Are you a student or a young professional worried about your future? Then you can become a freelancer and take back control of your future.
With uncertainty in university admissions and job offers, COVID-19 is also the worst crisis for the education and employment sectors. But like always, we are learning to adapt and succeed. One of the things that are becoming popular is freelancing or as it is also known as the ‘gig-economy.
Freelancers are professionals who are skilled in one or many areas. They work on a project or ‘gig’ basis and help their clients finish work on a contract. They are not full-time employees of the client. After the COVID-19 lockdowns across the world, the gig-economy was severely affected just like other areas, but now it is recovering fast, much faster than the traditional job market.
The reasons are pretty simple. Companies don’t have to hire full-time employees, do not have to bear the burden of firing employees because of the Covid-19 crisis, and hiring costs reduce for the company, as now the companies can hire some of the best professionals at a cost-effective model. For freelancers, the gig economy provides the freedom to choose their clients, flexibility at work, and have multiple projects running simultaneously. The gig economy was already growing before the crisis. It is estimated that by 2027, there will be around 8.4 crore freelancers in the USA. It will form the majority of their workforce. 2019’s data suggests that Bangladesh already has 6 lac IT freelancers, which is the largest globally, beating India. In 2019, Google’s 54% workforce is comprised of freelancers and contractors. Now, the acceptance for remote working or working from home has increased, which has increased the acceptance of freelancers. All in all, freelancing is thriving!
But with these developments, the definition of freelancing is changing fast as well. Now freelancing is much broader in its scope. The most popular freelancing skills are website development, social media management, writing, graphic design, mobile app development, and other similar skills. Now, new skills are being increasingly accepted as freelancing abilities such as teaching, recruiting talent, personal assistants, spiritual guidance, etc. I mean that your unique gift is now in demand!
How to start –
1. Learn a skill – identify who you are and what you can do without getting tired. Learn more about that skill by reading about it, taking online courses, and then fine-tuning these skills by learning from experts on YouTube. Learn different software, look for free software that you can use, search for websites that can do good quality work for your needs, and create a network with like-minded people on social media and websites like GitHub. You can also invest in certifications like google ad-words or take part in coding hackathons and/or other competitions.
2. Make a portfolio – A portfolio means showing what you are capable of doing. Consider it as a resume that talks about what you can do and shows what work you have done. There are multiple ways you can make and showcase your portfolio. You can start by making a LinkedIn profile and create a network. Use Instagram or Facebook to showcase your work, especially if your skills are creative. You can also use other platforms like Issuu and Behance, to showcase your creative work. If you are a guide or teacher, you can register at any e-learning platform like Unacademy or register with Spark. Live which lets you be an expert in one of India’s regional languages also.
3. Look for work – Register at various freelancing websites like freelancer, elance, or Fiverr. If you are a student, you can use an Indian platform called Lancify to register for work.
4. Take ‘free’ work – Working for free doesn’t sound good right. But in these crisis times, having employment is more important than no job, even if the money is not there because you can get work experience. Offer your own Freemium model. You can tell a client that you will work for free for them for a month and then you can start charging if they want your services.
5. Create Social Campaigns – If there is an issue close to your heart, create a social media campaign for it. This way, you create your project and showcasing your work to a large audience while creating social change. I am currently working with 15-year-old students to create more awareness about mental health.
6. Build relationships – working remotely and online can only be successful if your clients trust you. So build trust-based service models. Be transparent in your expectations and deliverables.
If something can be done online, there is a possibility of making that into a freelancing skill. Emerging freelancing jobs in India are: writing in all Indian languages, video and audio editing for videos and podcasts, website development, social media marketing, graphic designing, SEO, teaching- academics and other things like yoga, dance and cooking, programming, consulting for law, taxation, wealth management, life coaching, stress management, cybersecurity, and even spiritual guidance.
What do you need?
You need a computer or mobile device and a good internet connection. You will find out how to do the rest on your own. But that is only possible if you have a winning attitude. Do not treat freelancing as a short-term hobby. Make a long-term vision, create milestones and work towards achieving them.
With freelancing, even the sky is not the limit.