A beginner’s guide to freelancing

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The word ‘freelance’ has interesting roots. It can be traced back to the early 1800s, when Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott provided the first written example of the term in his novel Ivanhoe, using it to describe a group of medieval knights who, instead of working for one Lord or King, fought for whoever paid them the most.

The term has come a long way since then. While overall, modern freelancers aren’t very likely to be going from castle to castle on their noble steed, looking for their next battle – in fact, most prefer to operate from the comfort of their home – the principle of freelancing hasn’t changed that much: in modern terms, a freelancer is a self-employed person who works for several clients on a variety of different projects, often at the same time.

Freelancing is not the same as contracting, although the two terms are often used interchangeably. The main difference between the two is that contractors, who are also usually self-employed, only work for one client at a time under a fixed-term contract before moving on to the next.

It isn’t difficult to understand the appeal of freelancing: it comes with a certain amount of freedom as you’re essentially your own boss, giving you more flexibility with regards to your working hours and location. Working on different projects means more variety in the type of work you’re doing and extensive opportunities to learn new skills and build up experience.

Of course, doing it all by yourself can be challenging as well. With no colleagues to support you, boss to motivate you, HR department to handle the boring stuff like taxes, and no certainty of receiving a monthly payslip, you’ll need to be proactive and dedicated to make it work.

So, have a good think about what you have to offer and how you want to market it. Explore the specific industry you’ll be operating in and remember that you’re not the only knight flying solo, so get in touch with other freelancers by joining discussion groups or going to networking events.

The most important thing is that you get yourself out there. An up-to-date LinkedIn page and a personal website are essential to show off your skills and experience – also think of including a portfolio to give evidence of your work.

The initial hurdles are often the hardest, but with continual effort, time and dedication you’ll start seeing your network and client pool grow. The key is to keep things moving so keep reaching out to people, delivering great work and marketing your skills; you’re the king of your own castle, so make sure it looks the part.

Reference: HN Global