Why Freelance? Flexibility, Freedom and Additional Income

Why Freelance? Flexibility, Freedom and Additional Income

Why freelance? Well, freelancing is one of the best methods to earn extra cash, and with the information gathered by Zeqr in the infographic below, it’s almost certainly going to convince you to try it.

Although you’ll face competition when applying to certain jobs, Zeqr strongly advise you not to give up.

Some of the freelancer stats you’ll read about below include a drastic increase in the total number of US freelancers – more specifically, we’re talking about at least 2 million people more who decided to give freelancing a try.

Of all the freelancers out there, more than 63% say their choice to work part-time and remote jobs is not because they were forced to or because it was a necessity, but because they wanted to just give it a shot.

As a full-time freelancer, you will be looking at less stress and relaxation by working wherever you choose to – whether it’s your own household, or a caffe.

An average freelancer spends 36 hours each week working for their client(s), whereas traditional workers spend 40 hours (excluding the time it takes to travel back and forth).

Another interesting fact is the rather high rate of freelancers who quit their full-time jobs in order to seek freelancing opportunities.

A staggering 22% of freelancers made the transition, hoping for more freedom, higher monthly salaries, and indulging in better projects.

Half of all US freelancers say there isn’t an amount of money high enough that would convince them to go back to traditional 9 to 5 jobs.

It’s encouraging to note that there are over 55 million freelancers working in the United States at this very moment.

The latest studies confirm that the number stated above basically means 35% of the entire US workforce is participating in the 1 trillion dollar freelance economy. That’s more than a third of people who are eligible to work in the US.

Lastly, what is it that freelancers say when asked what makes them feel better when freelancing?

Approximately 80% of people say that in comparison to traditional work, they feel more respected, empowered, and engaged to work for their far away clients in the cloud. You surely can’t get that info from pretty much any full-time worker.

So, since freelancers are often able to earn more money than they would with a full-time employment, what is your opinion on freelancing? Are you ready to freelance like a king and embrace the uprise of this trend in 2017?

Why Freelance Infographic

Why Freelance? Flexibility, Freedom and Additional Income

 

We all Need a Competitive Edge – Here’s How to Get It

We all Need a Competitive Edge – Here’s How to Get It

This is a guest post written by Louisa Dean, a freelance writer from Dorset, UK. She loves the freedom that comes with being her own boss, as well as the much coveted work/life balance.  

Identifying what makes you stand out from the competition like a daunting prospect, but in the climate of today’s economy, having an edge over the competition in the workplace or if you’re starting your own venture is more important than ever.

Discovering what it is that sets you apart from others can take extensive research and possibly even a fair deal of soul-searching, and naturally will vary hugely from sector to sector. However, one thing that almost all successful people have in common is that they innovate and effectively communicate the value of their skills to their target market.

In order to do this, let’s start from the start: you need to understand who your target audience are. Is your target demographic hip, twentysomethings who play out their lives via social media? Is there gender bias in your target market? Is your passion in line with those who want to put the world to right or are you only in it for quality of life?

Once you have figured out where your value lies and with which demographic, the next step is to get to know their habits, where they are based geographically, how they are most likely to see your product or service, and which types of advertising they respond well to. This information will inform your targeted advertising campaigns as your business will be able to communicate the value of the product or service you are offering in a language that the target demographic find appealing.  

Identifying and communicating to your target market is a good start, but it is also critical to develop the relationship into a dedicated following. Genuine interactions with colleagues, stakeholders and other potential clients on social media has as much advertising clout as hiring a billboard for a week, with the bonus of humanizing your position and giving customers a person to relate to, rather than someone who tows the line or could easily be replaced.

What works well for the individual also works for a corporate giant, so it’s well-worth looking at success stories from all around to take inspiration for your personal growth.

This has worked well for industry giants who have responded to public complaints with a sense of humor. Twitter appears to be the most effective way for customers to communicate directly and immediately with a business, so make sure your company is using that social media platform. Brand experience is key here: people who can identify with a business find it much easier to spend money with them.   

Another great way to establish your edge is to see what your competitors are doing already and learn from the strengths and weaknesses of their approach. Analyze their last few campaigns and cross reference your findings with data from Companies House. Look them up on Facebook to check out the customer reviews and find out what it is that they are doing right or wrong.

If you are still struggling to find your edge, think of the unsinkable Alvin ‘Titanic Thompson’ Thomas. He didn’t wait to find a competitive edge, he created one to give himself the advantage. Thomas proved that thinking outside of the box could get you a lot further than going down tried and tested routes.

Are there approaches you haven’t considered yet? Think back to when Christmas was all about Coca-Cola and its Santa truck. Since they first made their association with the holiday in 1931, it didn’t seem like anyone would be able to knock Coca-Cola off the Christmas spot. Then along came John Lewis. They proceeded to make an even bigger impact on the holidays, and now the Coca-Cola truck appears as a supporting act. Every year, the dedicated John Lewis following await the release of the Christmas advertisement as if it was the latest blockbuster. And what’s more, they don’t even place their products in the advertisements.

This goes to show that you should never be intimidated by a company who already appears to be doing what you want to do. If you know your competition and your target markets, establish a dedicated following and create a great brand experience for them. Once you do that, you will have given your business the edge over competitors.

 

Freedom is the new wealth: 68% of freelancers say life has improved since going independent

Freedom is the new wealth: 68% of freelancers say life has improved since going independent

Freelancers and independent workers: hold on to these recently published statistics. The workforce revolution is well underway, with more and more people (and companies!) turning to freelance work, often selling two or more skills to stay on top.

AND CO conducted a study on the future of work and the empowerment of the new generation of independent workers.

The survey results?

  • Freedom is the New Wealth: Despite a minority of freelancers (23%) saying that going independent has made them more financially stable, they’re overwhelmingly happier since they’ve gone solo: 68% say their quality of life has improved.
  • Freelance Isn’t a Fallback: Just 6% of respondents said they were freelancing until a full-time opportunity comes along, shattering the commonly-held stereotype that freelancers have no other option. More than 40% of respondents said they intend to freelance “forever.”
  • Meet the Slash Workers: 95% of respondents surveyed are “Slash Workers,” that is people who sell two or more talents to multiple clients vs. specializing within a single job function.
  • Not About the Benjamins: The No. 1 reason freelancers cite for going independent: personal growth (40%), followed by flexibility (27%). Just 7% did so for a perceived financial upside.
  • Open the Floodgates: Two in three freelancers in the study have been independent for less than three years. The largest share of newly-minted independents are creatives.
  • Death of the Office: 25% of freelancers surveyed said they are “digital nomads,” working and traveling remotely in cities around the world. Looking ahead, 60% of respondents said they’d consider adopting a nomadic lifestyle in the future.
  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Freelancers reported getting stiffed by clients across all income levels, with 44% saying they’ve had trouble collecting payment before. More than 60% of respondents said there is a general lack of respect for the freelance community.
  • Freelance Wage Gap: Male respondents were 4.5X more likely to earn more than $150K a year than female respondents, yet more men said they had been stiffed by a client.
  • What’s Missing? 61% of freelancers say they miss the feeling of community that a traditional workplace affords. More than half said they wished more companies would offer remote work options for freelancers.

The accompanying video neatly summarises the report:

They interviewed 300 independent workers in February and March 2017. They were 52% Male, 47% Female, and 1% Other 71% were from U.S., with 29% from outside the U.S. Their nature of work was varied: 33% were from creative/design fields; 21% were from professional services; 17% specialized in writing/journalism/content; and 15% in tech/web design or development.

To fully understand these new independent workers including what drives them and their potential fallbacks, we’ve highlighted key points from this comprehensive study:

Freelancers say they enjoy a better quality of life since going independent

Freelancers say they enjoy a better quality of life since going independent

One of the more interesting insights to come from the study is this idea that “freedom is the new wealth.” 68% of the study’s respondents state they are happier now than they were before going independent.

People are actively turning to freelance for personal fulfilment over financial stability

Why freelancers go independent

Of the leading reasons why more people are turning to independent work: personal growth and flexibility. Translation? It’s not about the money. These freelancers are making a conscious decision to turn to freelance for personal freedom rather than a financial upside.

Today’s independents are “slash workers” who sell 2 or more skills within their careers

Freelancers are slashworkers

Only 5% of the participants claim focus on a single craft, meaning a majority of freelancers are selling more skills so they gain more experience and can even explore more of their passions.

There’s still a growing need to reduce the ‘freelance’ stigma and encourage a tighter community

Freelancers want stronger communities and infrastructure

Of some of the roadblocks freelancers face, like getting stiffed by a client or uncertainty in steady work, those in this survey say they would like to see more opportunities to build a stronger community.

Furthermore, 60% of them said there’s a stigma against freelancers, highlighting even more the need for them to come together and tackle these issues head on.

Where do you fit in?

While the future is clearly independent, it’s important to understand how to navigate this type of lifestyle for both the freelancers and the employers hiring them. As more and more people are turning to this type of work, we must arm ourselves with the proper tools and information to excel and cater to the independent work lifestyle.

For more on the study: https://www.and.co/slash-workers

Top tech firms: are their employees happy? #infographic

This is a guest post from Robert Jones, a freelance writer based in the north of England. He covers various subjects but is particularly interested in business ethics.

Tech firms are often thought of as inherently cool places to work, not least thanks to their (often rather overblown!) reputations for constructing airy, gadget-filled employee spaces that more closely resemble giant hangout zones than traditional cubicle-based office floors.

Admittedly, a few headline-grabbing features at one or two of the more infamously wacky workplaces do tend to distort the overall picture somewhat – giant indoor slides, for example, are rather more common than you’d think/hope. Whatever, the point is that tech companies just seem to have earned a reputation for being fun, relaxed, individual-focussed employers, adept in leveraging all manner of perceived perks and benefits to reward (or indeed buy) corporate loyalty in what remains a relatively incestuous, high staff turnover industry.

So what, in reality, is day-to-day working life really like for the privileged minority handpicked for duty at these benevolent, fun-loving, young-at-heart multinationals? And more importantly, how genuinely satisfied are they in their current jobs? In an attempt to answer that very question, online salary, benefits and compensation company PayScale carried out a recent research project that saw them delve into numerous employee demographics across a wide variety of tech corporations including Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Tesla and more.

For each company studied, PayScale charted employee perceptions of job satisfaction against a range of variables, such as early/mid-career median pay, average age, number of years at the company, and total years of industry experience. The results certainly make for interesting reading – especially when compiled into a series of eye-opening infographics.

What, if anything, can we deduce from their findings?

Well, for one thing, it seems that there’s a pretty linear inverse correlation between median age and overall job satisfaction. Broadly speaking, the older a tech company’s workforce is on average, they less readily individuals seem to report that they find their jobs especially rewarding. Indeed, according to the data charts, employees at IBM, Hewlett Packard and Oracle – the only three businesses studied whose median employee age is over 35 – returned the lowest-scoring feedback in terms of overall job satisfaction.

Whether or not this has anything to do with the provision, or lack thereof, of table tennis in the meeting room is something of a moot point. (For the record, we don’t believe any of the three global giants mentioned above especially go in for the whole ‘adult soft play’ vibe at their international headquarters. Although we’re happy to bet they at least have some pretty nice coffee machines.)

It does, however, raise a slightly weightier question around the inherently youth-focussed nature of so much of today’s upstart tech industry, and whether this could eventually prove problematic in the longer term as more loyal workforces begin to age with their employers’ businesses.

Rather more worth of close attention is the apparent ‘revelation’ (!) that job satisfaction tends to correlate directly with median pay rates. Those companies whose staff reported lower levels of job satisfaction are also the ones, predictably enough, coming in lower down the average salary scale. Additionally, the same brands appear to employ among the longest-serving and most experienced workforces across the entire field of study.

Maybe the real implication here is that, for tech staff at most levels, there’s an industry ceiling that you can ascend to fairly quickly but that subsequently proves tough to move beyond, resulting in a degree of stagnation.

In terms of assembling an overall picture, the takeaway here is that, yes, on the whole tech company employees do tend to be relatively young, relatively well paid and relatively satisfied with their job roles. That’s hardly surprising really, given that these companies frequently turn up on all manner of global ‘Best Employer’ lists. Still, whether or not things will stay that way in the long-run appears to be far more open to debate.

Regardless of what the recent startup marketplace might suggest, not everyone currently entering their second year at Facebook will be running their own indie development agency by then. For those that do choose to remain on their company’s books going forward, it will certainly be interesting to keep an eye on similar satisfaction studies undertaken in five, ten or even twenty years’ time.

 

Top tech firms- are their employees happy?

10 homeworking tips for a healthy and productive homeworker

homeworking tips

According to the UK Office of National Statistics, one in seven British workers, are freelance, while in America the Freelancers Union estimate it is as high as one in three, with Forbes predicting 50% will be self employed by 2020. It’s easy to understand why.

The benefits of working from home, being your own boss and choosing your own hours is very attractive. But it’s also very easy to get this dream wrong and end up hating homeworking.

You may be your own boss, but you still need some rules to make your homeworking work. Here’s ten top homeworking tips to get you organised and keep you sane.

1. Plan your day

With the average commute in America lasting 25 minutes, and 3.7 million British workers commuting more than two hours a day, it’s nice to still be tucked up in bed at 8.30am while others are packed onto trains or stuck in rush hour traffic. However, it’s not so good to still be in bed at 9.30 when they have started their day and are trying to get in touch with you. If the industry you work in works 9-5, then you need to be available for those hours too.

2. Dressing for work

Ok, so it’s a freelance cliché to assume all homeworkers never get out of their pyjamas, but you should still make the effort every morning. Dress smart and you will think smart.

Read my post on how freelancers should dress to impress.

Tips for homeworkers

3. Set up your workspace

The image of freelancers working on laptops in the park in the sunshine is as much a myth as the pyjamas. Most have to fit work into their homes somehow, but working at the kitchen table is a recipe for distraction, so make sure you set up a dedicated work space. It could just be a small corner desk in your bedroom, or you could build a work shed in the garden like Roald Dahl or Dylan Thomas.

Read my post on the best coworking spaces.

4. Set boundaries

One of the biggest complaints of homeworkers is that their friends and family assume that they are always free because they don’t have a ‘proper job’. You need to set boundaries and stick to them. They wouldn’t come into an office or ad agency and just expect you to stop work and chat, so don’t let them do this to you at home.

5. Build remote client relationships

You don’t have to travel to work from home, but sometimes it can help. Making the effort to go and meet your remote clients can make all the difference to your relationship, and the gesture will often set you apart and above their other freelancers, so you get the pick of the work.

Read my post on how to build long-term client relationships.

6. Eat properly

With your own kitchen on site, you might expect to eat better than your office bound friends, but many freelancers actually end up eating much worse. Picking at last night’s leftovers or grabbing a piece of toast is not the same as eating a proper lunch, so make sure you plan your meals.

what to eat when working from home

7. Take a break

 Again, you would expect homeworkers to take more breaks than their office friends, but in most cases they take less. With no one to stop and gossip with, and no one to join you for lunch, many freelancers simply plough on all day, eating al-desko, without ever stopping for a break. This is not only exhausting, but it can have terrible effects on your back and your general health.

8. Know when to stop

Knowing when to stop is as important as knowing when to start for freelance workers. If you have not made enough money during normal hours, then you need to increase your prices, not your workload. And if you have made enough, then you need to resist the temptation to be greedy and work late just to cash in. Life is about time not cash; no one ever got to their death bed wishing they’d worked more.

9. Take time off

No work means no money for freelancers, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking a holiday. Your employed friends all have several weeks per year in their contracts, and you need to take time off too, or you will burn out. Never add the loss of earnings to the cost of your holiday in your head or you’ll simply never go. 

10. Stay in touch

Keeping in touch with fiends and former co-workers can be really hard when you work from home, and finding new friends is even harder, but you have to make the effort. Make yourself attend freelance gatherings and networking events, and if there are none near you, set one up. You can also keep in touch through social media, play online games together or even set up your own card game online where you can meet up with fellow freelancers.

Read my post on where to find freelancer meetups.

Building a Freelance Career in Web Design

Building a Freelance Career in Web Design

The field of freelance web design can be a lucrative option for the tech-savvy entrepreneur, but it can be challenging to get your foot in the door.

There are several ways that you can set yourself apart from the competition as you start your freelance business, helping you to build strong relationships with both new and existing clienteles.

1. Create a Brand

When starting a freelance career, you want to make yourself stand out from the crowd, and building a unique image for yourself can help you to do just that.

Your brand name represents your identity, so pay careful attention to the label you wish to use for your business. Many freelancers choose their own name as the business name which gives the impression that you offer a highly-personalized service. This is an attractive prospect for customers.

It is always worth checking whether the .com name of your business is available, as that is the most popular domain extension that customers will think of when searching for your website. Read Suggestions for that perfect domain name for more.

Your brand must also be appealing on a visual level. Creating an eye-catching logo helps to give an air of professionalism to your business, and it also makes you more memorable to your customers.

An appealing brand image can carry through multiple platforms, from websites to business cards, allowing you to take a consolidated approach as you promote your web design resources and services to potential clients.

2. Identify Your Brand Message

It is vital that you think about the brand message you want to convey to your niche market. Whether you are offering affordable web design for startups, or are targeting a high-end corporate base, you need to think about what your potential customers want and the message you can use to attract them to your business.

3. Build a Portfolio

When starting a freelance web design career, you might not have much professional experience under your belt. The best way to show off your technical talents to clients is by creating your own website, and perhaps writing a blog.

Building an online presence is the first step to making a professional portfolio, and it also makes it easier for new clients to find and connect with you. Your portfolio is your most valuable tool in wooing new clientele, as it shows them what you’re capable of when it comes to stellar web design.

4. Gather Positive Feedback 

Testimonials are an extremely important addition to your website or portfolio, as potential customers will want to see who you have worked with previously and what impression you left them with. Where possible, include personal reviews from successful projects that you’ve completed in the past, even if you worked on a voluntary basis before becoming a professional freelancer.

5. Market Yourself on the Web

Your website needs to be found in the search engines if you want to attract customers on a large scale. Your site should be optimized for the web by applying SEO techniques to it and ensuring that it is mobile-friendly, as the majority of searches are now conducted from mobile devices rather than desktops.

6. Update Your Skills

The world of web design changes on a regular basis, and it is crucial that the work in your portfolio reflects the current trends. Keep acquainted with industry news and make sure you keep your skills updated frequently. You can do this by taking courses or acquiring certifications where necessary, which will help prove to customers that you excel at what you do.

7. Use Social Media

These days, you won’t get far in the web design world without a strong social media presence. Using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more can help you to reach new clients, and also to build a professional network of your peers. Your freelancing friends may be able to send new work your way when they’re overloaded or unable to take on new clientele.

8. Business Networking

However, social media isn’t the only way to network with fellow industry professionals and potential customers. Make sure that you attend design business networking events where you will be able to extend your list of contacts and meet people that might require your services. Being a successful freelancer requires you to be proactive in getting out there and finding work.

Read How to network online as a freelancer for more.

9. Communicate Well with Your Clients

It’s important to keep in touch with your clients in order to strengthen your professional relationship. Always remember to be polite and friendly, and if you’re meeting in person, to look presentable.

You can also contact clients after the completion of a project to ask for feedback. Not only will this give you the opportunity to improve your services, but it will also help you to build trust with your client base. If you want to improve customer loyalty, you can offer rewards and incentives for repeat customers such as a discount on their next project.

Read How to build long-term client relationships as a freelancer for more.

Building a Freelance Career in Web Design is a guest post from Jess Walter, a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.

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