Where's the real work for freelancers?

I've recently returned to smaller-gig freelancing after very long project with the same client. A lot has changed since the last time I was out here! I've been conversationally speaking to some freelancers about how they run their businesses today, but I wanted to go (a little bit) beyond the anecdotal. I threw together a survey and blasted to some social networks for two days. This is not a real, viable study! The data sample is small (only about 20) but I still think it produced some interesting results. Here's what I learned:

Who are we talking about?

howoften
howoften
 

This was a comforting result, as I really wanted to get feedback from people who live freelancing, day in and day out. About 50% of responses were from the US, 25% from the UK, with the remaining combined from countries like Australia, Kuwait, Macedonia and Romania.cquiring the job via the website and completing work through final payment.

What percentage of business is obtained through...

Okay, I think we're seeing a trend here! Clearly not much has changed - Networking it's still the best way to connect with people, develop relationships and land new gigs.

what-percentage
what-percentage
 

Where are they connecting with real clients?

The world of freelancing sites is overwhelming! Filling out those profiles is time consuming and repetitive, and I knew there was no way that it would be a wise use of my time. But surely some of them are helpful, right? For those who do have regular success through freelancing sites, I asked which sites they had the most success through. Success was defined as acquiring the job via the website and completing work through final payment. Here's how the weighted responses look:

success
success
 

What I found interesting was that many of these sites were polarising in their results: Either they regularly provide gigs, or you score none at all. I do wonder what the reasons behind this are. Particular fields of work? Percentage of profile completion? Time invested in the platform? Curious!

So what now?

Well, I'm probably going to sign up for a few freelancing sites just to put myself out there, but for me the name of the game is networking. Get out there and meeting people, including specialist recruiters. Create trust and present yourself as someone who knows what they're doing. Be someone that people want to be around while they work. For me, being fresh out of a client Long Term Relationship feels like the perfect time to mingle! ;-)

Disagree with the results above? Have other tips and tricks to share? Catch me on Twitter @ashleymarinep.