They say that freelancing is “the work of the 21st century”, so this must mean that increasingly more people are exploring it as a career option.
Still, many of us can’t really pin it down, and more than simple curiosity does it conjure up notions of online scams and shady get-rich-fast schemes.
Sadly, the freelancing world is fraught with misunderstanding, if not downright stigma.
So from friends who lament your decision not to pursue an advanced degree, to parents who continually urge you to get a “real job,” very often does it feel like only freelancers themselves know what freelancing is.
But even then, some of us can’t neatly define it ourselves. So what really is an online freelancer?
What is an online freelancer?
An online freelancer (also known as an independent contractor or a work-from-home professional) is a self-employed individual who offers services to multiple clients at a time. Because freelancers are self-employed, they have control over what projects they'd like to do and who they'd like to work with.
Although many freelancers work independently, some may be represented by an agency that outsources freelance work to clients.
The types of services freelancers offer vary such as virtual and administrative assistance, customer or tech support, graphic design, web design, sales and marketing, writing, and many more!
What are the basic requirements for freelancers?
For you to get started, you'll need these three essential things:
- Laptop and/or desktop computer
- Reliable internet connection
- Marketable skill/s + basic English skills. A big mistake many new freelancers make is wanting to start freelancing right away even though they don't yet have a marketable skill or service to offer.
What are the pros of freelancing?
- Affordable. All you need are the three essentials (laptop + internet connection + marketable skill) and you're set!
- Easy to start. Just create your freelancing account and build your profile, and you can then start applying to jobs.
- Unlimited possibilities. Because there's a high demand for help, there's a good chance of landing a job for the skills you offer.
- Work anytime*. Many freelancing jobs will allow you to work anytime you like as long as you get the job done. However, some clients will require you to be around at specific hours (e.g., virtual assistance or customer support).
- Work anywhere*. When you're a freelancer, you're location-independent. You can work wherever you like -- cafes, beaches, airports -- as long as you have an internet connection. Some jobs will require you to be in a quiet space though (e.g., phone support).
- Control over who you work with.
- Control over your rates or how much you get paid.
- A great avenue for exploring and pursuing your passions.
What are the cons of freelancing?
- Can take time to build a steady clientele. This particularly applies to short-term or project-based contracts because you'll need to continuously submit proposals to ensure you have work available. However, if you aim for long-term contracts, you won't need to keep a queue of clients. You can work with 1 or 2 clients (or more, depending on how many you can manage) for as long as you can.
- Work can be irregular. That's what many people think, but work can be regular if you pursue long-term jobs, or if you build a great relationship with your clients that they go to you for future projects.
- Managing multiple clients and projects can be challenging. This is something that is easy to overcome with the use of task management or project management applications.
- Pay may be low to start out. Well, it doesn't have to be this way. This is actually a big misconception that beginners have -- bidding low because they're new. Low rates may indicate inexperience or low quality work, and that's definitely not a good thing. You need to bid according to your value.