How to Make Freelancing Work for You
Via Mashable : In 2020, millennials will have a stronghold on the economy as they inch their way up to 46% of the workforce. And, unlike generations of the past, Generation Y isn’t satisfied with jobs that require a typical 9 to 5, nor those that operate based on traditional hierarchy. As it turns out, millennials value flexibility and freedom of choice, which is why, as more and more members of Gen Y enter the workforce, freelancing is proving to be a compatible and seriously viable option.
So, how do you find freelance gigs and how do you make the freelance lifestyle work for you? Rajeev Jeyakumar, co-founder of Skillbridge, an online marketplace connecting company projects with qualified and experienced freelancers, breaks down the new freelance market and describes how new tech, bootstrapped by millennials themselves, is making a previously rare and difficult profession a much more common practice.
Deciding to Freelance
Freelancing is a pretty open field and even those coming out of undergrad with little to no experience can get in on the game. Higher level work that often requires three or more years of experience or an MBA, however, won’t be open to freelancers who are just getting in the game.
“On our platform, as well as the larger more complex projects, we also have smaller pieces of work that allow consultants to earn their stripes. So, for example, you’ll do market research or basic data analysis,” says Jeyakumar.
But the decision to move to freelancing rather than seeking a more traditional full-time job usually comes from a couple years of experience. specialize in specific areas of work, and usually those that they most enjoy doing. For both the freelancer and the company, this type of specialization produces much more engaging products. However, Jeyakumar says that for most of the freelancers he has spoken with, the decision to go remote is threefold.
“First, freelancers want more flexibility on when they work — from home or fitting it around their schedule,” he says. “Then, they want to work on things that they find interesting. So a lot of the time you find that, when you are working on putting together an ad campaign, there is a creative part and then there is a project managing part. Most people find that there is one part of that they love, whether it is the creative or the project management, and they want to be able to choose to do a little bit more.
Finally, [it’s the] people. They love to be able to choose who they are working with because then they can say, ‘I met this person who is working on a project that I feel really passionate about. I like them a lot.’ It’s a lot of those choices that help someone decide they want to do freelance.”
Finding the Right Projects
For the most part, freelancing currently still relies on a relatively old model for finding work: networking.
“If you imagine, without Airbnb, if you want to rent an apartment in the city and you don’t want to stay at a hotel, you would ask a friend, ‘Hey, do you know anyone in New York who has an apartment that’s free,'” says Jeyakumar. “That’s the old model and the funny thing about it is that freelancers are doing that and companies are doing that. [Skillbridge] spoke to freelancers who said it took three months to find their company and to companies who said it took them three months to find those freelancers.
Companies, like Skillbridge, are popping up to meet the freelancer and company demand, providing an online marketplace where companies can post their projects and find qualified freelancers with little hassle on both sides.
“For freelancers, most of them spend a lot of time trying to generate work. We can eliminate that time and make them much more profitable,” says Jeyakumar. “And, as a freelancer, it gets back to that point that you want to do what you really enjoy.”
Instead, Jeyakumar recommends that more experienced freelancers with two or more years of experience use Skillbridge, or services like it for lesser experienced freelancers including oDesk and Elance, to cut down on the amount of time you spend searching for work and to increase the amount of billable hours you put in.
How to Represent Your Experience
Without a full-time job at a big name company, many freelancer resumes end up being a conglomeration of several small, short term projects with multiple clients. That kind of experience is difficult to outline on paper, much less on only one page.
“We get resumes that are four pages long with 20 years of experience and I don’t blame them,” says Jeyakumar. “They’ve done some really amazing things! And now, people are writing press articles, online interviews, all those media rich things — how do you add that into your profile?”
His simple answer: a digital portfolio. A clean, one-page digital portfolio works well to showcase multiple projects, especially for creatives. Plus, utilizing tagging technologies will allow potential clients to narrow down your breadth of work based on their own needs.
Are you a freelancer? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.
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