Among all the career options out there, freelancing intrigues everyone. There is very little to no entry barrier for people who want to become a freelancer.
If you have the right skill sets, patience to look for work, and talent to negotiate right pricing, you have what it takes to become a successful freelancer.
While freelancing has been around for a while now, the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed its adoption in India and around the world. The total addressable global market for the freelance economy is $1.5 trillion. Over 77 million freelancers hail from Europe, India, and the US.
If we specifically talk about the freelancing jobs in India, the freelance community collectively raised its average hourly rates by 42% in 2022. Freelancers, who asked for $21 an hour in 2020, have now increased their working rates to $26 per hour in 2022.
While freelancing seems to be growing, the career option comes with a lot of caveats. Read on to learn the challenges and benefits of freelancing.
What is freelancing?
Freelancing is a contract between a person (a freelancer) and a company (client) where the former agrees to complete a specific task such as writing, designing, building a website, video editing, etc. in lieu of a fixed fee.
A freelance job by its nature is temporary. The contract a freelancer signs with clients is ideally limited to a specific task.
|Can work for multiple companies at once||Can work for only one company|
|Work from anywhere||Have to go to office or mark attendance everyday|
|No fixed working hours||At least 8 working hours per day|
|Monthly income varies||Fixed monthly income|
|Freedom to choose the project or task based on time and personal likeability||Have to work on the project asked by the company or boss|
|No health insurance||Health insurance from the company|
|Continuously need to look for clients||No such hassle|
Choosing freelancing as a career
One of the best things about freelancing is that you have the freedom to work with as many clients as you wish, provided you have the bandwidth to do the work. Once you decide to become a freelancer, you give away the luxury of earning a fixed income. On the flip side, you have the opportunity to earn much more than what your regular 9-5 job would pay.
However, working as a freelancer is not for you if you need the security of a regular paycheck every month. To add to this, a freelancer neither has a fixed working hours nor a fixed monthly income.
Who can be an ideal freelancer?
While everyone can freelance, being in this field for a long time will require a certain frame of mind to overcome the challenges that comes with the job.
Here is a list of personal traits as well as financial circumstances that will enable you to work as a freelancer for long term:
- Being detail oriented: Freelancing is for those who are naturally planners. This career choice demands that you decide what services you will offer, how you will find clients, your pricing structure, and the number of clients you need every month to manage expenses and save. You will also have to do taxes and send invoices every month to clients.
- Having an earning family member: Since it can’t be predicted how much you will earn as a freelancer, this career choice will work out best if you already have a family member like parents or spouse with a regular job.
- Strong desire to be your own boss: If you prefer your freedom more than a stable monthly income that a 9 to 5 job promises, freelancing is for you. A strong motivation will push you towards doing whatever it takes to succeed as a freelancer.
- A known name in your field: If you want to freelance after having spent decades in a specific field, the freelancing world will welcome you with both hands. Since people in the industry will already know you due to your decades of experience, you can offer them your services and never have to worry about a steady income.
6 tips to become a successful freelancer
Now that you know what it takes to become a freelancer, let’s get to the meatier part where we talk about actionable things you need to do to become a kickass freelancer.
- Find and improve your skill
Technically, freelancing jobs can be found for any and every skill set. But there are a few skills that have more demand in the freelance world than others, such as:
- Building a website or coders
- Graphic designers
- NFT artists
- Video and audio editors
- UI/UX designers
Once you have identified the skill that companies are looking for in freelancers, your next task is to ensure you excel in it.
Also read: How Paytm Solves 4 Challenges Freelancers Face with Payments
Chances are you are going to look for a freelance job in the sector that you already have some experience in. But for you to do good as a freelancer you need to improve your skills. Not just improve skills but you should add more skills that are closely related to the skill that you already have.
For example, if you are looking for a freelance job as a writer, enrol for a digital writing or UI/UX writing course. This will ensure you have more services to offer without diverting a lot from your existing skills.
- Build your portfolio
Since action speaks louder than words, your work will have a better impact on clients than you telling them that you have top-notch skill sets. Get yourself a simple webpage where you can put out the work that you are proud of.
Even if it’s something that you did at your last job, there is no harm in putting them on your website.
It’s important to have a website where you can direct potential clients to go and check out your work. A professionally looking website will have a good first impression on your prospective clients.
If possible, get testimonials from the clients who you have worked with or from your previous bosses and put them on your website. Positive testimonials give clients a peek into what others think of your work.
- Find the right platform for freelance jobs
While you reach out to clients through your personal contacts, it’s not advisable to just rely on that. There are several freelancing websites that connect clients with freelancers, including:
To have a steady source of work in hand, create your account on these websites, and check out new freelance work that clients list on these websites almost everyday. Simply apply for the ones that fit your skills.
Alternatively, you should also check LinkedIn job listings for freelance jobs. Hundreds of companies post freelance job requirements on LinkedIn.
- Set up a fair price
This is one of the most crucial and dicey tasks you will have to do in your freelancing journey. One mistake and you will either lose the client or realise that you have worked for really cheap.
Finding the right balance between not asking for an exorbitant amount and settling for a lower than industry standard is critical.
Also read: Paytm Payment Links is Here to Improve Freelancers’ Journey
Freelancers generally don’t reveal how much they charge companies for their work. No matter how close a freelancer is to you, the chances of you getting this information is very slim.
Your other alternative is to check the prices listed on the freelancing websites and set up your hourly price based on that.
- Ask a lot of questions
Once the client has agreed to your pricing and hands you the project, it’s your job to understand the details of the work.
Set up meetings with key people in the company and ask them the information you need to complete the project. Clients very often ask freelancers to re-do the work. This is mainly because of the communication gap between the client and the freelancer. Make sure there is no such communication gap between you and your clients.
Suppose your client has asked you to design a website, you should ask them questions such as:
- Customer profile
- Do they want to change the customer demographic?
- What kind of an impression should the website have on visitors?
- Colour schemes
- What kind of user interface they want
Based on the answers you get, send a proposal and a draft of the design to your client. If this is in the ballpark of what they are looking for, you are on the right path. Else, set up another meeting and find out the gaps and fix those.
- Send invoices on time
This is something most freelancers fail at. If you want to get paid on time every month, you must create a proper invoice and send it to your clients.
Every company follows its own payment cycle. As a freelancer you will have to manually check with all your clients what their billing cycle is and if they prefer any specific invoice style. Create an excel sheet where you list the dates before which you have to send invoices to every client.
If you delay sending the invoice, your payment will be delayed. As a freelancer, you can’t afford to get late payment.
Paytm Payment Gateway for freelancers
Very often payments are delayed due to limited payment options freelancers provide their clients.
As a freelancer you should check with your clients in advance how they prefer to make the payment. Based on that you should make necessary arrangements to accept the payment.
Alternatively, you can sign up with Paytm Payment Gateway which supports 100+ payment options. For freelancers, we provide Paytm Payment Links that is one of the easiest ways to collect money digitally.
3 reasons freelancers should use Paytm Payment Links
- Easy to create and share: You can create a payment link from our dashboard or log in to the Paytm for Business app. To create a payment link you just need to fill in details such as amount, purpose of payment, and your banking details. Simply create and share the payment link with your clients over email, SMS, or any messaging app.
- Client friendly: On receiving the Paytm Payment Links, your clients don’t need to enter your bank details to transfer the money. They simply have to choose the payment method and click on send money.
- Supports all payment options: Paytm Payment Links allows freelancers to accept money using all the payment options such as debit and credit card, net banking, UPI, and Paytm wallet.