Updated: Sep 13, 2018
Nowadays, freelancing has become a popular professional choice. Today, freelancers bring their specialized skills in social media marketing, copy-writing, and many other sectors. They can serve every demand that a business venture might have. These include marketing and writing along with technical and financial support.
When it comes to #freelance writing, several freelancers are adept at writing business-oriented articles and blog posts while catering to the web #programming and #graphic design needs of a business. So, why is this shift happening? This is because the Globalization and the Internet revolution have been leading more and more workers to look for independent work nowadays.
What is Freelancing?
Freelancing is considered as earning money by being hired to work on different jobs for short periods of time rather than by having a permanent job with one employer. There are 5 different types of freelancers. They are:
Independent Contractors: These professionals’ full-time employment is freelancing; that is, independent contractors are hired on a project-to-project basis.
Moonlighters: As the name explains, Moonlighters are those who after their traditional (9 to 5) job, work on a project (normally at night).
Diversified Workers: While moonlighters tend to reserve their freelancing efforts to the night, diversified workers do a little bit of everything throughout the day. A “typical” diversified worker will have one or more traditional, part-time job(s) let's say, and also do some web-design freelancing on the weekend or on their spare time for example.
Temporary Workers: These freelancers are hired on a temporary basis (normally full-time) to work for a certain organization; independent consultants being the most obvious example in this category.
Freelance Business Owner: This type of freelancing is reserved to business owners who have up to 5 employees in their company, that both, hire freelancers but also are considered freelancers themselves.
The fields and industries where the freelance work is quite common are graphic design, marketing, media & PR, financial support, writing, editing, photography, fashion, programming, and data entry.
This section explains how the freelancing process works. Usually, employers will get the ball rolling by posting a job or project on a freelance website. This allows freelancers to contact them, explaining the reasons their skills and abilities make them suitable for this particular role – also stating how much they’d charge.
The employer is then able to choose from a number of proposals to find the best fit, discuss next steps, and come to a mutual agreement on how and when the work will be done. After it’s completed to the required standard, payment will be made.
How to start with your freelancing work?
If you’re ready to get serious about freelancing and multiplying your self-employed income, you can start freelancing with the tips mentioned in this section.
Firstly, if you’re new to #freelancing, you might feel ready to take ANY paid work you can get your hands on. But as you get deeper into your freelancing career, you’ll need to start being more strategic about the types of work you do and the clients you take on. Because when you specialize, you become an expert in a specific field, and experts can charge more for their specialized #services.
One major decision you need to make early on in your freelance career is what you do and what you don’t do. The more specific you can be about what services you offer, the better. Not only will it help you brand yourself, it’ll allow you to control how potential clients perceive you and give you the opportunity to continue building your portfolio in the direction you want to move in.
Before you can go out and start looking for clients, you’ll need to develop a clear picture of who you’re going to work best with. Do you want to build websites for small business owners, pitch in on new feature development for high growth technology startups, or take on longer-term contracts with enterprise-sized companies? Making these clear distinctions between who and what type of business you’re targeting will be essential to effectively pitching your services.
It goes without saying that one of the best ways to demonstrate your technical #skills is by having an amazing portfolio site of your own. If you want to be taken seriously as a new freelancer, you’re going to need a website that showcases your expertise, highlights relevant past experiences, shows who you are, and includes your contact information so that potential clients can easily find you.
In addition to the fact that creating a high-quality portfolio website, building your personal brand, and adding to your portfolio naturally takes a good amount of time, it’s a good idea to have a few steady freelance clients on your roster before axing your sole source of income. It is recommended to grow your side income to at least 50–75% of your total current income before leaving your full-time job, depending on your risk tolerance.
Practice using your new skills by building the types of projects that you want to eventually be paid to work on. Whether that’s WordPress websites, mobile apps, or something else entirely, the more you can differentiate yourself among a sea of competition with cool side projects and examples that’ll attract potential customers, the better.
With these tactics, you can effectively begin your freelance work and start earning a decent amount of money.
Don’t forget these things while Freelancing
Employers look at three things when choosing the perfect freelancer for their projects —
These three should always be of good quality if freelancers are hoping to land a lot of projects. So, if you want to become a successful freelancer, you have to remember few things like the back of your hand.
All #freelancers have a shot at convincing the employers of the projects they bid on. Although, if you fail to grab their attention with your bid, you might as well bid them farewell. Put in time and effort in understanding the project then draft your bid. You bid should contain a brief explanation of how you understood the project, your experience and your plan in making the project succeed, and your estimate on the project’s timeline.
Since freelancers work with several clients at a time, balancing several #projects at once, there is less sense of stability. Oftentimes, your clients will change, based on your working relationship, the company's need to employ a freelancer or even their budgets. That's why rejection comes more often, but it's important to not take it personally.
When you're self-employed, you're not only providing services to clients, but you're completely responsible for bookkeeping. Staying organized will help you dodge any mistakes and mishaps along the way.
You may not be a full-time employee of the businesses that hire you as a freelancer, but while you're working with them, your point person at each company is your boss. This person expects you to perform a specific task, and just like with a regular boss, you need to keep the lines of #communication open to ensure that both parties are getting what they need. Once you submit a project, be open to feedback and willing to revise and make changes to it if the employer wants something different.
If you’ve been awarded the project, show that your employer made the right choice of hiring you. The best way to do so is by providing five-star quality service regardless of the employer’s budget.
When employers are satisfied with your work, they would give you a positive review and most likely hire you again for future projects. Having good feedback from past employers play a huge role in raking in more projects since the reviews are visible in your profile. Your primary goal should be to provide excellent service.
Freelancing lets you bid and work on several projects at the same time. Only you can scale how much work you can get done in a day, so it’s best to plot a schedule ahead of time. Efficient time management is crucial in freelancing. Rushing and cramming can lead to sub-standard deliverables, which can, later on, cause an employer to leave negative feedback (something you should avoid at all cost).
Learn more about your craft or maybe another niche you want to explore. The more services you can provide, the more opportunities could come your way. Learning new skills is not as difficult as before since there’s the Internet, which helps you access almost any learning tool — e-books, podcasts, and various learning #platforms.
Problems faced by freelancers and ways to avoid them
Freelancing comes with many benefits. For starters, you don’t have to deal with a commute. You can choose your own hours. And while operating your own business offers numerous advantages, such as the opportunity to skip the commute and pursue your passion, the freelance lifestyle is not without its challenges.
As a freelancer, you are often at the mercy of your clients. From paying the bills late to making you mental with last-second requests, the companies that hire you can make or break your business and affect your overall satisfaction with the freelance lifestyle. Now, let’s discuss the most common problems that freelancers face in their work.
Ambiguous assignments don’t just waste freelancers’ time; they also cost clients more money in the long run. Most of us have encountered clients who don’t reveal what they want from a project.
In some cases, clients aren’t sure of their needs and goals and hope you can identify them. Other times, clients want to avoid offending you by being too direct in their instructions. Whether you’re writing blogs or designing logos, lacking specifics about the client’s needs and goals can be a significant hindrance.
Clients who micromanage assignments can leave freelancers feeling stressed and frustrated and prevent them from doing their best work. In some cases, you might feel compelled to complete an assignment to the client’s exact specifications rather than exploring other solutions that might provide superior results.
Just as it’s frustrating to be offered less than you’re worth for products and services, it’s upsetting to encounter a client who pays late… or doesn’t pay at all. In some cases, clients pay late due to simple disorganization. However, other clients neglect to pay because they lack the financial resources to do so. Still, others hope you’ll get tired of asking for your money and go away.
Ways to Avoid Them
As a freelancer, you can save time and trouble by insisting that clients clarify their expectations before work begins. When in doubt, draft a contract that explains what you will do and limits the number of revisions you will perform. Otherwise, you could wind up redoing the project completely on your own dime.
As a freelancer, you probably want your client to know what he or she is seeking before hiring you. However, that doesn’t mean you need the person who hires you looking over your shoulder until the task is complete.
To minimize the micromanagement issue, strive to set limits with a client from day one. If you get in the habit of answering emails or responding to texts at midnight, it will be hard to discontinue this behavior down the line.
Fortunately, freelancers have options when it comes to collecting payment. Start by keeping detailed records, so you know who owes you money and when it’s due. If you’re working with a client who has paid late in the past, feel free to request the money upfront.
As a last resort, you can deduct the cost of goods that clients ordered (but never paid for) on your tax return. You can’t control the behavior of your freelance clients, but you can manage your expectations and responses.
So, this article provides the things to remember while freelancing, while getting started with freelance work, and problems faced during freelancing and ways to avoid them. If at all possible, try to juggle between your regular job and freelancing. Your results will obviously be skewed, yet you will get a glimmer of what it’s like to be self-employed. Work during the weekends or in your spare time and you’ll see if you can make it full time.
Once you get a better sense of what freelancing is all about and you feel you’re more than up to it, then go ahead and make the deciding step. Don’t burn any bridges though because the unexpected is just around the corner.
Savaram Ravindra was born and raised in Hyderabad, popularly known as the ‘City of Pearls’. He is presently working as a Content Contributor at Mindmajix.com and Tekslate.com. His previous professional experience includes Programmer Analyst at Cognizant Technology Solutions. He holds a Masters degree in Nanotechnology from VIT University. He can be contacted at email@example.com. Connect with him also on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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