From choosing the type of work you do and whom you work with to how much time you spend on a project and whether work remotely or not – these are some of the many perks of being a freelancer. This article will answer your queries regarding what is freelancing, the scope of a career as a freelancer, and more.
Before we move forward and address the question of How to Become a Freelancer, let us first brush up our understanding of what is freelancing.
What is Freelancing?
Freelancing is associated with being self-employed and offering services on a project. It mainly involves working on a contract that does not mandate going to an office daily on a fixed time schedule. In order to address the question of what is freelancing, one must understand that it is not a job opportunity, in fact, it has now become a full-fledged career option.
Freelancing is a contract-based profession where the person, instead of following the traditional 9 am to 5 pm working hour setup, uses his or her skills and expertise to offer services to their clients. The clients could be anyone ranging from a company to an individual.
The traditional 9 to 5 work style has transformed as technological interventions are changing the way we all work. This has paved the way for a more convenient form of work-life-style; such as working as an independent worker, a freelancer, or as a gig worker.
Now that we know what is freelancing, before we move ahead, let’s understand what is Gig Economy & Gig Culture?
What is the Gig Economy?
The gig economy is based on freelance jobs, temporary and flexible work structures where companies/ organizations/ startups or any other form of business hire freelancers or the gig workers on a contractual basis for short-term projects.
The Gig culture stands miles apart from the traditional and fixed working culture; it includes independent contractors and freelancers who can do the same work as a full-time employee but cost-effectively and flexibly. According to the BW Businessworld, the future of India’s start-ups and the gig economy is dependent upon digital innovations and a more mature digitized ecosystem.
So, what is the Future of Freelancing?
What does all this have to do with the future of freelancers is what you may ask?
Well, the momentum with which the freelance jobs in India have risen to a significant level, shows that in the coming years India’s workforce will witness a steeper rise in the shift towards the gig economy. As per a study by KellyOCG titled “Workforce Agility Barometer”, in about 56% of the Indian firms surveyed, the percentage of temporary workers/ freelancers in the total employee pool was more than 20%.
Why is Freelancing gaining popularity?
Now that you know what is freelancing, let’s take a look at some of the most important questions-
Why is the world shifting towards independent working culture? Why is the gig economy such a big deal?
Before we focus on how to become a freelancer and what is a freelance job all about, let’s address the above important questions first:
- A McKinsey Global Institute study reveals that millions of jobs that are automatable will be wiped out in the coming years.
- From designing & hand drafting to editing or book-keeping, several job roles would no longer exist. Soon AI and robots would take over these jobs and further new jobs will be created for more cost and time effective outcomes.
- Did you know that all of the anticipated changes due to technology have already created new roles like web developers, app developers, social media marketers, search engine optimization consultants, user experience designers, moreover Airbnb hosts, Instagram influencers and YouTube stars are all major drivers of the gig economy?
- Research by MGI suggests that by the year 2030, almost 8-9% of the occupations will cease to exist today. Moreover, India has also emerged as the 5th largest country for Flexi-staffing after the US, China, Brazil, and Japan. All in all, giving the future freelancers a green signal to aspire and expect more freelance jobs in the coming years as well.
- So, what freelancers or independent workers, or the gig workers are expecting in the coming times? By looking at the market trends and demands in outsourcing and companies hiring freelancers for short-term projects/ contracts, the future of freelancing is just starting to take its shape.
- Starting from what perks freelance jobs offer and why it is grabbing millennial’s attention, is because it offers them alternative arrangements in maintaining a work-life balance.
- With the blurred lines of personal and professional lives, people are seeking what they value- flexible work hours, the freedom to work from home, and the fact that they would get to work on different or diverse projects.
Types of Freelance jobs
The meaning of freelancing and temporary work structure has been discussed at length above but that simply does not mean you have covered all about what is freelancing. Not only would you have to pick a skill/ hone your current skill set to be able to match the market needs and demands, but also be really good at it.
While thinking of building your career in freelancing, there are a plethora of industry options to choose from. But remember that while you would want to pick a niche to start freelancing, you must have certain industry-specific skills in that particular field. This would prove your credibility and increase your chances of getting recognition and work.
Some of the top areas/ fields for opportunities in freelancing are:
- Information Technology
- Accounting & Finance
- HR & Talent acquisition
- Editing, proofreading & writing
- Web development and designing
What is an online Freelancing platform?
Gone are the days when creating networks or building connections meant chasing for work and hunting potential clients. With advancing technology, a plethora of online platforms has been created for both contractors and freelancers to connect and share details about the demands and work requirements.
These online platforms help freelancers as well as those looking for hiring prospective temporary workers to connect on a single platform and get access to jobs and work opportunities. To help freelancers in getting jobs and creating an income source many such online platforms offer diverse services.
Some of the online platforms for freelance jobs are:
- 99 Designs
- True lancer
What is freelancing if not about the freedom to choose where you work, what you work, and how you work? These online sites offer a single platform where freelancers can log in and create their portfolios to attract potential clients. These platforms, although some may charge a fee for using their services, help freelancers connect and earn money whether working remotely or otherwise.
Now that you have a pretty clear idea about what is freelancing, the freelance profession, and everything associated with the gig economy, let’s understand how to become a freelancer. Below are a few tips you can consider before you step into the freelance market
How to become a Freelancer?
Working on your terms and conditions, getting paid for providing quality services, and connecting with clients is what is freelancing mostly all about. It is not rocket science and neither is it a new phenomenon that has gripped the entire world. It is a way of working, a lifestyle which you adapt to, while consequently upgrading your skills to stand apart from the crowd.
To be a really good and successful freelancer, these are the following key pointers that you must consider:
Check whether freelancing is for you or not.
Just like working full-time is not for everyone, freelance jobs can be overwhelming for some. The work pressure and deadline submissions are part of any job, but the work-life balance really takes a toll if you are not a pro in managing your time and keeping up with the project deadlines.
Not only the work-life balance, but many people also need targets and fixed working hours, as they cannot handle the uncertainty freelancing comes with.
Therefore, before you get yourself struggling in the freelance arena, make sure you haven’t really quiet your full-time job or dropped out of school/college.
If you are not able to decide then consult experts and talk to them about your doubts. All in all, be aware of your likes and dislikes before you take any major career decisions.
Connect. Build Networks. Gain experience.
Not only networking on various platforms is necessary but a very significant feat if you are stepping into the field of freelancing. As a freelancer, you would always need a comprehensive portfolio of your work experience, showcase your skills, and be a strong competitor in an extremely nerve-wracking profession.
For those starting early as freelancers would need to work a lot harder to get clients, build connections, and create a trustable profile on any platform you choose. It is a process in which you have to start from scratch. As a fresher, it may take some time to land on well-paying clients and also get the work you want to do.
So, if you are starting early in your career, it is advised that you take time and gain hands-on experience first and then enter the world of freelancing.
Working for jobs in the same field you wish to kick start your freelance journey is usually advised at entry-level. This may get you the right industry experience and get you on your feet financially as well. Although there is no fixed pathway to start off as a freelancer, it is mostly preferred to gain some experience before taking the final jump.
Freelancing platforms are now just a click away that can connect you with the clients of your liking. Not only do these platforms give you access to hundreds of potential clients but they also provide security and protection from frauds.
Invest in building your brand.
No, we are not asking you to invest in some brands. We are talking about YOU as a brand for yourself. The more time you spend in building up a profile/ portfolio on any freelance platform, the more are your chances of achieving a stable and valuable client base.
Gone are the days of creating curriculum vitae (CV). Nowadays most of the online freelance platforms have predesigned templates where you can create a portfolio in simple steps. You need to be on top of your game to stand apart from the crowd. Be creative and think out of the box. Take time to build a portfolio that brings you endless work and opportunities.
Remember, your portfolio is your identity.
Imagine having excellent skills and experience but unless you demonstrate that you are skilled at what you say, there’s a chance you may not be approached for work. For that to not happen, freelancers must have a strong portfolio to reach out to the best clients. So, when you create your profile you must make sure that it exhibits your skills and expertise.
Make efforts to find work.
It is often misunderstood that freelancers are always crammed with work. Freelancers have to keep hustling for more work and develop networks so that they don’t run out of work. Initially, you may find it challenging to get any projects but acquiring experience may help you get started with your work.
What is freelancing if you can just sit back and work on your pace? Well, yeah it is. But it sure needs more efforts and you will have to keep hustling for a new project before you even finish the deadlines for a new work. You see this way you never run out of work and you always have options close by.
Most importantly accept only projects/ contracts that you can dedicatedly commit to. Make sure the project you have committed to, suits your workflow and you can deliver it on time. Cracking a high paying project in which you end up making mistakes would lower your reliability and so would the chances of retaining the client.
While India is all set to enter the gig economy and create tremendous job opportunities for freelancers, there is still a lot to look out for before one takes up freelancing as a full-time career option. If you are puzzled with the question of what is freelancing and if pursuing a full-time career in it in the initial years of your career is a good option, then talk to career experts who can help you make the final call.
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Shruti Verma is a researcher and analyst in the areas of careers, industries, and education. She has completed her Masters in English Literature and is an alumnus of Delhi University and IP University. She interned during her masters at iDreamCareer and later joined iDC full-time as a Content Analyst. She is determined to secure an expert position in content space with the guidance of experienced mentors within the iDC team.