Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Freelancing 101: Beginner's Guide for New Freelancers

Starting your freelance career could be difficult than what you've actually imagine. That's why it's very important to have a plan of action before leaving your day job or regular-paying job to become an independent contractor.

My suggestions for those who are unsure of their next career path but who are considering to start a freelance work is to test the water first. Moonlighting could be the perfect way to begin. You can hold on to your regular job, which is your primary source of income until such time you get the feel of it, you've build your portfolio or when your freelance career takes off.  However, if you are one heck of a risk-taker and very optimistic, then go ahead, leave your job and start your freelance career now.

The internet offers various freelance opportunities. You can create you own website and offer your freelance services online. You can also sign-up in freelance work marketplace sites that allow you to post your profile and services, provide platforms for getting freelance jobs, and assist in doing business transactions with employers/clients.

1.  Choosing the site/s 

 Find out which among the  freelance work marketplace sites you are comfortable working with. With so many websites in the internet, it could be a little confusing where to sign up. You can register to as many sites you want but then that spreads your efforts. Focus on one to couple of the freelance sites and familiarize yourself with the system. Some of the things you can do to help you make decision include talking to some seasoned freelancers whom you personally know and trust, asking them for suggestions; reading reviews and blogs; and reviewing the sites yourself.

Find out how those freelance sites work. Know about the tracking system, payment methods, dispute management, and overview of the market and competition.

2.   Creating your own website 

Instead of simply signing up in freelance job sites, some freelancers prefer to be totally in control of their internet presence, marketing, collection, and among other things. Some freelancers form partnerships to offer variety of freelance services that may include writing and editing, web and graphic designing, and programming through their own website.

3.  Creating a comprehensive profile 

Your freelance profile should be comprehensive enough for prospect clients or employers to easily match your skills with their requirements. It should serve as a catalog of your freelancing services. Therefore, make sure to highlight your strengths and skills.

4.   Set a reasonable price 

Prices vary among freelancers. This could be a little challenging and tricky for beginners. Checking the profiles of other freelancers of the same nationality with similar skills will give you an idea on how much your rate would be. You can also calculate your rate base on your area's salary rate with consideration to your operating expenses such as internet and telephone bills. As per my perception and base on the law of supply and demand, the higher the demand of your freelance services and the more experiences you get, the higher your asking price is.  Many clients are willing to pay your price as long as you can deliver the desired results.

5.   Take some skills tests 

Freelance sites like oDesk offer skills test to assess specific skills and the results may determine how good you are and how you best the others. Take advantage of the tests since employers are looking at these too. Some employers would even require freelancer applicants to take specific test/s before they can apply for the job.

6.  Market yourself in your cover letter

oDesk provides a good cover letter sample when applying for a job. You can include in your letter your plan of action in doing the project, relevant work experiences, and the skills and your skills test results-- slightly bragging your high scores-- pertinent to the job. And just a tip, try to be the first few freelancers to apply. There is a greater chances for employers to check your application and for you to get an interview when your application is on the top.

7.  Be ready for an interview 

Interviews may take different forms. Some employers/clients would send questionnaires for you to answer or ask you to submit a sample. Some would like to chat via oDesk messaging or Skype. While others would like to have a voice conversation typically through Skype. An interview is one step closer to getting hired so give your best shot. Usually, employers are more interested on how you are going to work on their project.

Hurray when you get hired! But when you're not, move on to another prospect employer. Never let one rejection put you down--rejection is normal.

When you finally get awarded with a project, always work at your best. Like any other business, a satisfied client translates to more revenue because of referrals and repeat customers. Always think that this is a business and your name is your brand.

I wish that you enjoy and learn from your experiences. In whatever endeavor in life, while earning is a priority, make sure you are having fun too. It's what keeps you going and persistent despite of the challenges along the way.

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