Well, today I want to talk about how to bust out of the feast-or-famine trap and earn more freelancing. You do this by laying the groundwork now for a thriving business in the fall and on into 2017.With the obvious rise in technology use over the past several years, tech has flooded into more and more areas of our lives. From shopping to education to dating, future employment opportunities are now taking a slice of the pie. According to the databases of Elance, Fiverr and Upwork, the best freelancing jobs for the future range from voice acting to legal consulting to even book cover design and Korean translation.
Over 53 million Americans freelance, accounting for a third of the U.S. workforce alone. By 2020, this number is expected to increase to 50% of the labor force. Millennials want flexibility and freedom, which freelancing offers to both the entrepreneur and the freelancer. On the other hand, the 9-to-5 caters to an old-fashioned status quo of conditional mobility and a lack of adventure. Today, millennials are more focused on living, not just working.
The top 10 jobs of the future undoubtedly involve freelancing. Even the best 9-to-5 jobs are rigidly structured and do not offer the most promising careers for the future. In fact, CareerF oundry shares, “In the last five years alone, the average earnings for freelancers have increased by 50%.” Freelancing is the real deal. Only the best career choices for the future involve technology—communicating with others on a daily basis through the miracle of the Internet. Many people wonder how to find freelance work, but there are dozens of resources online, such as Freelancer and Upwork, that dish out the top jobs for the future. You do not have to waste your time scratching your head on how to get a freelance job. All of the future jobs in demand are available at your fingertips right this instant. For example, communities like Valoso offer opportunities for professional video editors to flaunt their expertise.
Although freelancing may not appear to offer the same security and atmosphere as the 9-to-5, most people won’t miss the conformity. Job opportunities in the future are bursting with future freelance jobs that you can access in the comfort of your own home. Read on to discover exactly why traditional 9-to-5 jobs are not the careers of the future. Although 33% of freelancers are millennials, most are actually middle-aged. This is because more and more adults are realizing the advantages of freelancing, such as in double-income homes or homes with disabilities. Businesses have realized that freelancers provide high-quality work that deserves ample reimbursement. In fact, the highest paying freelance job on the market right now, intellectual property law, makes a whopping average hourly pay of $121.73.
One of the most envied perks of freelancing is that many freelancers set their own hours. That is exactly why 9-to-5 is a thing of the past. Employees no longer have to suffocate under a rigid structure but instead have the freedom to choose when and even where they work. Probably the most rewarding factor for freelancers is that they get paid for doing something they enjoy and excel in. With the 9-to-5, workers may indeed demonstrate and savor their craft, but they can never maximize their individual skills. Freelancing allows for this balance of power when it comes to compensation for competence. Although freelancers miss out on financial coverages from businesses, they find the payoff worth it. Plus, organizations like Freelancers Union are starting to offer benefits like health, dental, disability, life, and liability insurance, making freelancing more accessible to all.
No, it’s not too early to think about next year! In many ways, it’s the perfect time.
The less desperate you seem when you present yourself to clients, the more likely it is you’ll be able to line up some great-paying freelance work. You seem busy and successful, instead of broke and pathetic.
Thinking way ahead also allows you to research prospects more carefully. It takes the pressure off and lets you take time to research the size of their annual revenue, or the types of articles they publish, to see if they’re a good fit for you.
If you need to, continue marketing for more immediate gigs. But reserve some time for pursuing your long game.
When you inquire about opportunities for the coming year, that telegraphs to prospects that you must be booked up until then. Why, you’re marketing six months out! That’s a pro move.
What can you say to prospects now to pave the way to better earnings late this year or early next?
Here are four questions that can start a conversation with prospects, position you as a pro — and help you land some juicy freelance gigs:
1. Is your 2017 editorial calendar available yet?
Most national publications work out their editorial calendar pretty far in advance. Their plan for next year will start circulating around the office pretty soon.
They may not post it online until late fall, but if you ask, you might get your hands on it much sooner. If it’s not ready now, find out when it will be — then check back in when it’s supposed to be released.
Getting a copy of the editorial calendar earlier gives you more time to think, research, pre-interview, and develop story ideas that fit themes your target publication will explore in the coming year. You’ve got time to look up how they did last year’s special section on vacation getaways or bathroom hardware, and figure out how to bring them a fresh slant.
It’s a great way to get a jump on the competition and stand out with more well-thought-out ideas.
2. Are you planning your 2018 marketing calendar now?
The bigger the company or publication, the farther ahead they tend to work. Offer to help (a little). If you can be part of the conversation about upcoming issue themes or marketing campaigns, it puts you top of mind when it’s time to execute on those plans. Offer to take a quick coffee or Skype call and give them a few insights and ideas on what’s hot in content marketing, or how you could contribute to their fall/winter efforts. They’ll remember you when it’s time to start making those assignments.
Keep these sort of free-tip sessions to 15 minutes or so — leave them wanting more expertise from you, so you get hired, rather than milked for information and then discarded. After you touch base, stay on their radar. If you discussed case studies in your call and then you complete one for another client, send it over. Email them an interesting article on their industry, ask about a controversy in the sector, retweet their posts — anything that keeps your name in front of your prospect without being obnoxiously salesy.
3. Has your new fiscal year started?
If you target medium-sized to larger companies for writing work, know that quite a few of the biggies have a fiscal year that ends June 30, rather than December 31. That means come July 1, they’re into a fresh pot of marketing money. (For publicly held companies, you can check the financial releases on their website or use the SEC site Edgar to learn when their year ends.) Projects that have been stalled or postponed may suddenly get kicked back into high gear right after 4th of July weekend. Plans are laid for how the marketing budget will be spent in the fall and winter.
Check in now, and you may find you’ve hit a gusher of possible projects, due to your good timing.
4. Will you have writing needs 3-6 months from now?
This is a catch-all way to market ahead, whether the company is cracking a new budget now, knows their exact 2017 plans yet, or not. It shows you’re a businessperson who’s thinking ahead. Connect with business owners who think the same way, and they’ll feel you’re their type of writer.
A typical script might go like this:
I wanted to check in to see if you have upcoming writing needs for this fall or winter. I’m fully booked until then (yes, say that even if you aren’t), but I’m looking for a few new clients who need(your type of writing project here) for the end of the year. Let me know if it would make sense to get together and and make a plan for meeting your future projects.
To succeed as a freelancer, you need to be organized when it comes to your work, whether it is a solo project or you are working on a team of 20.
Asana is a game changer. This popular group collaboration tool is free to use for up to 15 people. You can also subscribe or unsubscribe to notifications regarding changes to the task so everyone knows what is going on. It looks beautiful and makes life easier.
Everyone loves Evernote. Evernote can store notes, receipts, and other miscellaneous files associated with each project.
Get your collaboration on. For those of you who love to have a good organized brainstorming session, this is the tool for you. It is a free online collaboration tool that’s organized by boards, lists, and cards. You can attach files, images, etc., to each card and add as many people as you want on board for collaboration. Changes appear in real time.
One of the more popular project management tools. It starts at $20 a month for 10 projects at a time.
You are nothing unless you can keep track of the money you are making and spending.
Wave is a Cloud-based invoicing, accounting, payroll, payments, and personal finance app for freelancers and people running businesses with nine employees or less.
This one offers online accounting, invoicing, billing, and banking. There’s a free trial where you don’t pay anything until you’re ready, and then it charges $19/month.
This is a bookkeeping and invoicing application specifically designed for small businesses and freelancers.
This is perfect for managing your small business finances. It lets you import data from your existing accounts, making setup quick and simple. It updates daily from your accounts, and automatically categorizes your transactions.
An online ordering and invoicing service that’s great for selling things like digital downloads or web hosting.
If you are a freelancer, invoices will become the bane of your existence. Some days will just be spent writing and organizing your invoices. A great and simple invoice system will be a godsend. FreshBooks has been a great resource for me. It is straightforward and free until you have more than three clients but totally worth the $30 per month.
With Expensify, all you have to do is photograph your receipts and upload them. It works on iPhone/iPad, Android, WebOS/Palm, and BlackBerry phones.
The most important currency for a freelancer is time.
Harvest offers pricing plans from free to premium and offers time tracking and invoicing. It works on iPhone, Basecamp, Beanstalk and has a WordPress plugin and more. Offers both time tracking and invoicing.
Keeps track of your billable hours, helps you stay organized, tracks leads, and more.
Allows you to keep track of your time spent on a project and even see how close you are to using up your client’s allotted budget. Also offers a free iPhone application.
If you charge by the hour or often wonder how long it takes you to do a certain task, Toggl will help you keep track.
Klok allows you to easily keep track of your time spent on multiple projects. You can easily start and stop tracking by just clicking a button for each project. You’re able to generate multiple reports based off of this information.
Ora allows you to track expenses, keep a list of your tasks, run a timer on your tasks, etc.
Freelancer Laura Shin
swears by OfficeTime as it helps manage a freelancers’ most important asset: time. It allows you to see exactly how much money you are earning per hour. This is what every freelancer needs, especially in the beginning, because it is going to show you who is really paying you your actual worth.
Keeps track of time spent on all your projects and clients and then generate reports based on any period of time.
Finding a job
But first you have to find work!
This is great for finding clients design and graphic art work. Freelancers can browse through and post bids on to win contracts.
Allows you to bid on listed jobs for all aspects of programming and design.
This one provides a wide selection of computer related work from basic site design to developing full sites.
You’re going to get a lot of programming assignments as well as listings for blog content creation.
In order to get the client, you have to show off your goods.
Creating a project proposal is a very important part of freelance life. But it can be a real pain if you spend hours working on a proposal for no money and then have it rejected. BidSketch provides you with a template which will half your time.
Similar to the idea of BidSketch, this goes hand in hand with showing clients what you can do, but in a more organized and less laborious fashion.
This is a rapid wireframing tool that you can use to produce mockups and UI concepts. You can work with product managers, developers, designers and clients in real time.
Get your name out there!
How do you get your work out there? By sending an email marketing newsletter of course. Keep your clients updated about a new post or product with this simple template platform. It offers a free plan which is a major bonus for those just starting out.
This is a great service for launching an email campaign, which can help to maintain relationships with all your previous and current clients.
It looks a little like a Pinterest board. It enables designers to share their products and promote them as well serve as a source of inspiration.
Don’t lose anything!
If there’s one mantra freelancers need to have, it’s: backup, backup and backup. Mozy offers Cloud backup solutions for individuals, small businesses and large corporations.
Backup and sync all your devices using your Apple ID.
DropBox syncs with your computer locally, so you don’t have to worry about manually backing up files or remembering to sync.
If you’re organized, your business will be organized.
There is nothing more satisfying than crossing something off your seemingly impossible to-d0 list and Wunderlist provides you with the ultimate to-do list. It syncs across all different platforms. Plus, you can assign tasks to other people! Nothing better than that!
Track communications with customers, suppliers, leads and others. Keep your contacts in one place and shared, create to do lists for multiple users.
Remember The Milk reminds you to take care of important tasks! You’ll never miss a deadline!
Google Calendar is a web-based tool that allows users to organise their schedule, so you’ll always know exactly what you need to be working on.
Show everyone what you have accomplished with this organizational app.
When you are a freelancer your inbox becomes the hub of your business so it better be organized.
Keep that inbox under control with Sanbox. As we all know, your inbox is actually the hub of your business. It brings you joy, it brings you sadness and it brings you sadness. Keep it together with this organization app.
Do you always forget to follow up after meeting a client? Then this is the app for you. This automatically does it for you.
Cleaning up your inbox can be fun! Getting to Inbox Zero will be super fun!
This new app for Gmail is a more graphical, more organized email communication center (it will automatically categorize your email into basic sections like travel, purchases, finance, social, updates, forums, and promos). It’ll also include built-in snooze buttons, attachment previews, automatic labeling and filing, and intelligent search. This is email nirvana!
One of the best ways for a freelancer to learn about how to run your business is just hearing stories and tips from others. These blogs have some of the most informative and helpful articles for freelancers.
This is the perfect site for someone who very much wanted to be their own boss. From the site: “You were never meant for the mundane. You prefer to decide your own self worth rather than allow an employer to put a price tag on your work. You light up from the thrill of deciding when to shift gears, challenge yourself, and kick it up a notch. You are a solopreneur. The site provides you with a community of freelancers and businesswomen who are taking risks and changing their lives everyday. “One Woman Shop is your safety net.”
When you think of Apps, you don’t necessarily think they would have an awesome blog but Buffer is an exception. It’s blog is clever, entertaining and super helpful for anyone with their own business. From articles on social media strategy to content marketing, you’ll learn something new here.
Every freelancer needs a strategy and the site will help you develop yours. Focused on journalists, but relevant for everyone, their about page claims: “We’ll find out what publications pay, and how to pitch their editors; we’ll report on freelance success stories and helpful career advice; we’ll hold publishers, editors, and others accountable for freelance abuse; and, of course, we’ll focus on the daily quirks and eccentricities that are inherent to the freelance life.”
This site is exactly like it sounds. It features recent technology and profiles on innovative thinkers and daily life hacks. Looking for productivity advice? Lifehacker is your new best friend.
A mecca for freelance web designers. This site provides free web designer kits, as well as articles on social media, html, branding, contests, and more. The how-tos and tutorials on everything from email template design to parallax are a freelance designer’s dream. And everyone will pick up handy web design and user experience tips!
For a little bit of entrepreneurship inspiration, this is the go-to source. With articles written by business leaders and professors, as well as top entrepreneurs, Fast Company covers the gammut from how to get more done to advice on writing business plans.
Good is “a place to share creative solutions for living well and doing good.” Share information on what you are working on with the community, and how your work integrates with your life and the impact on the world. The blog also has content on technology, books, lifestyle, and design and recommendations for organizations and entrepreneurs to follow.
For those of you who are not blogging experts, but need them for your business this is a great resource. From how to organize your Google updates to ideas for blog posts, Pro Blogger has content that will spark your creativity and give you structure for blogging. For that freelancer personal brand building!
Need some help with social media for your site, blog or business? This is your place. Laura Roeder is a social media marketing expert who runs a fantastic blog for creatives, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. From designing an effective sales page to top tools to organize your work, she’s got you covered. Plus, amazing tips on building your (or your client’s) social media presence.
This blog seriously answers every question you have about freelance that you were too embarrassed to ask.
These are all great questions to ask quality prospects — even while you continue to market for immediate gigs. Go after better prospects with a long-term view, and in just a few months you could turn your whole income picture around.
What’s your plan for booking freelance work for 2018? Leave a comment and tell us your approach.