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Growing up, I was always taught that college, family, and the nine to five grind was crucial to achieving the end goal of retirement. Coming from an immigrant family, working from home or traveling to random locations was considered an unsustainable and ridiculous type of career path.
Even though I still get push back from some family members, they no longer consider remote work impossible.
They’ve seen me create income from this lifestyle and have come across beautiful travel pics on social media of workers sitting happily behind a computer on the beach, that glamorizes the remote working lifestyle.
It has become the idyllic dream job, but for those of us who have tried to push our way into this lifestyle can tell you that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Anyone who has ever looked into the idea of getting into freelancing knows that the possibilities seem endless, but in actuality are very difficult to find.
Full time freelancers will also tell you that breaking into the field isn’t as it once was. Oversaturation of applicants and outsourcing from larger companies or overseas have driven down prices and lengthened the job search process. Now, even the most dedicated applicants are finding it hard to join the freelancers club.
Luckily, oversaturation doesn’t indicate that the idea is dead, in fact, freelancing is becoming an ever more popular choice for workers of all ages, and the job markets rapid expansion is far from showing any signs of slowing down.
With technology being accessible in almost every corner of the world, there is no reason we can’t open up our computer and get to work. So, why not try it out?
- 11 things to consider before becoming a digital nomad.
- 9 Lessons I learned failing as a freelancer.
- 5 Ways to successfully prepare for the laptop lifestyle.
The Benefits of Freelancing and Finding Remote Work
Some people love to travel and work alone, while others prefer to embrace the full-blown freelance lifestyle. I personally enjoy having a home base where I can have a consistent routine but still have the option to travel part-time.
If you prefer an office environment, then freelancing is probably not for you. You won’t be able to socialize in the office and it can be difficult to bounce ideas off of other remote workers, but if you’re like me and love the freedom of your own time and can self motivate, well, read on!
While a trend towards coworking spaces has popped up around the world specifically geared towards freelancers who like to collaborate, that doesn’t guarantee you will have the luxury of having others keep you motivated and interested.
Co-working spaces are far and few between, and are often a little pricey for the beginning freelancer.Working from home can be a good alternative to this dilemma.
For those stay at home parent’s, busy entrepreneurs, or even college students looking for supplemental income, freelancing is the way to go.
Although working for yourself creates a significant amount of responsibility, it can also give you freedom of time and complete control over your schedule, budget, and location. For many self-employed individuals looking for remote work, having a workplace at home may not only create a job opportunity not previously available but also save money.
Gas allowances, work clothes, and daily lunch budgets are usually not necessary for freelancers. Family oriented individuals may be able to save money on childcare and other home-based services as well, such as housekeeping.
If you are self-reliant and can work without a boss, telecommuting work could be the ticket to higher productivity. As a freelancer you can choose to work when you’re in work mode, which puts you in a position where you can accomplish more and feel less pressure to stay on time and meet deadlines.
Every body is physically unique as well. Deciding when to take a beak for lunch, could mean the difference between being productive and being distracted by a grumbling stomach, and nothing is worse than getting hangry while trying to work! Corporate workers don’t have the luxury of choosing a lunchtime, freelancers do.
If you possess the ability to work on your own, or learn how to, then this lifestyle is right for you.
The Truth About Finding Freelancing Work
There has been a lot of hopeful individuals who have tried to step up to the plate only to be met with a wall of resistance. Most give up on searching for their ideal remote work due to burnout or the financial need to find something more stable. Don’t fall into this category.
The truth is that breaking into the field of freelancing is a full-time job and rarely does a remote worker start out making as much money as they should compared to the amount of work they put in.
Emailing, cold-calling, trying out different types of jobs, and working for cheap or even free is common in the freelancing world. I can personally vouch for free work not being worth it, but I also understand the temptation that comes with a first potential opportunity.
All of this effort is made to get noticed by a potential employer. In the end, though, most jobs come from about fifty percent of your blood sweat and tears, and the other fifty is due to chance. Your most valuable lesson is to learn how to say no and to realize your value.
Frequent Newbie Freelancing Mistakes
The most frequent first-timer mistake I’ve seen is trying to land a gig without having first made themselves a temporary portfolio or proof of credibility.
Previously, a college degree was what stood out on a resume and people were often hired based on the person who completed the highest form of education. Schools and financial institutions have solved this problem by creating student loans. Now everyone can get a degree, and write it on their resume.
While the accessibility is worth noting, it has put a damper on how candidates are evaluated. A college degree is now held by a good majority of the population which forces would be employers to look at other credentials, such as your portfolios and references.
If you are a newbie looking to find remote work, don’t go in thinking you have to offer free labor to show your worth, this is simply not the case. In fact, it could place you in a spot where employers look at you as cheap instead of a quality hard worker. Most businesses that accept free work are usually not the most qualified anyways.
Using them as a reference won’t look as good as professional quality work that was paid for, thoroughly thought out, edited, and placed on an already professional website.
The key to counteracting this trend is to start by creating your own website or portfolio. Like a resume, producing examples of your work, professionally published or not, gives you more credibility than a case of free work you have done. It shows that you put in the time and effort to make yourself look good, and it also saves you time in finding and creating an assortment of odd jobs that may or may not be worthwhile.
Creating a Freelancing Portfolio Instead of a Resume
Most would be freelancers start out low on funds and will be looking for the cheapest route to starting their career. Don’t believe the common misconception that starting off on your own costs money. It can, but with the telecommuting movement, there has also come a trend to create DIY websites and platforms that are available for anyone.
While paid plans do offer better options for professionals, such as a personalized domain name, these aren’t necessarily needed for a beginning freelancer.
Blogging platforms and even portfolio sites are available to be set up for free. No need to worry either if you lack design skills, it is likely that ready-made templates are created for any possible niche you are looking into.
Your Employer is Your Target Freelancing Customer
When creating a portfolio, consider who your ideal clients would be. Potential employers shouldn’t be thought of as the next company you will be working for; they ARE your customers.
Understanding and narrowing down your target audience is an essential first step when starting your freelancing career. A broad range of skill sets is excellent, but you need to choose one or two, and then expand from there.
Narrowing down a specialty does two things. First, it makes you hone in on your craft and perfect those skills; secondly, it makes for easier job targeting. Writing, graphic design, and web design skills are highly sought after, but when combining the three and searching for jobs, the possibilities can be overwhelming.
An employer is often looking for a specific person to do one of those jobs because freelance tasks are generally hired out to separate specialists. If a business wants to order an all-encompassing business setup-type package, then a company, not a freelancer, will most likely be who gets hired.
Find your niche and embrace it.
Start with one skill that you want to master and get a feel for what the customers are looking for by searching through job listings. From there, create a portfolio with all of the skills they want to see.
Free Tools for Getting a Freelancing Career Started
Reducing your startup costs is simplified with many free tools that are available out there, and they aren’t limited to website building. Grammar checkers like Grammarly , graphic design platforms, and social media scheduling apps like Hootsuite are just some of the types of tools available that you can use to help you be more efficient.
A little research will go a long way when choosing the best product. Reviews from other users are your best friend, so make sure you read them. A lot of critical pieces of information can be found when looking for the tool you need through those reviews.
The Mistake of Not Setting up Your Social Media Profiles
Even worse than a lack of portfolio is the lack of an online presence. Social media profiles are not necessarily essential for a freelancer but, it can be the best place to get noticed and be contacted by potential clients.
You do not need to join every single platform but it is best to focus on two or three so you can showcase your work and make the most impact.
LinkedIn, for example, connects people via email, profile searches, and other connections. These connections could range from close friends to large corporations.
Facebook, on the other hand, can connect you to more personalized clients and provide you with recommendations for small and local business customers. Either way, exposure is everything and putting effort into optimizing your profile shows not only ambition, but examples of your work.
Time Management as the Root of Successful Freelancing
Time management is crucial when considering remote work, but it can be difficult to accomplish. Not everyone can perfect the skill of staying on task and each person has to realize their strengths, weaknesses, and learn the best way to deal with them.
A great way to become more productive is to write down your goals and schedules. You can create a timeline of constraints and achievements that can help you feel more motivated and a sense of accomplishment that is lacking when you are not in an office setting.
Working at home can be distracting so create a dedicated office space and try adding elements that can help maintain your focus and reduce distractions. Set aside a business area free from other people in the household and let them know when your office hours are.
Setting your worth, always meeting deadlines, living up to your word, and perseverance are the critical factors needed for a beginning freelancer to become successful. So make sure you are prepared for the obstacles but also the freedom you will have as a freelancer.
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