The title might look like a blanket statement, but there is enough evidence that the world is moving towards independent workers providing their services from home or a near coffee shop. It has been happening for many years, but the advent of work related social networks such as Linkedin, UpWork, Freelancer and others have made it easier to enter the field.
Neither companies nor individuals can ignore this trend, because the market could be disrupted at any time. For certain, each year a greater slice of the working population is switching to freelancing, in search of better income. The allure of self-employment, of working remotely either from home or the beach, of not having to answer to the boss, brings lots of people to the shores of freelancing.
Is it really worth it?
For some it is, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it. But it requires very hard work, the kind of work you don’t have to do if you are employed, such as marketing your services, managing your clients, taking care of accounting & taxes, communications, contracts, invoicing, even legal stuff. In exchange you would gain the freedom to work when and where you happen to prefer, to take as many vacation days as you would like, mostly without the need to negotiate that with anyone. In other words, you would be "The Boss”. There are freelancers who are the worst boss they ever had, for the simple reason that getting up early and working hard is the only path to achieving success in a freelance career, specially when you are just starting and lack the steady stream of work that only a fruitful career of many years can provide.
The ones who have tried the freelance way and are still doing it profitably, have earned it by being excellent and persistent. The ones who have failed, most certainly didn’t have the endurance to keep pushing or lacked the connections.
It is all about networking
When you are a nobody, getting some trust is paramount. No company is going to hire you for an important job if they don’t know you, because they won’t trust you. You need to get that trust first, maybe starting with a small gig so they get to know you better. If you provide a reliable service (lets not get into pricing discussions), they might consider offering you a bigger job in the future. But you have to start somewhere. Acquiring that first client is the most important step in your freelancing career. That one client will bring others to your plate.
It is all about the quality of your service
You can undervalue or overvalue your time, but you cannot offer an inferior service. If the quality of your work leaves much to be desired, don’t expect your client to call you again. In contrast with a regular job, where failing to deliver could mean you get another chance, if you fail a client you risk loosing her forever. And given how hard it is to hitch a client, you really want to minimize failure.
Ultimately the best freelancers are able to deliver quality work on schedule. They can be costly or not, that’s up to them, but their success comes from being very good at what they do. And so should you, if you were to venture in the field.
Businesses are hiring freelancers
That’s how it is. A freelancer costs less than an employee, for whom the company has to pay payroll taxes, unemployment taxes and other social security related taxes. It is well known that employees are a cost to a company. They are an asset too for certain, but business people see that huge red number in the payroll line and there’s an inevitable reaction to try and reduce that cost . Surely the freelancer charges more per hour, but once the work is done, the freelancer is gone. No need to keep paying for work that may or may not be useful at the moment. The reduction in costs when hiring freelancers instead of employing cannot be denied. Companies know that and are turning to freelancers, sometimes to agencies, more and more.
This of course doesn’t mean every job out there can or should be done by a freelancer. Far from truth. But the trend is to move some of those jobs outside the company.
Where do I start
I would advise you to start building a network of contacts, people you have worked with and who may become your clients in the future. You don’t have to start freelancing tomorrow, just be prepared in case the time ever comes and you think you had enough of your boss, your stagnated salary, your work environment, whatever made you keep reading this post and thinking it may no be that bad of an idea to consider. Whatever you do, keep pushing until success.