Freelance is conventionally associated with freedom, independence and good money. But is it all that simple? This type of employment requires higher level of dedication, self-organization and self-motivation. Let’s consider everything you should know about freelance!
A lot of people ponder a question: freelance or office job. Or how to be a freelancer? Sometimes freelance is misunderstood to be a remote work. But it is not quite so! On the one hand, freelance is a free alternative to office, on the other, there could be no commitment to a particular employer.
What is Freelance Work? Who Is a Freelancer?
A freelancer is a person who provides work or services on a by-order basis. Further, he or she chooses time and place of work individually. There are no flat wages and schedules but only orders and deadlines. Putting on the staff is not anticipated. A freelancer can offer his/her services to one or several clients at once with no exclusive obligations to any of them. The best freelance jobs (due to simple web-based workflow management) are:
- graphic design;
- consulting assistance.
Who and Why Undertakes Freelance Jobs?
If you have ever wondered of leaving your office job and started freelancing, or if you see freelancing as a part-time job during your study or maternity leave, do not go wrong with your choice.
This type of work is not appropriate for everybody. There are many important aspects to be considered before diving into freelance. In the main, successful freelancers are people who seek more freedom and want to be their own bosses. They are able to discipline themselves and observe deadlines. They prefer to choose working hours individually and they are not afraid of being financially flexible. Crucial skills for freelancers are communication, briefing, personal budgeting and time management.
Why do people make up their mind to leave the stability of permanent income? There could be a lot of reasons! Some want to start out on new careers. Others do not like regular working hours. Mothers on maternity leave who want to hold qualification or creative professionals seeking for convenient working conditions can search for information on how to work freelance.
It is true that life of each freelancer has both pros and cons.
- Freedom (flexible schedule, working hours and location). There is no necessity to get up early in the morning. You can work at nights, late in the evening, actually, whenever you want. It is convenient if you have children to take care of. You can organize your life and work according to your requirements. You can do work you passionate about.
- Possibility to cut back on driving time. You don’t have to waste time in public transport. And there are no commuting costs.
- Unlimited earning potential. There are no fixed rates. The more you work, the more you can earn. Moreover, there are people who can’t find work in their profession in small towns, for example. Freelance is a real possibility to work for major companies in profession. You are free to determine the daily work volume and earnings. And if you know how to work freelance successfully, you may have many clients. One customer disloyalty won’t affect your budget considerably.
- Possibility to choose clients, projects, topics, etc. Choice and variety are overwhelming advantages of freelance work. You can let your creativity flow working either on certain topics or in various fields. It’s up to you! Best freelance jobs include creative occupations where freedom of choice helps to unlock creative potential.
- No office politics. There are no corporate standards, bosses, dress codes, annual and quarterly performance reviews. You don’t have to make progress reports, ask for leave, and be distracted by colleagues.
It should also be stated that business gives precedence to hiring freelancers at present. A lot of top managers believe that outsource is economically advantageous. Each freelancer allows companies to cut costs. Hiring a freelancer, a supervisor doesn’t have to compensate sick leaves, vacations, etc. And the last but not the least, there is a possibility to consider freelancers for hire from different cities, regions and even countries. Increased competition leads to reduction of service fees and improvement in quality of work. And such a ratio is good for all prospective employers.
- Isolation. You can feel isolated working at home. There are no coffee breaks with friends, common problems and shared successful resolutions. You don’t have to look well, wear suits or put on make up. You are fenced in by your room, flat, house. Even best freelance jobs can’t ensure constant conversations with colleagues.
- Inconsistent cash flow. Irregular monthly income is a considerable disadvantage. It is very difficult to guess how much you can earn for a particular month. This month you have many orders, the next you are lacking them. Regular control over financial flows is a must!
- Burden of locating new clients, self promotion, marketing. Let’s start with the very beginning. If you do not have regular customers, it is very difficult to find orders. And you can be short of money for several months. You’ll have to sell your services contacting customers, looking for tenders and meeting competition. Marketing, accounting, sales are fields of your own responsibility. Self discipline and self organization are extremely important, if you have to run every business aspect.
- No paid time off. No company-sponsored health benefits. No social guarantees. You won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits. You will get no compensation if you are sick or injured. You’ll have to find out how to work freelance without social protection.
- Distraction. It can be very difficult to separate work and home. You’d hardly concentrate on your work if you’re not alone at home. You can feel unfocused and scattered. As a freelancer you’ll have to motivate yourself on a regular basis.
What Are the Most Common Freelance Scams?
Be aware of the following freelance scams:
- Unique sample scam.
- No milestone payment scam.
- Membership fee scam.
- Software purchase scam.
- Personal info scam.
- No contract scam.
- Jobs offered to students, stay-at-home moms, etc.
- Percentage of profits scam.
You are asked to provide one or several unique samples of your work together with your application. The application is rejected, but your articles are published. Hiring a freelancer, an employer can also ask to complete a test for free. Certainly, it may be very important to demonstrate your skills to a potential employer. But you can easily get into a trap of giving away free work to scammers.
If you are going to start a large project, agree upon milestone payment. It is a kind of payment guarantee. If your employer refuses to pay by installments, think twice before accepting the project. You might get nothing upon its completion.
If your employer asks you to sign up on a paid basis in order to get access to job details, do not believe. It may be a fraud. In most cases, scammers disappear having solicited your money.
If your employer asks you to purchase special software (or even hardware), do not accept a project. You are a freelancer, and not a buyer. All resources should be easily accessible. If not, your employer should provide you with all required software tools.
You are asked to provide personal details as a part of the application. This scam is very dangerous, since the information can be used for criminal purposes (identity theft). You can ask your employer to pay via PayPal or by check. In case of refusal, never start a project.
A lot of freelancers do not sign contracts. Sometimes, it isn’t required. But if your employer refuses to arrange for a contract, it should be a red flag for you. A contract is a legal instrument that allows you to enforce your rights, provided that the employer disappears or refuses to make payment in full.
This scam targets students, stay at home mothers. The potential employer offers extremely low pay rates justified by lack of experience. Decent work should be paid properly. Do not accept such offers and keep searching. Some employers can even offer positive reviews instead of promised minimum remuneration as soon as you finish the project.
If you are offered a revenue share instead of a fixed fee, be aware of a possible trap. It sounds good, but how will you find out the real revenue? What will be cash amount of your percentage? The scheme is questionable. You may complete a tremendous scope of work and get little or nothing in the end.
Video below features a freelancer who has almost been scammed. Often scams are so sophisticated and well-considered that you could hardly see through the scheme. The author describes everything in full details to help us see into the motives of scammers.
Tips for Freelancers:
- Think of your reputation. Freelance work is not a simple one-time project. If you are looking for a steady workflow and regular clients, build up enviable reputation. Most clients consider a freelancer’s ranking before deciding whether to engage him/her or not.
- Agree all terms with your employer in advance and in writing. And you will leave no scope for misunderstandings of any type.
- Focus on projects you can perform well. Before taking on a new project make sure you know the scope and have enough skills to complete it properly. You should be able to do a project well and on time. Be selective. Do not accept every offer.
- Do not be afraid to reject. It is a part of freelance routine. If you are unable to accomplish a project well or on time, reject it. Think of your ranking!
- Find a community to get for assistance if necessary. Sometimes freelancers need support. If you could find the community to fall back on support and/or resources, you would benefit from it for sure.
- Schedule and plan work for the future. Freelancers are solely responsible for marketing, promotion and orders flow, so keep track of your workload regularly. Otherwise, you could stay out of job for some time with all the consequences that come with it. Stay organized and document your projects. When you are a freelancer, you have to complete a lot of additional tasks including bookkeeping. Keep track of your projects, earnings and spending in order to avoid mishaps in the future.
- Communicate to your employer and ask for details if necessary. You are expected to ensure top quality. If there are any issues you want to clarify, don’t be afraid of asking. Communication is a key to successful project completion.
- Respect deadlines. Manage your time to complete projects as agreed. Nobody likes delays even with convincing explanations.
So, what is freelancing work? It is a mix of new opportunities, perspectives, limitations, and challenges. What is a freelancer? Everyone and anyone can become a self-employed person. Wonder if you can get started. A lot depends upon character, situation and requirements. What’s most important is to do work you really like!
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While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal, medical, accounting, investment, or any other professional advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.