The freelance economy, also known as the gig economy, revolves around hiring self-employed workers to undertake specific jobs in return for an agreed upon payment. Freelancers are the individuals who can be hired for such temporary work. They may find jobs through temporary staffing agencies or through freelance-specific websites such as Upwork. The internet has created the current boom in freelance work, in fields as varied as commercial design, hotel management (through Airbnb) and taxi driving (through ridesharing apps like Uber). The freelance economy has given many individuals the opportunity to pursue livelihoods that were formerly difficult to enter. The simple meaning of freelancing is to have different short-term assignments, contracts or jobs with many websites, companies, organisations which would earn one money without any long-term contractual commitment.
Methods of Becoming a Successful Freelancer to Earn Money.
- Decide on your craft. Decide what type of freelance work you are committed to doing. Freelancing jobs are as broad as the workforce, and you need to identify what it is you want to do before you can begin to do it. View your skills as valuable resources that are worth charging and receiving pay for.
- Reflect on what you’re good at. Just about every type of skill can be turned into a freelancing opportunity. Keep in mind that you’re “secondary” skills, like drawing and writing, for example, can be just as useful as a specific set of skills unique to a profession (e.g., graphic designer, website designed or computer programming). If you know you’re a good creative artist, then you could develop a freelance creative design business. It’s easy to believe that you don’t have the necessary skills and knowledge, but in fact, you actually don’t need extensive experience to get started freelancing. Instead, believe in your abilities and focus on producing good work.
- Create a brand. To get your freelancing operation off the ground and becoming profitable, you need to think about how you will market yourself and your products/work. This is called branding. You need to create a brand for what you’re selling and how it sets you apart from the competition – this is your “identity” and includes your website, logo, tagline, blog, and social media accounts, among other aspects. Your brand should clearly communicate what you do that is special and what you offer that is worth buying. Try to narrow your focus to a specific industry. For example, if you decide you want to do freelance writing, you might only choose to write for online travel sites and thus be a freelance travel writer.
- Build a portfolio showcasing your work. A lot of potential clients are less interested in your specific qualifications than in a demonstrated ability to do the job. They want to see samples of your work and decide whether you’re a good fit for their particular project. So building a strong portfolio of your work (examples as well as past projects) is key to growing your business and in fact, you shouldn’t launch your freelancing business until you have this portfolio. Include as well testimonials of people and organisations who you’ve worked with. Reading glowing reviews will help boost your profile among prospective clients. Generating submissions for your portfolio takes time and resources. If you have no paid assignments or previous work to put in a collection, create some by offering your services pro bono or taking your free time to produce some. Don’t launch your freelancing career until you’ve actually created the products or provided the services you plan to sell. Having the portfolio shows clients that you’ve actually done what you’re telling them you can do.
- Develop business-savvy skills. You may be a freelancer, but you also need to be a businessman or woman. To successfully earn money as a freelancer and turn it into a career, you need to become familiar with the basics of operating a business, like taxes, bookkeeping, marketing, etc. In many cases, these business basics will take more time than the actual freelance service or product you offer! Consider talking to friends (in real life or online) who’ve earned money freelancing about the business ins and outs. You could also consult some books and online sites about how to start up a business from the ground. You may want to contact a Mentor (https://www.linkedin.com/in/thommieburger/) or Business Advisor for free advice, which can be hugely beneficial to you. Although it might seem premature to worry about the “business” of your freelance work, having a business model with goals, deliverables, benchmarks, and so on can help you determine the scope and scale of your freelancing operation. A clear business model and transparent accounts and books will also show clients that you’re the real deal – a professional freelancer and not just someone working in their pajamas at home.
- Set up an invoicing system. Part of doing freelancing as a way to earn real money means setting up a system for charging and receiving payment. Before you reach out to potential clients and start actually doing the freelancing work, be ready for it. It’s a lot easier to keep up with accounting and invoicing along the way, rather than leaving it until later on or even until the dreaded tax season. Create a financial framework that will make it easy for you to keep organised. Doing this will also help you track how much money you’re earning and whether you’re making a profit. Consider using an accounting software package and opening up a business bank account. Banks have special services and fees for business bank accounts. Look into how much you should be charging and setting aside for provisional tax payments, and remember to always set aside extra money for unforeseen expenses or to carry you through those quieter periods.
Clearly, how we work is changing. More jobs will go freelance as technology, and AI continues to disrupt work as we know it. A career as a self-employed talent can be stable, fulfilling and lucrative, and it can offer a measure of personal satisfaction you’d never find in a day job.
Welcome to the workforce of the future!