According to a research study from MBO Partners on the #futureofwork, by 2027, 58% of American workers will have become part of the independent worker economy (mbopartners.com/future-of-work). When you consider this freelance freedom statistic is only for workers in the U.S.A., you realize how pervasive the movement to the gig economy truly is. Workers are flocking to employment opportunities that allow them to work on their own terms. Data from SoftChoice (softchoice.com/about-softchoice/news-and-insights/research/collaboration-study) indicated that 74% of workers would quit their current job for an employment opportunity that allowed them to work remotely. ‘Working for the man’ is changing; today’s version is often more about working for yourself and building a formidable financial future than toiling away for a corporation for your entire working life.
But wanting to enjoy the life of a freelancer and actually succeeding as part of the gig economy are two different stories. It’s one thing to want to work from home or from a tropical beach and quite another to successfully transition to a profitable career with an abundance of freelance clients. Understanding how to make the most of the gig economy lifestyle is crucial for those who want to succeed long term as a freelancer. If you want help learning how to make the freelance life work for you, following are a few crucial truths you need to face.
1) If you don’t know how to (or are too introverted to try) market yourself, your chances of succeeding as a freelancer are limited. Marketing yourself and your talents is critical for business success in the freelance world, even if all your income comes from gig economy platforms that connect you with clients. You must be able to sell a potential client on your talents if you are going to land well-paying gigs on a regular basis. The key to success as a gig economy worker is to build a roster of happy clients and you’ll only land those clients if you can convince them of your talents. If you do only one thing to improve your odds of success in the gig economy, start learning how to build a brand around yourself and how to market your expertise.
2) Market research is another essential component of long-term success as a freelance worker. If you are new to freelancing, one of the smartest moves you can make is to focus your talents on business sectors with deep pockets and a shortage of talent. Rather than trying to compete with millions of global freelancers all chasing the same type of ‘economical’ clients looking for the cheapest freelancer, focus your efforts on building a solid reputation in a high-paying industry desperate for talent. Use a search engine like Glassdoor.com or Indeed.com to investigate global companies offering top wages in a sector related to your talents, and then start to hone your reputation as a freelancer within those sectors. Whether it’s freelance technical writing for writers or UX designing for global oil-and-gas corporations, the key is to combine your talents with high-paying business sectors. You can easily become a six-figure per year freelancer if you focus on top-tier clients instead of bottom feeders.
3) Another essential truth new freelancers need to understand is that connecting with high-paying clients isn’t going to happen on a continual basis if you are using freelancer-for-hire platforms. Whether you’re trying to make a living as a housekeeper, a writer, a driver, or a designer, banking your future on a freelancer-for-hire platform is a pathway to nowhere. While these on-demand worker platforms are an option for those wanting to investigate the types of jobs companies are hiring gig workers for, they’re not a sound option for those wanting to build a thriving freelance business. The sooner you realize gig worker platforms are a good business research tool and not a good client connection tool, the sooner you’ll start to increase your income as a freelancer.
4) Your reputation is everything when you are trying to make a living in the gig economy. What you say on public forums can come back to haunt you. How you behave on social media will influence the type of clients who will hire you. If you want to build a long-term, profitable future as a freelancer worker for hire, it is imperative you start thinking of every online action as a reflection on your business. Start thinking of your services and your talents as a brand and not just as some random freelancer trying to make a living online. Switching your mindset from ‘freelancer for hire’ to ‘solo-entrepreneur service-based business’ and you’ll find you start behaving like a professional online.
5) Being new to freelancing doesn’t have to mean toiling away in the low-paying gig sector until you’ve earned the right to ask for higher-paying gigs. Understand from the beginning that you’re running a business and you decide what your services cost; clients don’t get to tell you how much they’ll pay.
Learn these essential freelancing truths early on and you can totally rock the gig economy lifestyle as an on-demand worker. Fail to face these tough-love truths and you just might find freelancing freedom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.