Plenty of people dream of becoming independent freelancers, with the freedom to have complete control over their working day. Many freelancers work from home, some use freelancing as a way to earn some extra money in addition to their regular job, while others make enough from freelancing to give up their day job and earn a living completely from freelance work.
Traditionally, freelancing was difficult to get into, but over the last few years, the Internet has changed this and there is a new type of freelancing that has sprung up around freelance websites which match up freelance workers with clients.
Online freelancing is growing amazingly fast and if you aspire to become a freelancer, then this is a great time to give it go. There are plenty of ways of earning money from freelancing, including writing, virtual secretarial work, editing, telephone selling and many other freelance opportunities. But, as with anything else, there are pros and cons to online freelancing, so how do you optimize your chances of success?
Assessing your capabilities
One of the first things you need to do is to honestly assess your skills and capabilities for online freelancing. Freelancers gain their reputation through freelance websites and their clients’ feedback is what determines this reputation and subsequently the success of their freelance business. If you are considering freelancing, you should be aware of this before you offer your skills and talents to the market. You have to be confident that your work will come up to scratch because it only takes a couple of unhappy clients to put you out of business.
If you are thinking of offering your services as a freelancer, you should also consider the time you have available and whether you have the organizational skills to manage your time effectively and the commitment to get on with the work — it’s all too easy to be distracted when you work from home. Consider your current commitments and assess honestly whether you have enough time in the day to complete freelance projects. Many clients will be looking for jobs to be done in the minimum amount of time and you will be up against competition from other freelancers who are able to get the job done quickly. This is an important consideration because you don’t want to get a bad press for late delivery of your work.
Pricing is an important factor for freelancers — you have to be competitive with other freelancers, but you also have to make enough money to make the effort worthwhile. You have to value your work enough to charge a reasonable amount for your time and effort and not least for your expertise. There is a great deal of competition from freelancers who can offer work very cheaply these days, especially from countries such as India where people will work for a very low rate. However, if you are confident that you can produce quality work and offer a high standard of service, then you should hold out for a decent price, otherwise you will run yourself ragged for very little return. Remember that most clients, especially those who have experience of freelancers, will realize that they get what they pay for. If they are looking for a good standard of work, they will expect to pay more, so set your prices accordingly and don’t be tempted to be too cheap.
The psychological aspects of being a freelancer
Most people aspire to become a freelancer because of their desire for independence — people hate their jobs and dream of having more control over their lives without a boss breathing down their neck and telling them what to do. People who promote freelancing play on this aspect to get people to sign up to freelance work.
However, it is important to understand that although a freelancer may not have a boss in the traditional sense, you are simply replacing your boss with a customer. Both a boss of a job and a customer of a freelancer are in control because they decide how much you get paid.
The truth is that to be your own boss and truly be in control of your life, you need to have enough money that you don’t need to worry about pleasing anyone. Freelancing can help you get there, but you must remember that you are not completely independent while you are doing freelance work yourself.
Freelancing does bring more freedom than you’d get with a paid job and it does mean you can work from home, and that is always a bonus, but remember that you will still be reliant on your clients to pay you and that negative feedback, whether justified or not, can harm your reputation online and deter others from giving you work in the future.
One great advantage of being a freelancer is that to a certain extent you can choose your clients — something you can’t necessarily do in paid employment. In a job, you can be stuck with a hateful boss for years on end but as a freelancer you can choose not to work with individuals you don’t get on with. Over time, you can find yourself getting repeat work from your nicer clients and life starts to look a whole lot better. Hang on to your good clients, as they will form the basis of your freelance career.