A freelance worker is a self-employed person hired by a company or person. They are not employed by any particular company on a permanent basis. Freelancers tend to be paid per project or per piece of work. They do not receive salaries or weekly wages. Common freelancing jobs include editing/proofreading, graphic design, web design and video editing.
Should I become a freelancer?
Freelancing can provide freedom and flexibility for some people. However, it is not suitable for everyone. It is a good idea to think about your personality, skills, needs and responsibilities before becoming a freelancer.
Advantages and disadvantages of freelancing
Before deciding to go freelance, it is important to consider some of the advantages and disadvantages of working for yourself. Some of the advantages of freelancing include:
- You can choose your own hours and work at your own pace
- You can pick and choose different areas of speciality, which brings a lot of variety to your work life
- You can choose to work on projects that are meaningful to you
- Freelancing can give you lots of different experiences, which may impress future employers
- As you likely will be able to work from anywhere, you can save time and money usually spent on commuting
- You can strengthen important skills such as time management, communication and flexibility, as well as your ability to apply initiative
Some of the disadvantages of freelancing include:
- There is no job security in freelancing. You will likely have to keep looking for new jobs and clients regularly
- You are not guaranteed to be paid every month and this can make it difficult to plan ahead
- Freelancers are not entitled to paid holidays, health insurance, pension plans or other common work-related benefits
- You will need to file your own tax return or hire an accountant to do it for you
- If you are very sociable, you may not enjoy the frequent amount of alone time that freelancing requires
Take it one step at a time
If you take the time to consider your own needs and decide that you would like a freelance career, try not to rush into anything. If you already have a job, making the transition from employee to freelancer is a huge step. At the beginning, many people choose to freelance alongside their existing job rather than giving it up completely. Doing this will allow you to determine whether freelancing is right for you, while still having the security of a job and guaranteed income. You can also use this time to find clients, explore work opportunities and gain a realistic idea of how much you can expect to earn from freelancing in the beginning.
You might decide to freelance alongside your job until you have built up a strong client base. If you do, it is important to carve out time for self-care and social activities. Find out more about how to create work/life balance
How do I get freelance work?
If you have decided to give freelancing a try, you will need to decide what kind of work you want to do before seeking opportunities.
Have an open mind
Freelancing is not just for professionals who have a degree and a lot of experience in a particular field. Freelancing can also be about doing small jobs for people in your neighbourhood. Some potential jobs include mowing lawns, walking dogs or babysitting. While these jobs may not offer you full-time employment in the beginning, they can allow you to earn some extra money while working or studying.
Focus on your skills
You may take your ability to play the piano or speak Spanish for granted, but it is very likely that there are people out there who would value your talents. Think about all of the skills that you have and how you could use them to help others.
If you are a good writer, you could use your skills to write marketing copy for local and global businesses. If you are a baker or crafter, you could consider selling your goods online, at markets and to nearby businesses. If photography is your passion, you could find work at weddings, events or with newspapers.
Do some research
Find out what people are looking for in your area and let them know you are available for jobs. You can do this by talking to people in your neighbourhood and looking at notices in the newspaper and community noticeboards. You might also identify a gap in the market as a result of your own experiences.
Find opportunities to network
Once you have decided what type of work you would like to do, networking can help you to get your name out there. While professional networking events can be helpful, they’re not the only way to find potential clients. All social occasions offer an opportunity to network.
Networking can start with the people that you know. Let friends, family, neighbours and acquaintances know all about your freelancing and ask them to spread the word.
It is also a good idea to seek out opportunities to meet and speak with new people. This could be a college event, a community gathering or even a trip to the dog park. If you can, get some business cards made so that the people you meet can easily contact you if they are interested in working with you. There are also plenty of online networking opportunities and events. In addition to finding new clients, these events can give you the chance to connect with and learn from other freelancers.
Promote yourself and your work
Self-promotion can be challenging in the beginning but if you want to find freelance work, it can be extremely helpful. How you promote yourself and your work depends on the kind of work you are looking for and what you are comfortable with. Creating your own website is one easy and effective way to do so. The website doesn’t have to be flashy or complicated. However, it is a good idea to include details about your skills and experience, some samples of your work if applicable and your contact details. Websites such as WordPress allow you to build a simple website for free and you can find some helpful online tutorials that can walk you through the process.
Setting up social media pages, starting a blog or joining forums are some other ways to promote yourself online.
You can also get your name out there by printing some business cards or leaflets and dropping them door-to-door, or asking if you can leave some in local shops and businesses. If any of the businesses or community halls in your area have a notice board, ask whether you can advertise on it.
Try to practice patience
Try not to be annoyed with yourself if work is slow in the beginning. Just like with any business, it takes time to build up your work and clients. If you find yourself waiting for work to come in, use your free time to network, learn new skills and update your website.
If you freelance for a while and find it too challenging or stressful for you, that is completely ok. Freelancing is not for everyone, and it is very hard to know if you will enjoy it until you try it. You can decide to change your mind at any time.
Need more information?
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