Guide to Become a Successful Freelancer

Guide to Become a Successful Freelancer
Photo Credit – Pixabay.com

Everyone nowadays needs extra some extra cash. Ever spiraling food cost, need to frequently buy newer gadgets, medical inflation are some reasons why a single salary is insufficient.

For those unemployed, mere survival will be threatened without an additional source of income. Hence, freelancing provides the best and possibly only solutions for such individuals.

What is freelancing?

Everyone speaks of freelancing in broad reference to journalism. However, this is not entirely true. Freelance journalists came into limelight because several movies have been made on this profession.

Freelancing is often called moonlighting.

The term moonlighting denotes people who work beyond office hours, generally during evenings and late nights. Usually, moonlighters operate from home and perform tasks for another employer. Often, such work is on the sly.

Meaning, the main employer is unaware about such work. In exceptional cases, an employer may permit a worker to render services to another company or individual.

Difference between freelancing and moonlighting

Remember, freelancing and moonlighting are two different ways of earning money. There are a few similarities between the two. Hence there is confusion over the two terms.

However, let us understand the differences.

  • Freelancers are not employed on payrolls of any employer and work anytime. Moonlighters are usually employees offering services outside office hours.
  • Freelancers are free to offer their services to anyone. Moonlighters cannot work for direct competitors of their employers unless explicitly permitted.
  • Freelancers look for buyers of their services. Moonlighters already have a buyer for their services.
  • Freelancers can be fresh graduates and inexperienced people. Moonlighters usually are highly skilled professionals.
Basic requirements

In order to work as freelancer or moonlighter, you need these specific characteristics.

  • Your skills are in great demand.
  • Willingness to exert extra effort.
  • Possess own equipment required for the work, such as computer.
  • Ability to adapt and improvise skills and services at short notice.
  • Proficiency in a variety of skills.
  • Sufficient savings to survive between payments.

Therefore, anyone who meets the above criterion can qualify as freelancer or moonlighter.

Skills in demand

Generally speaking, almost every skill is in demand nowadays. However, you can select the type of freelance or moonlight work you wish to do.

Traditionally, freelancers and moonlighters are required in these industries:

  • Outdoor catering: As service crew and kitchen helpers for large events and parties.
  • Accountancy firms: To maintain complex books of the firm’s clientele.
  • News media: Providing news reports, book and movie reviews and feature stories.
  • Social media: For marketing products and services, customer relations.
  • Insurers: Reaching out to prospective customers to buy home, life, health and other policies.
  • Sales and marketing: While launching new product or creating better brand awareness.
  • Market research: Surveys about anything conducted among random population.
  • Photography/ video: Coverage of large events, weddings, parties.
  • Musicians: Perform as a substitute for some band member temporarily.
  • Coaching: Teaching any skill or sport or educational topic on demand from groups or individuals.
Finding freelance jobs

Nowadays, high unemployment rates and need for extra income has caused a flood of freelancers and moonlighters in the market. However, this need not deter you from seeking work as freelancer.

Remember, if you have the required skills, it is easy to find buyers. Fortunately, dozens of websites that specifically offer jobs for freelancers and moonlighters are online. You can register at some of these websites.

However, you need to specify the nature of work you are interested in. Sometimes, you may also have to quote how much you will charge for your work.

You can also offer services on social media by creating a special Facebook page. Such a page should highlight your capabilities and skills as well as experience if any. Get as many ‘likes’ from friends for this page.

Alternatively, you can post a small ad at community halls, churches, clubs and other high footfall places, advertising your skills and services.

CVs for freelancers and moonlighters

​Often, this can prove difficult if you do not have sufficient experience in your field. Writing a great CV as freelancer is not really difficult. Mention explicitly if you are a fresh graduate. However, make a strong point about why an employer should hire your services, albeit for limited time or a single task.

If you are skilled, you would definitely have to explain reasons for working as freelancer or moonlighter. It would be fair enough to mention that you are looking for extra work to bolster your income.

Alternatively, mention genuine reasons why you favor freelancing or moonlighting despite having experience but are unemployed.

Explicitly mention the resources you own or can access easily for doing a freelance/ moonlight job. An employer will not provide these resources. And where such resources are provided, the payment can be lower.

References are vital

Regardless whether you are a fresh graduate looking for freelance jobs or a skilled executive wanting extra income, references are extremely important.

You can cite your teachers, coaches or community leaders as references if you are a fresh entrant into freelancing. If you have sufficient work experience, give names of people for whom you have done work in past.

Pricing your work

​Understandably, this can be a tricky job to set your freelance rates. Most people fear the price they quote can sound high. Therefore, you may end up quoting low and landing with more work than you can handle. Alternatively, you can quote low. This too means you will work too much for lesser returns.

Therefore, it would serve well for you to first survey the market. Find out the prevailing rates for the nature of work you are offering. Later, weigh it against your expertise and experience to arrive at a realistic figure.

Remember, freelance and moonlight jobs are generally time bound. Meaning, they have to be completed before the deadline set by your customer.

Realistic deadlines

Ironically, employers know how much time it would actually take to finish a particular task. Yet, they will provide shorter deadlines to freelancers and moonlighters. They are not being unfair.

Usually, an employer or customer will have no control over you by means of a service contract. Invariably, the hirer’s work will suffer should you decide to back out at the last moment. Further, any client will require some modifications or corrections done to your work before it is approved. Hence, you will get shorter deadlines.

However, this need not scare you. Place any objections you may have over a given deadline to your employer. If reasonable, you can get it extended slightly.

Updates are important

Once you have got a freelance or moonlight assignment, keep your client updated frequently about completed work. If necessary, send a daily progress report.

Further, ask for comments and suggestions from the client. This enables both to make corrections or additions/ amendments to the assignment, if required. Consequently, everyone saves time and your services are better appreciated for quality and timely delivery.

Provide for payment blackouts

Most importantly, provide sufficient funds to sustain yourself before getting paid for your assignment. Very often, payments to freelancers and moonlighters can encounter delays for various reasons.

For example, your employer may have run out of the budget that particular month but will pay you in the next. Or, the firm may have a payment schedule for freelancers. Meaning, they will pay you- say- 90 days after completing the work.

Remember, freelance and moonlight work entails you to spend first. You will be paid for the work only after it is complete. Of course, you can negotiate payment schedules with the client. A lot of freelancers and moonlighters flop because they run out of money before completing work.

Use banks to get payments

Importantly, ask every employer to make your payments by remitting directly to your bank. This has several inherent advantages. For one, it helps you provide proof that you have worked for someone and received that particular amount as payment.

Secondly, employers will never pay from an office kitty for freelance or moonlight work. They need proper records for auditors and accounting purposes.

Author: Win Honawar

Win Honawar is a well known journalist and blogger who writes on a wide range of issues. In recent months he has written about career development, educational tips, travel and technology for Surejob. View all posts by Win Honawar