What is a Freelancer?
These days, professionals in many fields prefer to become a freelancer so that they can work on their own schedules. A freelancer is an individual who can work for one or more clients at a time without signing an employment contract. Let me explain you with an example. Let’s assume that an individual named John is working in a company named DX for more than 2 years. If he wants to resign his job, then he may need to provide a notice period of 1 to 3 months depending on the company’s policies. But, if John is working as a freelancer, he can just send an email to the client that he will not be offering his/her services anymore. That’s it. To put it simply, freelancing means “Be your own boss”. A freelancer can also be referred to an employee outside an employment relationship or contract.
Freelancing is slowly becoming a popular choice among professionals in various fields like programming, web design, testing, writing, marketing etc. Based on the study conducted in 2016 (Source: Freelancers Union), it is found that almost 50 million Americans are working as freelancers contributing an amount of approximately 1 trillion dollars towards the US economy.
What are the advantages of freelancing?
Of course, there are a lot of advantages in a freelancing job when compared to working in an office environment which is given below:
- Freedom of work: For those working in IT or software industry, they don’t have the freedom to choose their desired project because it is decided by the top management. But, a freelancer has the freedom to choose the projects and clients they would like to be associated with.
- Flexible schedule: They don’t need to follow the 9 am to 5 pm schedule as they can choose their own schedule based on their workload and the needs & requirements of their clients.
- No commute: Freelancers can sit comfortably on their favorite sofa or coach in their homes and do their work in a relaxed manner as they don’t have to go to their traditional workplace. This saves a lot of time and avoids the stress due to commuting, which results in increased productivity.
- Save money: Freelancers can save a lot of money when compared with those working in a workplace. How? As they are working from home, they can completely get rid of the travel-related expenses; Also, they don’t need to spend money for buying expensive formal wear, shoes, coats, ties etc.
- Sole owner of profits: Usually, when one is employed with service companies, a major a portion of the client’s payment goes to the middlemen, and the employee gets paid peanuts whereas a freelancer can get 80%+ of the profit for their completed jobs.
- More exposure: When you are freelancing, the world is practically your oyster, as you can not only work with companies in your country but also abroad; This way, you can work for a company even on another continent, and gain exposure to their work culture and process. As a freelancer, you have the great opportunity to improve your skills.
- Client satisfaction: If you can satisfy your clients and maintain a good rapport with them, then the probability of getting more projects from the same client is high; For example, if you check out the Upwork profile of few freelancers, you can find that they have done more than one project for the same client or quite a few projects from different clients.
What are the drawbacks of freelancing?
Every story has two sides and freelancing is not an exception, and there are some drawbacks of being a freelancer :
- No constant income: If you are working in an organization, you will get a bench salary or similar perks if you are not working actively on a project. But, if a freelancer doesn’t have a project to work with, then there is no income. Like salaried professionals, freelancers don’t get a constant salary every month; For example, they may get a lot of projects and work more hours for some months, and other months they may not even get a single project for an entire month.
- Low quotes: on freelancing sites like Upwork, many clients will prefer freelancers who have submitted the lowest quote, even if you have more years of experiences, then sometimes you may need to bid lower rates to get projects and this will reduce your monthly income.
- No job security: Even if you are producing great results and the client is satisfied with your performance, there is no guarantee that you will get a constant flow of work. It is always better to keep some projects in reserve so that you will not be sitting idle for long periods of time.
Job opportunities available for a freelancer:
These days, the demand for a freelancer is constantly increasing in various fields; Given below are some of the most popular categories for an individual to begin their freelancing career.
- Content writing: There are millions of websites available on the World Wide Web (WWW) and every one of them needs fresh content. You will find thousands of news websites that need to be updated with interesting articles on a daily or hourly basis; Who will provide a high-quality content for these types of websites? Of course, each news channel will have their own team of staff members, but, they also hire freelancers for writing special kind of articles, as the number of websites grows, the job opportunity for freelancers will also be growing; There are different styles of content writing like blogs, press releases, product description, reviews etc. A freelancer can choose the style based on his/her level of skill. How much will be the pay for a content writer? It depends on the quality of work as well as the budget of the client, usually, the pay is per word or @100 words. It may range from $3 to $100+ per article. If you content is of high quality, then you will never need to worry about finding buyers. Do you know how to market yourself?
- Transcription: Let’s say that you have a 15-minute audio file which needs to be converted to a text document; This is called Transcription. Have you ever heard about medical transcription jobs? It is converting audio lectures of healthcare professionals into text documents. The pay depends on the length of the audio which has been transcribed successfully. For example, to transcribe an audio of length 5 minutes, you get anywhere from $1 to $10.
- Translation: The source file may be an audio clip or text file which needs to be converted from one language to another; Translation jobs are very popular in India because 22 different languages are spoken in that country, so, there is always a need of converting from one language to another; Translation jobs are a good opportunity for someone who is proficient in more than language. You might have seen the English subtitles for foreign language films, as this an example of the translation job, and normally, the pay is per word or @100 words.
- Programming: Many software companies hire freelancers to finish projects quickly with low cost, also, they can save a lot of money by hiring freelancers because they don’t need to create an employment contract for them; These days, there is a lot of demand for freelancers who have experience in Android or iOS programming as you can find new apps every day on Google Play Store and App Store. Especially, those who are developing games in Android or iOS are getting high hourly rates.
- Forum posting: Creating new topics or replying to existing threads on forums is called forum posting; This type of job is becoming very popular in the past few years; There are many online forums like Digital Global (DG), Forum coin etc which pays their members for posting high-quality content, they also offer a variety of other opportunities to earn money; For example, Digital Global has a dedicated marketplace section which lists various types of jobs and their members can earn money easily for completing job tasks; Besides the marketplace, Digital Global also rewards their members for creating related guides and tutorials.
- Marketing & Social Media: Many businesses & companies hire freelancers for marketing their products and or services and managing their social media profiles like Facebook, Twitter etc. They call them “Social media managers”. Besides posting messages on social media, they also respond to queries from the customers. You don’t need a lot of skills for doing these type of jobs; Anyone with a good command over English and basic knowledge of using social media tools can easily perform these tasks.
- Voice Over Artist: Have you heard about Amazon audio books? It is nothing more than an audio version of books, and if your pronunciation and voice are good, then you can become a Voice Over Artist. The job is very simple. Just you need to read all the pages of the book aloud, record using a good quality microphone and send it to the client.
How to find the right freelancing job?
Job satisfaction is very important in whatever work you do; If you don’t love your job, then you cannot reach greater heights, and in order to become a successful freelancer, you need to find the right kind of job; For that, you need to identify your skill level first. Let’s assume that you have chosen content writing as your career; To become a good writer, you need to be a good reader also; Reading different styles of writing will improve your writing skills. If you are not interested in reading, then writing job will not be the best option for your career.
Do you know what is the greatest advantage for freelancers? They have the full freedom to choose a career in which they are interested; Suppose, if they are not able to excel in one field, they can always choose another one; For example, you may not have the talent to write a 2000-word academic-style article, but you can write a 500-1000-word blog-style using simple language. You have to start small and work hard if you want to climb the success ladder.
A freelancer has the option to work in multiple fields also; For example, a freelancer can work as a content writer, translator, and transcriptionist at the same time. There is no limit to the number of jobs he/she can work; There is a great amount of flexibility available for the freelancers; Whichever option you choose, you should work hard and fulfill the expectations of your clients. Even though freelancers have a flexible work schedule, you need to follow a strict time schedule every day to complete your work on time.
Checklist before applying for a job:
The world is highly competitive and getting a good job is becoming more difficult, in order get that job, you need to showcase your talents in a better light when compared with other applicants. The selection process for the freelancing job doesn’t require any face-to-face or telephonic interviews with the client because you are not signing any type of employment contract with the company or client and the only way to create impact is by creating a high-profile resume with complete information about your past work experience. Please make sure that you keep the below things ready before applying for that dream job.
- Most recent resume
- Cover letter
- Work samples (Needed for content writing, translation, transcription)
- Availability (No of hours in a day/week)
- Accepted payment methods (PayPal, Skrill, Bank transfer etc)
- Contact information (Email / Phone / Skype / Whatsapp )
Freelancing platform Upwork takes up to 20% of the amount you receive for your work as a fee. So, if you are a beginner, it is a good idea to browse the job listings in classified websites like Craigslist, online forums etc where the competition will be less when compared with job websites like Upwork, Fiverr etc. as you can eliminate this service fee, however, if you are on any type of freelance site, then do not attempt to cheat them out of their fee, as this would certainly result in a permenant ban, and if you already have a good standing, then your good standing will be ruined; Over the years we have seen many good freelancers lose their path for various reasons, so if you plan to stay active as a freelancer, then be sure you keep up apperances and complete your projects in a timely fashion.
The sky is the only limit on the amount of money you can earn as a freelancer. If you choose the right type of job and put all your hard work into that, then you can become a successful freelancer to earn a regular source of income. If I could offer you any advice, then follow these steps. 1: Your product and or service must be of high quality from the start. 2. Always offer a money back guarantee, no matter what, why? If not, then buyers can be very vindictive, even if they never get their money back, then the freelance site may lose them as a customer, and you will never see this client again, and on top of that, they could use the internet against, and do their best to ruin your good name, even if you were not at fault. It is always best to have some type of refund policy in replace, and last but not least, submit your work in a timely manner, why? being late will never gain you brownie points.