As the Digital Era makes working remotely from anywhere more possible and more appealing than ever, millions of people are flocking to online jobs.
Whether it’s working for someone else in a remote position or being your own boss, the demand for digital career opportunities is on the rise.
If the idea of being your own boss has you contemplating freelance online work, now is the time to go for it!
But before you start, you need to be prepared for the obstacles you’ll encounter along the way.
Freelancing online has many advantages, but it also has a few hurdles you should be aware of so that you can prepare and get past them quickly and succeed as a freelancer.
Here are the top five things every freelancer should know before starting on a new freelancing career path or pursuing freelance work online:
1. You Need a Lead-Generating Plan
What’s your plan for getting people to come to you once you start working online? As a new name in a sea of competition, you must have a lead-generating plan.
Jumping into freelancing online expecting clients to come to you instantly is a recipe for disaster. You might consider starting out on freelancing sites like Upwork or Fiverr until you have your own client base.
As you build customers, ask for referrals, ratings on your freelancing site, and letters of recommendation. Always check with the client to see if you can add their work, with private information deleted, to your portfolio.
2. Learn the Going Rates
When you first start out freelancing, it’s not always easy to get just the right price point for your work.
Charge too little and you’ll have clients coming to you in droves, but you’ll get overwhelmed and underpaid. Charge too much and they’ll go elsewhere.
Give yourself some time to look at the going rates of others who offer the same services that you do. Check out how they market themselves and see if there’s a way you can stand out.
If you have a specialized niche, you may be able to charge more than they do by offering it.
3. You Must Have (and Enforce) Boundaries
Setting your own schedule and working from anywhere sounds great, in theory.
In reality, though, it means it’s a lot harder to walk away from the job. And it’s more difficult to get privacy to do your work if you have people in your home often.
The best thing you can do early is set boundaries and create a schedule of working versus personal time.
Invest in a calendar system that you can share with your family and clients. This way, they know when you’re free and when you aren’t available.
The right scheduling and calendar program will save you immensely on time and resources.
4. Budgeting is a Whole New Concept
If you’re used to a regular paycheck, working online is going to be a new financial experience for you.
Sites like Upwork can take days or weeks before the pay ends up in your checking account. Invoicing clients may mean a wait of anywhere from two weeks to two months before they pay, sometimes longer!
You may have a lot of money coming in from multiple sources, but you’ll need to figure out how to budget your bills while you wait for it all to come in.
5. Every Client is Different
Don’t judge your online experience by a handful of clients. Some clients will be content to hire you with a few back-and-forth messages. Others will ask for an over-the-phone or video interview.
You might spend over an hour on the phone with a potential client, thinking you have the job in the bag, only for them to never get back with you.
Every client has their own expectations of what the freelance hiring process looks like.
Be flexible, but know when to walk away from a client that sends you warning signs. You’re better off not accepting work from them if they’re going to complain about everything or stiff you out of your money.
As with any job, there are pros and cons to working online. But if you’re aware of the hurdles before you get started, you can set up strategies to overcome them and succeed as an online freelancer.