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.

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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 Monster.com.

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?

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