Saturday, June 30, 2012

Freelancing: your ticket to freedom from the rat-race

Ever since my intern gave me attitude, I realized freelancing really does make people who go to the office look kinda lame. If you haven't yet noticed, a lot of jobs are being performed from remote locations. Going to the office is so last-century these days.

FYI freelancing isn't just for writers, or for software developers. Yes, a lot of freelancing has to do with writing and software/ web development (2/3), but all kinds of services are being offered via the web, from accounting to XXX. For example, check out the number of categories on freelancer.com.

Pretty much anyone with any skills can decide to work from home, when they feel like it. Initially, it's a bit of a struggle but once you've established yourself with great feedback from clients, five star ratings and all that, you're on your way to higher hourly rates, better projects and a real self-made career.

There are a number of platforms for freelancing on the internet. These include the likes of oDeskElanceFreelancer (formerly GetAFreelancer) and Guru. Each of them has their own pricing and particular flavour. Sites like odesk.com are generally a lot more intuitive and have a simple revenue model in which they get 10% of whatever you earn. Other sites like freelancer.com have different membership levels from $0-50 per month and offer a bunch of other services. It also provides its users with all kinds of ways to make money, from actual freelancing as well as affiliate advertising, contests and even a services marketplace.

Freelancing is a multi-billion dollar industry that provides developed countries easy access to skilled labour, while also providing these countries a valuable sources of income and earning power. If you live in a country like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or the Philippines, all the better since the dollar exchange rate can really boost your regular income.

However, statistics published by odesk.com indicate countries that employ freelance workers are one of the main sources for freelance workers themselves. Let's face it, if you're an American, you're a lot more comfortable working with someone in the US. Language and cultural barriers frequently make it difficult to manage workers half-way round the world, though an established practice does make for huge savings. Freelancers that really succeed are the ones that are hard-working, professional and honest. 

There's really nothing to it. Watch this demo to understand how the whole thing works, then follow the step-by-step instructions on my website to get started. And there's rewards that can earn you much more than you imagine: read my other post about agencies. Getting your foot in the door is about the hardest part, but there's a lot you can do once you're inside.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Start your own agency for freelance work

Here's a nice idea: make money getting other people to do you work. Do I hear echoes of disbelieving sighs?  Well, it's not such a crazy notion at all. Nor is it as easy as it sounds, but yes, it can earn you a lot of money if you're any at good at managing people

You see, about a year ago I decided I finally had enough of my 9 to 5 office cubicle. I wanted to do something for myself and give more time to my family. I started doing part-time work as a freelancer until I was confident I could match my current paycheck working out of my living room. 

Pretty soon, I was passing on work to other freelancers. I opened an employer account (known as an agency) and started recruiting workers into my shop by posting openings in the relevant areas, such as accounting.

Eventually, I had a team that could take on almost any business project. As soon as I saw a job that one or more of my team members could tackle, I would apply for it and get my team working on it. Eventually, I simply put the relevant team member directly in front of the prospective employer to complete the end-to-end process.

While I put my own two feet in the choicest projects (mainly business plans for start-ups), my agency workers are busy with their own contracts and earn me something of a passive income, since all the payments for their work come through my agency and I keep a percentage of the proceeds. All I do is facilitate the matchmaking and the initial training and development.

It's quite easy setting up your own agency. Simply find your way to one of the freelancing sites through the site links and banners on my website, or click one of the ads below. All you need to do to open an account is to register as an employer but you don't pay a cent till you've actually hired someone.

Setting up an account will require you to provide your name and payment details so you can pay your contractors. Once you set up your firm, you can hire freelancers and try to secure bids.

You will need to be an excellent negotiator and sales person as well as a talented recruiter to pull this off since the competition is quite stiff. However, agencies always have an upper edge since they have a pool of resources that can do the work.

Beware there is a steep learning curve, particularly if you do not have much experience managing people or driving sales. The rewards too are quite reasonable. Over time, a smooth functioning agency requires little more than a few hours of administration in the week (and this too can be easily outsourced) while it can earn a revenue stream of thousands of dollars in the month if there are a lot of projects being worked on.