Finding Short-Term Gigs as a Freelance Web Developer

I’ve been freelancing as a web developer for the past two years. I made my transition into freelance work after I had the opportunity to work on several big freelance projects. I never needed to fill the void with smaller projects in between big contracts. The term “freelancer” is often misleading because, at the time, I considered myself more of a contractor.

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with short-term gigs because I currently don’t have any big projects in my queue. Here’s how it’s going:

I have an interest in small gigs because if I have availability for a few hours, why not try and make a little bit of money? It’s a perfect way to spend in-between time before starting a new project or if you have a gap between meetings.

Finding short-term projects as a web developer can often be a challenge. There are sites like Fiverr and Upwork that allow you to join a marketplace of developers and other skilled freelancers. These gig sites lend themselves to competition, and you can usually find success as you start to earn more money on these platforms.

For most of my two-year contracting career, I was against Fiverr and Upwork. I couldn’t understand why I would charge $20/hr doing a task where I could otherwise make over $100/hr. I couldn’t make the connection between spending more time marketing myself on a closed community than on an open marketplace where I would be more visible.

Despite the reservations, I gave gig work a shot. I created six gigs on Fiverr and applied to more than 25 different types of jobs on Upwork. I saw some small successes on Fiverr, completing three small gigs that involved giving feedback on a client’s stock photography. I received one message from someone on Upwork who wanted me to finish a large job, with one day’s notice, over the weekend.

I believe that the more money you make with Upwork and Fiverr, the more each system values you as a freelancer. This makes sense to me because the more money that you make for these companies, the more valuable your gig or proposal is to them.

Failure with Upwork

On Upwork, I tried changing my proposal template, lowering my rate, applying for a variety of gigs and nothing worked. I’d imagine that If I kept at it, I would slowly build my gig portfolio and I would rank higher in the searches and appear more qualified.

Upwork has a mix of people looking for different levels of quality work. Some clients want to push their luck with the project management triangle – “Pick Two: Good, Fast or Cheap.” Other clients understand the value of skilled work. After several weeks, it wasn’t worth my time feeding into the Upwork lifecycle.

Failure with Fiverr

I did see a small success with Fiverr, but it was not sustainable. The six gigs that I created ranged from fixing CSS bugs to automating Pinterest accounts, to tagging photos for microstock photography and a few other adjacent types of gigs.

I received three orders (from the same client) to help him get started with stock photography. This wasn’t my gig, but I was happy to help.

None of the gigs that I created saw any action except for a few spam messages and a small number of impressions. I saw potential in Fiverr. AB testing gigs and trying to rank through the Fiverr SEO algorithm wasn’t something that I wanted to get into. In the end, I didn’t want to spend any more time creating experiments.

What’s next? How can you find success in small gig work?

Determined to make small gig projects work for me, I searched google for a bunch of related services. I ended up finding a site called Ask Lorem. Ask Lorem is different because you set your own prices and start a conversation with a client. There’s no bidding and there are no proposals for the client to go through. It’s a chat.

I was hesitant to get started because of my failures with Fiverr and Upwork.

I gave it a shot. I applied, had a quick interview, was on-boarded onto the platform and started seeing small projects come through. Projects do range in size with Ask Lorem. It’s very possible for someone to want an entire site redesigned, which is no small task. I am interested in finding things like making style adjustments, updating fonts and fixing bugs.

It works! It really does.

When I’m at my computer, I have the Ask Lorem platform chat open. I’ll see new projects come through and I can start a dialog with a client to get a sense of budget, timeline and issue. I create a quick proposal for these clients. Once any client accepts my proposal, I start working. When I’m finished with my work, I have the client review the changes and give a 👍. Once I know the client is happy, I finish the project and get paid. It’s that easy.

After you develop a relationship with clients, the opportunity for repeat work is there. I think that’s the best part of the service. Ask Lorem is more of a job-sourcing platform and less of a “gig economy” platform.

Ask Lorem does take a cut of your earnings, which I feel is totally fair. The company cuts out the need to make invoices and source clients. It’s not a huge deal because if you want to make $50, charge $50 + 20%.

If you’re interested in signing up for Ask Lorem, sign up and start earning some money!