Have you ever dreamt of working from the comforts of your own home and being your own boss, but thought you don't have what it takes to actually start a business? Then freelancing is the perfect job for you! By freelancing, you can start overnight with ease and without spending a single dime, and you won't even have to register and sign-up as a business if you use your own name. (This might differ from state to state, though, so make sure you check your state's requirements first.)
What is Freelancing?
By definition, a freelancer is somebody who provides services to an individual or company for a certain fee. Freelancers generally work for themselves and can therefore work for numerous employers instead of just one, if they want to. Plus, no one will ever expect to build a long-term or permanent relationship with you if you become a freelancer - unless you want to do so.
Why Else Should You Freelance?
Other reasons why you should look into freelancing is to get out of financial trouble or to avoid it completely. Think about it: you might lose your job one day and have a hard time looking for a new one. And, although you could keep looking and looking until someone hires you, you could also decide to work independently for a change and just freelance. This can actually help you lessen the load of financial trouble that you could otherwise find yourself in significantly.
Also, if the thought of being your own boss has always intrigued you, then becoming a freelancer would be the best way for you to try the concept out. Or, you can keep your current job while freelancing - it's up to you.
What Do Freelancers Do?
There are various kinds of jobs out there that freelancers can do, depending on their personal skills and preferences. Here are some of the most popular kinds:
- Freelance writer
- Freelance bookkeeper
- Freelance virtual professional or assistant
- Freelance provider of desktop publishing services
In general, you can choose any job that you think you could turn into a business and do it as a freelancer. You can even freelance in professions where licenses are required.
What are the Requirements of a Freelancer?
Naturally, before you can freelance, you have to have something valuable to offer first. It would be helpful to draw on your previous job experiences and provide freelance services that match your special talents. Here are other things that can help you out in the beginning:
- An online website for self-promotion
- A phone number where clients can always contact you
- A professional business card
- A work portfolio
- Some references (if possible)
Where Can You Find Work?
Well, this will depend on the freelance services that you decide to provide. Here are some good resources you can take into consideration, though:
- Craigs List - www.craigslist.org
- Freelancer - www.freelancer.com
- ELance - www.elance.com
- VWorker - www.vworker.com
- Guru - www.guru.com
Keep in mind that while some freelance job websites are completely free of charge, others will charge a fee before you can bid on their jobs. Some websites also offer up both free memberships and paid memberships. However, free members usually have very limited choices of jobs in these cases.
If you want, you can also join a freelance union that provides career opportunities.
Now, if you are looking for great opportunities to advertise your services for free, you can do so by amping up your profile on different freelance websites, like CraigsList.
It would also help to join an affiliated network and to create social network profiles on websites like LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com).
Do Freelancers Have to Pay Taxes?
As with other careers and businesses, freelancers have to deal with their local, federal and state tax obligations, too. So, even if you freelance, you still have to file your tax returns. The only difference is that you have to use your own social security number and name this time as opposed to your business's tax ID number and name. Additionally, if you have clients that pay you at least $600 a year, they have to give you IRS to report how much you earn.
The IRS files estimated taxes every three months and gives out forms that will help you with tax estimation to ensure that you always send the right amount in. If you don't pay your estimated taxes every three months, however, you may look at penalties and interest from the state and the IRS - remember that.
What Advantages Can You Expect from Freelancing?
Freelancers usually have the freedom to set their own working hours. This means that you can stay extremely busy for a few months and not work at all for a few months after that. You can set your own vacation days, too, and look at other freelance options in your particular field. You can also improve your freelance website and look for other effective marketing methods to help you out.
A lot of people see freelancing as the ultimate dream - and with good reason. Not only will you be able to work independently as a freelancer, but you won't have to put in a lot of hassle, time or money to get started, either. In most cases, you can even work from home without having to convince anybody that telecommunication is the way to go.
As mentioned earlier, freelancing can also help out a lot whenever you find yourself jobless. It can provide you with steady income until a new job floats your way while exposing you to various products and new experiences. In fact, after freelancing for quite sometime, you might come to enjoy it so much that you turn it into a full-time gig!
Are There Any Disadvantages to Freelancing?
Naturally, freelancing isn't for everybody. Some people might not earn a lot of money as a freelancer, and there are some employers out there who won't want to pay much for freelance services. Without a doubt, the freelance competition is extremely tough, too, most of all because it is a worldwide profession. After all, some freelancers might provide the exact same services that you do for half the prices, so make sure you expect all of these things before you start. As more time goes by, though, your references and experience will help you control your freelance rates and you will be able to make a good amount of money that you are sure to be proud of.
You should also remember that you are never obligated to accept job offers as a freelancer. If the offer doesn't sound appealing to you, you can always look for one that pays more. Sadly, several employers take advantage of their freelancers by paying low rates and taking their time with payments. Fortunately, the more experienced you become as a freelancer, the faster you will be able to tell whether you can trust an employer or not. Good luck!
May 9, 2011 - 8:06 pm
I like the idea of starting to freelance, I will likely just dabble a safe move financially while I am looking for jobs. I like the idea of doing things when I want because I don't like the typical 9-5. A portfolio will certainly be helpful to show to clients what you can do, but what do you do in the mean time when you are just starting out?
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