There is a little nagging problem that interferes with the lives we really want to lead and that is MONEY. Most of us have to earn an income to survive and that is often the greatest barrier holding us back from moving to a new country or starting a new career. With ubiquitous internet access all over the globe, the “need to work” excuse is losing its meaning. We all have the potential to make a decent living with a computer, internet connection and our own skills and knowledge.
I think everyone should be working towards big ideas (Big Ideas Post 1, Big Ideas Post 2) with huge potential pay offs, maybe even the chance to change the world in some way. The problem is that it is also nice to eat and pay the bills along the way. One of the safest and most effective ways to earn money, improve your skills, gain experience and get noticed is to freelance; sell your skills and services online to other companies.
Almost any type of work can be outsourced now so there are no shortages of opportunities. You could be a virtual assistant, data entry clerk, language instructor, writer or editor, voice talent, musician, graphics designer, or web developer. Anything that can be done with a computer can be outsourced and completed remotely from anywhere in the world.
How much money you earn and the opportunities available depend on your skills, experience and how well you market yourself. It takes hard work and time to earn decent amounts of money, just as in any career. The faster you get started, the better off you will be.
Step 1 Focus on your skills and interests
If you are going to get good in any field it helps to love what you are doing. Some freelancers will do any type of work: article writing, graphic design, web development. This is a warning signal for hiring companies. People who say they can do anything, generally do nothing well. Choose one thing that you will put in the effort to be great at. If you need multiple skills, consider working with other freelancers to bid on projects. You could even outsource parts of the projects you are working on to other skilled professionals. For example, if you were developing WordPress blogs, you could focus on graphic design but hire someone to do more complicated PHP edits.
If you don’t think your skills are up to par yet, start learning. There are great online tutorials and resources for anything you want to learn. The only barrier is your lack of effort.
Step 2 Start Building a Portfolio and Become an Expert
If you don’t have any experience, do some free or low cost work just to start building a portfolio. People cannot evaluate the quality of your services if you do not have anything to show them. Start doing work for others now.
Another great way to establish your professionalism is to blog about your expertise. The very act of communicating your knowledge shows that you are serious about your trade and are thinking about how to work more effectively. When I am evaluating people to hire I always check their websites. Only the most professional have quality blogs.
Step 3 Master Communication Tools
You need to become an expert at collaboration tools. Services like GoogleDocs allow you to share and collaborate on documents and spreadsheets. A good project management service like Norada’s Solve360 allow you to connect with all of your clients and share files, task lists, calendars and all information related to the project.
Step 4 Master Marketing
Competing on outsourcing sites will often put you up against low cost competition from around the world. It is possible to build up your reputation on these sites and get paying work but I believe there are better ways to stand out and get paid what you are worth. If you do remarkable things and get noticed in the press or on social media sites like Twitter, customers will come to you. That is your ultimate goal. You don’t want to spend a large chunk of your time quoting projects you will probably never get. The ideal situation is when potential customers are coming to you.
To get noticed do amazing things. Offer tips and suggestions on Twitter. Over deliver on your projects so your customers become evangelists. Join professional organizations. Write articles for industry related blogs. Get your name and your work in front of potential customers.
There certainly is no shortage of freelancers in the world, however there is a dearth of quality people who follow through on their commitments. Always do more than you promise and do it on-time with great client communications and you will never be short of work.
Here are some links to get you started.