While this pandemic has definitely changed our working patterns with WFH becoming the new norm, our working preferences have seemed to evolve too. The era of commuting to an office for a 9-5 job seems outdated and you just cannot imagine working away from the comfort of your home. In fact, research has shown that Covid caused millions of people to turn to freelance as an alternative to their career. So from understanding the ‘how to’s’ of freelancing to actually successfully getting work during a pandemic as a freelancer, this is all you need to know about this up and coming trend-
What exactly is freelancing?
Freelance, freelancing and freelancer are all terms used to describe someone who is essentially self-employed and not committed to an employer or a company for the long term. Freelancers typically take on ‘contract work’ from employers or organisations and are responsible for setting their own work hours, keeping track of time spent on different projects, billing clients, and paying their own employment and business taxes. A rather subtle departure from the traditional roles of an employee, freelancers are not considered employees of a company but rather ‘contractors’.
One of the major benefits of being a freelancer during this time is the ample amount of job opportunities. To weather the impact of covid, businesses have started to significantly expand their use of freelancers. Another major bonus is that almost every imaginable field out there is looking to hire freelancers. In fact, some of the highest paying freelance jobs were seen in the following fields-
- Web development
- Programme and software development
- Content writing
- Video editors
- Internet marketers
- Data security specialist
So, if you're looking to switch it up a bit and freelance for while, these tips could be helpful in successfully getting work as a freelancer-
Choose a niche..and stick to it
The prospect of being paid to do something you're naturally good at may seem enticing and you might want to jump at the first job offer that comes your way. However, you may soon come to realise that down the line, the work may start to seem monotonous and you might lose interest quickly. Many experts in this field suggest newcomers to be more strategic about their work and client choices. One of the biggest benefits in specialising in a particular field is the niche that it creates. Clients are more likely to pay more when you're an expert at something rather than a jack of all trades. For instance, a content marketing specialist is more likely to be paid more for the same job as opposed to a general digital marketer. Specialising in a particular field will show the clients that you are the best expert out there and they will be ready to pay a good amount for your services.
Put an effort into building YOUR brand
Once you have chosen a specialisation in a field of your choice, branding is the next key step in acquiring clients. As a freelancer, you are your own biggest advantage and that's what you should be showcasing to potential clients. Investing in a portfolio or a website that showcases your work as well as highlights your previous achievements could be one such initiative in building your brand. This would also help in acquiring contacts and references. Once you have showcased the skills that you offer, the next step is finding the right client for you.
Put thought into the kind of clients you would want to work with
To be a successful freelancer, working with the right clients is of paramount importance. Asking yourself a few questions like these would help you narrow down the search of the ‘perfect client’-
- Do I want to work with a small or a large company?
- Do I want to take on short contractual work projects or long term contracts?
- Do I want a ‘hands on’ client or a client who will give me creative freedom?
Choosing a right client will not only improve your productively and increase your job satisfaction but it would also help your be proactive in doing something that you already love doing.
Start freelancing before quitting your day job
Before you head off into the exciting vast world of freelancing, it is advised that you hold onto your day job till you're properly settled in. Finding a niche, building your brand and finding right clients could take time and it’s always a better idea to have a few steady clients before quitting your source of income. Growing your side income to least 50% of your regular income is recommended by experts to prevent increasing your risks. Another benefit of freelancing while still working is having the opportunity to be choosy about the right projects to take on. This time period will also help you learn to Manage a tight schedule, heavy workload (including demanding freelance projects), and being responsible for client deliverables with limited time resources.
In an environment where everyone is levelling up on the skills they have, it is necessary to posses the skills that are currently in demand. Keeping an eye on the industry you're interested in, it is necessary to know the skills that will help you excel at the services you're providing for your client. Various sites like Upskill or Simplilearn have come up with extremely up to date courses that would completely revamp your resume with the skills that employers are looking out for.
Build your credibility and network
The volatility of this field certainly requires you to be the best you are in your field. You could be the next Gordon Ramsay of cooking but if you have no credibility in your circle, no one would opt for your services. While choosing the right client may be important, it is equally important to stick to deadlines, complete the project and surpass the clients expectations. Although you may feel the pressure, the recommendations of your clients will help you build a network or a community of people who believe in you and your brand. This network will in turn, not only help you find more work but also put you in the path of other like minded individuals that could be great for you creatively!
One of the biggest misconceptions about freelancing that I have come across is how it doesn't pay well and one would always have to struggle. However, if you commit to it like a full time job and not treat it like a ‘work-ation’, it is likely that you will excel at your work and soon find yourself in the midst of rewarding & well paying projects.