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For many Americans, the thought of working in the gig economy–or doing short-term freelance work–is a dream come true. Many of these jobs can be done from home or allow you to set your own hours, while others put you in the position to get paid doing something you truly love. It can be frustrating, however, to find a job that is a good fit for you that also pays what you need.

The beauty of working in the gig economy is that you can do it on the side of your regular job, or only for a short period of time in order to save up some money for a specific goal. Think about what your goals are, what sort of time you’ll be able to contribute to it,and where your strengths lie. For instance, if you have a good eye for grammar and can easily spot mistakes, you might look for a job as an editor for an online magazine.

Here are a few good ways to get started.

Do your research

It’s imperative that you start by doing some research online in regards to freelance work: how to find it, what it pays, and how to avoid scams. Sites that promise to make you thousands of dollars per week are probably not legit, so start by going to established companies and sending an email query. Many of these companies will have a section on their site just for freelancers with details on how to contact them. Lack of experience can work against you, so it’s a good idea to have something that will show your skill level, such as references from a job you worked at that required a similar skillset. Or, if you’re looking to become a writer, build up a blog that showcases your best work and garner a following before applying for freelance jobs.

Do what you love

One of the many benefits of working in the gig economy is finding work that you love doing. For animal lovers, this might mean anything from working part-time at a shelter to picking up a job as a dog walker or pet-sitter. Companies including Rover.com are making these jobs easier than ever by providing pet owners and responsible animal-lovers with a place to meet up. There may be several busy pet owners in your neighborhood who could use a hand, so check out the site to see if you can find a match.

Build a social media presence

Building a social media presence is essential if you want to do freelance work. Not only does this help employers find you and find out more about you, it will also help you find contacts. Look for services like LinkedIn, which can help showcase your skills and show potential employers your experience and consider creating your own website.

Learn how to market yourself

Knowing how to market yourself is essential in the freelance economy. You’ll need to find the jobs you know are right for you and do some research on what they’re looking for. Read their website carefully and get to know their rules for submitting queries or proposals, then master the way you prepare those items. Employers see many job queries everyday from freelancers, so they don’t have the time or patience to keep reading if you send them something that doesn’t adhere to their guidelines.

Finding freelance work doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Start with a solid plan, do your homework and seek advice from those who have made the gig economy a career. With the right start, you can begin making money in no time.

Lucy Reed, Owner/Blogger/Developer

Gigmine.co, lucy@gigmine.co

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