Do you feel like your work-from-home pay rates aren’t good enough? Perhaps they’re stagnant, and you haven’t been able to increase your pay in some time. This is a common complaint I hear from my readers, and I know how you feel.
We often think that, as we improve and feel like we deserve more money, people should come to us and offer more money. If they don’t, it’s because companies online don’t want to pay what we deserve. But here’s a secret: neither of those things is true. If you want better-paying gigs, you have to go after them. You have to ask for what you deserve.
Don’t know where to start? No worries: I’ve got 10 tips that will help you on your way.
1. Do One Thing
Looking for better-paying gigs is a cross-country marathon rather than a sprint: pace yourself, have a plan, and keep going. One great way to sustain this continuous evolution and improvement of your freelance life is by doing one thing a day to further your goals. At least one thing: that’s it.
You can use your one thing to find a new opportunity, begin or continue learning a new skill, practicing a skill to stay sharp, updating your portfolio, and more. It doesn’t have to be filling out a new application each day or sending out a new proposal or writing a new pitch. That could be too much-sustained pressure on yourself and burn you out – so mix your one thing up by alternating learning, improving, and applying.
Take at least one day off each week, too.
2. Look for Better-Paying Gigs
In order to get beyond the low-paying gigs into better pay scales, you first need to identify those better-paying opportunities. One obvious way to do this is by haunting the job boards relevant to your particular industry. If you have top-level skills, you may want to apply to Toptal; if you’re a writer, you may want to join Freelance Writers Den for access to their job leads.
Beyond industry-focused job boards and communities, there are specialized job sites like Indeed that do nothing but collate opportunities – and you can sort these opportunities by location, including whether they’re hiring remote workers. I’ve found one of the best sites like this to be FlexJobs – you can set job alerts up so their system is constantly looking for you, and all the jobs posted there have been vetted. You don’t have to worry about scams or illegitimate postings.
3. Make a Plan to Improve
The world is constantly changing and you must be constantly working on yourself to keep up. That means staying abreast of new developments in your industry, understanding the latest and best tools, and keeping your skills sharp. The proven way to keep yourself vital is to have a plan in place for improvement.
Start by regularly reading websites or magazines dedicated to your industry; for graphic designers, this may mean subscribing to Communication Arts; for freelance writers, that may mean reading The Write Life.
Identify new skills you’d like to add to your repertoire; you may do this by gauging your interests, or by learning what the most-used elements in your industry are. You could develop a new subject niche you’d like to highlight on your writing resume by researching and writing on the topic (and maybe sell the articles on spec). Or learn a new programming language that more apps are using.
A few courses and places for online learning:
Have a schedule for yourself where you regularly read, learn, and practice new skills.
4. Update Your Resume & Cover Letter
When you find a great new opportunity that pays better, you don’t want to waste time digging your resume out of some forgotten corner of your computer, updating it, and then sending it off. That’s stressful and inefficient. Instead, you should regularly update your resume with your strongest skills, best experience, and popular areas of focus.
This means you’ll have the time and space to think while putting your resume together, thinking of the best items to feature and language to use. You’ll also discover you feel more comfortable applying for various gigs more often – it won’t feel like such an enormous undertaking to reach for something new when you have all the materials ready to go.
You should keep a variety of cover letter templates updated and ready to go, as well – writing those can be stressful, too, so it helps to have a few templates on hand that you can plug the relevant information into without spending too much time on it.
5. Apply as Often as Possible
If you only check the job boards every few weeks or only apply every few weeks, you’re missing out on opportunities. When these better-paying gigs appear, you must be ready – because you can bet that there are other remote workers out there who are watching for the same job listings and not wasting one hot second when they appear.
Check your job boards at least a few times each week, and build some time into your daily schedule that will let you apply for these new opportunities as soon as you find them. Having your resume and cover letters ready to go as outlined in the previous tip will make this a feasible tactic for you.
6. Network in Your Industry
I know we’ve all heard that old adage that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” You should know that it’s true – and in some ways, leveraging your connections is even more important in a remote work career than a traditional one. Social charisma can take you much farther when you’re meeting hiring managers and executives in person; when you’re just a voice or face on the Internet, the difficulty of leveling up increases.
The answer is to network in your industry; if you can go to conventions in your industry, that’s great. If not, look for Facebook groups or Twitter hashtags where other professionals in your industry congregate. Network with others on LinkedIn. Join in on these conversations, making yourself helpful and memorable. Make friends. (You don’t want to just self-promote as that’s spammy; no one likes the person who doesn’t contribute anything real to the conversation.) You never know when the friends and contacts you make might help you to your next gig.
7. Keep Your Eyes Open
You also never know when you’re going to stumble across that better-paying gig; you can’t even be sure where! While checking the job boards is obviously a good way to find these opportunities, they’re not the only place to look. A trip to the grocery store and a chance encounter with an old friend from school could lead to a new gig; a friend of a friend might be looking for someone with your skillset – and your friend might put you two in touch. (Pro-tip: always let your family and friends know when you’re looking for new work. They can’t wait to help you if they can.)
Keep an open mind about where to look for new business, and employ creative ways to find it. As a jewelry-crafter, this could mean working out a deal to display your wares at various physical small stores – give the store owner a commission on referred business. As a freelance writer, look for websites to do guest blogs on and demonstrate your expertise to attract new clients. There’s no end to the creative tactics you can use.
8. Practice Proposals
In your search for better-paying gigs, you may find that you need to submit proposals to potential clients in order to win the job – especially if you’re looking for jobs on a freelance site like Upwork. If you’re not familiar with proposals at all, there are plenty of resources online to help you learn the ropes. You can even start with the Upwork blog, and then branch out with the help of Google for more tips and templates.
As you discover what proposals are all about, you should practice – it’ll help you get more comfortable when it’s time to put together a proposal for real. And if you want an app’s help with your proposal, check out apps like Qwilr and Proposify.
9. Choose a Well-Paying Industry or Specialization
Of course, one of the best ways to move beyond low-paying gigs is by working in an industry that has a high demand for experienced pros. The ideal situation as you level up is for your skillset to be in demand, so do some research before you commit to learning a programming language or taking a project management course.
You can also choose a specialization within your industry that is in high demand in order to become better qualified for higher-paying gigs. For a programmer, this may mean learning a new programming language. For a freelance artist, that could mean learning 3D modeling. As a writer, it could mean building your cred as a health and wellness expert or a pet care specialist.
Wondering how you can identify these lucrative specializations? Keeping up to date with trends in your industries can help guide you.
This is the most important step in searching for better-paying gigs, and brings us full circle to doing one thing each day. You must persevere; you must keep trying. You’ll find yourself feeling worn down at some point during your search, and that’ okay. It’s natural. But the only way you’ll score that next-level job that pays better is if you keep trying.
When you’re feeling discouraged, take 15 minutes – acknowledge your feelings, and then go do something else. Take a quick walk or get a snack. Don’t think of anything work-related while you do. And once those 15 minutes are up, come back to your desk and get to work. You’re bound to succeed.
When you find that better opportunity, come back and let us know! And tell us which tips worked best for you.