That is primarily because for centuries, the only real job you could have as a freelancer had to do with your mastery of the written word. But we are not still stuck back in the early nineteen hundreds – no we are in the twenty first century, a time that appreciates freelancers in hundreds of different jobs. You can find freelance photographers, software designers, medical billing specialists, or even scientific researchers.
There are all jobs that have recently begun to see massive growth in their respective fields because more and more people are realizing that they can make far more money working for themselves as freelancers than they ever could solely from working under the wing of their previous employer.
You work in some field for quite a few years, get a lot of practical experience in your chosen area of employment and then gradually make the switch from working the nine to five to becoming your own boss as a freelancer. But is it really as easy as it sounds to become a freelancer and actually make a living doing work on a freelance basis?
We have to keep in mind that there are quite a few freelancers out there who are only doing work part time. Not because they make a ton of money and only have to work a couple of days per week but because they actually have had some trouble finding work in the past and need a much more solid career option in order to make sure that they do not find themselves facing bankruptcy.
However, such a scenario does not have to happen to you if you are willing to do whatever it takes to become a freelancer. Your career switch may not happen overnight – but eventually you will become highly successful at what you do. It’s a guarantee.
Generally, we mean a freelancer as a person who is self-employed and not committed to a particular employer long term. Fields where freelancing is common include journalism, book publishing, journal publishing, and other forms of writing, editing, copy editing, proofreading, indexing, copywriting, computer programming, web design and graphic design, consulting, tour guiding and translating. Currently some of the most popular fields for freelancing include writing, editing, photography, web and graphic design, software design, and architecture or drafting.
Freelance practice varies greatly. Some require clients to sign written contracts, while others may perform work based on verbal agreements, perhaps enforceable through the very nature of the work. Some freelancers may provide written estimates of work and request deposits from clients.
Payment for freelance work also varies greatly. Freelancers may charge by the day, hour, or page or per project basis. Instead of a flat rate or fee, some freelancers have adopted a value-based pricing method based on the perceived value of the results to the client. By custom, payment arrangements may be upfront, percentage upfront, or upon completion. For more complex projects, a contract may set a payment schedule based on outcomes.
In most professions involving creation of intellectual property, “freelance” and its derivative terms are often reserved for workers who create works on their own initiative, then look for someone to publish them. They typically keep the copyright to their works and sell the rights to publishers in time-limited contracts. In contrast, workers who are hired to create a work according to the publishers’ or other customers’ specifications are referred to as “independent contractors” and similar terms. They have no copyright to the works, which are written as works made for hire, a category of intellectual property defined in US copyright law — Section 101, Copyright Act of 1976 (USC 17 §101).
The first step in making that jump from office work to freelance is to ascertain whether you have got an aptitude to work as a freelancer. You wish to come out of your comfort zone.
We all want to be our own boss, but do we all have the drive and dedication that it takes to be successful without the watchful eye of our supervisors? Unfortunately, we do not have that kind of attitude. Therefore, we may have to really sit down and think about how we can make ourselves so special in the world of freelancers.
Do we have a large enough skill set to make us stand out amongst the hoards of different people all seeking the same work as we? Do we have the time management skills necessary to run our own freelancing operation and meet all of the deadlines set upon us by our clients? If we have even the slightest doubt in our mind about freelancing, then maybe there are other career paths that are better for us in the long run.
Suppose, you are willing to jump in to your freelancing business with both feet, you need to start off on the freelance path slowly before you can really start bringing in the cash. Don’t quit your job just yet! Instead, you need to begin your hunt for freelance work in your area of expertise in the market and see what you can come up with.
Some skills, such as the ability to write coherently or do software design for clients of all types, are highly marketable and you should really have no difficulty whatsoever finding a goldmine of work. On the other hand, if you are only able to do tasks that are not as easily marketable on a freelance basis, you will have much more difficulty finding work for your freelance operation.
Once you have settled on a field that you want to freelance in, you will need to start finding your first clients. Whatever you do, do not start your hunt with any of the clients that you may have dealt with in your current job. There are all kinds of laws against this practice and it may get you into serious trouble if you are caught.
Instead, turn to your favorite search engine and search for some forums and databases specifically designed for freelancers seeking work in a particular field. There are tons of different places for you to visit, so within an hour or so you will probably have at least ten or fifteen bookmarks of places online where you can find employment as a freelancer.
When you find you have some free time, all you have to do is search around on each one of these bookmarked websites to find the freelance positions that sound good to you. When you start out as a freelancer, you will probably have to take a few jobs that do not pay very well at all. That’s fine because these jobs help you build your skill set.
They will help you learn how to more effectively manage your time, speed up your workflow, and even help you get more used to using a computer and the internet to search for answers to any questions that may pop up while you are doing work for your client.
The low paying jobs will probably last for awhile, as until you have assembled a massive list of satisfied clients you will have to primarily compete with all of the other freelancers in your field entirely on how low your rates and fees are. Eventually though you will graduate into higher and higher paying jobs until you will find that you have practically doubled your current income with income from freelancing.
At this point you should feel confident enough to possibly start thinking about reducing the number of hours you work at your current job to part time status or even quit your job all together and make your fortunes solely through freelancing in your selected field.
In the next post, I shall discuss about the merits and demerits for such an excellent job.
Be Happy – Become a Freelancer