Freelancing is a word synonymous in every household these days. Although becoming a freelancer is liberating, it can be terrifying if you haven’t made freelancing a stable job.
Yes, people often think that freelancing is about sitting at home, and work comes to you on its own – perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions. Freelancing is beyond that; one has to keep working hard to grow and thrive in the freelancing industry.
Without a doubt, freelancing allows you to control your work hours. Also, you have the freedom to work anytime from anywhere, and perks like these are behind the fast growth of the freelancing industry.
But can one sustain in the industry for long? What does it take to become a successful freelancer?
If you want to get started and take the first step toward freelancing but don’t know what goes into the quest of becoming a successful freelancer, you have stumbled on the right place.
This guide is all you need because it covers all aspects related to freelancing, including what is freelancing, how to become a freelancer, how to take care of your finances and whatnot.
Without further ado, let’s find out!
What Is Freelancing?
Freelancing refers to contract-based work where people are self-employed instead of recruited in a company. A freelancer provides services to a client using his education, skills, and expertise.
In a nutshell, freelancers are hired by the companies on a short-term or part-time basis, but they aren’t considered the employees of the company and don’t receive the compensation like full-time workers.
Also, freelancers can take on several contracts without committing to a single client. But the amount of work they can take boils down to their ability to complete them as requested.
People often confuse freelancing with WFH (work-from-home) job; little do they know both are a lot different in nature and compensation, here’s how:
- A WFH job involves a work contract between you and the single client who pays you a salary, whereas freelancing doesn’t.
- Freelancing doesn’t necessarily mean that you can only work from home. That’s because it solely depends on your client’s requirement for which you might have to operate from the client’s office.
The best part? Freelancers can communicate with their employers and deliver their projects using the internet without being physically present in the company.
Also, working from home boosts work performance by almost 13%.
Who Is a Freelancer?
An independent contractor or freelancer is a self-employed person who makes money by offering its services to several clients. So what does it mean when they say services?
Services are the skills that freelancers have that help them earn money and they aren’t just confined to businesses.
But is it sustainable? How do they make money? With nearly 36% of the population in the U.S. is working primarily as freelancers, there must be some great things in the freelancing industry.
Freelancers usually use third-party platforms, such as Upwork, 99designs, PPH (people per hours), Fiverr, etc., to get work or use their network or LinkedIn to get more work and offer their services directly to the clients.
Moreover, it is projected that the majority of the U.S. workforce will be working as freelancers by 2027. That’s because freelancers believe their career is more stable with a diversified portfolio of having multiple clients than relying on a single employer.
Is Freelancing Career a Good Option
Did you know what led to the development of the gig economy? Yes, you are right! The rise of the freelancing industry led to the formation of a new concept known as The Uberization of Work or the Gig Economy.
So what’s the gig economy? In the gig economy, people work with various clients at their own terms and conditions that work out the best for them instead of working full-time and getting a fixed salary.
Intriguing right? Freelancing is indeed a tempting career path that solves practically all of the challenges that a typical service-class individual face.
Moreover, freelancing comes with “countless” perks, including the ability to work at any time from anywhere, keeping all the earnings, operating at a cheaper cost, being your own boss, etc. These benefits entice many people to take freelancing as a career.
When it has so much potential, even then, people many don’t prefer pursuing freelancing as their full-time career path. But why? Well, it has something to do with the human psyche.
As humans, we look for a job that offers a guarantee. We often tend to look for a regular job that ensures we will get a fixed amount of salary at the end of every month.
Also, you are given a schedule to follow. In addition, regular employment comes with assured benefits, including retirement funds, provident funds, insurance, and salary increases if you perform well.
When you work as a freelancer, none of this is guaranteed. There is no guarantee that you will attract repeat customers. Plus, no assurance whether you will be able to maintain this lifestyle until retirement or no promise even if your salary will ever increase.
Besides that, you are solely responsible for taking care of insurance, tax deductions, and other finances.
Advantages of Freelancing
Other cons come with freelancing, like:
You may run into some clients who are not easy to handle. They may not provide you with the information and instructions to complete the project on time. This can be a waste of time but also affect your profile as the client might leave a bad rating on your profile.
One of the biggest cons, yes, in order to thrive in the freelancing industry, you need to improve your skills with time. If you are not good at separating work life from personal, freelancing can be hard to manage.
No Job-like Benefits
Although freelancing has its own perks, self-employment means you won’t get paid vacations, sick leaves, etc. Hence, you should be good at time and financial management.
Every profession has its pros and cons; it’s you who need to pave a way that balances the work properly. So, if you are serious about stepping into the freelancing world and the cons don’t matter much, keep reading to explore the ins and outs of the freelancing industry.
How to Become a Freelancer?
Self-employment provides the freedom of choice. Whether you are opting for freelancing as an additional income stream or becoming a full-time freelancer, it isn’t hard to step into the freelancing world.
It is more like ordering things over the internet. You can make your account on freelancing platforms for free and start offering your services to clients.
Here’s a list of some of the top freelancing sites that you can try:
- Upwork. If you are looking for a platform that can help you grow in the freelancing industry and has more professional clients, Upwork can be the answer to your work woes.
- Freelancer.com. It is perhaps one of the oldest yet potential marketplaces that you can give a shot at if you are at the initial stages of freelancing and have little to no experience.
- Fiverr. It is one of the world’s largest marketplaces that can help you thrive in the freelancing industry. All you have to do is create an account on the platform, make a gig about what you can do, add a few links to your portfolio TADA; you are on your way to making some money.
- 99design. Are you a graphic designer? If yes, then 99design is a perfect freelancing marketplace you can kick start your career as a graphic designer.
Apart from that, PPH (people per hour), Guru.com, Legitt.com, etc., are some of the best freelancing sites that can take your freelancing to a whole new level.
Tips to Make Yourself a Brand in the Freelance Industry
Working on a few jobs from these marketplaces can help you learn how freelancing actually works as a job and get the hang of it.
However, before you go to any of these freelancing platforms, you need to create a freelance image for yourself. Don’t know how you can set up a freelance brand? Follow these tips and tricks to make a space for yourself in the freelancing industry:
- Make a list of the services you will provide.
- Decide which market you will be targeting.
- Find and explore the freelancing sites where you will be offering your services. Also, use the same name on all these platforms. That’s because it will help you build an identity for yourself.
- Set the rates at which you will be providing services.
- Build your niche-specific portfolio. For instance, Behance for graphic designers, GitHub is more developer-centric. P.S. WE WOULD RECOMMEND YOU CREATE A PERSONAL PORTFOLIO SITE THAT SHOWCASES BOTH YOUR TALENT AND SKILLS.
- Last but not least, don’t forget to market your services on social media. Moreover, you can start offering your services at a lower rate or for free in the beginning to attract more customers and build a name for yourself. Once you get the hang of it, you can raise your rates.
By no means are we saying that you should leave your regular job and jump into freelancing right away.
Take your time and map out all the workflow, whether you are ready to take a full-time plunge or would like to work part-time to see how it works out for you.
If you are happy with how things are going, it’s time you need to move to the next step.
What is the Next Step
Once you know that you can work in this manner and support yourself, the next step is to take on several jobs to generate multiple income streams. This should include jobs you found employing the aforementioned methods and jobs from other freelancing platforms.
Also, another idea is to turn it into a full-time job. Working as a full-time freelancer allows you to generate various income streams. You can do the following:
- Self-promotion is vital. Hence, always promote yourself directly.
- Try creating referral programs that reward customers who refer new customers to you.
- Make monthly retainers a priority.
- Try negotiating commission on sales projects.
Take Care of Your Finances
When you are working on a regular job, your employer handles most of your financial concerns. A regular paycheck, automatic tax deductions, and insurance coverage are all covered by your employer.
Whereas in freelancing, you are on your own and is in charge of the following:
Insurance and Other Benefits. Be vigilant when choosing the insurance and retirement plan for yourself. Always choose the one that works out best in your favor.
Getting Paid. It is widely regarded as one of the most difficult aspects of freelancing, whether for newbies or freelancing veterans. Communicating and negotiating effectively with clients to convince them to pay for your service on time is indeed an overwhelming endeavor. If you are good at handling this, you are on your way to becoming a successful freelancer.
Taxes. You are in charge of managing all of your personal and professional tax issues on your own.
It all boils down to is that working in the gig economy or as a freelancer requires you to take on a lot of financial responsibilities, whether it’s paying taxes, landing high-paying clients, or getting insurance.
Nevertheless, if flexibility, income potential, and independence that come with being self-employed are things you love, freelancing can be your go-to option.
Freelancing has both negative and positive aspects. It all comes down to you, whether you are up for the risk that comes with it or otherwise.
Yes, no doubt, professional independence comes with it, but you can’t ignore the risk of failure and instability that comes with freelancing. And perhaps, you wouldn’t want that to be a part of your professional life.
But, if you are ready to take the risk in exchange for something better aligned with your ambitions than a traditional work-job, you surely have the chance of establishing your identity and reputation while also achieving your professional objectives.
Can Students Freelance?
Of course, why not. Getting into the freelancing market while studying helps you earn a side income while also working on developing market-oriented skills that can help you in the future.
Which Skills Should I Learn to Grow in the Freelancing Industry?
There is no hard and fast rule; just do what you love. However, some skills are in more demand, including copywriting, web development, designing, etc. Do your homework well!
Do I Need to Have a Business Account to Start as a Freelancer?
Although it is not needed by law, most freelancers choose to open a separate business account. It helps them keep track of all the money flowing in and out by keeping their business and personal accounts separate.