For sure we have all read an article, seen a photograph, used some software, or visited a website that was designed by some type of freelancer.
And for sure at some point or another in our lives we have entertained the thought of stepping away from our current jobs and starting on a new career path as a freelancer in our field of expertise.
But for the most part we don’t it. We just stay where we are. So why is that?
What holds us back from going out and doing what it is that we really want to do with our lives?
Why do we allow ourselves to be tied to our employers?
What do we need to break free and start our own business as a freelancer?
These are some basic questions to ask yourself before you even think about quitting your current job in pursuit of a freelance career.
Each year, countless people believe that they can simply quit their jobs and pursue a career as a freelancer in whatever their specific field may be, and far too many of them fail ending up back at their day job (if they are lucky). This unfortunate circumstance happens because those who want to branch out on their own have no clear idea of what steps they need to take or what to expect from their freelancing career. All they think about is having as many days off as they want and being able to keep all the profits they make from their work. They don’t consider the long hours and hard work needed to meet their client’s deadlines; the financial instability that working for yourself can bring; and the competition for the work/clients, which can all be major factors in determining success.
Before you get started, you need to know and understand that although freelancing has its perks and its rewards, it is not all fun and games either. Long hours and personal sacrifices may be required, and a lot of serious thought must go into all your actions and decisions. If after careful consideration of the good, the bad, and the ugly you are absolutely sure freelancing is right for you, then go ahead and set your foot down on your new career path.
First of all though, whatever you do, do not quit your day job just yet. You will need to have that source of income for the first while as you search for projects. Quitting your job will come in due course, after you have established your client base and ensured ongoing, well-paying projects. You don’t need to be in a hurry. So armed with your passion and desire, log onto your computer, open your web browser, access your favourite search engine, and start looking for freelance work.
Begin by typing in specific keywords that describe what you want to do, now or later, and see what comes up. Depending on the keywords, each search should give you many different websites that cater to the freelance community of your specific field. Be sure to bookmark them all so you can go back and review each one carefully, weeding out those that are of no real use to you. What you end up with should be a good selection of websites in your field where you think you will be able to find your clients. Subscribe to their RSS feeds to keep in the know.
Visit these sites daily to look for projects that are interesting to you and that would pay the bills. Apply to work on these projects in whatever manner the site requires, and follow all the rules. Respond to any questions from potential clients promptly. And don’t get discouraged if you didn’t win the job. Sooner or later you are bound to be rewarded.
Keep in mind when you are just starting out you can’t expect to get all the best jobs that are out there, even if you are the most qualified. Most likely you will only get the small, low paying projects that don’t require very much skill at all. You are, after all, the newcomer in the freelance community. It takes time to build up your reputation and your portfolio.
As time goes by and you work with client after client, more and more people will hear about you and the kind of work you do. Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool you have. These new potential clients may even start to seek you out and the more challenging and higher paying projects will roll in. The boost to your income will be very noticeable.
While you are waiting for your first projects to roll in, or even before you start your search, spend some time to create a portfolio that documents the various tasks you are capable of doing. Create some examples that will highlight your skills and show your expertise. Have it at the ready to show your potential clients. Update it with relevant work samples from paid projects for which you have permission to share, and include whatever else you can that will make you look knowledgeable and capable in your field. Consider it an extension of your resume.
Finally, it is very important to realize that you will be competing with thousands of other freelancers from around the globe. Don’t let yourself get lost in the crowd. Stand out and be noticed. Find something in your personal skills arsenal that you can offer that others cannot easily compete with and put it out there.
About the Author:
Deborah Taylor is a diversified administrative professional with more than 25 years of varied and progressive experience in all areas of office management and administration. President of AVA Business Services, Deborah and her team provide Virtual Assistance and local Freelance support for today’s global marketplace.