Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Start your own Business, Start Freelancing!

Are you unemployed? In between jobs? A recent fresh graduate? In a summer vacation? Working and need some extra cash? Do you like to work from home? Hate routine jobs? Then, Freelancing is an option for you.

Freelancing is a form of business that has been into existence since long time ago; it involves a self-employed person who is not tied to a long-term employment with an employer. Sometimes a company needs a piece of work to be done, but it will be costly for them to hire an agency or a firm to do the job so instead they hire a freelancer. For instance, a small boutique is opening and wants to sell its products online. Rather than hiring a big IT company to build the website, it will hire a freelancer to do the job. The reason is simple; the freelancer is cheaper, more personalized and more flexible. It’s just like hiring the tailor next door to tailor you a suit instead of buying it from an expensive store.

Before the existence of the Internet, finding freelancers was not a simple task. Yet thankfully, we have that now. If you are interested, then you should consider a few things:  1.What is your profession? 2. What are you talented in? 3. What can you do?  List down all the skills and experience you have. Remember a person is not only defined with his career profession; it is with his/her interests and skills as well (do not limit yourself). For example, you might be a pharmacist, but you also love art and design. An important thing to highly consider is to choose something you love to work in; one can only excel if he/she loves the job and is passionate about it.

The freelancing world is more involved with intellectual and intuitive work; it requires and involves creation. Freelancing is known with some professions yet it is not limited by them. Website building, programming, mobile computing (ex: iphone applications), writing and journalism, translation, design and media (ex: logo and brochure design), data entry, engineering, science, product manufacturing and design, sales and marketing, business research, accounting, finance, human resources, legal consulting and event planning are popular examples of the professions freelanced. 

Okay, that sounds great then you might be thinking how can I start? Thanks to the Internet and the digital age, you can do the whole thing online; you don’t even have to actually see your client. So, you can start by checking what is posted online and explore your options. The top ten freelancing websites 2010 [1] are:

The process is very simple. It goes as follows: 

1.     Create a username and password.
2.     Buildup your profile if you have a portfolio or referrals.
3.     Browse the projects that interest you.
4.     If you found an interesting project, you will see the budget the client is willing to pay. For example, the budget can vary from $50 to $5000+.
5.     Decide at what rate are you willing to bid (i.e.: $100) and how long will it take you to finish the job (i.e. 7 days).
6.     Bid.
7.     Wait until the closing bidding time, and see the results.
8.     You will have one of two options:
a.     You got the job: Great, then start working.
b.     You DIDN’T get the job: Surprise. Surprise. It’s not easy to get your first job. Chances are you wouldn’t win the bid from the first time. So what? You TRY AGAIN. Competition is out there and it’s INTENSE!
9.     Don’t worry, you will get paid! 

Here is the thing you will have to consider when you are entering this business. It’s not easy to get a job as a beginner. You might think if the client is placing a budget $50-$250, then he/she will select the lowest bidder. INCORRECT. Why is that? Sometimes the client is willing to pay more for a more experienced freelancer. In that way, he/she is highly ensured that the job will be done to his/her standards especially if the client has seen some of the freelancer’s previous work or the freelancer have a pretty good reviews. That’s actually a good thing about the freelancing business whereby if you did a good job, your client will place good ratings for you on the website; thus, providing you more credibility for your next job.

What about beginners? The trick here is to be patient and to never give up. It is to know how much to bid with your qualities. It is highly advisable that at first as a beginner, you should start up with simple projects. Ones you can complete within a day or a short period. You will have higher chances getting simple jobs, because the client wouldn’t risk putting in your hands (since you are a beginner) big projects. This way you can slowly build up your portfolio and increase your ratings preparing yourself for bigger projects.

Internet freelancing websites are not the only source for you to start freelancing though; you can find work from other sources such as referrals, portfolio website, social networking sites, blog, advertising or cold calling.

One might think that since I haven't been trained or didn't receive any professional experience, I wouldn't have the necessary resources to start freelancing. Once more, INCORRECT. According to the Freelance Statistics Report [2], 46.1% of freelancers received their primary training from "self-taught" methods, 39.8% from “university/college” and only 14.2% from "on the job training". 35.4% of freelancers DID NOT WORK as an employee in their industry before freelancing. If that implies anything, it implies that you do not need much work experience before working. So, let's not worry about all those corporate companies requiring 5 years of experience when we only just graduated!

It was actually sad to see that 1.3% of freelancers reside from Africa! I am truly saying it's sad because we DO have POTENTIAL! The top 10 outsourcing countries in 2010 are 1st India, 2nd Malaysia, 3rd Philippines, 4th Indonesia, 5th Jordan, 6th Thailand, 7th Egypt, 8th Pakistan, 9th China and 10th Bulgaria[3]. Outsourcing is similar to freelancing, except that the job is allocated to an organization as a third party not to an individual such as in freelancing. This only indicates one thing; we are good enough to freelance!

Many freelancers after they become successful quit their jobs and become full-time freelancers; 40.5% of freelancers work full time. This is due to many reasons among them are more flexibility, creative control, working from home, more money, working for oneself, more time with family and growing a business. Some people take freelancing as their first step towards an owned business staircase. To start freelancing you need minimum resources, mostly your computer, the software used and the most valuable of all is your own FREE BRAIN! USE IT!

As Victor Hugo once said years ago, "People do not lack strength; they lack will." We both know you can do it, only if you want it bad enough. So, how about we become DEVELOPERS rather than CUSTOMERS? How about we become CREATORS instead of USERS? How about we create the iphone and Blackberry applications instead of blindly following the trends? How about we do something we love and make money out of it? How about that? How about that for change?

By: Sherwette Mansour

1.     Top 10 Freelancing websites: (Oct. 2010)
2.     Freelance Statistics Report: (Oct. 2010)
3.     Top 10 outsourcing countries 2010: (Oct. 2010) 

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Anonymous said...

I actually was thinking of starting to get into the "freelancing" scene, but was kind of hesitated...
Thanks to this post, i already planned my next step into becoming a freelancer!
Thanks Sherwette =)

Sherwette Mansour said...

You are welcome :) Hey, let me know what you are interested in ;)

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