Call it a dream to work from home in your PJs, choose your income, your hours, and plan working vacations. But the reality is roughly 27 million professionals in North America are working freelancers.
With job satisfaction at a 22-year low, freelance work–including writing, blogging, consulting, graphic designing, etc. — has increasingly been pursued by a variety of professionals. Some freelancers have lost their jobs due to the recession and are redirecting their careers while others planned their escape to seek a greater work-life balance, more independence, and flexibility.
“There’s a general awakening going on,” said Pete Savage, who became a freelancer after he was fired from his job as a copywriter at an ad agency. “More people are questioning the whole work-life balance and want to carve out more freedom — still doing what they love but not having to work for a company.”
Savage, along with co-authors Steve Slaunwhite and Ed Gandia, explain how freelancing can be a lucrative career in their new book The Wealthy Freelancer: 12 Secrets to a Great Income and an Enviable Lifestyle (Alpha Books, $16.95). Step-by-step, this book explains that a career as a freelancer doesn’t have to mean that you’re a “starving artist” living paycheck to paycheck. It explains how you can build a successful career out of any freelance opportunity, freeing up valuable time and generating greater income.
So how do you make the move to freelancer and be prosperous? Glad you asked. Savage provided BE with some “wealthy takeaways” for those ready to make the leap — or at least moonlight for a few months.
Evaluate Your Skill Set: Think about the skills you can use to parlay into a freelance-type of business. Let’s use the position of an executive assistant as an example. You could easily become a virtual assistant and provide basic management services, such as bookkeeping and administrative duties. But let’s look at your skills from a more creative perspective. What’s unique about you is that you know exactly what’s important to executives in a corporation. You know what gets on their agenda and what they find important and valuable to their business. You have the skills to be an effective marketing consultant between someone trying to sell to an executive market and the executives themselves.
Market Your Skill Set: You should always be thinking about where your business is going to come from and introducing yourself to new companies to prevent the peaks and valleys of being busy one month and not having any work the next. You can market yourself by cold calling companies, mailing a sales pitch, networking, or developing a Website that explains what it is that you do. All of these are effective, but choose what feels right to you in terms of marketing your business, recommends Savage. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just get it going.
Get Clients: Tap into your network. This can include members of your church, organizations you’re a part of, or your family and friends. Ask yourself “Who do I know that can hire me as a freelancer?” “Is there a market for this work?” Research the job functions that employers are already farming out by visiting Websites like Elance.com, oDesk.com, Sologig.com, and Guru.com. These sites match freelancers with firms.
Price Your Services: Start off by figuring out where your income level needs to be. See what other freelancers are charging by visiting their Websites or connecting on social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. If you’re just starting out, you might be doing work for smaller companies or friends at a special rate, so don’t get too hung up on your early prices. You can always change your fee. In the beginning, it’s equally important to build a portfolio of your work and a strong database.
LaToya Smith is an assistant editor at Black Enterprise.