Freelancing is an increasingly popular way to work. But what is freelancing, why do people freelance and can I make a career out of it? This article answers the 10 questions you always wanted to ask about freelancing.
1. What is freelancing?
Freelancing occurs when someone offers his or her services for an agreed period in return for a fee. Freelancers (also known as contractors or service providers) are independent of the businesses or individuals that hire their services. Generally, freelancers work on jobs of a short duration although contract periods do vary in length and can be and are often extended.
2. Who can become a freelancer?
The short answer is anyone. There are no restrictions as to who can become a freelancer. As long as you have a skill or service that a business or individual needs then you can offer your services and be a freelancer.
3. Who hires freelancers?
Freelancers are hired by individuals and organisations, including micro enterprises, small and medium sized enterprises, large companies, like Tesco, charities, local and central government, e.g., HM Revenue & Customs, and public bodies.
4. What services do freelancers offer?
Freelancers offer a diverse set of services. There really isn’t a fixed list. Some services offered by freelancers include:
- event planning and management (e.g., weddings, birthdays, etc.)
- book-keeping & accounting
- car valet
- virtual assistance (e.g., email & diary management, call answering, etc.)
- IT support & customer helpdesk
- Website design & development
As a rule of thumb, if an organisation or individual can micro outsource it, then it can be freelanced!
5. Which services are in demand?
Demand for services varies but research has shown that the demand for freelance workers increases during “times of economic uncertainty”. So this is a great time to freelance! Job information sites such as itjobswatch or just searching and counting the number of freelance opportunities can provide useful information on the demand for freelance services.
But don’t be discouraged if your service doesn’t appear popular. In fact, offering a service that has low demand also means that there is less competition and that’s great for your future earnings!
6. What are the advantages of being a freelancer?
There are many advantages to freelancing. Some of my favourites include:
Being your own boss. Freelancing is one of best ways to start your own business. Being your own boss also allows you to decide how many hours you work, when in the year and in which locations.
Getting paid to travel. If you enjoy travelling, then freelance work can take you around the country or further afield. What’s more, you can travel at someone else’s expense!
Working from home or remotely. If your preference is to work from home then freelancing offers this flexibility and freelancers can enjoy a successful business doing just that. The Internet has created remote working possibilities that businesses across the globe are keen to use.
Earning money quickly. Freelancers can be paid not only more quickly and frequently than permanent employees but they can earn much more in a given period than a permanent employee doing similar work.
7. What are the disadvantages of freelancing?
But being a freelancer has some disadvantages, too. Some of which include:
Annual tax return. If you’re self-employed or freelance through your own company or enjoy a certain level of income, you’ll have to complete HM Revenue and Customs’ tax return. Thankfully, you can now do this on their Web site and get your tax calculated automatically.
Having to find work. If you’re a freelancer then there’s no boss to give you your first (or next) job. So, it’s up to you to find work. Luckily, there are Web sites that specialise in freelancing that can assist to make this process easier.
Having to maintain your CV. Your CV is what’s going to help you get your next job, if not your first one, so you’ll need to update it as jobs are completed and new skills are acquired. This can become a chore but it’s necessary if you want to convey your current experience and knowledge.
8. Where can I freelance?
As mentioned, an advantage of freelancing is that it allows you to travel. Depending on your skills and the service you offer, you may work on freelance jobs locally, nationally or internationally. For example, you might offer a gardening service, which would be more likely offered to local individuals and businesses. Or you might freelance as a personal trainer and offer services locally and regionally.
You can also work from the comfort of your home as a data entry operator, article writer, CCTV operator, proofreader and so on. As indicated, the Internet has opened numerous opportunities for people to work remotely without the need to be at a client’s site.
9. How to get started?
Place your CV on a suitable site. Some of the more popular job boards and CV aggregators include tiptopjob, jobserve, friendsreunitedjobs, totaljobs, CV-Library and jobsite. However, these sites do not specialise in micro outsourced jobs and their focus is more on capturing your CV rather than the services that you offer.
Fortunately, there are specialist sites that can help you freelance your services. On these sites, you’ll find jobs with differing requirements and budgets. You’ll also be able to advertise 1 or more services, indicating your skills, daily or hourly rate and locations, if you also wish to work at a client’s site. And unlike job boards or CV aggregators, you’ll also be able to use the site to interact with job providers to, for example, clarify requirements or work with them once you’ve got the job!
10. Can I make a career out of freelancing?
Absolutely, yes! If you’re currently working, you can try out freelancing in parallel with your main job before deciding whether to do it full-time. If you’re between jobs or on a career break then freelancing is a way to quickly earn some money whilst filling the empty space on your CV. And who knows, you might just like it!
Freelancing has become an increasingly popular way to work and has many advantages over traditional employment. This article has covered 10 questions most frequently asked about freelancing such as, what is freelancing, why do people freelance and can I make a career out of freelancing?
Copyright 2011 by Peter Louis. All rights reserved