Gone are the days when getting a good job was the only dream of average working class.
Now we dream about a job that does not have any restrictions of working hours, work location and still pays handsomely. Freelancing gives us this opportunity to work from anywhere anytime and without having a boss. Apart from a good pay, it also gives you a unique and strong network worldwide and a capability to make your own brand or product successful. These advantages are countless, but the matter of the fact is, freelancing is being more popular than ever.
In a survey, 70% of freelancers accepted the fact that the best days are still to come in next five years. Some quick facts about freelancing:
Freelancing is a hot topic of discussions nowadays. A decade ago, it has a limited reach to very few, top of the class experts. But as the web technologies emerged, it is now getting new heights every day. Anyone with an internet connection and a pc can become a freelancer. There are hundreds of reasons people are attracted to freelancing, few of them are below:
There are hundreds of other reasons that freelancing is preferred in comparison with a full time job. Most of us have heard this term ‘freelancing’ many times but don’t really know what is freelancing.
Freelancing and freelancer: Freelancer is a self-employed person who offers his services to several small, mid-size businesses. A freelancer can work with multiple clients on multiple projects at the same time. USA individually has more than 55 million freelancers and the total money they made in 2016 is $1 trillion.
Few years ago freelancing was not so common and popular as it is now. The reason is internet and IT was not as efficient as they are right now. Freelancers still managed to get regular work in that time but their reach was limited to their cities. They had to make a network to get ongoing work and it was the biggest challenge in freelancing. Hence the number of freelancers and freelancing jobs was very limited.
But now offline freelancing became less popular. Several online websites started to provide a platform for freelancers and clients. It is actually quite simple to become freelancer nowadays. You still need to be an expert in your skills but finding and applying for jobs is easier in comparison to the olden days. So, here is how it works:
Freelancing is basically done online nowadays. 80% of total freelance jobs are outsourced on freelance websites. Below is a short overview of the process:
Find a platform: To start online freelancing, you need to find some good freelancing platforms. There are thousands of websites offering projects. They work on commission basis, depending on the website, x% of total project’s money will be website’s commission that needs to be paid by freelancer. It is after completion and successful delivery of the work, when client pays the project money to website, website keeps its commission and forwards the rest of the money to freelancer who worked. This x could be 5-25% depending on the website’s policies.
Make a profile: Once you found a couple of good websites, make a strong profile on them that shows your skills and expertise in a clear and concise way. You should also attach a portfolio in your profile. This profile is the way to make a good impression on your clients. Initially it might take a week to create a good profile.
Search the work: Once you are done making profile, you can start searching the project you want to work on. There are two ways to search the project: one is to browse all the projects and shortlist some good projects which you can do immediately, other way is using filters, enter the categories and skills you want to work in and it will give you the results in your specified filters, then shortlist the projects you are interested in.
Make proposals: Once you have shortlisted the projects, it’s time to contact the project owners/clients. Go through their requirements in details, draft your approach, create your cover letter and send the proposals on these projects. Now wait for the client to contact you, use this wait time in searching and short listing more projects to apply. This entire process is called biding.
After proposals: Client will receive many proposals on same project. He will then shortlist all the freelancers by checking their past work, rates, profile, reviews and will give this project to the freelancer he liked most. When client awards this project to a freelancer, then the freelancer starts working on it.
Work and deliver: There are specific timelines for each project. Once you get it, start working on it and meet the timelines. The project is usually divided in some smaller parts and each part has some specific time to deliver. Some tools are used to manage the project and ensure timely deliver, called project management tools.
Get paid: All the projects are divided in two categories: fixed price and hourly price. Fixed price is a total predefined budget of a client and often does not exceed the fixed limit. Hourly basis is, client pays you for the total numbers of hours you worked; you have to define your hourly rate in this case. Once the project is completed and client approves your work, you will then receive payment. It can also be broken in parts and percentage i.e. a fixed percentage to be paid in advance and then you start working, once you achieve the other milestone you get paid for the next part. Once the project is complete, freelancer receives the complete payment after deduction of website’s commission.
Reviews and feedbacks: After delivering the work and getting paid, freelancer and client exchange their feedbacks about each other. These feedbacks/reviews will stay forever in your profiles and these are very critical in getting more projects. Good reviews will get you more work.
This was a basic workflow when you freelance on a website. This process may slightly differ on each website but this is how freelancers and clients connect usually. There is much more than above that you learn as you get more experience.
Skills you can freelance in: There is a common myth that freelancing is only for IT professionals or programmers. But it actually provides equal opportunities for all categories. Any skill can be used to get freelance work. There are also some unbelievable freelancing jobs that sound too weird to be true.
Here are some most popular (in no particular order) skills that can easily give you freelance work:
All freelancing marketplaces (websites) are providing good opportunities to clients and freelancers. But in last few years we have noticed several challenges while freelancing on these websites. Some of them are website specific and rests are industry specific. Several big issues have been fixed in recent past like payment protection, communication, currency conversion, tax calculation etc. But these are industry specific issues and are faced globally and we can’t run from them. But certain platform or website specific issues can be fixed by ongoing research and development if the concerned party is actually willing to fix them. These platform specific issues are below:
These issues have been identified in last few years and most of the platforms are working to fix them. Some relatively new platforms have found and implemented the solutions.
When the best time is still to come, there has to be something which will make this time best. It is certain that we will see some major changes in the ways we freelance right now but the question is what changes we might see?
As per the current trends and statistics, we can expect below innovations and changes to come in freelancing in next five years:
Online freelancing marketplaces are providing several features and functionalities on their websites. 70% of freelancers are actively doing online freelancing and getting several benefits in comparison to traditional offline freelancing. These sites are providing several features and tools to facilitate the entire process. They keep on changing the look and appearance of the websites while features and functionalities get improved less frequently. In last few years, we have seen some major changes in the features and below are some to expect in next few years:
In near future, this issue can be addressed by universalizing the profile and ratings. Means the ratings you have created on a website can be used on other website. It is possible by creating a third party tool that stores your ratings from all websites and integrates itself in your profiles everywhere. Some new freelancing websites might also offer this feature in upcoming days. As of now, we have seen a glimpse of this feature on in a relatively unknown freelancing website www.toogit.com.
Successful freelancers always use some good premium tools to manage their work effectively. When you are working on multiple projects, it is hard to manage them and deliver before timelines. To manage many projects at the same time you certainly need some good tools.
As of now there are many tools available in the market. All of these are good in their independent tasks but the main concern is having multiple tools is also a pain. So, in future we will definitely see some new tools that will manage all the tasks simultaneously and work like one independent freelancing manager. It is also possible that upcoming freelancing websites might provide some integrated tools to manage long term projects effectively. Below are the tools which might become a reality in near future:
There are thousands of freelancing websites active right now. Some of them are popular and used widely but rest are unknown to most of us. Freelancing is a competitive field; every day new ideas take the form of reality. Some new websites are now changing the concept of freelancing. In near future we might see some more website with different and new concepts. We might see some of the below changes in upcoming websites:
These all are just predictions we might see in next five years. Some of these are offered in different websites. There is no second thought that the way we freelance will change soon and for good but the question is how?
Thoughts and suggestions are truly welcome in comments.
About the Author:
Dushyant Tyagi is a seasoned freelance writer, developer and start-up enthusiast. Apart from front and backend development, his passion for writing makes him an expert in blogging, content writing and generating quality web traffic.