Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Who wants to be a... freelancer?

Dry Spell. Freelance Famine.

I used the above title to appeal to the curious minds of the many people I know who have expressed interest to start a career from home. I have been asked to explain the nature of my job too many times; I've already lost count. Truth is—it's not easy to explain what I do. Freelancing is not just a job. It is also a business, a lifestyle and more.

I know many of you are eager to find out what freelancing is, but it's not like defining freelancing can get you anywhere (Believe it or not; I started freelancing 3 years ago relying on context clues!)—real work that goes beyond curiosity does.

Freelancing is not easy to define because it's different every time! Every project and every client brings in to the table different work requirements, which redefines freelancing from an entirely different perspective. One project may not require you to have a fixed work schedule, but another might! This doesn’t mean that defining freelancing as work with a flexible schedule is incorrect—it's just not always true. So let's not bog down ourselves with such a difficult task of trying to find a definition for everything. Read on and I'll tell you exactly what you really need to know about freelancing.

Freelancing is not a get-rich-quick-scheme

I know a lot of freelancers who have made a fortune out of this business by working really hard to achieve their goals. Two words: working and goals. While it is true that pay ranges for freelancers are above minimum; it takes work—loads of work—and discipline to be able to earn more money than a regular employee would. Contrary to what others may think; working from home isn't that cheap especially if you want to live life. You have to set aside money for leisure and bonding activities with family and friends, and socialize from time to time to avoid burnout. A change of scene by working from a coffee shop, restaurant or a public library can boost productivity so you may want to allocate funds for work away from home, too. Freelancing is a business with operating costs. You have to pay for your Internet connection and electric bill. If you hired a nanny for your kids; then that's an added expense, too. Again, it's possible to achieve financial independence through freelancing, but just like any other jobs; you have to work hard for it.

Freelancing is not just about writing

Aspiring freelancers find it difficult to break in to freelancing because they often go for freelance writing even if it's obvious that they can't string words together. Freelance writing may appear to be the easiest way in, but it's not. It may be true years ago, but not anymore. There are just too many writers out there already, and if you're just starting; the chances of you getting drowned in competition is high. This is not to say that you can no longer offer freelance writing services. If you have a knack for words, then please use it to earn some cash! If you don't; that's OK. Depending on your skills, education and work background; you can break in to freelancing as a web designer, personal assistant, call center agent or a voice talent. You can even start out as a data entry professional and work your way up as you develop new skills and learn new things. Keep an open mind and know your options.

Freelancing is not full time employment

In freelancing, the advantage of being able to choose your projects based on your skills and interests has an equivalent disadvantage. As a value provider, you need to truthfully assess your abilities and only apply for jobs that you can satisfactorily complete. But what if you are not a good fit to any of the available positions in the marketplace? This is just one of the many scenarios that can bring a freelance career to the dreaded dry spell or freelance famine. Freelancing can't guarantee you constant stream of work as full time employment does so you have to make an effort to secure your finances the moment you begin working from home. Save.

I am not exactly the right person to talk about financial independence, but let me try. I took a break from freelancing before because of freelance famine. I was without a job and no savings. I learned that income from freelancing can’t be relied on at all times. I’ve learned this the hard way, and I'm still coping with this truth at this point. I'm still a work in progress. I'll blog about my journey through financial independence in the future.

This is a considerably short list of misconceptions about freelancing. There are a lot more, but I only listed those that you may need to know before you even think of getting started. Not to scare you or anything, but working from home is not for the faint of heart. I have had my own challenges as a freelancer, and they can be nerve-racking (Think of trying to beat a deadline while taking care of a toddler). Freelancing can offer you a rewarding career though. You just have to be willing to work hard, offer value in your services, and be ready financially and emotionally for freelancing challenges such as the dry spell.

Now, who still wants to be a freelancer? Can you handle the truth?



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