Do you like to work at home? Would you like to be your own boss? Does the thought of being an entrepreneur seem like more work and responsibility than you’re willing to handle? If you answered “yes” to all three of these questions, you will likely enjoy being a freelancer. Freelancing is becoming increasingly popular and a great alternative to working a regular job, especially considering that many people have lost their jobs in recent years or are endangered of becoming unemployed.
What Is Freelancing?
Freelancing is the act of offering an individual or company a service for a fee. Nowadays, many freelancing jobs are being done online and you can do this as well, assuming you have a computer. When freelancing, you are working independently via the Internet for an employer whom is located anywhere in the world, performing some agreed on service. All you need to do is register with a freelancing site, find a job, complete and submit your work, and get paid.
It is a much simpler alternative to starting your own business. You don’t need a large amount of capital to get started, just the vital equipment as a computer and software as well as all fees charged by the site you’re registered with. As for phone jobs, some employers prefer to hire individuals with a land line phone since a cell phone is not as cost effective or reliable.
Other things a freelancer may want to further enhance their career are:
- their own website
- a separate business line
- a business card
- a PO box business address
- a portfolio of their greatest works
Also, you need not register a business name in your state or pay taxes unless you plan to make a large amount of money and/or hire people to help you. Simply determine what type of service you would like to provide and find jobs in that area.
Types of Freelance Jobs
There are nine common types of freelance jobs available on the net including:
1. Writing: Whether it’s articles, ebooks, essays, manuals, press releases, or resumes you would like to write, there are hundreds of jobs on the web on sites as Odesk and Elance to name a few. Writing jobs fall under categories as copywriting, journalism, blogging, and social media.
2. Virtual assistant: For those of you who have a career background as an administrative assistant, office manager, or personal assistant, there are individuals and companies who need your skills.
3. Marketing and public relations: A countless number of businesses out there need a professional who can market their products or services and/or introduce their company to the general public. Once a company attains public exposure, a PR manager then seeks out feedback from the public to inform the business on ways it can improve. Likewise, PR people help an entity get out of a disadvantageous situation and enable it to reach its full potential.
4. Transcription: Some companies hire the help of independent contractors to transcribe or edit their reports. Medical transcriptionists take info from reports submitted by doctors and create written reports. Employers prefer to hire individuals who have certified training or job experience in medical transcription and are familiar with the terms and legal standards in this field. Legal transcriptionists decipher a lawyer’s dictation and generate and edit documents from that. For this, one needs to be familiar with legal terminology and have strong English writing and speaking skills.
5. Call center representative: A freelance call center rep can assist in a company’s customer support functions by handling calls at home. If you wish to pursue this, find out if the company will provide paid training. If not, buying it can be costly and some work-at-home call center jobs are known to be scams.
6. Online tutor: If you have previous experience teaching elementary, high school, or college students in a particular subject, say algebra, you can work as a tutor over the Internet. Before you can become a tutor you must have a college degree on the subject you wish to tutor others in.
7. Editing and proofreading: Assuming you have a good eye for detail and strong grammar skills, there are people who need freelancers to proofread and rewrite various types of documents or books. People of different levels of skill and experience can do this type of work.
…And it doesn’t stop there. You can find other types of freelance jobs if you do some further research.
The Pros and Cons of Freelancing Online
This type of work has great advantages, especially if you would rather be independent. You simply work at home so there is no driving or taking the bus necessary. There is no face-to-face contact when freelancing online and no dress code, you can even work in your pajamas. Also you can set your own schedule and work around your other personal activities. Hence, if you’re a night owl, you can work from dusk to dawn.
Likewise, you can bid on the jobs you want and you’re not obligated to accept any you dislike. As you bid, you can bid on the amount you desired to be paid. However, you must bid competitively to increase your chances of being awarded the job. On the other hand, if you bid too low, you might come across to the employer as a freelancer who lacks experience or does poor quality work and you can be earning less than you’re worth.
If you desire to make a substantial amount of money freelancing online you need a great amount of discipline, ambition, and energy. Being your own boss is not all it’s cracked up to be. You must learn to manage your time efficiently and be comfortable working long hours at your computer. Likewise, you must deal with distractions as the telephone, doorbell, children, pets, etc. Things in your home can distract you such as the TV, video game console, household chores, etc. And if you work at home and your spouse doesn’t, you’ll be expected to take on additional responsibilities as babysitting. If you spend excessive time on recreational activities, you can rob yourself of serious potential income.
Are you really OK working at home? It’s not necessarily easy nor is it for everyone. If you value the social contact of coworkers and the diversity of sights and sounds in the workplace, working at home can become very lonely. Likewise, you may become bored being cooped up in your house all day long. Although commuting may seem like a hassle, it can be a joy as well, especially if you love to shop after work.
Freelancing income alone often is not sufficient to meet your living expenses – not unless you’re a professional with lots of job experience. Most freelance jobs offer low pay, especially if there are numerous people bidding for the same jobs you are. Many companies outsource their work because they know they can pay freelancers much less than they would hiring a full time employee. Freelance work has earned a reputation of a way of obtaining high quality work for dirt cheap and thus, some employers habitually take advantage of online workers.
Likewise, freelancers must pay taxes on all income over $600 earned on one job. For long-term jobs, the employer may require that you provide them with a 1099 for before you can start work. Then, you must report significant earnings on your income tax return when you file next spring.
Keep in mind that work is not always steady or consistent. Some weeks you may be juggling a few jobs simultaneously and other weeks, not be able to find anything. If you’re highly skilled and experienced in your trade, you’re likely to land long-term jobs but they can end suddenly, without warning. Thus, when you’re making good money, you may need to save some of it for times when you’re having difficulties finding work.
Being a freelancer might be just the thing for you. If you suddenly wind up unemployed, you can start working online the day you lose your job. This income can help tide you over until you find your next job. On the other hand, if you’re currently working and need a supplemental income, you can think of freelancing as a second job.
Freelancing may prove to be advantageous if you:
- spend several hours a day on your computer
- don’t mind being cooped up in your home the entire day
- if you are a single adult with no pets or children
- if you are especially skilled at writing or talking on the phone
Overall, if you’re the type of person who would rather be self-employed and can make do without the security and steady income of a regular job, your niche may lie in freelancing.