Freelance consultants are self-employed individuals who offer services to businesses and consumers alike, oftentimes working with multiple clients simultaneously. Oftentimes, it’s much more feasible for companies to contract their IT projects and tasks out to freelance consultants than to hire a full-time employee. Freelancers work in varying branches of IT and offer a wide range of services including tech and application support, programming and coding, web-development, graphic design, IT consulting, data security, and many other technically geared areas.
Perks of Freelancing
A career as a freelance consultant offers plentiful perks and opportunities, as there are freelance positions for virtually any technology field, any skillset, and any schedule. In terms of benefits, freelancers can:
- Set Their Own Hours and Location: Wouldn’t it be great to work when and where you wanted? One of the greatest benefits with being your own boss is the ability to work with the schedule you built. Depending on the client and that client’s needs, freelancers can choose to work full or part time during the hours that best suit their needs. Freelancers control their own time, build their own schedules, and aren’t limited to the typical 9-5 timetable.
- Set Their Own Price: Have you ever worked in a position where you were underpaid for the quality and quantity of the work you produced? A freelancer will have a hard time sympathizing with your plight as they set their own salary. Freelances have the ability to negotiate a cost based on project completion, a price on a project broken into milestones, or an hourly rate. Oftentimes, freelancers will make more than they would working as an hourly employee performing the same job function.
- Be Selective with Their Work: We’ve all been tasked with something at work that we absolutely despise. Whether it be a tedious data entry task or a report your boss needs by close-of-business, we all get assigned work that we don’t particularly enjoy. Freelancers have the ability and luxury of being picky on what assignments they wish to tackle. That type of freedom and flexibility is something many wish they had at their current place of employment.
- Start Quickly and Easily: As unfeasible as it sounds, you could jumpstart your career as a freelancer as soon as today; this very minute actually. As long as you have a skill to offer, you have an opportunity to become a full-fledged freelancer. Using LinkedIn is a great way to get started on seeking out clients, building a completed project list, and establishing a network of repeat clientele. Some freelancers build a free and simplistic website through a publishing platform like WordPress in order to give potential customers an understanding of their services.
While the freelance marketplace is highly competitive, there is a growing need for reliable tech workers who can produce quality work on a consistent basis. There are a lot of great websites that connect freelancers to clients, and these are perfect places to start building your client-base to receive repeat business:
- UpWork: Formerly known as oDesk, UpWork has over 1.5 million clients, meaning they have work for nearly every type of IT freelancer and level of skill. UpWork offers both short-term and long-term projects, hourly or per-project payments, and assignments that range from expert level experience to entry level abilities. Opportunities are plentiful and are available for analysts, developers, managers, network architects, and more other areas.
- Craigslist: A frequently overlook tool in a freelancer’s arsenal of opportunities, Craigslist is no longer a platform for merely buying and selling miscellaneous items. Craigslist has evolved into a catchall for products and services, and has an abundance of IT freelancing opportunities in developing, design, and administration.
- Fiverr: A newer face in the freelancer marketplace, Fiverr has made a big impact and has won the hearts of both freelancers and clients alike. Currently, Fiverr lists millions of IT freelance opportunities ranging in payments from $5 to $500.
- Stackoverflow: Founded in 2008, Stack Overflow is one of the largest communities connecting developers, coders, and employers. An estimated 50 millions professional and amateur programmers visit Stack Overflow each and every month to help solve various coding issues, expand and share knowledge, and find rewarding career opportunities. Stack Overflow partners with businesses to assist them in hiring, engaging, and empowering IT freelancers.
- Github: Unlike the other sites on our list, Github is a version control repository and Internet hosting service. The site is mainly used for code and, as of April 2017, reports having nearly 20 millions users and 57 million repositories, making it the largest host of source code on Earth. Github is a great way to build a resume, participate in interesting projects, and build your freelancing network.
How to Get Started
Getting started as a freelancer couldn’t be an easier. Simply visit one of the aforementioned sites to kick things off and use your current network, skillset, and judgement to find your first client. Before visiting any site, it is crucial that you work through the following:
- Decide What Service You’ll Offer: IT freelance work is in extremely high demand and there are immediate opportunities available in general tech support, complex development projects, and many other areas. It’s up to you to find your niche and focus in on your specific skills and aptitudes.
- Determine your Target Market: What industry or person has a need for what your offer? Will you be specializing in any particular niche (SQL coding), or will your services cover a broad range of areas (coding)? Now is the time to develop your brand and what sets you apart from the rest of the herd.
- Create an Online Presence: Whether you create a LinkedIn profile or a simplistic website, you need to have visibility in order for clients to virtually find you and see what you have to offer.
- Determine Your Price: This one is a bit tricky. You certainly don’t want to charge too much or you’ll have trouble finding work. Charging too little and not covering your overhead is also undesirable. You’ll also want to consider how you’ll go about taxes and earnings reporting.
- Pull the Trigger: Once you have the above considerations finalized, jump and test the water. You’ll never know if can be successful as a freelancer unless you try, and now is an opportune time for freelance work.
Freelancing is a quick and feasible way to work towards becoming your own boss. While there are certainly pros and cons to any career, an IT career in freelancing lets you take the wheel and steer your career in any direction you wish.