Long after the lockdown has been lifted, freelancing will be a good option for Australians hoping to offset the financial losses caused by COVID-19. Believe it or not, it's a reliable way for skilled workers to make money from anywhere — even their homes.
Rather than work full- or part-time for one employer, freelancers work for one or more employers on a project or hourly basis.
Whether you’re in the market for an after-hours bookkeeping gig or freelance writing jobs, they are out there for the taking. Keep reading for a list of jobs that lend themselves to freelancing, how to get started and a few of the best freelance websites.
That sounds appealing, but which jobs suit freelancing?
Freelancing is a work arrangement that’s more casual than full-time work. You take on projects — often for companies that don’t have someone like you on staff — and have a say in when they’re due and how much you earn. Once you deliver the project and get paid, your relationship is over (unless you decide to accept another project from this employer).
A lot of roles can be done on a freelance basis. Here are a few of the more common jobs:
A freelance writer is a broad title and can cover:
- Marketing writing
- SEO content
- Feature or technical writing
Writers can be in high demand because businesses often hire external people for ad hoc projects rather than put on an employee. Go searching and you’ll discover freelance writing jobs all around the world.
If you’ve ever been an assistant, you know you can manage phone calls, email, calendar, travel details and more, whether the person you’re assisting is around or not. In fact, sometimes you get more done when they aren’t. Imagine assisting someone remotely and getting paid for it!
Like writers, graphic designers often work alone in a company to allow their minds to think creatively. Which makes freelancing perfect for graphic design. The setup costs of a high-end computer and software are expensive though, so get what you need before you start.
Small businesses often outsource bookkeeping. It keeps costs down, as they may not have the work for a full-time or even part-time employee. There’s plenty of work, and no reason you couldn’t have regular clients.
Pretty much any job that can be done on a project our hourly basis can be a freelance job. Others include:
- Web designer
- PR Consultant
- Computer programmer
- Mobile application developer
- Payroll specialist
It will help you get work if you have some experience in your field, but otherwise pretty much anyone can freelance.
How can I get started?
You can actually start your freelance career while working for an employer. This will enable you to build a portfolio and attract regular clients, while earning a full-time income.
The downside is that you may need to check that it’s OK with your employer. Some employers have policies in place that prevent you working:
- In the same industry
- For one of their clients
- With a competitor
Once you have enough projects that you feel your full-time job is impeding your freelance business, consider switching to part-time at work. Or, if you have enough freelance work to pay your bills, take the plunge and resign from your job.
If you leave on good terms, your employer may become a client!
There are loads of resources on how to get started in business, but the government has made it easy with their business website — it includes tips on how to get started with a business name, business structure, marketing and lots more.
Do I need to think differently as a freelancer?
You sure do, because you need to think of yourself as a business. That means you need to see your time as valuable and change the way you look at things.
For example, let's say you have an outdated computer that crashes four times a day. By putting off upgrades or repairs, you waste 20 minutes daily that you could have spent:
- Contacting clients
- Working on projects and earning money
- Attending networking events
Another challenge can come from family and friends. They often find it hard to understand the freelance life. You could have some difficult conversations around not having a “real job.” Or your family could think it’s great because now you can run errands for them.
And suddenly you’ll be whipping around town instead of working on and in your business. There’ll be times to put your foot down so you can be available for clients and do some actual work.
Being available to clients is crucial because you are your business in freelancing.
And every interaction you have with a client or on social media can build on or taint that image.
Do I need a website?
A website is invaluable, because it’s your always-on advertisement. It’s where prospective clients can:
- Get to know you
- Check out your work samples
- Read your customer reviews
It’s also a way for people to contact you. And these days, you can actually create your own website with tools like GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing. You'll find start-to-finish instructions on how to create your own website in this free eBook.
Where can I look for freelance jobs?
Looking for freelance jobs can feel a little overwhelming at first, but many people start out by creating profiles on freelancer websites. These are marketplaces where employers look for people with the skills they need.
Some of the best freelance websites are:
Some people frown on using these sites, claiming they cheapen labour because workers compete for freelance jobs. Other freelancers make a good living with them, having regular clients and setting their own rates.
Don’t overlook LinkedIn
Another great way to find work online is through LinkedIn. LinkedIn is social media for professionals, and you may already have a profile. But what you need to do is optimise it for your new freelance persona.
The Freelance Collective has some great tips to help you get your LinkedIn profile freelance-worthy, including:
- Be clear that you accept freelance work
- Include a succinct headline
- Add your LinkedIn link to your email signature
- Fill out your profile completely
Good old word of mouth can also get you freelance jobs. Be sure to let friends, family and Facebook know you’re available.
I like to meet people in person. Is that possible?
You can start networking with local professionals digitally via online Meetup gatherings. Once the lockdown has been lifted, these meetings will become actual in-person events again.
Look for networking groups in your local area. Events run by local business chambers can also help you gain insight into the business needs in your area.
Practise talking about yourself and your business so you sound confident. Don’t talk too much though, listen for opportunities.
Networking is daunting at first, but keep going. You may meet some of your best clients!
Don’t think of networking as just for meeting clients, though. Freelancing can be lonely and meet-ups, along with other events, can help you get out of your own head for a little while.
How much you earn is up to you
Freelancing is ideal if you’ve always wanted to be your own boss or earn extra income to make up for any you lost during the pandemic. Some have even found it’s helped pay the bills when they’ve been on extended leave … and loved it so much that they haven’t returned to the office.
So, start planning if you think freelancing is right for you. Then introduce yourself as a writer, designer or one of the other freelance roles and make it known you’re open for business. Word will soon get around and you’ll start getting enquiries.
Build a simple website for people to see the services you offer, view examples of your work and the ways to contact you.
So go on, dip your toe in. You’ll be glad you did.