Welcome to Part 2 in my series on freelancing (if you missed Part 1 you can go back to it here). This part discusses the difference between working for companies and being independent in freelancing and why I made the change.
Part 2: Being Independent as a Freelancer
As I discussed in my last post, when I started out freelancing I worked for companies and through websites that specialized in matching up customers and writers. There are certainly advantages to this approach to freelancing, and it is a very good way to start off, because it gives you the ability to learn and to hit the ground running. However, I found that as I gained experience in writing and in freelancing, that I moved away from using these sites and towards being independent as a freelancer. It was a challenging step to take, but one that was very important.
Sites for freelancers
For a new freelancer, sites that support freelancing are fantastic. These include sites like Zemandi, UpWork and Freelancer that I talked about in my last post. They offer you a lot to choose from, and this gives you the chance to practice and refine your sites. In reality, writing is only one form of freelancing, and many of the freelancing sites support a range of different ways of earning money, whether it is through writing, programming, website design or graphic design. Personally, I have never delved into any form of freelancing but writing, because writing is a skill that I enjoy and am good at, but most of this advice can apply just as well to other forms of freelancing as it does to writing.
As a general rule, it is easy to get work on freelancing sites if you are prepared to get work that pays very little. For example, the very first freelancing work I did earned me $1 for a 400-500 word article, which amounted to between $1 and $2 an hour, which was horrible. Nevertheless, I stuck with it and kept applying for orders that paid considerably more. Once I got one good job on a freelancer site, I started to build a reputation and it was easier to get good jobs, particularly with the same person. Over time, freelancers can build up their revenue and reputation on sites, making it much quicker to get work. I found it still took time to get jobs, but I was able to get orders that paid around $200 for two days of solid work (10 hours a day, but still, good money).
I earned money through websites and companies for close to a year, because it was reliable and easy. I liked not having to seek out clients or to advertise, plus, using the sites gave me practice in my writing skills. However, it wasn’t long before I was itching to earn more money and to have more control over exactly what type of writing I did.
My first step was to start advertising for clients of my own. There are a lot of different ways of doing this, such as using business cards, taking out advertisements in local newspapers, using Craigslist or making a website. Initially, I tried this approach while keeping up with using websites, because building up a client base took time and I had to learn how best to manage clients.
However, within a month or two months I had to completely stop working for websites, simply because I was getting too many orders. It has been close to a year since I have had to go back to getting work off websites, and it is getting to the point that I have to take my advertisements down for weeks at a time because I am getting orders and new clients through word of mouth without any effort on my part. ==> Move on to Part 3