The world of work is undergoing a paradigm shift. The terrain is starkly different from its configuration five, twenty, or even fifty years ago. It’s well-reported that the COVID-19 crisis was largely responsible for this upheaval, propelling freelance and remote work into the mainstream and opening opportunities in industries where freelance roles were previously scarce.
Post-pandemic, the market has retained its vigour, with a continued openness among businesses to engage freelancers. Forecasts indicate an upward trajectory for the freelance domain, hinting at its sustained expansion. Subsequently, many seasoned professionals and new graduates alike are turning away from the nine-to-five to embark on independent careers; and with the compelling success stories that are out there, it’s no wonder.
Outvise was one of the trailblazers of the freelancing revolution, setting up shop in 2014 long before the COVID boom. Now, our specialist platform plays host to over 41,000 high-value business tech professionals, connecting them with projects all over the world. That’s why we’ve partnered with We Are Indy to provide new and seasoned freelancers alike with insights from our team, community, and expert associates.
If there’s anything we’ve learned over the years, it’s that success is built on a strong foundation. This means starting your freelance journey with your eyes open, prepared, and with the tools and support you need. Let’s take a look at how.
Cog in the machine to a one-man band
There's no need to hesitate before taking the freelance leap. In the past, the received wisdom was that you should accumulate a set number of years within traditional employment to establish a network before venturing into independent practice. Yet, today, the entryway is accessible to individuals from all backgrounds, portfolios, and years of experience.
Ultimately, if you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit and are driven by dynamism, flexibility, and novelty, freelancing likely aligns well with your aspirations. Maintaining transparency regarding your skill level is important, though this doesn't preclude you from discovering rewarding, challenging projects.
Guidance from our top-performing network members to budding freelancers often begins with adopting a mindset akin to a one-person enterprise. While you may be accustomed to viewing yourself primarily as an employee or a professional, transitioning into freelance work demands a fundamental shift in this perspective.
Essentially, you must start regarding yourself as a product. To become one of the many success stories in today's freelance realm, laying the groundwork with a well-crafted business plan is paramount before diving in. This blueprint should revolve around a service unique to you – essentially, you are your product.
It's imperative to grasp the market landscape where you'll operate, comprehending both your client base and competitors. To secure prestigious projects, employing marketing strategies akin to those used by companies to stand out in competitive markets becomes essential. Clarifying your niche and mastering the art of self-promotion are critical facets.
In many aspects, freelancing mirrors steering a startup, albeit on the smallest possible scale. Similar to a startup, an enterprising and proactive mindset is pivotal. However, the freelance route typically necessitates less initial capital, implying reduced risk while offering heightened potential for achieving the work-life equilibrium and adaptable lifestyle synonymous with thriving freelancers.
Set up your single-person startup for success
Not everyone is naturally inclined towards the freelance lifestyle, so prior to making the leap, it's beneficial to reflect on your core priorities. The inherent uncertainty and challenges associated with freelancing can deter many individuals. Thus, the decision to embrace freelancing should hinge upon your unique circumstances and the level of self-drive you possess.
An often quoted and sobering statistic should hang over your single-person startup mindset: 90% of startups fail. The key reasons? Poor market research, bad partnerships, ineffective marketing and money drying up. Just like a startup, you should anticipate these pitfalls and deploy three key strategies: diversification, training, and effective pricing.
Tap into diverse channels and forge key partnerships
To counteract the uncertainty of freelancing, diversify the avenues through which you secure work. Relying solely on your personal network may not cut it if you want to ensure consistent job prospects. While platforms like LinkedIn have their place, they can be time-intensive with uncertain outcomes.
Instead, look to third-party platforms specifically targeting freelancers looking to procure new projects. However, signing up for the ones most relevant to your skillset is important; a whole load of spam about irrelevant or low-value opportunities was rarely the beginning of any profitable venture. Outvise, for instance, is specifically tailored to professionals in consultancy, business, telecom and tech.
We stand out from the Upworks and Fiverrs of the world by offering tailored support to candidates, including personalized guidance through interviews conducted by industry experts, and access to high-profile clients that keep coming back. These strategic partnerships are key; given Outvise's reputation for nurturing enduring relationships with our clients, we unlock opportunities otherwise inaccessible to budding freelancers—enabling them to cultivate their reputation while engaging in high-value projects.
Furthermore, association with networks like Outvise can substantially augment your prospects of maintaining a consistent flow of job opportunities, ensuring a steady rhythm of projects. With so much variety and return custom, our experts have reported the network is an invaluable resource for them.
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Never stop learning
Remaining relevant in the increasingly competitive freelance sphere requires a continuous commitment to self-education. Staying abreast of industry shifts proves an ongoing challenge, especially for freelancers, who must keenly observe market dynamics. While experiential learning garnered from diverse projects is valuable, nothing surpasses further educational pursuits—be it university degrees, executive programs, or professional certifications—to stay attuned and enhance your professional profile.
The decision regarding educational programs often sparks the debate between being a generalist or a specialist. In reality, many flourishing freelancers embody a blend of both, specialising in select areas while retaining a broader expertise. However, to alleviate client confusion, emphasising your specialised areas proves more advantageous.
Clients seek fast onboarding and immediate proficiency, leaving no room for freelancers to learn on the job. Therefore, consider channelling your next educational endeavour into an area where you possess a foundational understanding and aspire to evolve into a specialised niche.
Understanding the balance between being versatile and demonstrating expertise becomes pivotal in attracting clientele. By highlighting specialised skills within your broader expertise, you can offer immediate value to clients, positioning yourself favourably in a competitive market.
Know your value
Understanding how to set prices plays a crucial role in establishing a stable freelance career. When determining your rate, understanding your market value and prevailing rates is paramount. Often, new freelancers undervalue their services, inadvertently affecting the entire pricing structure within the industry.
It's imperative to recognise that your compensation should exceed that of a regular employee. Additional considerations such as social security, pension, and the uncertainty of securing new projects post-current engagement should be factored into your pricing strategy. Determining your rates can vary based on project complexity, duration, and travel requirements.
One method to establish your rate involves researching the average earnings of an employee in your field, doubling it, and then calculating an hourly fee. Alternatively, discussing the client's budget beforehand can help to estimate a suitable rate. Regardless of the approach, having clarity on your desired remuneration before entering negotiations with the client is prudent. Establishing a minimum rate serves as a safeguard against underselling your services during fee negotiations.
Kick off your freelance career
Amidst the challenges and uncertainties inherent in starting a freelance career, the current landscape presents an unprecedented array of opportunities. Companies increasingly embrace hiring beyond their immediate communities and physical locations, broadening the geographical scope of potential client markets. This shift allows freelancers to enjoy the perks of a more independent lifestyle, engaging in diverse projects from their preferred location, time zone or working schedule.
Setting out with a plan is key to getting where you want to be. Resources and partnerships are essential, with Outvise being a particularly relevant example. Whether it involves connecting you with prestigious clients, offering an array of compelling projects, ensuring a consistent flow of work, or managing essential documentation, platforms like Outvise provide comprehensive support essential for thriving in the evolving landscape of freelance work.
Start your freelance career today: join our platform, already home to over 41,000 experts and take the first stride forward on your professional journey.