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3 Simple Ways to Land Your First Gig as a Freelancer

Over one third of the American workforce is freelancing, and more freelancers are starting to look for side jobs every single day. Some people envision a time when almost everyone who is not a robot works in the gig economy, or not at all. If you are thinking about becoming a freelancer but find the prospect daunting, don’t worry. Here are three quick ways you can start earning money on the side in a day or less. Then pretty soon you can have a freelancing empire on your hands.


Craigslist, the ultimate classified ads website, is not just a place to buy or sell a lawnmower (or peruse some really questionable personal ads); it is also a great resource for freelancers. There is literally an “A to Z” of job offerings on Craigslist, and it is really easy to search for a gig on the site. Craigslist allows you to modify the geographic area of your search as well, and customize your job hunt. Freelancers can also post their own ads on the site advertising their services, and drum up business on their own. Craigslist is simple to use, very popular and costs nothing. Any beginning freelancer can start out with a quick job search on Craigslist before heading anywhere else.

Mechanical Turk

The Mechanical Turk website is one of the most interesting freelancing opportunities out there. The site, owned by Amazon, is essentially a crowdsourcing marketplace. Individuals post what the site calls “human intelligence tasks”, or HITs, that they need someone to do. Workers, also called “Turkers” select a HIT, complete t, and are then paid for their work. Most of the HITs are relatively straightforward and short, like answering surveys for researchers or judging website designs. The tasks on Mechanical Turk are also extremely low paying; it would be difficult to earn minimum wage on the site with the average pay of most HITs. However, some of the HITs, like audio transcription, can be lucrative. The more HITs you complete on the site, the more opportunities you have to complete for the higher-paying HITs. Mechanical Turk is definitely a site worth checking out if you are looking for something completely different.


Upwork is an enormous online platform that is dedicated to freelancers. 12 million registered freelancers use the site to bid on over 3 million jobs annually. Upwork clients who need a job completed post their requirements on the site, and registered freelancers there can place offers and compete for it. Freelancers are paid within Upwork upon completion, and clients and freelancers both can leave feedback for one another, so that the community can police itself.

Upwork is another great place for freelancers to start. A new freelancer can register an account, build a resume, and start competing for jobs over lunch break. For creative types who write,  design, or code, Upwork is a tremendous resource. Novice freelancers who start out on Upwork will likely stay there for the duration, it is so easy to use. The only real drawback to Upwork is its fee system. The site charges a fee for each transaction a freelancer has with a client; if you do a job, Upwork gets a cut. While relatively hefty fees may take a cut out of your payout (those fees are a bit controversial right now, too), Upwork is nonetheless a great place for freelancers to start working in the gig economy.

There are millions of ways to start freelancing. But if you want to do it, you have got to start somewhere. Craigslist, Mechanical Turk, and Upwork are all very different. But all of them offer freelancers unique ways to get started earning money on the side. So don’t keep putting it off; check out one of these sites, and get freelancing before everyone else beats you to it. And creating all the invoices.

Finance Author
William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. He began investing when he was 10 years old. His financial works have been published on Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and many others.

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