At its most basic, a freelancer is an individual who is self-employed and does not work for any employer in the long term. A common feature with freelancing is that individuals can work with many clients, on different projects within a specific time frame.
According to research conducted by Freelancers Union, estimates put the numbers of Americans in freelancing positions at close to 34 million.
Some reasons account for this trend. The first is that businesses and organisations are cutting operational expenses and overheads. Also, many companies are adopting streamlined organizational structures for improved service delivery.
Another reason is the increasing desire for greater flexibility in the workplace and career. Globalization and the internet provide fodder for the advancement of the freelancing sector in many countries.
The type of work undertaken by the average freelancer varies. Such services include social media marketing, copywriting, and publicity, as well as articles and blog posts, writing. Others are technological support, such as web programming and design, creative works such as graphic design, and financial support, such as bookkeeping. Some industry experts label the provision of these services as a part of the cognitive-cultural economy.
Impact of the Internet
The Internet has and continues to open up opportunities and expanded/merged existing markets into a nearly seamless whole. Freelancing benefits from the reach and spread of the Internet. Online outsourcing, offshore outsourcing as well crowdsourcing are major features of the present day knowledge economy. In fact, freelance websites exist today. These portals come in such a way that match buyers with providers of services through the internet. Buyers offer their freelance services at a fixed price or an hourly rate. You can sign up on these platforms for freelance engagements and receive payment via merchant accounts.
Pros of a Freelance Career
- You can almost begin immediately
Once you have determined the skills you an offer and your target markets, you can begin your freelance career as soon as today! You can join user groups and post ads on social media. You freelance engagement starts with your first client.
- You can start small
Freelancing offers the opportunity to start with whatever little you have. For instance, if you plan to offer writing services, you can type with your phone and gain access to internet services at a cybercafe.
3. There is increasing demand
The market for freelancers increases every day. More businesses and companies are outsourcing a considerable amount of everyday business operations. Instead of engaging full-time employees, organisations are taking the route of engaging freelancers.
- Choosing your Schedule
With freelancer comes a lot of independence. You can decide to work from home or at the library. You can set your work time from 9am to 12 noon. There are no limits to how much you can tweak your schedule to accommodate your freelance activities.
- Select your clientele
Freelancing offers the option of working with one or many clients at any time. Based on your skill sets and level of experience, you can attract the type of market you can work with. Yet, at the beginning of your freelancing gig, you may not have the luxury of picking clients to work with.
Cons of a Freelance Career
- Difficulty in having steady patronage
If you plan on freelancing supporting your financial needs and those of your loved ones, it becomes crucial that you earn a steady income from your activities. But building a steady clientele will not happen overnight. It will need dedication, perseverance and hard work on a consistent basis.
- Engagements can be Irregular
You must understand that in freelancing as with any other endeavour, there will be times of plenty and there will be periods with little or nothing to do. A useful strategy is to save up for lean times and to meet deadlines in time during periods of much work.
- Managing many clients and projects
At the start of your freelance career, you will be able to meet deadlines and serve one or two customers. As your business expands and as you take on more clients and complex projects, you might fall into the trap of not missing deadlines and proffering excuses/apologies to disappointed clientele.
One way to go about this is to develop an efficient organizational structure for your freelance business. This structure will enable you to start tasks in good time. You might also consider hiring other freelancers to assist you.
- You could struggle to command appropriate earnings
As the demand for outsourced work increases, so does the number of freelancers available to execute these tasks. You might encounter customers who might haggle for your services at low margins. While it is okay to accept these payments at the start of your career, it is important you carve a reputation for quality work so you can begin to charge sums equal to your skills/abilities.
Categories of Freelancers
The term freelancing can be viewed as a prism, with each side giving different orientations to the subject. These orientations include:
- Independent Contractors
These are freelancers who engage in this career on a full-time basis. They usually have a string of projects lined up and run a team of other freelancers.
This category of freelancers keeps a regular, day-time job. They execute freelance projects outside office hours( at night), hence the reference to the moon.
These are freelancers in a sense because although they work for organizations on a full-time basis, their contracts are on a short-term basis.
This group of freelancers are the direct opposite of moonlighters. They have regular paid employment but they still squeeze out the time to execute freelance projects during the day.
Now that you have some understanding of what being a freelancer entails, would you fancy becoming one?