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January 29, 2020

Your First Contract: Techniques in Getting that First Online Job

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In any endeavor, anyone always starts with nothing - at point zero, null, nil, nada. Apparently, it is one of the toughest challenges a budding online freelancer will experience. This is the point in the change of career of a person that can make or break his decision to be his own boss and work from home.

Based from experience, landing that first contract will test your patience as there may come a time when you will think that you made a bad decision of quitting something stable for something that you thought would be great. It will be great if you follow the techniques below to acquire that first online job.

1. The Newbie to Newbie Technique

If there are lots of newbie online job seekers, there is also a good number of newbie online job providers. When looking for that first contract, you can aim for companies that offer online jobs for the first time. This will create a mutual relationship where both of you can acquire work and get the work done, and get good newbie feedback after the project. Doing this increases the chances of earning that first online job because most seasoned professionals who work from home target bigger and more experienced companies.

Just make sure that when you apply for a newbie company, their payment method is verified and can be trusted. Otherwise, you may be at risk of not getting paid after you get the job done. Be careful but be trusting at the same time.

2. The Go for Low Technique

Some online job providers offer great opportunities for budding freelancers. However, they do this with only a small budget. It is understandable that hiring newbies poses greater risks compared to hiring experienced freelancers. Thus, these companies are only willing to pay a low compensation to get a job done by new freelancers who work from home. I personally used this technique when I just started working from home. I went for low-paying online jobs, did a great job, and acquired strong referrals. This allowed me to build the strong portfolio I now have.

3. The Cautious, On-the-Spot, Free Test Technique

You can alternatively choose to prove your talent despite having zero work references by doing an on-the-spot, free test for the potential client. However, this may require very good negotiation skills to reach the level where you can communicate directly to the client and make the request to prove yourself via a free test. You may also do this by attaching a sample work piece related to the job upon application.

I would just like to remind you to be cautious in providing free tests as there is a fine line in proving oneself and doing a job for free. Do not let your efforts be put to waste and be observant of being taken advantage of. When that happens, courteously approach the client about this issue, and if you end up in a disagreement, graciously decline.


There is no shortcut to success and whether you like it or not, you will ultimately pass through the challenge of getting that first online job. If you are having a tough time, do not give up because it will certainly come your way. If you know other techniques, feel free to comment so we can share them with our fellow freelancers who decide to work from home.



Katrina Canlas has been in the online job market for more than 3 years now. After working in the academe and as a software engineer, she is now a full-time online freelancer. During her leisure time, she writes on her blog "Working Online", a blog that provides friendly tips about working through the web.

This article originally published on and republished here with permission of author.

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June 7, 2011 - 11:31 pm
Very true! Makes a change to see smoenoe spell it out like that. :)
May 8, 2011 - 12:50 am
I never really thought about the newbie to newbie approach. I just assumed that most people giving the jobs away would be well seasoned veterans. That fact that not everyone is pro makes starting into freelancing just a little less scary, boosts my confidence a bit. My only concern with the go for low technique is even though you may just be starting your time is still valuable so consider that before you take a task, if your going to do the work it has to be worth it, don't give your work away for free!
David N.
May 6, 2011 - 11:41 pm
The one about doing low paying jobs very well is a good idea in my opinion. The thrid technique is the one i use often, when I was doing desktop publishing. Helped get my portfolio going.
Katrina Canlas
May 6, 2011 - 8:50 pm
Yes, I agree with you too Renne and Chris. I think these sites can be your stepping stones to much bigger freelancing projects in the future. It is really quite tough now due to the competition in the online job market but with the right tools and techniques, many aspiring freelancers can succeed in finding online jobs and making it their full-time career, I hope many new freelancers can benefit from these techniques that I recommended. Thanks!
May 6, 2011 - 6:45 pm
I agree with chris start off building a reputation for yourself with the small tasks so you can present them to bigger companies.
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