When i tell my sister that i work full time as an independent freelancer, she does not seem to believe it or understand how that is possible, particularly now that many job seekers focus on getting employed to work inside offices. The truth is that my entire income (100 percent) comes from working online and i only thank technology inventors for enabling this to happen because right now internet access (my modem), my laptop and my smartphone are the most important gadgets in my life. You can take everything from me now and i will not be so much concerned but if you take those three things, then i will fight to death because it is my life.
My story is just a hint of the power of digital technology. Technology has transformed the way people across the world work, interact, get entertainment and find employment. Online work is a new culture of working in which you do not need to commute to an office or answer to someone, although some types of jobs necessitate working under a fixed schedule as i will discuss below. So, what is online work?
There are two types of online jobs: employment in which a person is hired by a company to work from home and freelance in which a person provides his or her services to various firms from home. Nevertheless, the two differ in various ways.
Being employed and working from home involves a company hiring a person as a worker. In such kinds of jobs, you will be required to work within a specified and fixed company schedule, which is like working in an office with the only difference being that you will be working from your house without the need to travel to the office. Examples of these kinds of jobs include call center agents and language trainers or teachers. The advantage of working from home while being employed is that it gives you job stability without the need to search for another job. Besides, the job involves repetition of tasks, which gives you the practice you need to be excellent at the job. On the other hand, it lacks flexibility and can be boring since it is just like working in an office. These kinds of jobs mostly involve answering calls on the phone or teaching language on Skype the entire time of your schedule. While some people would love this, others desire flexibility and diversity to energize them. Besides, the salary is fixed, although there could be minimal increases at times. However, people have their preferences and sometimes you cannot choose what you want but only accept what you find. If this is what you get, why not get paid for your skills until you get a better deal later? Personally, before being a freelancer, I was employed and worked at fixed periods and paid a fixed salary for a long time. I did not just say, "Ok, I do not like this job because it is not flexible and the salary is fixed." I accepted the job and it took a while before starting my freelance career. Thus, if this is your first job, do it as you search for other things that you love. But, if this is what you love, then why not? Being employed is good, and working from home while being employed is also a good thing because you will reduce the cost of commuting to the office even though you may miss the politics and culture of the office. This kind of work is suitable for anyone, particularly if you are unemployed although some people prefer flexibility in terms of tasks, work schedule and the amount of income earned. But if you prefer this kind of job, that is alright.
Being a Freelancer
Freelance work is also referred to as online work or work from home. Being a freelancer is when you use your skill set to complete projects and tasks for different companies. Examples of jobs that freelancers engage in encompass web and graphic design, mobile, web and software development, web and app programming, sales and marketing (Ads, SEOs), writing (articles, academic writing, proofreading, editing etc.) and so many more (see them here: Types of online jobs). In most cases, online work or freelancing involves completing short-term projects for a customer, for instance designing a logo, creating a website, doing research or copying an audio recording. These kinds of tasks are a one-time job in which once you have completed your services will not be required further unless other projects emerge. Examples include doing research or academic writing in which the client only needs the services once, although sometimes they may have other tasks but usually not for long. For instance, I was and I still am a freelance writer and in most cases, I encounter different clients because I mostly complete one-time tasks. During the entire period, I have encountered fewer clients who have long-term projects. The most tasks I have completed for one client are not more than five and then they disappear but obviously, I always get other clients. Nevertheless, some tasks are long term in which the customer hires a freelancer for a continuous basis, which may closely resemble employment. Examples include virtual assistant jobs and many online marketing projects. Most virtual assistants are ultimately employed by their clients.
The benefit of being a freelancer is that it gives you the flexibility in terms of the time, the amount of work and the income. You get the chance to determine the time you want to work, the hours you want to work and the target income you want during a certain period so long as you deliver the work before the deadline. Besides, you get the chance to charge the amount of income you want from the client for a specific task based on your experience in the field. More experience and practice gives you the opportunity to earn more than a normal employee. But, this requires patience and effort because getting clients as a beginner is the hardest part and you may be compelled to charge low fees for bigger tasks just to gain experience before your profile improves.
The disadvantage of being a freelancer is that your employment life is unstable. Completing a single project is not the end. You must search for new projects so that you are constantly working. At other periods or during the low season, you may not find any work at all. Besides, even if you are working continuously, some tasks just need a few hours, like 3 to 5 per day, which means that you must have more tasks, even though you may end up earning more. For instance, in my line of work sometimes I get three to five 1 to 4-hour tasks that when combined pay more for that day only, which is a good thing. However, such tasks require a high degree of quality and you must complete within a short deadline, which is challenging particularly if you encounter a technical issue.
As you can see, online work is suitable for people who desire to control their lives, work time, kinds of tasks and schedule. Passionate and hardworking freelancers focus on gaining experience to increase their skill level and improve their profile to earn more. In summary, freelancing gives you the opportunity to encounter diverse tasks and projects that increase your understanding and knowledge.
So, what next?
What you get or choose depends entirely on you. Being employed lets you enjoy job security and other employment benefits such as sick leave, health insurance, vacations, pension and other employment bonuses. Freelancing lacks all these features but it gives you the ability, freedom, and flexibility to work and earn. Based on my experience, I recommend dividing your time and work part time as a freelancer while keeping your job until your freelance profile is high enough to allow you to earn a lot. It is good and easy to work as a freelancer because you get the opportunity to develop, improve your skills and earn more as you grow. For freelancers, the hardest part is when you begin because no your profile will show no experience. However, you will get clients but the payment will be low. The best thing to do as a beginner is to produce excellent work to get higher client ratings that would allow you to get more clients and earn more in future.