“People started approaching me with work pretty soon after that”
Lifestyle Business: Freedom, Variety, Marketing and Sales.
You may call it freelancing, or working as a free agent, an independent contractor or a side-preneur.
The fact is more resources are finding their way to the forefront like boolaka.com to help employers (your potential customers and clients) with projects to connect with talented people (you) eager to take them on.
Welcome to the era of “Permanent Temporaries.”
When the unemployment rate hit 12.5%, the 10 million (7.4% of the workforce) identified as independent contractors in 2005 may have doubled since then.
As a lifestyle business it’s hard to beat the freedom and variety of assignments.
But as more laid-off workers began to compete for fewer freelance jobs, the competition heated up.
Health insurance costs sky-rocketed.
While it it was still easier to find contract work than full-time jobs, many during the Great Recession still longed for paid-vacations, more security, 401K programs and day-to-day contact with co-workers.
The Freelancers Union in New York says most freelancers still want full-time jobs.
Surveys of members indicate that about 60% of independent contractors are having a hard time making a living, with about 12% of freelancers taking government assistance because they aren’t making enough money.
Freelancing is a business.
Like any startup it takes time to establish yourself.
But for those that make it, it offers a better quality of life.
And many prefer the independent life free of workplace stress.
Those who have tried it and weren’t successful felt they were always fighting the commodity pricing of the Internet — companies could almost always find talent from around the world willing to work for far less.
They felt the squeeze in a race to the bottom, as healthcare costs raced to the top.
In the “free agent nation” more tools and platforms burst on the market to pick up the slack when temp-to-permanent opportunities shrank.
Those gigs expanded from computer-programming and graphic-design only projects to accounting, engineering, sales and legal assignments in 2009 and 2010.
Between January and March, employers posted 70,500 of these work-for-hire positions on Elance.com and 43,000 on Odesk.com, which represented increases of 35% and 105%, respectively, from the same period in 2008.
Employers valued the benefits of avoiding the expenses associated with permanent employees.
And the attraction to online work is that it is flexible, immediate and cost-effective.
In the spring of 2009 Sologig.com doubled the amount of remote and on-site freelance job listings compared to a year earlier.
VirtualAssistants.com nearly grew at the same rate.
Here’s a permanent-temporary success story demonstrating age may not be a show-stopper.
Like many workers who turn to freelance positions, a 51-year-old mother of four, didn’t plan to take on piecemeal work after her layoff.
At first, she approached a local Internet company about a permanent job doing Web optimization – a technique for boosting a site’s search-engine rankings.
It was a skill she had learned while overseeing her former employer’s online store and blog.
The firm wasn’t hiring, but it offered her a short freelance assignment.
She wrote about the experience for a popular blog on Web optimization.
“People started approaching me with work pretty soon after that,” she says.
What’s the punch line?
She discovered Odesk on one of her assignments.
Most months now she earns twice as much as her previous income.
She combines Odesk-generated assignments with a steady supply of projects through her personal website and blog.
She loves her life.
The work has been fulfilling, and she has put her permanent-job search on hold indefinitely.
She gets to pick and choose what she does now, sharing the less desirable work to other freelancers who appreciate the opportunities.
And she just does the fun stuff.
What about the potholes – whether you freelance or consult?
Beware of the brain-pickers who’ll trick you into hours of preparation so they can figure out what to do themselves or shop for a cheaper alternative.
Some sites will guarantee payment upon completion, but charge 6% to 10% of your fees.
Others shift the burden of billing clients and collecting payments to you.
This advice isn’t only just for freelancers.
Whether you compose your “About” section on your business site, or fill out a profile on a job site, all “‘Preneurs” err on the side of describing their general talents and experience sets feeling being too specific will turn away more business.
But, guess what?
You won’t stand out from the competition.
Instead be focused and very specific about what you have to offer.
You’ll not only carve out a profitable niche, you’ll attract more attention and build a more sustainable brand.
The great thing about freelance matching sites is you can research what the market will bear.
Find similar profiles to yours.
Check out their portfolios.
If you can match or exceed their quality, increase your fees.
If not, drop yours slightly.
Especially if you are just starting out and need some assignments to build a track record.
What about negotiating your fees?
Don’t do it by email.
Instead meet or conduct the conversations over the phone.
Not only is it necessary for establishing an ongoing relationship, but you then have opportunities to educate the buyer and uncover unmet needs.
Does all this mean you shouldn’t choose the “start-up from scratch business” adventure?
No not at all.
(5) Choose the ‘Preneur’ business model that brings out the best in you – freelancing, consulting, franchising, Internet marketing or establishing a Knowledge ATM.
An excerpt from Book Two in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you make more money from a lifestyle businesses you’re truly passionate about.