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Pros and Cons of Online Freelance Work

Freelance work online is definitely NOT all it’s cracked up to be.

Enticed with the promises of the “Internet Lifestyle” and working in my pajamas, I made my first foray into building an online business in 2006 with a website – Your EZ Books.

There was a newsletter, a website and readers. What I didn’t have was a marketing plan, income, motivation to continue and good reason why to work the business.

Understandably I didn’t experience the Internet Lifestyle, but I bought enough educational products promising to teach me exactly how to get there!

Freelancing continues to prove to be the best way to add extra income to your family or to build a thriving business, allowing you to work from home.

While there are some who prove to live out the four hour work week that Tim Ferris promises, there are others who just enjoy doing the work and getting paid.

Freelancers are people who sell their services to other businesses in lieu of working for one business for an hourly wage or salary. Those services can be website design and development, content, graphics, audio, video creation or performance.

Many larger corporations enjoy using freelancers because it reduces their overhead – no insurance, no taxes, no office space, no human resources cost. Freelancers enjoy the work because the pay is often higher since the business can afford more and the freelancer can work around their own schedule while meeting deadlines.

Why Become a Freelancer?

Becoming a freelancer is ideal if you enjoy the idea of working for yourself, marketing your skills and making money March21WritingCIbased on your talents and not just because you were hired.

Learning the skills to be successful is one of the quickest and surest ways of earning a little extra money or of making enough to quit your JOB (Just Over Broke) and strike out on your own. Through using the skills you learn as a freelancer you can branch out to build your own thriving business and reduce your own workload.

This is of course easier if you have a skill set that APPEARS to be in demand – such as writing, coding, website development or video editing – but can be a successful endeavor even if you don’t feel you have immediately marketable skills. In this case you may consider working as a virtual assistant until you can learn more skills.

A virtual assistant is something akin to a “jack-of-all-trades” who doesn’t work in an office space. Virtual assistants may man a help desk, answer company phones or email, do research, schedule projects or perform skills taught by the company.  Successful business owners focus on providing quality to their customers and therefore can’t be trying to do 5 things at once.

In walks the virtual assistant!

The pay for either freelance work or virtual assistants can range between $10 to $100 per hour or you might be paid per piece of work – such as X amount per word writing an article or X amount for designing a website.

Let’s Start with the Pro’s

There are a number of advantages to earning a few extra dollars from home as a freelance worker, not the least of which are low start-up costs. In some instances, you might be able to get your first gig without any start-up costs!

But, for the most part, you’ll need a website to advertise your skills and showcase your past work. The cost for that website can be free or it might cost you $10 for the domain name and another $5 each month for the hosting.

Interestingly, the group of individuals who are doing freelance work is growing and growing quickly. This is because larger companies and smaller home-based businesses both understand the effectiveness of working with freelancers. This means that although you may have to compete for work, there continues to be more work requested each day.

How much you charge for your services will depend totally up to you. From personal experience I can tell you that a writer can make anywhere between 0.005 per word (not a type – one half a cent per word) to 0.20 per word, depending upon the writer, experience and content being developed.

Although the range of compensation is large, you’ll come to know what to charge and how much the market will accept based on your competitors, your own experience and your comfort level (which gets better the longer you work).

Either way you slice it, your income potential is greater working for yourself than it is working for a boss. YOU are the boss!

And as the boss, you pick your clients and your projects. I recently did my last bit of work for a client. It was a company who provided health related content for websites. She did the marketing and found the clients and then hired out the writers. I was one of those writers.

The relationship started out very well. She sent along several large projects which I finished on time and with an excellent review. And then came the trouble. Over the past several months the work has been incredible sporadic and I only received the projects the other writers didn’t want or couldn’t handle.

The last project was the last straw. I wrote it 3 different times and it turned out that I worked for less than one cent per word at the end. Hard to imagine that my own work deteriorated so badly that what was once excellent now had to be rewritten three times!

That’s a company I won’t be doing any more work for.

I believe that the best part of being a freelancer is the independence to move and work where ever I want. Although it’s nice to pick up and work at the local Starbucks or Panera Bread for variety, I am also enamored of moving out of state in the next year, and I can because I don’t have a physical location tying me down.

All That’s Good Has a Flipside

Like all things in life, all advantages have disadvantages. One of the biggest challenges for me as a freelancer is that I can set my own hours.

Many people find this to be an advantage, a significant advantage. But for me it is both a blessing and a curse (for MONK fans).  I can take my work where ever there is a wifi signal, work early in the morning or late into the evening. I can go to my children’s events and work on Sunday evenings to get it all done.

But that’s the issue for me. Discipline. It takes discipline to start early and end early.

Because I home school my youngest daughter I can work from noon until . . . . and therein lies the issue.

Until . . . .  I just don’t shut down until 11:30 pm when it’s time to head to bed!

March21PhotographyCIAs a freelancer you also make as much money as you can make. Your income is dependent upon your work. This is a significant disadvantage to growing a larger business, unless you use it as a platform to get there.

You will also experience inconsistent income from week to week and month to month. If this is your only source of income, it can be a challenge. Which also means that your potential income is also lower than it could be if you worked exclusively for a boss.

There are no traditional benefits at home. If you’re sick, there are no sick days. If you don’t work on vacation, you don’t get paid. No IRA contributions or medical insurance.

And the biggest con, which gets in the way of most freelancers I know

.  .  .  all lead acquisition and marketing lands on your shoulders.

This means without marketing and finding leads you won’t have business and you won’t have income.

Freelance work however, does give you the opportunity to learn marketing and lead acquisition while still working for your boss. So, while this is a huge stumbling block for most people, it is something you can learn while still earning an income from a stable source.

 

 

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