll get an informal request for more information at least, and a contract at best. If I’m actively seeking work, I’ll likewise ask friends in industries I’m targeting about relevant work. This might be as easy as sending a DM via Twitter, or as complicated as arranging a meet-and-greet portfolio presentation. Or if all my personal network leads are cold, I know my field well enough to start some cold-emailing that results in a positive response often enough. More so than a Workopolis job search, at least.

This got me wondering if this is a shared experience among web workers, or if I was alone in finding it easier to search for and land work. What do you think? Is part of the appeal of working online that finding work is easier, or do you actually find it harder, but with a bigger pay-off?

5 Responses to “Leads and Letdowns: How Do You Find New Web Work?”

  1. Considering a similar approach. Did you form a company or are you doing pure freelancing work? I think still the most difficult thing here is getting started. Finding someone who will ‘let’ you do something … after that I imagine things will get easier.

  2. We’re having an event next week in SF to help job seekers network with startups. The idea is that start ups have lots of work but not a lot of cash. Job seekers need to keep their resumes up to date and network. So startups buy the drinks and try to connect with job seekers who will work for at least 5 hours/week for free.
    May 7th at District in SOMA

  3. It’s easier to find work when you’re considered more of an “equal”. One of the things that sucks about looking for a job is that it’s pretty much a one-way street. The job seeker is desperately looking for an opening, and the employers hold all the cards. That’s what makes it so depressing. When you are a web worker, freelancer, or small (micro) business owner you get more respect and can have a more open conversation about your skills, the work, etc. Also, it’s less of a risk for the company to hire you for a project than to take on a full-time employee.

  4. I think there is an untapped resource, certainly here in the UK where we typically avoid direct contact, of simply asking for work. Sending a direct email with clear benefits of using your services and signed off with a clear call to action is incredibly powerful.