What it takes
Online freelancing has many facets. Regardless of which facet you encounter, the one consistency is the bid. Freelancing starts with a few hundred bids. Eventually your foot manages to hold the door open long enough to squeeze into an opportunity. Now it’s real and where it will take you will depend on your willingness to fight for it.
It’s true! Freelancing starts with a bid, and then another bid, then fifty, or even hundreds of bids before you break in. It might not even be your best gig. You’re just getting your foot in the door. In this market the client rates your performance for all future clients to see. If this is your first client the stress is real.
Once in the door, when your reputation is solid, you’ll eventually realize you need to make more money. Maybe climbing the ladder means moving on to higher paying clients, or maybe you’ll expand your skills with online certified courses. Whatever path you choose, if you’re going to really make money, there is work to be done and personal assessments to make.
One concern that a newbie freelancer must consider is the risk of losing clients. After all, you don’t get unemployment. There are safety nets if you can afford them. If you’re smart you build your own safety net to carry you along short term. This is not always easy. At this point you may be living paycheck to paycheck. However, you will still need to plan for this potential situation.
What you really do versus what they think your doing
Beyond the stride and struggle to begin, there is an interesting dichotomy between what you do and what people think you do. That dichotomy impacts yourself and everyone around you. Freelancing can be liberating or it can tie you down to the railroad tracks of life. You have to learn how to navigate your personal and professional endeavors. It’s not easy, and honestly I’m still trying to figure this one out for myself.
When you first begin freelancing online, your family and friends won’t believe you work for a living. They think you’re couch surfing, lying on the beach, filling out online surveys or just plain face-booking your community. In fact, most of the folks you know won’t take your new venture seriously and you can’t really blame them. After all, virtually assisting really is virtual.
Once people do take you seriously, they will think you have plenty of time to hang out. They think you are your own boss and you set the hours. This is the toughest one of all. Most freelancers really don’t work at leisure. Your clients will want access to you during their business hours and getting work done means sticking around and doing it. This is where you have to set boundaries with yourself and with others in order to protect the sanctity of your success.
In a nutshell this is the reality of freelancing. It’s a work in progress. Once you set the pace and treat your profession as a traditional job things will get better. To get you started I’ve provided a few helpful tips and concepts below.
- You’ll need to assess your skills. Start with what you already know.
- Realize that the meager tasks are being done by two-dollar an hour workers.
- It is possible to get twelve to fifteen dollars an hour for meager jobs, though hard to find. If that’s where you need to start then do it.
- Never work for two-dollars an hour. If you must bid at minimum wage let that low ball price be your foot in the door and then raise the bar.
- Make a plan to upgrade your skills and own your success.
- Kick the can down the road a little further everyday. It’s going to be worth it.
Where to start (the un-sponsored sites I personally use):
- Upworks is a great place to start (US based)
- Lynda.com can help expand your skills (lead to higher pay)
- Freelancersunion.org (community and access to paid-by-you benefits)
Coming up. Tuesday I will begin showing you a few simple but sought after skills to land your first “foot-in-the-door” gig.