Four good reasons why you should consider a freelance career – and how to get started
Thinking of going freelance? Here are four good reasons why you should consider a freelance career, and how to get started.
In 2021, there were over 60 million freelancers in the US (that’s over 50% of the US workforce), and the number is projected to rise to 90 million by 2028.
And it’s not just in the US that the trend for freelancing is growing – the gig economy is becoming more popular around the world. But why is that?
Four good reasons why people are turning to freelance work
There are good reasons why so man people are turning to freelance work. Here are four reasons it’s so popular.
1) More businesses are hiring freelancers
Businesses have cottoned on to the vast range of skills that freelancers offer. And with sites like LinkedIn and online freelance directories and websites it’s easier than ever to find and hire people.
So if a company needs a specific skill for a project they can simply find the right freelancer or contractor for the job and hire them for that project only. No lengthy recruitment process nor cost, and they don’t need to go throuh the hassle of payroll etc.
2) Increasing job insecurity
Gone are the days when you could expect to have a job for life. Today, on average, an American changes jobs around 12 times in their working life. This stems from fewer ‘job for life’ perks, static pay rises and a lack of perception of loyalty (only 54% of workers think their employer is loyal to them).
With less job security (and fewer reasons to stay in one role) people have become more comfortable switching between roles. And freelancing often offers a temporary in-fill of income when between roles. Or, with less job security, more people are comfortable with the risks of freelance. Especially, as we’re about to discover, it does come with perks…
3) Higher income
If money is a motivator then you might be pleased to learn that freelancers generally enjoy higher income compared to their employed counterparts in the same field.
This is because freelancers take short, mid and long term assignments from various buyers for their skills. This helps them diversify income sources and bid for high value contracts with buyers through freelancing platforms.
The higher pay is also a form of compensation for the fact that freelancers don’t get holiday, sick or maternity pay, and other perks that come with employment. But if you’re a successful freelancer you’ll find that the extra you make when you do work more than compensates for any downtime.
(That said, it is wise to put at least three months money aside if you are a freelancer, to cover your outgoings if for some reason you were unable to work or between contracts.)
4) Better variety
Working for the same company, in the same office, doing the same role year in year out can get boring. And if you don’t get on with a colleague, you can feel frustrated and trapped.
There’s none one this when you are freelance! Your work will take you to many different offices (and even enable you to work from home), meaning you’ll meet lots of different people. You’ll also work on a wide variety of projects and possible even widen your skill set.
And if you don’t enjoy a company you are freelancing for? You can either console yourself it’s a shortchanged contract and you’re getting paid handsomely for it, or terminate your contract and move on. It’s much less complex than extracting yourself from an employment contract. If your motto is ‘variety is the spice of life’, then freelancing could be for you.
How to become a freelancer
Sold on the idea of of freelancing but no idea how to actually become a freelancer? Here are some tips to help you get started.
Define your niche
You could have many different skills, but if you want to successfully work as a freelancer you need to define a niche where you can provide superb quality work to a client. Why? Because clients will search for freelancers based upon their requirements for a specific task and skills necessary, according to the niche.
Think abut it, if a pharmaceutical company needed a content writer, what term might they put into LinkedIn or a search engine? It’s not just ‘freelancer’ or even ‘freelance writer’. They’ll probably search for ‘content writer pharmaceutical’.
They don’t want a generic writer, they want a content writer, and one who knows their industry. So trying to be all things to all people will just mean that you risk being nothing to no one. Help people find you and decide you’re the perfect person for their project or contract because you perfectly fit their need and niche.
Create a killer LinkedIn profile
Speaking of LinkedIn, if you want to make a success of freelancing you absolutely need to have a great profile. Not only will clients use LinkedIn to actually search for people with your skills, but they’ll check you out on there even if they discover you elsewhere. It also makes it easier for other people to recommend you.
So what does a ‘great profile’ look like? At the very minimum you need to properly complete each section and ensure your headline and summary really sell you properly. If you’re not 100% confident in your LinkedIn profile, we recommend taking this hour-long masterclass. It will also give you guidance on what to do with your profile once you have perfected it.
Work out your pricing
Working out the right price for your freelance services is essential. Charge too much and you’ll lose contracts to other freelancers. Charge too little and you won’t be considered for the best projects – and instead left working with cheap clients who expect more for their money and are rarely grateful.
It’s also important to ensure you charge enough for freelancing because you’ll have more expenses than someone who is employed. You’ll probably need your own laptop, and will have to pay your own travel and other costs. You’ll also need to put money aside for times when you’re between work. And don’t forget you need to put aside money for taxes.
Price yourself too cheaply and you could run into financial problems eventually. So what’s a ‘good’ rate? If you work via an agency they’ll probably set the rates for you, which gives you an idea of the going rates. You can also ask around if you know other freelancers in your field.
Freelancers generally price their work on per hour or per day basis, which can make calculations easier. One way to work out your rate is to divide the salary you would draw every month by 30 days. And further, by eight hours per day. This helps you arrive at an hourly rate.
Add your expenses on working from home as freelancer and then add an extra margin to cover any fees that freelancer platforms will charge you, as well as the expenses you’ll incur on payment gateways such as PayPal. You also need to factor times when you’re not working and to cover lack of sick and holiday pay, etc.
Register on freelancing platforms
The final step towards becoming a freelancer is by registering on one or more freelancing platforms. You can also find freelance jobs on LinkedIn and job boards.
Some of the most popular freelancer platforms include Upwork.com, FlexJobs.com, Fiverr.com and Freelancer.com. While most charge between 5-20% of your earnings as commissions or fees, others work on monthly, quarterly and annual subscription basis, such as FlexJobs.com
While you may need to start out on a freelancer platform, over time you’ll hopefully build up enough of a reputation and network of contacts that you’ll be able to generate your own work, without paying out fees and commissions.
Need more freelance tips?
If you’re launching a new freelance career, you’ll find these resources helpful:
- 99 tips that freelancers wish they’d known when they were starting out
- Think you can’t afford to go freelance? Six money tips that will help
- 47 ideas to help you find freelance clients
- Your 10 first steps to a successful freelance career
Photo by Brandy Kennedy