4 Things Freelancers Need to Do to Succeed
Freelancing takes more than simply looking for work and completing jobs. Learn more here.
We all know that the gig economy has suddenly witnessed a boom, right?
Well, not exactly. It has been gaining popularity steadily over the years; it’s just that the majority of traditional employees aren’t in the habit of looking for alternatives.
With the pandemic hitting the globe, many people have found themselves working remotely or (the worst case scenario) losing their jobs.
With many people being at a complete loss these days, maybe it’s time to reconsider the benefits of the gig economy. We know it’s difficult to believe it, but there are actually sufficient jobs for everyone. People just need to learn how to market themselves online.
Let’s go step by step.
1. Choose Your Type
To be sure, not everyone is cut out to run a traditional business, but you may find that things stand differently with the gig economy.
Actually, there are all types of freelancers, contrary to popular belief, and many of them are highly successful managing their own brands online. It’s not easy work, mind you. The first mistake new freelancers make is thinking that now they are their own bosses, they can slack off.
Certainly, freelancing offers the greatest benefit of all - the freedom to live your life freely, without your personal life having to fit in between your work obligations. You can also turn a digital nomad, but still you’ll have to work. The only difference lies in a more flexible schedule and optimized productivity - anywhere in the world.
Some people would rather work 9-to-5 jobs remotely, and that’s fine, too. The gig economy offers a slew of virtual assistant, customer support and similar positions for freelancers who’d rather not change their habits.
To simplify things, these are the options freelancing offers:
- Independent contractors engage in per-project jobs as and when it benefits them.
- Moonlighters do gigs on the side while retaining their 9-to-5 jobs.
- Temporary workers hold contract positions for a predefined period of time.
- Diversified workers or on-demand workers engage in both per-project and part-time jobs, usually to substitute for their lower salaries.
- Freelance business owners run their own online businesses, employing other freelancers to help the operations run smoothly
As you can see, there’s a little something for everyone, so first of all, you need to determine which type of freelancing befits you best.
2. Build Your Portfolio and Professional Network
Freelancing is not that different from traditional jobs in terms of competition. Better positions call for better qualifications, but even the finest of professionals may find it difficult to secure well-paid jobs because they haven’t studied the freelancing basics.
You may be an expert in the field, but potential employers don’t know that, do they? First, you need to showcase your skills and promote yourself online.
And let us stop you before you say LinkedIn! We’re not saying it’s not important, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. You need to build your online presence, amass positive feedback and make your portfolio accessible to potential employers.This quality of data and information is extremely important.
The best way to start going about that is by creating your own website. It should be professional and feature your portfolio and information about your credentials, skills, past experience and client feedback. The latter is extremely important, as many employers trust feedback in their assessments.
3. Set Your Rate Properly
Depending on your skill set, you might wish to consider the following pricing patterns:
The first predicament new freelancers face is whether they should lower their rate until they have built their online reputation. Lower rates also guarantee more opportunities.
However, everyone’s circumstances are different, so deciding your rate should be done by - you.
But, here’s a useful tip many freelancers stick to: offer lower rates to regular employers as this will ensure recurring work in the long run. The more recurring employers you have, the more secure you will become.
As for the actual rates you can feel good about, consider the following when setting them up: market-based pricing, value-driven pricing and cost-plus pricing. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of basing it on your previous salary as a full-time employee. Namely, there are additional costs to cover, the most notable of which are taxes, health and life insurance , travel costs (where applicable), and equipment and material costs. Also, if you want coverage, you will have to pay for it yourself (possible exceptions may include remote 9-to-5 workers).
4. Don’t Pick Just Any Job
Many freelancers are concerned about finding any assignments, let alone proper ones. Per-project workers, in particular, may worry about upcoming opportunities, especially if they haven’t yet built their reputation. Being unable to make future prospects (at least 6 months in advance) is a difficult predicament, too.
Chiefly, because of these two reasons, many freelancers accept poorly paid projects and work too much to be able to set aside some money for the periods when there might be less work.
Hence, you should focus on finding stable prospects. Online marketplaces are the usual place to start, but note that freelancers from some countries can afford to offer lower rates, dragging the rates of the freelancers from other countries down. However, don’t make the typical mistake new freelancers tend to make: quality work will always find a way to employers and clients who are looking for it. Be persistent!
The most popular of marketplaces (but by no means the only ones) are Upwork, Freelancer, Toptal and Guru. Note that there are highly specific marketplaces for people of certain professions, such as translators and engineers. Do your research!
Now, while many freelancers look for free online marketplaces, sometimes it is better to pay for better offers. There are many professional online marketplaces offering beneficial positions by trusted employers for a price.
Well, these are only the basics, but everyone needs to start somewhere, right?
Remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to freelancing. It’s highly recommended, therefore, to set your goals just as you would if you had a 9-to-5 job and go from there. Calculate your finances and long-term goals and start building your reputation.
Don’t forget to cross-promote yourself: use social media to help you with this and create your own website.
Last but not least, ask the satisfied clients to leave feedback. Referrals are also a common occurrence in the gig economy, so be patient and professional, and success is bound to come!
Angela Ash is a writer at heart, focusing on numerous topics related to business, productivity, mental health, travel and more. But, she also loves to edit, is addicted to HARO, and somehow finds time to write poetry and play the piano.