You might be a skilled writer, graphic designer, computer programmer or something else and want to work as a freelancer online. You have the idea of working from home and gaining an income while enjoying what you do.
Freelancing does pay and you can earn an income, whether it is part-time or full time, but you have to do it right or it can lead to frustration and in some cases even cost you money.
I say this from experience, having gone through highs and lows before becoming a successful freelancer and enjoying writing and earning an income from it for more than ten years. The road has not always been smooth and I learned a lot along the way, which I will share with you in the hope it will help to get your freelance career off to the best start possible.
Do you have what it takes to become a freelancer?
The first thing I want to say is that life can be great as a freelancer and you can earn a living from it, providing you have what it takes.
I am not talking about skills; there will be no doubt that you have the skills required. I am talking about whether freelancing is right for you.
To be a successful freelancer you have to have the right attitude. One of the good sides of freelancing is that you can work at a time to suit you, which fits in with other things in your life. You can take breaks when you want and you can even work in your PJs if that’s what you want – sounds perfect right.
Well, it is if you can do it. You have to look at freelancing seriously. If you are easily distracted, you might keep taking breaks and not get any work done. You might be tempted to watch that series on Netflix for longer than you should or laze in bed well after the alarm, as after all, you set the time you work.
However, even though you are freelancing you will still have deadlines to hand in work and before you know it that deadline is here and you have not completed the work!
While you are freelancing and working from home, you should still have a routine. Set the hours you are going to work and when you will take breaks for lunch etc. and stick to those hours.
If you can do this then yes, you have what it takes to become a freelancer.
How to start freelancing from home
The next thing is how to begin your freelancing career working from home.
Of course, you need the tools to work online you need a good computer or laptop and a fast internet connection. You should also have a space in your home you can class as your “home office”. This ideally should be a distraction-free space that when you enter it defines you are in “work mode”.
Of course, you cannot be a freelancer without having work coming in. Therefore, the first step is to find work in your area. There are two main types of freelance websites out there.
Bid for projects
The first is the “bid for projects” freelance websites. You sign up to the site and make a profile showing off your abilities and then place bids on projects that have been posted by those offering work.
These types of sites can be free to join and they take a percentage from every job you are paid for or you pay a flat fee once a year, sometimes both.
For these sites, the buyer checks over your proposal and bid, along with all the others, then chooses one. The downside to this is that buyers usually go for the lower bids. You may lose out if you live in such as the UK, USA or Canada as freelancers from countries where the cost of living is lower usually put in extremely low bids.
Freelancers from other countries may put in a bid in their currency that would equate to less than £1.00 for a 500-word article in GBP. This is usually well below what you would expect to be paid for the same article, so you cannot compete or would be working for next to nothing.
Post your own job
The second type of site and one I found to work out very well is the freelance site where you post a job for a sum of money and people choose you.
For instance, I love working on Techlancer, a freelance website aimed at freelancers who are in the UK. Choosing a freelancing site in your own country does work out better as there is no currency exchange to consider. You can lose out greatly if you work on a site that pays in dollars or another currency that is not your own and you do have to consider this when stating a price.
In regards to Techlancer, it is free to join then they take a small percentage of the amount you earn after it is credited to your account.
Another reason I would highly recommend Techlancer is the payout limit is set low, so you do not have to wait and build up the amount earned to a large sum before you can cash out. You can cash out anytime you are above the limit and do not have to wait for the end of the month like so many sites. You can also have the money sent straight to your PayPal account and it usually takes just a couple of days from requesting payout to the money going into your PayPal account.
What you need to be aware of when starting out freelancing
One thing you need to know is that not all freelance websites are of the same quality, or have the same ethics. I learned this the hard way.
One of the first ones I joined took a large percentage from the amount earned and was paid in dollars. The bids for jobs were extremely low so I had to bid a lot lower than my typical hourly rate and then with conversion to GBP from USD I found I was working hours for just a few pounds. However, it did feel good to be doing something, I loved and I was earning money, even if not ideal and it did get me started.
I had a terrible experience with one freelance site, which shall remain nameless but was in the UK. I began building up a portfolio of clients on the site and written numerous articles with good feedback, things were going well.
I had money in my online account from earnings building up to reach the threshold and then unexpectedly my account was suspended and I could not log in.
I contacted them via email and they said a client was not happy with the article I had uploaded and the quality of work was not good enough, despite having many good ratings from other customers.
With all my articles, I state that if amendments are needed to ask. However, they did not give me the chance. I lost the clients I had built up and the money I had earned which I could not withdraw, as it had not reached the high threshold limit.
I researched the site and found this had happened to numerous other people. Lesson learned, always research a freelance site before signing up.
Overall, there is good and bad in freelancing. It can be an uphill struggle to find good websites and get started and you will invariably make mistakes along the way and learn a lot. In the end, yes, freelancing does pay, but you do have to do it right.