Everyone with a nine-to-five job has once dreamed of going on their own without working the hours that someone else decides for them. The idea of starting your own business may seem to be a little bit scary, however, earning money on your own terms seems to be something worth going for. In fact, this is the idea of freelancing. Working on your own terms.
About 55 million American people were freelancing in 2016 which is 35 percent of the workforce. Some of them are full-time freelancers, while others stick to their 9-5 job and do freelancing in their free time. Such part-time and freelance jobs have created a new type of labour market which is called the Gig Economy. Are you interested in joining the Gig Economy? Here is all you need to know about becoming a freelancer.
What is freelancing?
A freelancer is a self-employed person who offer services to one or multiple clients at a time without be exclusively obliged to any of them. Freelancers offer a wide variety of services and their work can take different forms.
It can be said that nearly all types of services needed by businesses can be provided by freelancers. This can include marketing, advertisements, programming, graphic design, as well as bookkeeping services.
To start, you need to ask yourself what you are good at? What type of service are you able to offer better than everyone else? In which area are you able excel? This area can be a great starting point for you as a freelancer.
The advantages of freelancing
A freelancer can use his/her skills to have a reliable source of income by being their own boss and usually have the comfort of their home as their workplace. In general, freelancing comes with a plentiful of perks which can be choosing your own working hours or deciding whether you want to work full-time or part-time whenever you want.
- Set your own hours – As a freelancer, you can work flexible working hours. You can choose whether you want to be a full-time or part-time freelancer.
- Work independently – Your clients may choose the specifications for you, however, you yourself are in charge of how the work is completed. In other words, there is no map to follow and you choose how to get it done. But of course the final result must be satisfactory for the client.
- Set your own price – Freelancing usually allows you to get paid what you are worth. You can set the price you would like to charge for the service you provide and this is usually higher than what you earn as an employer. Make sure to charge an amount which compensates for the time it will take for you to do the work.
- There is high demand for freelancers – Although the freelancer marketplace is highly competitive, there is always a great need for a freelancer that offers quality services and this need is always growing.
- You can choose your clients – If you are just starting up, it is advisable that you pick most of the clients, but as you grow, you can choose which client to work for and decide not choose the difficult ones.
- It is affordable – If you have a skill and you want to offer services based on the ability you have, chances are that you have the means for doing what you do best. So you won’t usually need to pay high startup costs.
The disadvantages of freelancing
Freelancing is not just perfect for everyone and there are of course some downsides to it.
- The work is not always consistent – Irregular pay cheques can be considered as one of the biggest issues with freelancing especially if you are in charge of providing for a family. Freelancers can solve this issue by finding clients with a substantial amount of work and you they can impress them to become their regular service provider.
- Managing multiple clients can be challenging – As a freelancer, you might enjoy working on several projects at once, but it also may be difficult to keep track of all the deadlines. Sometimes you have to pace yourself to create your quality services on time. Thus, time management, organisational skills and having a business plan can be the key factors to the freelancers’ success.
- You need to pay for your own benefit – You will lose out on perks like employer-sponsored healthcare and retirement plans. When you work for someone else, your employer pays half your Medicare and Social Security taxes, but as a freelancer, you are your own employer and you’ll have to pay both halves.
- You won’t become successful overnight – Having enough clients all the time and being able to have a steady income to support yourself and your family can be challenging and takes time to achieve. This definitely takes time for you as a freelancer to prove the quality of your service to your clients.
How to start out as a freelancer?
If you know your skills and the type of service you are going to offer, starting as a freelancer can be quite fast and easy. You can visit one of freelance websites and search within your sphere of influence to find your first client. These freelancing websites may pay less than you want but they are a great starting point for you to get your name out there.
You need to decide your brand and your unique prepositions to find out your target market, i.e. who needs the service you are offering. Also, creating an online portfolio can be of much help for you. Linkedin can be free online resume for promoting your business. However, as you expand your business, you may need to think about starting your own website.