In our world of work, the majority of working people are employees. The Irish Labour Force Survey 2020 revealed that 2,009,200 persons were classified as employees, while 331,600 people were classified as self-employed. A percentage of these self-employed people will be freelancers. Legally speaking, being a freelancer and being self-employed are the same, but in practice, freelancers typically work alone, are engaged by clients on a project basis, and sell services rather than products.
The good news for highly independent and self-motivated souls who are looking for freelance work is that there is tons of opportunity at the moment. Here is our guide to becoming a remote working freelancer.
Diving straight into the uncertain world of freelancing is a highly risky endeavour. It’s wise to start small, both in terms of time and output. What are your passions outside of your job; maybe you’re social media savvy, or dabble in graphic design, or get a thrill out of writing. These can all be converted into side hustles.
A study by the Academy of Management revealed that businesses launched while the founder is still employed are one-third less likely to fail than those that started out as full-time ventures. This approach is the key to success, as it gives you the opportunity to build up a profile, client base and reputation while you still have the security of a job. Having a solid foundation from which to take the leap will make the process much less stressful.
Starting small allows you to test the water and see how viable your business or freelance idea is. It will also flesh out the possibilities of translating it into a fully-fledged remote career.
Secure a Solid Income Stream
Making the move into freelancing is often prompted by your side hustle starting to occupy more of your time and energy. As this begins to take precedence, you will feel the pull towards transitioning out of your current job and into the excitement of the freelance world.
To put yourself in the best position to thrive, it’s smart to have a solid income stream from the outset. The pressures of freelancing should not be underestimated - there is no monthly paycheck, sick days aren’t covered, and annual leave is a thing of the past. Securing a gig that covers all of your bills as a minimum should be a priority. This removes upfront financial stress and frees up your headspace to focus on growing your roster of clients and projects.
Make sure that this mainstay is remote - if you are tethered to an in-person client as your main source of income, this will remove the freedom that accompanies the remote working lifestyle. Your client might be based on-site, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be. Target small businesses, as there is often some aspect of their business they need help with on an ad-hoc basis that can be done remotely, whether that’s digital marketing, online customer service or in-house design.
Agree Workflow and Availability With Client
Juggling clients and projects is all part of the freelance lifestyle. To do this effectively, it’s important that you have clear channels of communication with your client about how you work, and about your availability.
Modern leadership, especially within remote-first companies, adopts a more collaborative rather than a management approach, so, in an ideal remote world, your client should be responding to your workflow as opposed to imposing theirs on you. Agree what platforms, tools and formats you will be using when you first take on a job.
As regards availability, make sure to agree a time frame with a client before starting a project, and get this in writing by sending a confirmation email to avoid unplanned work landing on your plate. If you are going to be working remotely from a different timezone, be transparent with your client about this - this will establish trust and transparency, as well as manage expectations. Troubleshoot by using asynchronous software like Clearword’s calendar coordinator to eliminate the email ping pong and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Work Towards Digital Fluency
One of the best ways to keep yourself in remote freelance gigs is to hone your skills with a view towards achieving digital fluency. A survey conducted by Small Business Trends Alliance showed that 55 percent of small business owners are planning on investing more in their digital marketing strategies this year.
How can you incorporate more digital knowledge into your working life? Is it by familiarising yourself with remote tools, doing an online course or attending skillshare events? Remote employers scouring freelancing websites will love to see your proficiency in these areas. Given the fact that, as a freelancer, you are a solo operator, it is expected that you show up to the job with the requisite knowledge, so keeping up to date with digital developments means you won’t fall behind.
🔥 Hot Tip: If you speak multiple languages, this will open up a whole host of remote freelance opportunities, including providing translation and interpretation services. Successful freelancing is all about playing to your strengths, and if you can work in two languages, you’ll be ahead of the competition.