Our mission at NEXTFREE is to make it as simple as possible for freelance Contractors and Consultant to share their availability for new work with the World.

In order to do that, we’ve kept the sign up and set up processes for freelancers as streamlined as we could (though we’re always looking to improve them).

Once you have set up your NEXTFREE profile and set your date we want maintaining it to be as light touch as sending a tweet or updating Facebook.

Having said that, there are a couple of things you can do after setting up your profile that will help you make the most of it:

  • check your profile picture
  • add an external link to your profile
  • make a note of your public NEXTFREE profile for easy sharing.

Check you profile picture

By default we use Gravatar pictures for your NEXTFREE profile. This service allows you to associate a profile picture with your email address and then allows services like ours to use that picture when you sign up with your email address. We love gravatar because it allows you to maintain your profile picture across many sites and services all from one place (one of our aims for NEXTFREE is to help you share your availability across many sites and services from one place in the future). If you don’t have a Gravatar account they provide us with a unique pattern to use in place of a photo. You can now upload your own picture to use as your profile picture if you’d prefer. To do this: log in to your account, select “Your profile” in the top right of the screen, and tap / click on the profile picture. You’ll then be able to upload a custom image or choose the default Gravatar image.

By default we don’t ask much about your skills or experience. This is, again, deliberate. We are not building yet another job board, CV site or professionals marketplace. We simply want to be the place that helps you share your availability.

One of our guiding principles is that NEXTFREE should not add more than is 100% necessary to what we call your “professional profile maintenance overhead”. Asking just for a simple description of what you do is enough information for the recruiters and clients who use our service to find you.

However, once they have found you, they often need to know a little bit more about you to be able to determine if you’d be right for the role or project they are looking for help with.

To help with that – while keeping your profile maintenance overhead as small as possible – we allow you to add links to external sites on your NEXTFREE profile.

You can add links to your portfolio, LinkedIn, Github, or Dribbble accounts for example. In fact you can link to any site that you think represents you best. And you can add as many links as you like.

You can do this from your profile settings page in your account (log in and select the link in the top right of the screen). Our members who have added links have seen a significant increase in the number of jobs that they are offered, so it’s worth doing.

Note your public NEXTFREE profile’s URL for quick sharing

As well as your private NEXTFREE profile, which can only be seen by clients and recruiters with a NEXTFREE account, when you sign up we create you a public version of your profile. This can be seen by anyone. It doesn’t share the exact date you set for when you’ll next be free, instead it shows if you are “Free now”, “Free soon” or “Not free”.

Your public profile has a unique URL which can be found on your profile settings page or when you update your NEXTFREE date.

Make a note of this URL and use it the next time a client or recruiter approaches you and asks when you’ll next be free for work. We use ours all the time, and it works really well as clients and recruiters who are keen to work with us will monitor it closely and know the moment our availability changes.

If you’d prefer not to have a public profile, you can turn it off in your account settings.

We hope this is a useful guide to how to make the most of your NEXTFREE profile. The most important thing is to keep it up to date so clients and recruiters can find you at the most appropriate time. We’ll send you reminders by email as your NEXTFREE date approaches. You can change your date right from within the reminder emails too, to make things as simple as possible for you.

If you have any other questions about your account or what we’re doing with our service, let us know by getting in touch on twitter @nextfree or by email at support \[at\] nextfree.co.uk