Freelancing in Germany? Here’s how to find work
Published on August 19, 2020 / Updated on January 9, 2024
I have been a freelancing expat in Germany for over 4 years now, and over that time I’ve learned the importance of finding the best methods for finding new projects. Work doesn’t just land on your doorstep. If you want to be a successful freelancer, you’ve got to learn the ropes. But once you do, it’s worth it due to the freedom and flexibility of freelancing. So to improve your chances of success, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best ways to find freelance work in Germany.
eBay Kleinanzeigen is and will always remain number one on my list for finding local freelance work in Germany. Thanks to a German friend of mine, I learned about this gold mine early on and it was what made my freelance career.
But isn’t eBay Kleinanzeigen just for getting rid of old stuff?
Nope! It’s actually also a place to list your freelance services as small ads (hence the name) completely for free. I specialise in SEO, content marketing, and translations, so eBay Kleinanzeigen was a fantastic place for private people and businesses to contact me for help with those services. When I was new to freelancing, I put ads up there and had two major business clients within just 2 weeks. I can’t guarantee that the success levels always work out that well for everyone (I got seriously lucky), but it’s the perfect place to start offering your freelance services before you have a website.
A note on this one though is that you will need to learn German to navigate the website and most people who contact you here will prefer to communicate in German as well.
Facebook has come a long way from its original state as a social media platform that connects friends and family. It has now transformed into a platform for interest groups. There are groups for cat lovers, solo travelers, and of course people who are interested in finding freelancers to grow their businesses. Depending on what type of freelance services you offer, join the groups related to that, and I guarantee you’ll soon see posts searching for those services. There are groups for web developers, content marketers, translators, musicians, and much more.
This method has been my second most successful method for finding projects both in and outside of Germany. If you’re keen on working specifically within Germany, join the German-language related groups.
Networking events are another place to get in touch with potential clients. I’ve found that a great place to search for upcoming events is on your local Meetup calendar. Depending on which city in Germany you live in, you can view the upcoming event calendar for that city and select networking events where you have the opportunity to get in touch with your local community. When attending those events, always keep a business card handy!
If you’re new to freelancing and don’t have your own website, you can start on global freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. There are options to filter for locations, services, and languages, so you can choose to work with German clients or expand your reach.
A word of caution here though: if you plan to freelance over the long run, these platforms will not bring you a sustainable income on their own. I recommend viewing them as a place to start out and improve your experience, and then once you’ve built up your profile, create your own website and focus on directing potential clients there instead. I will majorly improve what you can earn for projects.
Although LinkedIn was originally intended to be a platform to find employment, it has expanded far beyond this. Many freelancers and consultants have realised how well LinkedIn acts as a platform for personal branding, which is precisely what makes it a great place to find more freelance work – both in Germany and globally.
When using LinkedIn to grow your freelance business, always begin by making sure that your profile is optimised. Use a professional headshot, fill out all the profile sections in detail, and create a clear headline and about section that are related to your freelance services. Then, start connecting and engaging with others who might be interested in working with you on a project. I also highly recommend creating and regularly posting your own content related to your work, which encourages clients to come directly to you. If your goal is to get more clients in Germany, than prioritise making connections with others who live in Germany.
Xing is the German version of LinkedIn. If your goal is to work with clients specifically in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) then you absolutely need an Xing profile. You can use Xing both in the same manner as I described with LinkedIn, but also for networking events as well.
Also note here that 90% of the communication on Xing is in German, so if you’re new to Germany you’ll want to learn German to improve your chances of finding freelance work with Xing.
Last but most certainly not least, never forget to check in with who you know. This is particularly true for people in your local area in Germany. Even if you work remotely, companies still tend to want to work with freelancers who are close by in case they’d like to meet. Plus, if someone already knows you, it makes it much easier for them to both work with you personally and refer you to their network.
In addition, staying local is another tip for if you do any cold outreach (such as emailing or sending messages on LinkedIn or Xing).
I wish you the utmost success with your future freelance career in Germany!