What is a freelancer?
A freelancer is a professional who offers her or his services to one or several clients at once without being exclusively obligated to any one of them. Freelancers offer varied services and their work can take different forms.
Freelancers can serve every demand that a business venture might have. These include marketing and writing along with technical and financial support. Today, freelancers bring their specialised skills in social media marketing, copywriting, and publicity. 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. Finally, freelancers also provide bookkeeping services.
Freelancing has become a popular professional choice lately. The Freelancers Union reports that with more than 55 million Americans or 35% of the American workforce committed to careers in freelancing, brought a total earning of about one trillion a year.
What are the perks of freelancing?
Freelancing comes with its plentiful perks. Be it choosing your own working schedule and hours, to deciding on establishing a practice which is full-time or part-time, the choices are plenty. Furthermore:
• Greater control: Freelancing allows to have greater control on the output as well as helping the producer keeping a stricter control on the products and services. Freelancing is akin to independent contracting with the freelancer having control over the final product. Given their status in the professional hierarchy, for tax purposes the Internal Revenue Services views them on a different slate all together.
• Greater profits: Given freelancing is an exclusive venture, with products made for a particular client, and given the singular focus a freelancer must give to an assignment, they make more money than a regular employee. This is also because a freelancer brings a specialty to the table which cannot always be measured by a regular employee.
What are work schedules like?
Freelancers do not have a consistent work schedules. Given that their schedule is self-made or designed according to the work load they take on, freelancers have control over their day unlike regular employees.
Freelancers are known to repeatedly serve certain clients over a large stretch of time. This could include a writer contributing articles to a publication a couple of times a week. Yet, certain forms of freelance work demand engagement just once. This could be seen in the work of a web designer. Once the website is up and running, there is little left for the web designer to do apart from collecting her/his compensation and moving onto the next assignment for a different client.
How do you start out as a freelancer?
Starting out as a freelancer can be done quickly if one knows the skill or service they are willing to offer to clients. Understanding this important facet and where this skill fits in the overall canvas of the industry sets the pace for the freelancer to begin operating. Once the first step has been achieved, focus shifts onto the next step, that of finding the first client. This can be effectively done by first building oneself a well populated website and boosting their Linkedin profile and online resume. In today's hyper connected world, these two arenas are the first to be investigated to get a ring side view of a professional. Networking begins within quarters which are well known, be it among old colleagues and professional circles or from referrals from encouraging friends or online through Linkedin.
How do you successfully build a freelancing career?
To build a freelance career one needs to first identify the core service one wishes to offer to the industry. These include writing, web design, graphic design, photography, marketing, social media management, bookkeeping and more.
The freelancer must determine the target market along with the specialisation they want to offer i.e. specialise within a specific niche of service or within a specific market. The time taken to decide on their unique selling point and branding is a time well spent. Presence online is imperative for a freelancer in a globally connected market. This includes websites, a Linkedin profile and established social networking presence to engage with clients and showcase one's work.
These platforms in conjunction with one's personal network of friends and family along with colleagues within the industry are the first arenas to find work. In addition, using a freelance site, such as Freelancer.com to find work, can establish presence in the market and receive testimonials can bring stature to a freelancer. Finally, understanding price dynamics and structure is essential for a freelancer.
Does a freelancer need a website?
Freelancing operations usually are quick off the ground because the freelancer operates within a professional space s/he is already acquainted with. As such the physical requirements are already present in the operating landscape.
What the freelancer must do is to invest in a business building tool like a website. A website which supports the work of the freelancer while detailing her/his work history and background in a seamless user-friendly fashion attracts clients and assignments.
Is freelancing competitive?
A freelancer must recognise that in this day and age when professionals want to control the hours of their work, commitment towards the services provided is imperative. The freelance market is becoming competitive with more professionals clamouring to create their own space in this arena while offering specialised services at competitive prices. Given that businesses want to be as lean as possible, they are engaging freelancers with greater priority given to ad hoc commitments.
Thanks to the internet and a hyper-connected world, possibilities for freelancers are many, however with competition at its peak, differentiating oneself in a homogeneous market has become important.
What kind of freedoms does freelancing come with?
Freelancing comes with a few freedoms which professionals have come to cherish. They have the freedom to decide on their working hours and the commitment they want to take up. This allows freelancers to have tight grasp over the work they produce which at the end of the day decided the viability of their career.
At the same time, freelancers also have the choice to pick and choose their clients. They can choose to work for a particular client over others supported by a motivation which is directed towards an end they want to seek.
While in the beginning of their careers, freelancers take up any and every client and assignment, keen on getting the ball rolling, more established freelancers exercise discretion in taking clients and are also known to fire difficult ones who do not support their personal work culture. Finally, the freelancer is also in control on how the work is to be done. While the end product is a directed by the need of the client, how the work is accomplished and the timeline is the prerogative of the freelancer.
What are the disadvantages of freelancing?
1. The uncertainty of building a client list: The disadvantages of freelancing can be seen in the early phases of building one's practice. The uncertainty of building a client list and of irregular assignments and pay cheques can be harrowing. However, one must be educated that freelancing is a difficult profession where establishing oneself takes time. Thus, to support one's family on their freelancing practice can be a difficult ask in the beginning.
Freelancers must also take into consideration that the remuneration in this industry is based on reputation, longevity and stature. As such they are not well paid in the years they start out. This is exacerbated by the digital economy which has lowered payments for newcomers. While breaking even with these salaries is not easy, but once a freelancer gains traction in the industry, it becomes easier to gain quality and high paying clients.
2. Life is a rollercoaster: Making peace with the ebbs and flows of assignment and money is something a freelancer is essential. There will be lean patches which the freelancer must make amends with.
Conversely, there are phases where there is more work than time at hand and yet a freelance must show commitment to both the assignments and clients. During these times keeping track of deadlines and pacing themselves to deliver quality work on time is important. Thus, time management and organisational skills are key determinants of success for a freelancer.
3. Clients can be challenging: Multiple clients bring with them a spectrum of challenges. Thus, for a freelancer, performing her/his job well is just one aspect of the profession. The landscape also brings with it the need to manage clients with a sense of decorum and diplomacy. The attitude of the freelancer towards difficult and demanding clients also sets the tone for the business and the reputation the freelancer earns.
What are the differences between a freelancer and a home-based business owner?
One might wonder that there are similarities between a freelancer and a home-based service business owner. Both are self-employed individuals who set their own schedules, while working for several clients at the same time and are subject to the same tax rules. However, the key differentiation between both these professions is that the home business owner operates under a business name unlike a freelancer. Additionally, a home business owner finds a gap in the market and fills it while a freelancer works within the established needs of the market.
Freelancing is a challenging career but an affordable way to work from home while being the master of one's own time. If one does their homework about the profession and understands the pros and cons associated with it, success is not far.
Do you have any questions about freelancing? Leave a comment below!