Freelancing is basically a different way to work. Rather than being employed by a company in one specific job, freelancers are self-employed and find work via a variety of sources. Clients hire a freelancer to complete a task, project, or service for them. Freelancers often work on a range of projects at any one time for various clients. Freelancers are responsible for paying their own tax, pension, etc, and managing their own time, priorities, and workload. Freelancers can work from anywhere, but many work from home, from “freelancing hubs”, or coffee shops.
Freelancers can do many things, such as virtual admin, writing, editing, ICT, consultancy, design, marketing… and so on. Often, these tasks are completed online or via a computer, but some are done in-person. I’m a freelance book editor and proofreader, but I also do some writing.
What one needs to understand first and foremost is that freelancing is nothing but a way of doing things. It is not something you do; rather it is the way you do something you know.
So, the pre-requisite is to know something that is of value. In other words, you need to have some skill that people will want to buy from you or some skill that you can serve people with.
Step 1: What skills have you to offer
The first step is to ask yourself what specific skills do you possess and what services you can offer.
Being skilled at gardening or servicing kitchen chimneys won’t be of much help, as in this context we are talking about services that can be delivered online. So we need to look for skills that are Internet friendly.
Does that mean you need to be a techie? Certainly not. Take a moment to think what your strengths are, and many of those skills can qualify for the purpose.
For example, you may be a wizard in creative writing. The Internet is flooded with opportunities for writers. There are so many websites that are constantly on the lookout for good writers, and you can be a good fit.
If you are thorough with American, British or Australian accent, you can take up transcription jobs, which, again, are available in plenty.
If your English speaking skills are superb then you can work as a voice over artist for animation videos and promotional ads. The animated videos and ads that you see on the Internet are made by graphics and animation specialists, but to make the characters speak they need human voice. This is where you fit in. The speaking skills in this type or work, of course, take into account voice modulation, pronunciation, clarity of voice, neutral accent, etc.
If you have learnt a foreign language then you can take up translation jobs. Also, there are many companies who look for customer support in French, German,Spanish, or any other language native to the place, where you can fit in.
The kind of services discussed above do not require you to be a computer specialist. All you need to be able to do on the computer is simple things like sending email, loading attachments, sending audio files, etc. Of course you need to know basic things such as communicating over Skype because that is the tool you are likely to be interviewed on to be selected for a job, in the first place.
If none of the above interest you then ask yourself whether you love your computer. How many hours in a day do you spend with your computer? One who opens his computer once a week for a couple hours must not dream of succeeding in online freelancing.
Step 2 : Basic computer knowledge or IT trained
If you are computer savvy then you have a myriad of options open. Now here again there is a question you need to pose – have you learnt web designing, software programming, graphics animation? Are you trained in any of these fields? If your answer is in the affirmative then you should go for the appropriate kind of jobs in accordance with your specialization. If you belong to this category then you are the best of the lot and have the highest prospects.
What if your answer was in the negative to the above question? Don’t worry, there are millions of people just like you who are very successful freelancers and get regular work. All those tasks that can be done on the computer, yet do not require coding skills, are the ones that are suited for you. As there is high competition in this zone you need to be patient and steadfast in order to succeed.
Once a client signs you up, win him over. Perform so well that whenever in the future he needs something done he comes to you as the first choice. Tasks in this zone may comprise of simple things like data entry, web scraping, MS Word or Excel based work, live chat support, and a variety of other tasks that can be performed online.
So if freelance work interests you, register today at any one of the top job sites , and start bidding. As a beginner your focus should be on building a reputable profile. In other words, getting good feedback should be given priority over anything else in the formative stage of your freelance career.
Experience counts in the virtual world of freelancing, just like in the real world. It might take you a while to win your first project, but don’t let that dampen your spirit. Put up an impressive resume, and keep bidding on projects. Alongside, keep watching the profiles of other freelancers who are successful. This will not only motivate and inspire you but also will offer a lot of things to learn from and eventually assimilate in your own profile.
Step 3 : Set up your profile
If you are clear on these two steps then you are ready to go. Now sign up at a popular freelancing platform and set up your profile. This includes putting up your resume and going through the rules and regulations. Highlight your plus points in your profile, but be sure to be honest. Keep in mind that a genuine freelancing site will allow you to set up your profile without charging any fee. A site which makes you pay even before you have earned anything is certainly not the right type!
Step 4: Start bidding on jobs
Now that your profile is set, it is time to start posting applications. In other words, you’ll now be bidding on jobs. Watch the board for jobs being posted and apply for the ones you think you can do. To get an idea about the pricing point see the standards of other bidders on the same job. That will give you an idea of what price to set for a job. Keep your applications brief and to-the-point. The key here is to think from the employer’s perspective.
This is how you go about freelancing online. Wish you happy bidding! Share your experiences in the comments.