One of the most common fears most college graduates have these days is not being able to find a stable job right after graduating to pay off those student loans. There are several ways a recent grad can collect great working experience without having to deal with the constant “1-5 years experience” requirement many entry-level jobs have now.

Freelancing is a great way to build a side hustle where you can build your digital portfolio and improve your talents and skills by taking on more projects. What I like best about freelancing as a career option is that it allows you to basically work from anywhere as a remote worker.

There is a lot of information and many options to choose from when you’re looking for online freelancing opportunities so I created this guide to help you get started on the right foot.

The Best Online Freelancing Websites:

In the world of online freelancing, having a digital portfolio and case studies that show off the value you have created for other businesses is essential. If you don’t have a lot of experience yet as a freelancer, you can leverage online freelancing marketplaces to get noticed and start building your digital portfolio.

Fortunately, there are dozens of websites where you can sign-up (usually for free) and have countless jobs to go through which you “bid” on in order to win and create work for yourself. You bid the price that you wish to be paid on the project and the client chooses the best one for their budget.

If you’re just getting started freelancing:

The 900 pound of gorilla of online freelancing is Upwork. Created through the merger of the two largest freelancing platforms oDesk and Elance, Upwork has by far the most freelancing jobs will you find anywhere on the Internet.

Upwork is a great way to start off your freelancing business because of how varied the jobs can be. There are copywriting, graphic design, programming, and even social media management jobs on there that are freelance-based, all you have to do is create a profile and start bidding.

Upwork recently changed the fee structure that it charges freelancers who work on their platform:

The service fee that freelancers pay to Upwork will change from a flat 10% to a sliding fee per client relationship, decreasing the more the freelancer works with a client:

20% for the first $500 billed with the client 10% for lifetime billings with the client between $500.01 and $10,000 5% for lifetime billings with the client that exceed $10,000 When a freelancer has billed enough with you to qualify for a lower fee, they’ll see an automatic increase in their take-home earnings. As a client, you’ll pay the same rate on existing contracts.

If you already have a lot of experience freelancing: 

If you have a general understanding of freelance job bidding sites, then Freelancer is also a good freelancer marketplace to build your reputation. Not quite as big as Upwork but they only take 10% from your payment.

If you’re a software developer:

There are many freelance job bidding sites out there which focus primarily on programming and similar web-based work. However, the two biggest happen to be Freelancer.com and TopCoder (if you are very experienced software developer there is also Toptal).

If you’re a good writer or blogger:

Each week, Freelance Writing Gigs has a good compilation of freelance writing opportunities. If you’re a really talented blogger, you can get lots of opportunities on ProBlogger’s Job Board. You can also find new opportunities by browsing Twitter hashtags like #bloggingjobs and #writinggigs.

For digital marketing and social media consultants: 

To keep your digital and online marketing skills sharp, check out MediaBristro, Mashable Jobs and Guru. All of these job marketplaces offer daily updates on clients looking for SEO professionals, content marketing experts, and social media consultants for their projects.

For graphic design and user experience designers:

For all of the designers out there, most of the freelance websites mentioned above have design jobs. However, there are some excellent designer-specific freelancing websites. The best ones for getting high-paying jobs are AwesomeWebEnvato Studio and Smashing Magazine.

If you’re a designer, you should also be showcasing  your work on professional design communities such as Behance and Dribbble. If you build a digital portfolio on these websites and share your best design work, you can get freelance opportunities from business owners who will contact you through these communities.

Normally, it is best to pick a combination of a generalized job bidding website and then a specialized one related to your freelance skills, as sometimes the specialized one will have higher paying jobs in something you want and are most qualified for.

A reminder: Take into account how much the job bidding site takes from the final payment. Include that percentage in your bid every time you seek out work, otherwise you might have an unwelcome surprise when it comes to payday.

Other Websites For Freelancing and Remote Work Jobs:

Building up a reputation and clientele through a freelance job bidding site is one of the most common ways people break into freelancing, but there are other ways to find remote work freelancing jobs and make some money along the way.

Here are your best options for finding freelancing and remote work opportunities on job boards:

1. Authentic Jobs – A large focus on web-based work, Authentic Jobs bills itself as “the leading job board for designers, hackers, and creative pros.”

2. Krop – More than just freelancing jobs, Krop offers positions available with digital media firms, tech companies, and ad agencies.

3. We Work Remotely – The go-to job board for finding remote work and opportunities to work as a digital nomad as a software developer.

4. Craigslist – Search for freelance jobs locally or in other locations using free classified website Craigslist.

5. Indeed – Search for freelance jobs on the world’s largest job search engine Indeed.

6. LinkedIn Jobs – Search for freelancing and remote work opportunities on LinkedIn.

Remember that creating your own job takes a lot of focus and dedication. If you don’t have a lot of experience in your area of expertise, you will need to work hard and hustle to develop your digital portfolio, usually by low-bidding on jobs initially.

Starting your own freelancing business can you give you a lot of freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere. Armed with the knowledge and resources in this learning guide, you should be able to find meaningful work opportunities as a freelancer online.