Your Guide to Freelancing Today
Freelancing is increasingly becoming popular not only because of work-life balance and the flexibility it brings but also because it gives people the chance to dictate how much time they want to allot for work, where and when they want to work and how much they want to earn on a monthly basis.
People who have been freelancing for quite some time can earn between $2,000 to $8,000 per month, depending on how much hours they put in every week, the number of clients they have and the complexity of their tasks or skills.
In the Philippines, $2,000 is more than enough to live comfortably, considering that the monthly minimum wage is only close to $300 (PHP15,000). In reality, young professionals won’t be able to earn as much as $2,000 per month in the first five years of their career in the corporate world.
So, gone were the days that freelancing is only recommended to single moms or full-time mom with kids. The demand for more flexible work life, the congestion, and the inflation rate are pushing Filipinos to work from home because it is economical and less stressful. Freelancing is also preferred by many millennials because it allows them to pursue their hobbies without sacrificing the chance to earn more.
It’s the same in the US and other first world countries. Startups, freelancers, and home operated businesses are now dominating the jobs sector. In 2017, a survey conducted by Freelancers Union and giant freelance platform UpWork predicted that by 2027, 50% of the US population will be freelancing.
So, if you’re interested in kickstarting your freelancing career but you just don’t know where to start, read on. I will answer the basic questions you may be asking yourself, and I will clarify common misconceptions about the freelancing industry.
Am I qualified to freelance?
Yes. Everyone is qualified to do freelance work. The complexity of finding the right job/client can discourage some and make them quit, but as long as you have the skills and the willingness to work hard, you can absolutely work from home or be a freelancer.
Most clients don’t care about which university you graduated from, as long as you have the skills they need. And you don’t even need to have technical skills. I, for one, started my freelancing career with only my English skills backing me up. Yes, I did have work experience but those years I spent in the corporate world didn’t count much.
You have to make your clients feel that they can count on you 100% and that you’re willing to step up and do what it takes to take care of their business. I should say that the key to being a successful freelancer is having the right attitude and a positive mindset. Skills will follow and can be learned, but a great attitude is what most clients are looking for.
I don’t have a computer, can I work using my mobile device?
You can in very rare cases, but I don’t think it will hurt if you invest on a laptop. Just like investing money when you’re applying for office-based jobs (fare and allowance), you also have to shell out cash if you’re really determined to start your freelancing career.
This is why I always recommend that you save enough money for a laptop and make sure you have spare cash to pay for a reliable internet connection before leaving your corporate job.
If you’re currently jobless because you decided to give up on your toxic boss or you can’t take one more hour stuck in traffic, then I’d assume you have friends or family members who you can borrow a laptop from, or who’d be willing to lend you money to buy one. If there’s a will, there’s a way, right?
I started my freelancing career using a 7-year-old desktop but because I couldn’t stand how it freezes up every f.r.e.a.k.i.n.g minute, I asked my sister to pay for my laptop, and I paid her after saving enough money, and that’s within 6 months.
Can you give me a job? It’s hard to find clients.
No. I can’t. Unless my client is asking me to find someone with skills similar to yours, I cannot give you a job.
This is what’s great about freelancing. The majority of people you will work with are trained to find solutions to problems even if that means they have to go the extra mile. Don’t decide to become a freelancer if you expect people to spoon feed you. Dude, you have to figure things out on your own. You have an internet connection, do a Google search. Your questions are just a few clicks and few taps away. There are lots of job ads you can apply to, I guarantee you, you won’t run out of jobs to apply to even if you only have one marketable skill.
Seriously, there’s nothing wrong about asking people to give you a job if you really need one. But just like how you won’t ask a company owner to give you a job you’re unfit for, don’t expect freelancers who look for a job for you or refer you to their clients.
Reputation is very important when you’re a freelancer. We wouldn’t dare refer anyone who isn’t skilled to do the job just for the sake of helping someone out. Also, unless the work is super basic like data entry, we cannot trust anyone to do the job in the level we want it to be done. So again, I can’t give you a job. I can guide you and tell you where and what you need to start your freelancing career, but the rest is up to you.
Where can I find clients?
There are a lot of platforms you can join. The most well-known platforms are UpWork, Onlinejobs.ph, Peopleperhour, Fiverr, and Hubstaff. Freelancers can also join sites like Toptal, Freelancer, Craigslist, and Guru. You can read this post for more information about each platform.
In my personal experience, I found most of my clients through Facebook and referrals. I didn’t join UpWork until two years after I started freelancing because the 20% fee is a big deal for me back then.
UpWork also recently updated their policies and they started suspending freelancers’ accounts if they fail to earn money within a specified timeframe. The platform is also congested and competition is very stiff. Newbies aren’t given the chance to apply to jobs if they don’t meet a certain number of UpWork hours or Job Success score. But, in all fairness, I got all of my high paying clients from UpWork so I will still vouch for the platform.
I’d also recommend that you join Facebook groups for work at home workers because there are job vacancies occasionally being posted by other freelancers and also others who want to subcontract work if they can no longer take the load.
I don’t have the skills that most clients are looking for. What can I do?
Study new skills through websites like Udemy, Lynda and even YouTube. If you can’t afford to go jobless for a very long time and you have no resources right now, then I suggest you start applying to jobs that are related to your most recent job roles.
For example, if you have worked as a call center agent before, start applying to customer service-related jobs. If you worked as an admin assistant, then find jobs that require the same tasks you’re confident you can execute perfectly or to the best of your ability.
Most of the skills needed in the virtual world are acquired when you do the job itself, and not by theory or reading books. You can upskill by stepping up and volunteering to take the extra load when you can.
I learned a lot of skills from my first work from home job (I was a project coordinator for an Australian digital marketing firm) because I volunteered to do tasks I was not familiar with. And even if the work only lasted for 6 months because I found a better paying gig, I can say that it was the foundation of my freelancing career.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if I stayed within my comfort zone and if I decided to just give the bare minimum. I remember pestering my coworkers to give their tasks to me, in exchange for teaching me how each task should be done.
When you decide to become a freelancer, you need perseverance, hard work, and more perseverance.
If you can get away with not pulling your own weight, chucking a sickie or showing up only when you wanted to when you were working in an office, I guarantee you, you cannot do that when you’re working as a freelancer. You need to show results for every hour you bill your clients. You can’t get away with mediocre work unless you don’t want to get paid for the hours you invested in a task.
You also cannot expect anyone to check your work for you, because almost everyone you’ll work with has a different set of tasks that can’t overlap with yours.
I’ve been trying, but I really can’t seem to find a client who will trust me. What can I do?
You can try building your portfolio. Put up a WordPress blog, it’s free. You can practice writing about anything under the sun. You can also network and ask other freelancers to outsource some of their work to you. The pay might not be that good, but at least, you’ll learn new skills.
Just a piece of advice: if anyone invested time to train you, make sure you give back value to that person. That way, when they need someone to fill the role you just played for them for free, you’ll be the first person they will contact.
I have trained a lot of freelancers and I pay them, I don’t ask anything to be done for free because I know how tough life is, and every dollar they earn can help their kids get to school and feed their families. When it comes to training people, I give them the freedom to apply to freelance jobs and I let them go when they finally find their own clients.
It doesn’t matter if I still need them or there are still work pending because my mission is to help others get started and not to make money out of them. I always try to be fair and give my trainees the skills they need to be successful.
I hope you’ve got all your questions answered. If there’s anything you want to ask me, feel free to comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
Cheers to our freedom,
Angeline Licerio is a freelance writer who is passionate about career development and lifestyle design. She is the webmaster of Dollarmize, a blog about freelancing, entrepreneurship and online business.