Freelance career refers to not working in an organization but finding clients and working for them as per your skillset. Freelancing has become very popular and more people are now opting to work as freelancers. The main reason behind its popularity is the independence and convenience it offers. You can work from any place and at any time that suits you. In short, freelancing allows you to structure your life the way you want. However, it is not that simple and to build your freelance career you need to consider 5 things mentioned below.
1. Choosing Freelance Job Websites
If you are building your freelance career and are looking for directions, take help from freelance job websites. These websites are designed specifically to help newbies and experienced freelancers to find jobs that match their skills and competencies. These websites offer a reliable platform for a solid start and are great marketplaces for writing, SEO-marketing, web-designing and photography. As a freelancer you can post your job offers and the websites help you to connect with businesses and employers. You will have to register yourself and pass a test or provide reviews of previous work to prove your worth. These websites charge a fee which may affect your earning so keep the charges in mind when choosing a website. Some of the best freelance websites are Fivver, Upwork and Freelancer.
2. Attention Grabbing Portfolio
Contrary to what people think, building a freelance career involves investment of time, money and energy. An important thing to keep in mind when building a freelance career is how to showcase your skills. You need to be confident of the skills and services you offer and determine a reasonable cost for those services. You need to grab the attention of your prospective employer by highlighting what is unique about you. Often new freelancers are quite generic and are therefore ignored by employers. You need to be specific and create a niche.
Most new freelancers are afraid that if they create a niche, they will miss out other opportunities. But doing so actually helps in attracting employers who are looking for those specific skills. Your portfolio must contain your qualifications and something about your personality. You can cover your lack of experience by making your own projects and mentioning them. You must explain your talents clearly; maintain a firm grasp but do not overdo it to look exaggerated and pompous. Your portfolio must also reflect your creativity and professionalism. A strong portfolio, enhances the chances of getting recognition on freelancer job websites and you can grab a good project.
Another important factor to be kept in mind when building a freelance career is the charges for your services. Setting rates becomes quite a challenge for new freelancers who often undervalue themselves. New freelancers often make the mistake of setting cheap rate for their services. This gives a wrong signal to the employers as they think that you are not competent enough. Secondly, by setting low rates you set a low bar for yourself. If you start with low rates, employers may not be willing to increase rates in near future. Freelancers must therefore set competitive rates. You must look around what freelancers with your qualification and experience are asking before setting a rate for your services. Freelancers can either charge by the hour or opt for flat rate. Flat rate is fixed amount you get at the end of the project. Flat rate is recommended when your deliverables are finite and there is a deadline. Hourly pay is recommended when there are constant changes in the project.
Another mistake that freelancers make at the beginning of their careers is that they do not include the operational costs. Operational cost includes cost of equipment and cost of electricity and internet. Monthly cost such as cost of food and rent (if applicable), tax and cost of living must also be considered. Although experience, qualification and quality of work are important, you can get good rates if you have excellent negotiation skills.
4. Work Life Balance
Work life balance refers to the balance people maintain between their personal and professional lives. This balance is extremely important as too much involvement in work can negatively impact physical and mental health. Overwork can lead to stress and reduce productivity and can lead to employee burnout. Nowadays more organizations are emphasizing on work life balance to ensure that their employees remain healthy, stress-free and productive. While it is easier to maintain work life balance in an office setting, the same cannot be said for freelancing.
A major drawback of freelancing is that it makes the line between work and leisure blur. As freelancing allows you to work at your convenience, the absence of a fixed schedule may disturb work life balance. You need to fix a schedule just as a regular office job when building a freelance career. You need to set boundaries for yourself by determining the hours you will work each day. Also working at your convenience does not mean you should work odd hours or on weekends. So basically you need to plan such that you complete your work on time and within the deadlines. This will help you to take out time to relax on your own or with your family especially on weekends. It is best to work in the hours when you are most productive. Also you must not take too many projects at a time, over-commitment affects quality of work as well as health. In short you need to set a routine to bring a balance in your life.
5. Long term Relationship
Many researches have come to the conclusion that recruiting and hiring employees takes much of a company’s time and resources. Companies therefore prefer to retain their employees by forming positive and long term relationships. Forming long term relationships can also be done when you are working as a freelancer.
Communication is the key; a good freelancer always communicates with his/her employer. Although an employer briefs you about the task, it is your duty to get to know more about it. Taking care of small details can make a big difference and improve your work quality. This will help in forming long term relationship with the employer. One snag of freelancing is unstable income; once a task is finished, you need to look for new tasks. Long term relationship will ensure that you are seldom out of work. When your task is about to finish, you can communicate with your employer and ask for more work. Even employers prefer reliable freelancers who produce quality work. Also as a successful freelancer you need to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of the employer. However, you need to make sure that you establish boundaries such that your work life balance is not disturbed. You can also ask your employer for referrals; this word of mouth technique is still quite effective. You can get tasks with your employer’s referrals because it shows you as a reliable and efficient service provider.
By following the above mentioned tips, you can build a successful freelancer and enjoy the benefits freelancing brings.