I know, I know - it's easy for me to say 'just go out there and make some money!' to you and you don't even know where to start looking for such things. So here is a small list that can give you that kick in the arse you've been looking for.
These will be websites and apps such as Upwork, People Per Hour, Fiverr and similar. My opinion on these is incredibly conflicting, so bear with me during my bipolar recollection.
Over the years I've had over 50 different clients through these websites and I started as early as 2012 whilst I was still a student in Slovenia - back then I couldn't even get paid properly and all the funds had to go straight to Paypal instead. Fun times (not).
Personally, I found it pretty easy to find small gigs on these websites. But there is a couple of tricks I learnt over the years that made it easier to get gigs:
1) Fill out the entire profile. Yes, I know it's annoying and you have to do this on EVERY website, but it's worth investing the money. Putting in your portfolio images and describing them will make it so much easier when you're applying as you won't have to attach a PDF or go search for applicable pictures - you can just say 'if you're interested, have a look at my profile!'. This way, the potential client will click on your profile to see your portfolio, but ends up seeing your other jobs, reviews and even a headshot - this way you become more of a person they can relate to as opposed some random name in a message that sent a PDF. 2) Keep your cover letters short. It should only include the following: a greeting, a couple of sentences on who you are, a description of how you think you'd solve their problem / tackle their project and then a short list (bullet points) of your skills plus a 'please have a look at my profile for my portfolio of work'. Kind regards, boom. The thing is, nobody reads these things properly anyway. So most people will be captivated by something that involves them (I know, we're a narcissistic race) and spend longer on that message. 3) Don't apply for EVERYTHING. Firstly, you're just wasting time. Secondly, some of these (such as Upwork) put the info on how often you're awarded jobs (in percentage) on your profile which can be damaging. Really have a think if this is something you can really do, if it's worth the money and the time as well as how clear the brief is. 4) Do NOT underprice yourself. Repeat after me: ONLY I CAN PUT A PRICE ON MY OWN WORK. Now, if someone decides you're too expensive, that's fair enough to them (and trust me, you will get a lot of these and you just need to shrug them off). Refrain from looking at other freelancer's fees as they will vary from anything like 2 USD a day to 2,000 USD a day. It depends largely on the freelancers location (everybody's gotta pay rent, right) and years of experience. When you're applying, be honest about what you expect the cost of your service for that project would be. This way, you weed out immediately people who don't have an appropriate budget. In addition to this, if you underprice yourself, you'll be raging everytime they want to 'amend' things. So make sure you account for those little bits of time as well. 5) Reply immediately. I take it as a phone call: someone calling up for a quote, so obviously you reply immediately. This gives the impression you're organised and easy to communicate with.
BE CRYSTAL CLEAR
Because all of these are remote opportunities, make sure you are crystal clear on all points. Ask as many questions as humanly possible without being annoying. What is the top budget for this (to account for amending and file fiddling)? What is the deadline? What file format do the need and in what sizes? Do they need this for a very specific printing technique (e.g. screen print which requires colour separated PSDs)? Do they want to color match with Pantone? Everything.
Also be very clear on payment details. This is one bit where we sort of shrink into ourselves a little bit usually as most us feel like we're taking something from the clients. But this is not the deal - it's a legit exchange of labor for money. There might be a myriad of sketchy clients you will find that either want a trial for free (and then run off with the free work) or want to pay after 'they're sure the work is good enough' or people that flat out refuse to pay. One way I personally deal with this is to charge my minimum rate for a deposit. This is to cover my costs and the website fees just in case if the client decides to be sketchy. If they refuse to pay the deposit, you will know it's a red flag immediately.
KEEP IN CONTACT
Most clients do not want to rehire after they've found a designer they like even if there is something small they dislike (e.g. late to reply or slightly too expensive etc) as they will avoid the whole hiring and interviewing process all over again. So if you're successful in getting the gig, being good in it and on time, chances are there is more work for you in there. Check up on them after a couple of weeks, ask how the printing or the project went and if they need any help with it - and insert somewhere in there that you're also available for any other potential work they might have. You've managed to gain their trust so far - so keep up the good work.
NO CASH, NO WORK
This might be just me, but I'd absolutely love the entire industry to be like this. A lot of clients will ask for a 'trial' or in translation, free work. Now if this is something that literally takes you half an hour, by all means go for it. Anything more than that isn't a trial - it's them squeezing free work from at least 10-20 people that applied. I recently received a message from a potential client that they love my work (t-shirt brand) but to be able to 'take my application seriously' they would need me to put together 3 designs that are done according to their brief. I politely replied I can offer them a day's worth of work at 50% off if they're unsure, but I cannot offer free work. I never heard from them again.
Long post short: keep applying, one of the fish will eventually bite and from there on it will just go up, up and up. Hold your ground, do not waiver on your price and show the finger to anyone that wants free work.
As always, if you want more helpful posts on how to make $$$ doodling and drawing, subscribe to my email list below! I routinely send out tips, tools, trends and other helpful bits!