The best type of trucking contract that you want to obtain is a long term or dedicated contract with a shipper or government contracts such as FEMA loads. This is where they will use your services for all of their loads of that particular type. These contracts are admittedly much harder to obtain through and you will likely not get them without having proven experience and great relationships directly with the larger shippers.
A rate confirmation is a much more common type of contract that all truckers will deal with on a regular basis. This is a contract for an individual load which dictates all the details from pick up and drop off locations, pay rate, fees such as demurrage, etc.
So, in summary, a dedicated contract is one which you hope for and work towards obtaining while the rate con is a contract in which you need to get on a regular basis to keep you on the road and moving freight to get paid. These are much easier for a small business or independent contractor to get on a regular basis.
For dedicated contracts, as we mentioned it will take time and dedication to get these. Do not put all your eggs in this basket right off the bat after getting your CDL; instead, focus on the contracts you can get right now and do a good job at them. As you do more of these loads over time and plenty of networking you can build those working relationships with shippers and business owners. This will put you in a much better position to get a dedicated contract down the road.
Starting out your focus needs to be on regular cash flow. To keep up with regular cash flow you may also want to consider a factoring service to get you around the payment terms of many shippers. To get contracts for individual loads as an owner-operator you need to start with load boards or dispatchers that can help you find loads with the right type of freight and for the right price to make sure that you are where you need to be to continue your business successfully in the trucking industry. Neglecting this is a huge part of what leads to a lot of carriers closing their doors.
To book your own loads to load boards such as the DAT board, are a common freight finding tool. Load boards allow you access to any broker or shipper (within the load board network) who is looking for your specific type of carrier to haul their freight. This allows you to cast the widest net to find customers, brokers, and shippers.
Load boards can be as different as the companies they supply. Before making a commitment to a load board, make sure you are getting the best service for your company. You want a load board with a large selection of your preferred lanes and a high demand for your type of equipment. Free trials are the best way to test the market before making a financial investment. (Note, some load boards do not advertise free trials but will offer them to you if you ask.)
Utilizing a dispatcher is another option and can help you find good loads that you might typically miss out on. Dispatchers save you time by working the load boards for you. Give them your business type and hauling expectations then they find you the best paying freight for the lane and freight you haul. If using a service like ProDispatch, the dispatcher will also fill out the broker packets for you, saving you even more time so you can focus on just delivering the freight.