How Do I Find Work If I Don't Live in the US?
Although the United States may seem to offer more opportunities for freelancers, there are still several ways to find remote work without actually living in the States.
Websites such as Upwork, Freelancer.com, and Fiverr offer jobs for freelancers in all countries and time zones. Depending on which country you're currently based in, there's most likely freelance work available once you start putting yourself out there.
Often the job post will say what time zone is required, but it doesn't always say what country the freelancer must live in. If you are willing to accommodate different time zones, you can still apply for these positions.
Many companies in the United States will look for freelancers who can work from anywhere, so working for an American company while living overseas is still an option for many. These jobs are definitely out there, just read the posts carefully and be prepared to work unusual hours if the job requires.
Nobody said freelancing was easy! But it's definitely worth it.
Being a local freelancer is also an option. Don't rule out finding work in your local town or country.
Working locally can also have many advantages since you can communicate face to face, set up phone calls and meetings in the same time zone, and be more available for your clients.
Sending out emails to potential clients and explaining who you are and what you do can lead to great opportunities or referrals.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and offer your services to local companies. Clients will actually be eager to work with a freelancer who is familiar with their culture and willing to put in the face time or the occasional meeting.
When applying for jobs in different parts of the world, the trick is to make it as easy as possible for the client to say "yes".
Make sure they know that having you in a different country or time zone will not affect your work flow. Give examples of how you've made it work for other clients in the past.
Think of some possible advantages to hiring from a different country. For example, perhaps you charge lower hourly rate than US freelancers, allowing clients to get more work for the same price.
Or maybe you can take care of their customer support emails while they sleep, and they can wake up to an empty inbox and happy customers!
With today’s technology, communication between people in other countries has never been easier, and once they see the value in what you provide, where you live no longer becomes an issue.
With a little creative thinking, you can find a way to flip this "disadvantage" into an advantage for you and your clients.
Advice from other freelancers:
Harmony: I’m from the Unites States but currently base myself in Australia. When I work with companies overseas, I just make sure the different time zones have as little effect on our work as possible. I am still able to deliver work on time and communicate with the team, and clients love having someone who can work independently without having to be micromanaged. I live in a small town and found that reaching out to local companies and pitching myself has been a good way to get my name out there. I recommend joining a local co-working space that puts on events. It’s a great way to network with other freelancers and often they will have advice about who's hiring in the community!
Claire: When I was just starting out as a freelancer, time zone difference was one of the biggest hurdles to landing a new job. I didn't always get a "yes", but here are a few things that helped me get my foot in the door.
1) Asking for a chance and doing a trial project for free. I would say "If it doesn't work out, no problem. But give me a chance to prove that I can make it work."
2) Staying ahead of deadlines. If you always deliver on schedule and build a reputation for excellence, employers will make an exception for an exceptional freelancer.
3) Being online to communicate at least once a day in THEIR time zone. So even if this meant staying up to 3am (which I had to do sometimes in the beginning) I made sure that I was there to answer emails in the morning, and then again in the afternoon before the end of their workday. By doing this, I showed employers that I understood their need for prompt communication and I put their needs first.
Joel Garman, Videographer, @VideoshiftMedia: I put on workshops locally that teach people how to use video for their businesses. Being from New Zealand, I found that it was a really good way to get people interested in what I was doing in Australia. It was something I never saw myself doing at first, but it really got me out of my comfort zone and I ended up meeting heaps of business owners in town all looking to get into video. You build a network of people and once you do good work for a few, you start to get referrals and get your name out there.