Survey results #3: where do your freelance projects come from?

Monday 13th January, 2014

In the last two posts about heritage-sector freelancing, I’ve looked at what my recent survey said about why we become freelance and how business is going. The answers are positive – we’ve chosen freelancing for its flexibility, and the majority of our businesses are holding steady, or growing.

So what are freelancers’ best sources of work? Here’s what the people who answered the survey said:

So, word of mouth is the best source of business – our clients like what we do and employ us again. Indeed, a small number of regular clients is enough for one person to deal with – although too much reliance on a single source can be risky, as some freelancers noted.

75% of people reported getting work by client recommendation – and half through recommendation by peers. This is great news – far from being over-protective of potential projects and clients, freelancers actively support one another.

60% say that collaboration with other professionals is a good route to projects. It’s been my experience that banding together with others whose skills complement mine can be very fruitful. Whether with others or solo, bidding or applying for opportunities was a source of work for over 40% of us.

Contacts made via networking was a source of work for over 40% of respondents, and at a lesser level, people felt their own website or blog helped (about 19%) and membership of professional group (about 18%).

People also shared their (very impressive!) entrepreneurial ideas:

  • I invent my own jobs and get external funding to deliver them.
  • I make proactive proposals / suggestions to existing clients based on former contracts or my knowledge of them.
  • I also do my own projects which I may secure funding for, or may be done through / in partnership with another organisation.

Whether you are personally in a time of feast or famine, it’s good to pick up tips from fellow freelancers and think about whether it’s time to make any new contacts, go along to some events, renew some acquaintances or think bigger thoughts about your own ideas and how you might get them funded.

And it’s great to feel part of a busy community that’s willing to share opportunities and ideas.

NEXT TIME: What are the highs and lows of being a heritage freelancer?


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