Whether because of the 2008 financial crisis and the economic collapse that ensued or because of the unstoppable permeation of the internet and mobile phones in our lives, online freelancing has seen a huge rise in the last 5 years.
Some 3 million people worldwide now make a full or part time income from duties such as content writing, design work, web development and translation. This is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the tasks being filled online.
While many people might have ventured into freelancing by necessity, there are also a large number who decided that this type of work would give them the work-life balance they so greatly desire. Many travel whilst working, others fit jobs around family life and some just like the idea of being their own boss.
Obviously there are some challenges to freelance life too as the infographic suggests, but for the majority these are necessary evils that they are happy to take on in order to achieve their dreams.
This infographic is provided by Brian Fenwick. Brian became a freelance writer after being made redundant in the early days of the economic crisis and has since released an ebook that he hopes will help others follow in his footsteps.
Click to enlarge infographic
Click to enlarge infographic
The following is a guest post written by Melissa Thomas:
One of the benefits of being a freelance writer is that you can pick when and where you work. If the mood strikes you then you can fire up the computer at midnight or cram in a few hundred words on the bus. But despite this, many writers still agree that having a designated workspace is a good way to remain organized and keep themselves in ‘work mode’.
Your workspace could be a fully functioning home office, a desk in a spare room or even a nook in the local library. But if it is a place that you will be spending a lot of time writing then you should adapt it so that it is a healthy environment. It’s not without its faults, but overall writing is not generally considered as a high risk profession but it is a sedentary job that is often computer based and this does come with certain problems. Here are ways to make sure that your workspace is adhering to your own set of health and safety regulations.
Light and airy
Several studies have shown that working in environments with a lot of natural light can increase productivity by improving mood, reducing fatigue and managing stress levels. On a more practical level, a well lit room is also good for your eyes as it will reduce the glare from a bright monitor which can lead to eye strain. For these reasons you should try to work in a room or area with a large window for maximum natural light, but if this isn’t possible then consider using full spectrum lighting instead of fluorescent tubes/bulbs as this lighting is the closest form of artificial lighting to natural sunlight. A large window would also come in handy for keeping the room well ventilated and airy. Whilst many commercial office blocks in the United States suffer with poor air quality due to the number of inhabitants bringing in germs and dust, at least you can rest assured that you only have your own germs to contend with in your personal workspace. Nevertheless a hot, stuffy room is not a pleasant environment to work in and can lead to fatigue. Keep a window open where possible and think about investing in an air purifier to keep oxygen levels high and your brain alert. A more natural, and aesthetically pleasing, alternative would be to fill your office with green plants which have long been renowned as natures own air filters as they can clean pollution and create extra oxygen in the surrounding air.
Whether you are a copywriter, a content provider, an author or a journalist you will have your own individual way for recording your work. Perhaps you use a Dictaphone, a typewriter or good old fashioned pen and paper. However it is fair to say that in this day and age a computer is a fairly staple tool in the lives of most writers and will be present in their job role at least somewhere along the line. Your computer will become your most important and well used piece of equipment but it can also be one of the most detrimental to your health unless you adapt it accordingly. As previously mentioned looking at a bright monitor can cause eye strain, so reduce the brightness and increase the font size and resolution of your text. This will make it larger and clearer to prevent your from squinting. You should also invest in a padded keyboard/mouse mat to provide your wrists with support and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries from hours of typing motions. Commercial offices have strict regulations when it comes to ensuring that cables and wires from computers and other electronic equipment are properly secured so practice this in your own office. The last thing you need is to trip over your battery lead and face plant the desk first thing on a Monday morning.
A good quality chair can be expensive but it is an important and worthwhile investment for your workspace. Hours of sitting down to write can lead to back and shoulder pains, especially if you are slouching, stretching or straining to reach your computer. In order to keep a good posture you should sit upright in your chair with your feet flat to the floor in a position that allows your eyes to be level with the top of your monitor. A comfortable, adjustable chair with arm rests will help you to achieve and alter this posture accordingly.
One of the perils of working in an office like environment is the lack of exercise and the unhealthy habits you can pick up. When you become engrossed in the writing process it is easy to reach for an unhealthy snack, a fizzy drink or even a quick smoke without even really thinking about it because your mind is elsewhere. Make sure that your office is a temptation free zone and that you will need to leave it (and your work) in order to eat or drink. An alarming amount of ‘desk workers’ suffer from obesity and poor health in the U.S so don’t add to that with unnecessary snacking or other habitual nasties.
No matter how great your workspace is, the healthiest thing you can do is leave it now and then for regular breaks. A brisk walk outside will get your endorphins pumping and keep your body supple after hours of sitting down. It also gives you the chance to enjoy a healthy meal and have some interaction with the outside world. Writing can be an isolating and stressful profession and as hard as it is to leave a piece of work when your creative juices are flowing, regular breaks will help renew and revive you both mentally and physically.
The following is a guest post by Elizabeth Phillips, a freelance technology writer.
Over the years, we’ve gained some desk space, thanks to technological advances. Computers are less invasive than they once were. Towers are smaller, if you even have one. In an age of flat-screen monitors and laptops, there’s much less bulk, less mechanical hum and fewer wires stretching over, behind and around your workspace.
The trend continues, with a box full (a small box, at that) of gadgets that’ll cut down on your desk load even further. What will you do with the extra space? We’ll guess more photos, an expansive bobblehead collection and bigger sandwiches at lunch time.
The following is a guest post by Annie W, the travel blogger for Dobovo, the Kiev-based accommodation search engine:
As a freelancer and an avid traveler, one of the most common questions I get is: how much do you make? But after that, the next most common question I get is: what is it like? My answer is can be anything from ‘wonderful’ to ‘stressful’. It might even just be me ripping out my hair if it has been a particularly difficult week.
This is a guest post by How2become.
When it comes to landing your next big freelancing role, your online profile can make or break whether a potential client will choose you for your next project. While your Elance or Odesk profile may be chocked full of all the information you need to provide in order to woo a client into signing with you, there are certain aspects of your online presence that you may not be utilizing to its maximum potential.
Originally designed for co-workers and employees to connect with one another on a more professional level than that of Facebook, LinkedIn is quickly growing into a social media resource that freelancers may not be taking advantage of. Since the social media sites are here to stay, here are five of the reasons why you should consider adding LinkedIn to your freelance marketing strategies.
The following is a guest post written by Sonja Mishek, a Social Media/Interactive Marketing Consultant:
Businesses of all types and sizes are recognizing the importance of being on social networks such as twitter and Facebook to build brand awareness and connect with their customers.
Social media is no longer a fad. It’s now a necessary part of doing business and a credibility issue. Years ago, a business simply had to have a website. Now, they are required to be on google maps, Facebook, Twitter, and so forth for customers to find them.
Unfortunately, businesses tend to be behind in the social media race. Most are not familiar about how to implement a social media strategy, let alone have experienced employees to tackle the task.
That’s where YOU come in – even if you have no experience.
Here are 7 steps to start your own freelance social media consultant business:
The following is an exclusive blog post written by Jorjeana Marie:
Have you been taking care of yourself? Or are you, like me, a workaholic, filled with a free-flowing spring of ambition, hustle and drive?
I have been freelancing since I can remember. Searching for jobs, gigs, anything that I could do and make money, but be able to drop when the Great Creative Gig was offered to me that would change my life. In fact, I have only had a job once where I had to show up at the same time each day. Quitting that job to return to the entrepreneurial freelance life is a crisp and clear memory, frosted with happiness and joy. Oh, to be free and be my own boss again.
But, I have paid a price as well. I did not know when I began to walk this “free” path, but I got the message really quickly. Stress, worry about where the next gig will come from, and overcompensating by taking on too much work (because my motto has always been take the work while you can get it) have caught up to me with the gift of knots and tight shoulders, night-time teeth grinding and empty adrenal glands – my nutritionist said these are very necessary for fighting off stress. Oh the irony; stress took my stress light saber! Ahhh!!!
A solution that has worked for me?
First of all, this is not an advertisement. I’ve been using FreshBooks for a few months now and I absolutely love it. It just works so perfectly and saves me so much time and allows me to collect more from clients in my freelancing business. This is my honest & sincere endorsement.
As a freelancer like me, your time is extremely valuable. You’ll need software that is straight to the point and easy to use. This is where FreshBooks comes in. FreshBooks is cloud-based accounting software primarily for service-driven small businesses, which is perfect for freelancers and small agencies. To us freelancers, it’s a timekeeping and billing service allowing a variety of uses such as invoicing, expense tracking and time tracking. It also has accounting reports and tax features.
Many creative, independently-minded people find, when they finish schooling and get out into the workforce, that they do not enjoy holding a staff position at an agency or publication. These individuals may find they have a need for autonomy, or would like to work a more flexible schedule than a 9-to-5 job provides. For such a person, self-employment is often the answer to their needs and desires. Instead of going in to an office, working at the same desk all the time, and always doing the same types of projects, a freelancer enjoys the freedom of doing business on his own terms; and no one employer is there to restrict his potential creativity. Due to these perks, more professionals across a broad spectrum of industries are choosing to pursue self-employment.
Freelance work means you can earn money without dealing with a boss. Although this is a dream job for many, you need to be able to survive the stress that accompanies it. Like any other job, freelancers can experience enormous amounts of stress and anxiety. Here are some survival tips.
If you want to have a full schedule of projects and a list of solid clients to draw from, there is one key ingredient that many newcomers to freelancing do not budget enough time for – that’s prospecting for new projects and new clients.
In my book, The Fast Track to Freelance Success Online, I made the statement that my bidding ratio is 30 to 1. That means that I may bid on an average of 30 different projects in order to be awarded one. One of my readers commented on that statistic. She had given up after bidding on less than six projects on the freelance bidding sites. She’s going to go back and will put a bit more effort into the process.
That ratio is simply my own estimate and does require some qualification. First, one project might mean doing a single press release, it might mean a set of six blog articles, or it might mean an ongoing order for 10 articles a week. Not all projects are created equal.
Being a freelancer is ideal in many ways: you can set your own schedule, you can work around emergencies that pop up and you can be in control of your time and the money that you make. However, freelance work can sometimes fluctuate and be undependable. People turn to freelance work for a variety of reasons. Mothers may want to make a little extra money while their children are at school. Parents may prefer to work from home to maintain a better work/life balance. A slow economy may make it difficult for someone to reenter the work force. Regardless of the reason, by following some basic rules, you can become a successful freelancer.