According to a recent study by Upwork, more than 57 million or 35% of American workers freelance. With the impending COVID-19 pandemic, this number is expected to grow substantially.
The concept of freelancing isn’t something new. It existed long before the age of modern technology or the internet. However, with the introduction of online freelancing platforms, the concept has become more popular.
Today, we will help you understand the concept of freelancing in more detail. Hopefully, this topic can help you get an idea of what freelancing is and help you with your freelance journey.
What is Freelancing?
Before you can go into details of freelancing, you should understand what it means. Freelancing refers to working as an independent individual rather than working for someone else. The people who freelance are called freelancers. Freelancers are self-employed individuals who work on a contractual basis. You can also refer to them as individual contractors. Freelancers can work on multiple contracts at the same time.
There are two ways in which freelancers get hired. The first way is for them to offer their services to a client. Usually, a freelancer will also provide some background on their work as a freelancer or other relevant experience to the client. The client can then choose to hire them for a specific task. The second way is for the company to come looking for a freelancer. For this to happen, freelancers need to have a portfolio to show for. These instances, where companies come looking for a freelancer, are rare.
In the past, freelancing was very rare. This was because there was no platform for freelancers to use to get work. Nowadays, anyone can become a freelancer due to all the online platforms that facilitate the process of freelancing. These platforms allow freelancers to offer their work and be offered projects from the comfort of their homes.
Which apps and online platforms can you use to set up as a freelancer?
Many different online platforms allow you to establish your online presence as a freelancer. These platforms also have mobile apps so you can easily access them from your smartphones, tablets or laptops. Some of the well-known freelancing platforms are as below.
Fiverr is arguably the largest online freelancing platform. Fiver allows you to offer your services as a “gig”. Buyers can select your gig and place an order with you. For every order that you complete, Fiverr takes a commission of 20% of the order value. The competition is high on Fiverr, but so are the number of buyers.
Freelancer is also one of the large freelancing platforms. Unlike Fiverr, with Freelancer, buyers post a project and freelancers place their bid proposals. Buyers can select a freelancer based on their bids. The commission structure on Freelancer is a bit complex but, generally, they will charge you a 10% rate.
Upwork is a freelancing platform with a more professional focus. Unlike the above two platforms, you will have to go through a review process to get accepted as a freelancer on Upwork. The commission withheld by Upwork is not flat rate but depends on your total earnings from a customer. The commission can range between 5% to 20%.
PeoplePerHour is one of the older freelancing platforms among the ones mentioned. Buyers on this platform post projects on which freelancers can bid. PeoplePerHour also tries to connect local buyers with local freelancers first. The commission on orders on the platform ranges between 3.5% to 5%. There’s also a 15% service fee on amounts above $265.
Guru is another freelancing platform worth a check. Although not as popular as the other options, the platform has worked its way up the ranks. On this platform, buyers can post projects for freelancers to bid on. The commission rates on Guru are 9% per job.
Setting up on your own Website or Social Media Profile
While the above platforms give you great exposure to many buyers, it is not your only option. You can also set up your own website or social media profiles for freelancing. Many web developers have their own websites where they showcase their work. Similarly, photographers make their own Instagram or Facebook pages to show off their work and attract buyers.
Not relying on freelancing platforms can have some benefits for you. For example, by directly dealing with your clients, you don’t have to pay a commission on your sales. Similarly, you are also not bound to any rules or terms of services. However, you may lose the exposure to many buyers that you would otherwise get on these platforms.
Most freelancers set up a website after they have an established customer base. If you are just starting out, not relying on freelancing platforms may not be an option for you. We recommend you take it slow and establish yourself in the market. Once you know how things work and get regular customers, isolate yourself from the platforms to earn more.
If you are looking for ideas on what to do on these platforms, then we have a list of famous freelance services for you. These include:
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
- Writing (Articles, Blog posts, Copywriting)
- SEO optimization
- Virtual assistance
- Editing & proofreading
- Web designing
- Graphic designing
- Logo designing
Apart from the above, you can also offer your services in your area of expertise. For example, if you are an accountant, you can find work for your specialized area of work.
Pros and cons of freelancing
There are many pros and cons of freelancing. You should consider the pros and cons before making a decision regarding your freelancing career. The pros of freelancing include:
- You get the freedom of choosing when to work
- You become your own boss
- It’s easily scalable
- You can signup on many online platforms for freelance work
- You can work from home or anywhere in the world
- You can convert it to a business and reap additional benefits such as tax deductions
- You may get paid higher than you get paid at your job
However, it may have some cons as well. These are listed below:
- It’s easy to get distracted without a set schedule
- Your payments may not be fixed or regular
- There’s a lot of competition out there
- You miss out on employee benefits
- You might have to work around the clock for some clients
- You don’t get any job security
- You’ll have to do your taxes and other administrative work yourself
While there may be more pros and cons, these are the main ones. Ultimately, it depends on you and whether you can work around the cons.
How to get Started
Getting started as a freelancer has never been easier. All you need to do is select a freelancing platform from the list above, and download the app on your smartphone. Alternatively, you can head over to their websites and sign up there. Although you are not restricted to using only one or two platforms, we recommend you keep it simple. Most of these platforms also don’t require anything from you apart from basic information.
Top Freelancing tips
Once you get started, you should follow some tips to ensure your success and stay on top of the game. These include:
- Freelance in what you are good at
- Don’t be afraid to advertise yourself
- Track your incomes from freelancing and expenses due to it
- Set a schedule for yourself
- Don’t forget any tax implications
- Be flexible but don’t undersell yourself
- Always stay motivated
- Don’t try to overwork yourself
- Start networking very early on
- Don’t give up easily