(Originally published on Feb. 4, 2021. I recently updated this article with more info, including looking for work on Twitter!)
Here in Canada, it sometimes feels like we have fewer options for work from home jobs compared to our American counterparts. Thing is though, there’s still plenty of work to go around!
The pandemic changed everything.
One of the few upsides of this pandemic has been the national transition to remote work. Freelancers aren’t expected to go into their client’s offices anymore, and there aren’t any more face-to-face meetings to go to. Clients are also more at ease with hiring people who work from home, now that everyone’s doing it! This is the kind of attitude change and shift in work culture that makes it a whole lot easier to find remote work, especially outside of your local market.
Networking is still king.
While it’s possible to find freelance work online with international clients, your chances are far better to find it locally in Canada, and especially among the people you already know. You can absolutely be successful on freelance-specific websites (like Upwork or Fiverr). It’s just that it’ll take a lot more time to set yourself apart from all of the other international freelancers on there. Those sites are extremely saturated right now.
You’re much better off putting the word out among your own network that you’re looking for work. Chances are, someone you know will be your next client. So, network among your closest friends, first. Tell everybody you’re available for work. Don’t whine, don’t make it annoying, and don’t direct message everyone. Just post a reminder once in a while that you’re looking for work, and make that message super specific, and easy to understand. If you’re looking for industry-specific work, then say so. If you’re looking for senior-level work, or part-time work, make sure you specify that in your messaging. Put your call-out in plain English, and describe the tasks that you can do in a way that’s easy for people outside your industry to understand what it is that you can offer. This way, they can refer you to people they might know who need help from someone with your skillset.
If your networking efforts are failing, try online groups, especially on networks like Facebook. There are groups that post opportunities that might be just for your city, your province/territory or Canada-wide. Some of them are very specific, for example, I’m part of a few groups for women.
If you’re not sure what to search for, again, ask your friends! If you don’t like FB or if you’re not on there, there’s also LinkedIn. LinkedIn tends to be a bit more on the professional side, but there are some useful groups there too. Check out industry-specific groups. I’m in a few technology ones that are pretty active.
I’ve gotten a few contracts from Twitter, just by being online at the right time. It turns out, plenty of people, and organizations, ask their Twitter followers if they know anyone who can do a job for them. The more you expand your contacts on Twitter, the higher the chances you’ll run across someone who needs your help. So, keep an eye on your timeline, and grow your network on Twitter.
Some people scan Twitter for keywords related to their field, so they can quickly leave a comment when someone is looking to hire someone. This might be effective, but from my experience, people are less likely to hire someone they don’t know. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it though!
Indeed is your friend.
By far one of my favourite tools to find new work is Indeed. I’m actually quite surprised to learn that a lot of people still don’t know about it! Indeed is like a job site, but it’s an aggregate of a bunch of existing online job listings, all in one place. It’s not something you’d use to find individual clients, but it’s a great tool to find freelance work that you can do to hold you off in the meantime. Whether you’re a copywriter, a developer, a graphic artist, you’re bound to find a part-time or full-time contract that you can work on while you’re building up your client list!
One of my favourite things about Indeed is their alert system. You can punch in keywords and have them send you emails when jobs match those search terms. I’ve found a few podcasting gigs that way.
Widen your search!
Whether you’re networking online with pals, or looking through sites like Indeed, remember to look beyond your local city. If you’re in Ottawa, you can expand your search to include Toronto, Sudbury, Vancouver. You can look anywhere in Canada for work from home freelancing opportunities!
Make sure that you take note when a gig mentions if the candidate has to be local or not. It’s the same thing when talking with potential clients. Make sure they’re aware that you might not be in the same city as them but that it won’t make a difference to the quality of your work. If you do decide to take on work outside of your town, remember that timezones can complicate your schedule, so take that into consideration!
Put a website up.
While this isn’t specifically necessary to finding work from home opportunities in Canada, it just makes it easier for people to spread the word about you online. For freelancers, I always recommend that they post their rates online too. It’s a bit of a controversial subject, but I just find it easier, and more ethical, to work with someone who’s upfront about what they charge.
Whatever you do, when you’re searching, you have to make it as easy as possible for people to share stuff about you and your business. Create fun graphics for people to share, get that website up and running, create fan pages or your own groups for them to join.
While you’re at it, you can also optimize your SEO so that people can find you online. You might want to optimize it so that you become the local expert in your town. Look into Google Business profiles. Google “local SEO” if you want to dabble in this yourself. If you can manage to position yourself on the first page of results when people are looking for a freelancer like you locally, then bonus!
There are new podcasts being created every day in Canada. Chances are, there are hundreds of podcasters in your city. If you’re an expert in something, put the word out that you’d love to be a guest on their show. This is a really creative way of demonstrating your expertise on a topic while also putting your name out there.
Most freelancers don’t think about this stuff, but publicity really does make a huge difference, even the local variety! And while you’re at it, if you have worked for other people, invite them to leave reviews for you and your work on your FB page or on Google.
It takes time, but once the ball starts rolling…
There’s nothing more awesome than being a freelancer from home. For the right people, it can be a perfect fit for their talents and their lifestyle. If you’re new to freelancing, it might take a few months, maybe even a year, to establish yourself. And honestly, there’s really no shame in taking on a few gigs from Indeed at a lower pay until you get your footing.
Sticking with it, and aggressively looking for those better gigs, while also being a high quality person to work with, is what makes all the difference. Doesn’t matter where you live: be someone who’s great to work with, and you’ll do just fine.