Freelancing is a great way to do what you love and be independent. The option allows for numerous benefits, including digital nomadism, which has been steadily gaining popularity.
Imagine living the life of your dreams on your own terms without having to compromise anything. Sounds like a dream come true, but is it even possible?
The simple answer is – yes. Many people make at least a decent living out of freelancing, and many thrive more than in traditional business settings. The simple fact is that remote work is the future. One way or another, the benefits will ultimately outweigh the downsides.
However, in order to be successful at freelancing, it is necessary to adapt your mindset to the circumstances. Simply put, the common misconception that freelancing equals laziness couldn’t be further from the truth.
The first thing you’ll need to learn is how to successfully manage time. With freelancing, especially project-based freelancing, time is crucial. Let’s see how you can do this.
1. Make Daily Schedules
It is all too easy to get distracted when you think you have the whole day at your disposal. Actually, you don’t. Tasks are tasks, no matter how you look at it and they won’t get done with procrastination lurking around.
If you’re new to freelancing and, especially, if you don’t have any other income source, it is crucial that you prioritize. For example, it is a good idea to make a daily schedule detailing all the activities planned for the day (leisure time included). In this way, you’ll get a better idea just exactly how much time you need for each task and still be left with enough time to enjoy your favorite activities.
2. Choose Your Jobs
There has been many an argument on how freelancers just starting out should accept just any opportunity that comes along. Not quite.
While it’s true that competition can be harsh (especially if you’re advertising your services on international marketplaces where people from other countries work for less money), it is also true that experts are always in high demand.
Even if you may feel it appropriate to start small, don’t accept just any job offer. Rather, look for reliable clients with whom you can establish long-term partnerships and thus secure a steady inflow of projects in the future.
3. Learn to Negotiate
Closely linked to the latter is a matter of negotiations. Freelancers don’t have the benefits companies do. They need to prove their worth individually and also be able to demonstrate their prowess – efficiently and fast.
Keep in mind that we’re talking about online communication here. Normally, the negotiation begins with written communication (application, portfolio, etc.) and, if successful, ends with an online meeting.
Online communication often goes astray. Online meetings may be beneficial, but you should learn that non-verbal communication is quite different from face-to-face meetings. For starters, no formal pleasantries will make their appearance. You won’t be able to make eye contact and shake hands with the client, meaning that you should rely on different approaches to win them over.
Further out, you should inform yourself about the netiquette (text formatting, font size, concise communication) so as to not lose potential clients due to an oversight.
4. Efficient Decision Making
Every employee has been subject to a multitude of decisions, but the subtle art of decision-making deployed by freelancers differs slightly from the skill deployed by traditional/office workers.
Again, there’s no company to rely on as a backup. Even if you find your own freelance company, you’ll still be on your own. This means that all decisions you make will directly affect the outcome of your actions, the future of your company, and its overall success in the long run.
Basically, the “learn to say no” part remains the same. Avoid clients seeking to rip you off, but be clever in communicating your decisions. Sometimes, when you get the message across, the client may come up with a better offer. It’s all about evaluation on both parts.
Further out, there are many dishonest people looking for a cheap workforce online. Always make sure to get everything verified in writing and don’t engage in any project without a proper contract.
Depending on the client, project, and other factors, types of contract may vary, but the common items ALL contracts should define include:
- Project scope
- Pricing and rates
- Payment schedule
- Project timeline
- Project deadlines
- Legal terms
- Cancellation terms
- Contact details of both parties
- Ownership and/or copyright
- Signature of both parties
5. Keep Learning
In order for a freelancer to ensure success in all circumstances, it is crucial to remain evergreen. Unlike traditional 9 to 5 workers who, in most cases, come to the office every day just to finish the daily to-do list, freelancers need to keep in line with the changing times (so do office workers, but they rarely understand it unless the fact is directly pointed at them).
A truly successful freelancer always polishes their skills, learns about new technologies, apps, and tools, and reinvents their vocation to meet the demand. The gig economy is relatively new and is yet to reach its full potential, but already millions of people are realizing the benefits of this new era. This means that the offer will grow exponentially, but so will the demand.
A recent survey dealing with the founders of venture-backed has shown that:
- 76% of founders have found out that remote work has either increased or is maintained overall productivity
- 70% of founders say that they will allow either some or all of their employees to continue working remotely
- 66% of founders say they are reconsidering their investments in the offices
- 65% of founders say that if the lockdown was lifted tomorrow, they would not return their work to the office
As you can see, even employers know that employing freelancers is cost-efficient. Moreover, with the market getting more and more global by the minute, outsourcing has reached its full potential. Both sides have plenty to gain, but the stronger the competition, the more professional you’ll have to be.
Indeed, this is a win-win situation for everyone. Freelancers are bound to become stellar professionals over time, and employers may be more generous because they’ll diminish the costs associated with office space and other benefits.
Lastly, insurance companies are continually preparing new offers to accommodate the growing number of freelancers, meaning that even this last pro-office argument will soon be void. Freelancing is, simply put, the future.
Freelancing is a great way to balance your professional and private life. In fact, you may even choose to work and travel, as so many other digital nomads do.
However, in order to be successful in the long run, you’ll need to learn to manage your time and keep polishing your skills. Still, it’s a small price to pay for freedom, right?