The Hitchhiker’s Guide to be a Freelancer: All you need to know about freelancing and more.
What’s a freelancer?
A freelancer is a person whose activity consists in carrying out their occupation, profession or business, autonomously. A freelancer works for third parties that require their services for specific tasks, which pay their remuneration, not in function of the time spent but of the result obtained.
The most advantageous point regarding working as a freelancer is that you open the doors to an international business market, where you will work for people from all over the world, expanding your borders and being part of a very lucrative and necessary labor market today.
Where does that word “freelancer” come?
The etymology of the word “freelance” originates from the medieval term used for a mercenary (free = independent and Lance = lance), to define a gentleman who served no particular Lord and whose services could be rented by anyone.
The word was coined by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) in his well-known historical romance Ivanhoe to describe a “mercenary medieval warrior.” The phrase in English then made the transition to a figurative noun around 1860 and was later recognized as a verb officially in 1903 by various authorities in linguistics such as the Oxford Dictionary.
Now we can be clear: A freelancer has always been his own boss, working where it’s required and providing his knowledge to a person that needs his skills to pursue a project.
But for that, you have to be a different person. The implications of being a freelancer involve thinking “out of the box,” because being a freelancer is entirely different than being a regular worker: You have not benefits or a system supporting your work, no schedules, no boss and a big deal of commitment. Everything is up to you.
For example, in general, the freelance worker has a greater variety of assignments than a regular job and almost always has more freedom to choose his work schedule. This type of work is an advantage for anyone who enjoys creative work and can manage their working time correctly, but if the worker in question prefers routine work or lacks self-discipline regarding working hours, the mode will be a disadvantage.
What does someone require to be a freelancer?
To have discipline: You have to accomplish the goals that the person is hiring you is expecting, have the commitment to the job and take it seriously.
To be ordered: A messy person could not be a freelancer. You have to keep track of your tasks, your time, the payments, the deadlines, and be aware of reality: Freelancer work sounds extraordinary because people sell the idea of working whenever you want then settle and rest whenever you like. This statement is not entirely the truth. If you stop and rest, you might be losing precious time, and when you realize, you are just making the same you could do at an office right from your house.
To have the commitment: So many years ago, perhaps 25 years ago, I read a Reader’s Digest magazine article about working at home, the following advice: commit yourself to your “work from home” in the same way you do at an office. Developing a schedule, dressing up for working, conditioning a place in your house to be a small cubicle and dedicate yourself to perform every task as if your boss was in another cubicle, right next to you.
Develop the ability to save money: It’ always too exciting to see your account growing. When you are a freelancer, is very pleasing to think you have earned money by yourself from a satisfied client. That makes you think you are so capable of repeating the work everytime you want, and receive lots of money. But the shocking reality is YOU HAVE NO GUARANTEES to get well-remunerated works over and over. You have to save money. At least a 20 % of the amount received. Just in case.
To be aware, all contractors are different:
When you are a freelancer, you tend to change your working formulas according to the contractor you have. You can find flexible and strict contractors in the same week and tend to be neglecting with flexible works. I recommend you to perform every single job as if they were presented to the strictest person you have ever known. That way you assure quality, speed and a good professional relationship with your contractors.
To give the importance to the job you are performing deserves:
You don’t know “why does that guy require that to be done?” but it’s important for him. He is paying, or not? No petitions or contracts are small, stupid or irrelevant, behind that contract, persons depend on the accomplishment of the goals, and that accomplishment is up to you. Always do your best, if somebody cares, you have to care too. Even though you don’t know where is going to be your work, it’s an anonymous show off to your skills, and every work must be treated as a part of yourself because you are performing it.
To be dynamic.
A productive person is an individual who has an impact on the world, who does something that changes things or people. The significance of the work done may not be vast, but it is a fact that the world is a little different because that person has lived and worked. That is a dynamic person; you have to be that kind of freelancer.
Money issues when you are a freelancer:
Always keep accounts on different platforms. You work remotely. You don’t know where does your client have an account. Maybe on Payoneer, Neteller, Skrill, PayPal, who knows. You have to handle some accounts to get your payment, verify them and reserve one of them like a savings account, so you separate your incomes forgetting the money on an account you won’t touch and spending money from the others.
When you work as a freelancer, you assume your earnings and your expenses. You have to be wise enough to think about your retirement, medical expenses, unforeseen expenses and else. You don’t want to have a surprise when you need some money and find that you are just wearing your incomes. Always keep money aside for “home expenses,” “personal expenses” and “savings.”
Time issues when you are a freelancer.
I always thought this was going to be a piece of cake, everybody talks about the free time and the great incomes, but as a matter of fact, considerable amounts of investing time to make significant profits, that could make you work excessively and lose the focus on some aspects of your life. You have to separate some time for:
- Educate yourself and improve your skills.
- Have family and leisure time.
- Attend your everyday tasks.
That means you have to restructure your life. If you do not keep balance, you might be neglecting some aspects of your life. As a personal advice, the classic structure of working from 9 to 5 in your freelancing activity is very adequate, but if you combine freelancing with a regular job, you have to keep a schedule and dedicate two or three daily hours to the project you have taken, depending on its nature.
The constant need of improvement as a tool for freelancing.
You have professional skills already. What could make them better? Remember, when you develop your skills and keep educating yourself to perform a better job, you will take less time to accomplish the goals of every contract in a superior quality and performance.
Be not afraid to include in your personal expenses, the educational ones. You might be an expert, but knowledge does not take space and does not interfere at all.
Keep up to date with advantages, technologies, techniques to develop your field, bring them to the next level by handling other languages, learning from every project you have in hands, will make you freelancing work, an ocean of opportunities you can take.
Now: How can you become a freelancer?
The Internet provides several platforms to employ yourself as a freelancer. The trust is necessary, and those tools allow you to perform your skills in different tasks, with the various contractors from all over the world.
Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer, Elance, Outsource, Crowdsource, Guru, Flexjobs, People Per Hour, Field Nation, LinkedIn; all you have to do is compose a profile and offer your talent. You also can postulate yourself for available works. Choose wisely and try to be available whenever you might be required. If you cannot accept a job, be polite and always give a response. Do not try to overcharge you accepting every offer available.
Provide the accounts the platform allows to make the money get into your pockets.
Benefits of being a freelancer:
- Believe it or not, every project carries along the display of a sum of acknowledgment you cannot even think you might have once.
- Every contract makes you research, learn, see the world from another point of view. You become a working citizen of the world.
- You will get to meet people from several countries, and some significant business relationships will tend to appear.
- You will see the world is not as you thought it was. You will be working around the clock and begin to think about time zones, customs, ways to perform your activity and that’s an additional payment you receive for work.
- You will become more “international” learning about stuff as exchange rates, markets, and business.
- The money earnings are under your total control. The fixed-price tasks are an excellent reference for the earnings.
Some additional advice:
- Be polite with your contractors.
- If you have some ideas to improve your work that might be useful for your contractor, be not afraid to give a contribution to the project.
- If you can make something better by improving, just make it!
- Be not afraid to apply new acknowledgment to your projects.
- When you work in an office, you always try to take care of your job. Why not taking care of the projects you have in progress?
- Be polite to your contractors, remember they are trusting you the same way you do have to trust them, but they have the money in their hands, believe me, they are risking much more than you when they pay.
- Love what you produce and do what you love when you are a freelancer.
Now, you are ready to become a part of the worldwide working force!