Freelancing as your main income source
Freelancing is a great way of doing exactly what you like from wherever you want, a lot of people might think that freelancing can’t be done online or it is limited to software development, but on the contrary freelancing is actually available online through many websites specialized for freelancing and you can actually find a lot of job categories on such websites.
But before going deeply into this topic; let’s answer one question first ‘Is freelancing enough to use for living or in other words would it be enough to earn enough money so that it becomes your main income source?’ And to answer this question let’s first check the number of people who uses this as their main source of income whether in the developed or in the developing countries, go ahead and check any freelancing website and you will discover that there are millions of people out there using this as their main income source, Of course getting an online job using one or more of the freelancing websites is not an easy thing to do, you need to have some skill first, be able to advertise your skill, show the customers that you can do their job as fast as possible and with a great quality, plus of course the job or task will be accomplished for an affordable price that meets their budgets. Some people might think that this is impossible to achieve online with the available competition between the different freelancers ‘thousands or even millions’, but to check it myself I did the following exercise.
These steps can be accomplished by anyone in less or more time but it will give you an idea about how easy or how hard online freelancing would be for you, the exercise goes as follows:
- I knew a lot about software development so this would be the skill that I will be selling online (yours can be anything else)
- I registered for a free account on one of the freelancing websites which took almost 10 – 15 minutes to write a small biography and finalize the registration steps
- After that I started to watch out for the posted jobs that match my skills (most of the freelancing websites gives you several tools to do this)
- Whenever I found a project that matches my skills I go ahead and add my bid, I will give you more details about this part later in this article
- First it took me sometime to post bids but after a couple of ones I figured out a way to post the bids very fast
- Since I was targeting to win a project very fast to prove my point then I was posting very low prices to attract those customers with a limited budget
- In a couple of days one of the customers showed an interest in my bid and asked me to handle his project
- The project itself was very easy that I told him that I will finish in 5 days but actually it took me like 5 hours to finish
- I replied back to him with the files (since this is a software project) and that’s it he passed to me the project cost which was $15
- Of course, $15 is something very trivial and you can’t live with only $15 every couple of days, but the point here is that I didn’t use this as a full-time income source and I was just testing the idea, and as you can see it just worked without issues.
Now and since we answered the question whether you can make your living from freelancing and make an actual proof of concept then let’s go into some more details to help you out with your freelancing career.
Through freelancing you can do a lot of things and what you can really do depends mainly on how good you are, no one is actually requesting your qualifications; such as school or college degrees in online freelancing which is in your advantage, actually your school/college degree might be something while you are good in doing something else and you want to explore your freelancing options doing just this ‘else’.
Freelancing ideas and examples
There are a lot to do as an online freelancer and here I am just giving you a very brief glimpse on what you can do, just note that this list doesn’t cover everything and you should use as a list of examples:
- Software development & testing
- Writing articles and copyrighting
- Data entry
- Sales & Marketing
- Product sourcing & Manufacturing
- Engineering & Design
- Business Services
- Local Services
- And much much more
Actual steps towards your freelancing career
Let’s summarize together what would be your steps towards your online freelancing career:
Step One: You must be good in doing what you are offering to customers
In my opinion, being good in doing what you offer to your customers is not a must to get freelancing jobs. I have seen many freelancers who are barely good or even some of them might not be good at all in what they offer to customers, and although this is not a must but of course to maintain a customer base and increase it by time then you must be good in what you offer to your customers or you will be losing your customers as fast as you can get them.
Step Two: Create an excellent biography
Almost all the freelancing websites offer you a free account where you can document your biography, profile and portfolio, of course work itself is a prerequisite before being able to own a good biography but your biography can be written in a way where you highlight your advantage with respect to competition from other freelancers, you will need to clearly write down your skills, your previous work and if possible include some references. If you still didn’t have much work or don’t have a lot of references then stick to your skills for now and perhaps you can create a few projects on your own where you can show your expertise, for example if you are a web developer then work on a few websites on your own and add them as your reference, and don’t forget that most customers will need to see something to be able to judge your skills.
Step Three: Start acquiring (or bidding on) projects
To acquire projects from the customers you will need to decide on your target customers, if you still don’t have references then I would suggest targeting low budget customers who are seeking to finish some jobs but with a limited budget, and don’t try to profit from such customers as your main aim at this stage is to build your references portfolio, while if you have references and your biography/portfolio is well established them aim high, you can get multiple small projects each for a $50 – $100 budget while you can get one big project for $1000 budget, in my opinion aiming towards the big projects is better than having smaller ones, simply speaking because you will earning the same amount of money but will less headache and communication, but this rule can be broken and as mentioned before in case you are aiming to establish your biography/portfolio first and in case you are aiming to increase your customer’s base so that you benefit more in the future by having a lot of customers who will be re-assigning projects/jobs to you again in the future.
Step Four: What to do after acquiring your project
Probably when you win this freelancing job you will be rushing towards doing the job which is 100% wrong, during the bidding phase where the customers have posted a job and several freelancers where bidding on the job, probably some details were being missed either by the customers or by you while trying to win the project, so the first thing that you need to do would be ‘Finalize the project scope’, once you agreed on the scope very clearly with the customer then it is time to put a plan, the plan can be very simple to do list where you decide what will be done and when, there are lot of tools out there that can help you in putting a very simple and efficient plan, a lot of these tools are free and available online for anyone to use (probably I will need to write some details about this in another future article), ok now the scope is defined and the plan is here then let’s work towards accomplishing the task within the timeline and with the best quality you can reach, the faster you deliver the better of course but don’t jeopardize the quality for the sake of time, one of the important things that you need to do specially for tasks that will take several days would be communicating the progress to your customer every couple of days and if you are dependent on your customer to provide something to be able to deliver then state this as clear as possible from day one.
Step Five: Delivery
Ok now you have accomplished your task then how to deliver, you will need to explain to your customer everything related to the deliverables, people might think that this is related to software only but actually it is related to almost everything, just imagine that your freelancing job was creating some wooden shelves for your customer, then the deliverable would be the wooden shelves, packaged in a good way to preserve them, a small piece of paper (printed if possible) to show how the shelves should be hang on the wall and perhaps how to preserve/clean them …. Etc.
So, the idea here is that you have finished the job but how are you going to hand over the finished product to the customer in a way that will have this same customer come again in the future and ask you to do some other job.
Step Six: Post Delivery
Yes, there is still one more step after you deliver the end product to the customer, in this step you will need to get the customer’s feedback and make sure whatever went wrong doesn’t happen in future jobs (such as lessons learned) plus you will need to update your biography Will, the freelancing topic is very huge and I can speak about it for a very long time, so let’s consider this as a very quick brief, go ahead now and try it yourself and don’t forget to share with us your positive or negative experience, and before I forget here you go some links for some of the freelancing websites out there where you can experience for yourself all what I mentioned above and Good Luck 😀