Working Remotely: How to Turn a Full-Time Job Listing Into the Perfect Freelance Gig

By Chelsea Baldwin, Contributor, on March 8, 2018

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Picture this: You’re scouring the job boards for your next freelance gig, and you find it… the job of your dreams. It fits perfectly with your experience, it’ll stretch you a little bit (but not too much) and it’s in the industry you’ve been dying to get into. And application-wise, you know you’ve got it in the bag. But there’s just one problem…

At the bottom of the listing, they say they want to hire a full-time, in-house employee — which is not what you want to do. You want to be working remotely. Maybe the company is too far away and you’re not willing to relocate, or maybe, like a true indy, you’re hell-bent on keeping your freedom.

Whatever the case, the fact that they’re looking for a full-time employee doesn’t mean the gig can’t be yours. A lot of times, especially with work that’s commonly done by independent workers, a freelance agreement can actually be more beneficial for the company in question. Here’s my advice on how to turn a full-time listing into the perfect freelance gig.

Proving You Can Work Effectively While Remote

Yes, companies can save money by hiring workers on a freelance contract rather than full-time employees — and for some companies, that’ll be enough of an incentive to give it a try.

However, other, more established companies are sometimes more convinced of the need to have someone in-house for multiple reasons: better communication with the team as a whole, a feel for the company culture and full-time dedication to the company and the position.

But there is a way for you to provide all of these things working remotely — even if it’s through an agreement that you’ll work for a few months while they find the best fit for their full-time needs.

When it comes time to have these conversations with a prospective client, don’t forget to reiterate that video calls can almost completely remove the need for on-site visits. If they’re hesitant, tell them about a video chat platform they can reach you on throughout the day, so it doesn’t actually feel like you’re outside of the office.

If you’re good at what you do and have direct experience handling client needs, you shouldn’t be afraid to try to sell yourself. First, focus on getting a client to agree to work with you on a trial project for a few weeks to see how it goes. After they’ve already trained you — and you’ve delivered quality work — the client will be more likely to choose you to take on a more long-term project. “Once the freelance relationship starts, your employer may see firsthand that freelancing this role works just great, and drop their plans to make a new permanent hire,” says veteran freelance writer Carol Tice.

Setting the Right Boundaries

Once you convince a company that you’re a great remote hire for their previously listed full-time position, it can be hard to set boundaries around your work schedule. You still want the freedom of a freelancer, but they need to feel like they’re getting all the benefits of a full-time employee.

Start by telling the client that you’d like to discuss the parameters of working together (since you have a non-traditional agreement). Think of it like setting the parameters of a retainer agreement.

If you want to work a certain number of hours, make that clear in the beginning. But be warned: Hour-based work often leads to micro-management on the client’s end.

Instead, it’s probably best for you to agree on monthly deliverables. Take a closer look at the job description, and come to the table with a fleshed-out timeline for approval. Promise that you’ll check and respond to the client’s messages a certain amount of times per working day, and schedule regular, weekly status calls to ensure everyone is in the loop at all times.

Trust Me, It’s Worth a Shot

Realistically, not every employer will be open to this type of agreement — but it’s almost always worth a shot. Even if you get turned down for a few projects, landing one or two of these remote gigs can be enough to fully sustain your freelance business for a long time.

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