Freelancing is when you work as an independent contractor and use your skills to provide services to a variety of clients for a fee. Freelancers are contracted by companies on a part-time or short-term basis.
Unemployment has remained a challenge for many years. Finding a job has become even more difficult, and people have had to find creative ways to ensure an income. On the other spectrum, some people are employed but are looking for ways to diversify income streams. For both, freelancing can be a solid option. Freelancing 40 www.futuresa.co.za freelancing Ideally, when freelancers start-out they have some sort of safety net – they have saved up a bit of money and have sufficient funds to carry them for a few months until they can get into the rhythm of freelancing. Unfortunately, with the current unemployment rates, people don’t necessarily have that buffer and are wading into the deep end of freelancing. Here are some tips on how to become a successful freelancer.
Define your area of expertise
Companies require particular skillsets from freelancers to either complement their teams, or plug a gap where there is a scarce skillset within that particular company. Your area of expertise would be something you either have experience in or something you are good at. A good idea would be to undertake an exercise whereby you write a list of the services you can offer.
Build a portfolio
Many freelancers use their networks to get a foot in the door, so to speak. While that is an efficient way of getting clients, it can also be limiting. Build a portfolio of your work – this comes in handy when a client requests to see evidence of your skillset. If you have no prior experience, but are good at something, you can still create a portfolio with samples of your skill. Having a portfolio readily available helps build trust between you and the client.
Setting your price
Do your research so that you have an idea of market rates. As a freelancer, you set your own rate to a certain extent – in some cases companies have a flat hourly/project rate they offer but it is up to you to accept or reject that. Setting your price depends on a variety of factors – your skill level, the scope of the project and so forth. Freelance pricing generally falls into three categories: 1. Hourly rate – you charge per hour, and have to keep track of your hours. 2. Retainer – a flat monthly fee. 3. Fixed project fee – you agree to work on a particular project whereby you agree to the scope and project deliverables.
Put yourself out there
Register with freelance websites. Generally, these platforms will require you to load your profile on their platforms. There are also other platforms like social media where there are ads requesting freelance services. However, it’s important to note that not all freelance ads are legit so proceed with caution. As social media plays such a big role in today’s society, you can also set up a page with your services. It is also a good idea to set up a website – this does not necessarily require a large investment as there are platforms that allow you to set up a webpage for free and have easy navigable tools to self-design your website. Networking is a brilliant way to get a start. Let your networks know that you are in the market and you might be surprised at how often they can open doors for you.
Best foot forward
When you manage to obtain a freelance project, it is critical that you put your best foot forward. If you do a great job, there is a good chance you will be contacted for further work or might be recommended to another client. Some ways to promote good relations with clients is to keep communication channels open and be organised.
Pros and cons of freelancing
|Flexible hours and location|
|Opportunity to work with a number of clients|
|You are your own boss|
|Make your own rates|
|No benefits offered in terms of medical aid, pension, etc.|
|Juggling multiple clients simultaneously|
|Having to constantly be on the lookout for a new gig|
|Inconsistent income – some months might be lucrative whereas others are not|
Top Tip: Research is critical if you want to get started as a freelancer. Research platforms, research clients and research how to best market yourself.