Getting your own freelance business up and running is one of the most liberating professional experiences of your life.
You set your own agenda, work at your own pace, and take on projects that make you want to get up each morning. You’re the envy of your friends.
But those friends of yours are starting to realise that your professional freedom is a valuable commodity, and are trying their hand at freelancing, too. In fact, recent research proves that growing numbers of Australians are leaving the financial security of full-time work to establish themselves as a talented, quality freelancer.
According to the second annual Freelancing in Australia survey, there are 370,000 more freelancers on the market than this time last year. An estimated 4.1 million people have undertaken some form of freelance work in the past year, which equates to nearly one in three Australians.
The survey, conducted by independent research firm Edelman Berland and commissioned by freelance marketplace Upwork, quantifies the Australian independent workforce.
More freelancers hitting the market means that the established freelancers among us needs to lift our game. It’s about finding new ways to spruik ourselves to ensure we’re keeping up with the fresh blood hitting the market.
It’s not enough to just have a bit of an average website and no other real online presence, even if you’ve been freelancing for as long as you can remember.
As a freelancer, you’ve also got to market yourself with the utmost professionalism and be diligent about getting your name out there. Using sites such as independent site The Freelance Collective is a great way to get found by employers as it enables you to create your own profile page and lets them find and reach out to you direct.
This new Australian site was launched by a small group of Australian creative freelancers who saw an opportunity to put freelancers in the driver’s seat by listing their skills and sit back while the clients find them. If you’re a creative freelancer, there’s a category here for you to list your skills, including photographer, journalist, PR, graphic designer, illustrator, app developer, blogger, virtual assistant, web developer and more.
It’s not surprising that the competition is hotting up. The freelance economy has been intensifying thanks to the wonders of technology, which has made it far easier to freelance from anywhere, anytime. It’s also now possible to have the sort of lifestyle and professional flexibility many people think they’ll have when they’re heading into their first job. But once they get caught up in the manic pace of full-time work, they suddenly realise that’s not going to happen.
People freelancing full-time cited flexibility and freedom with location and schedules as the key reason they opted for this life, according to the Upwork survey. People taking the professional risk and heading off to freelance soon realise it’s not that risky at all, and that freelancing enables you to work from anywhere, meaning those enticing projects or work offers coming from the big cities or overseas aren’t out of your reach.
After all, employers don’t care where you’re located. Many of the quality Australian creative freelancers choose lifestyle over stress, move to the beach, or decide to work from a home office in the outer suburbs. They might head into the city once in a while, but most of the day to day work doesn’t need to be done from an employer’s office.
Landing work from a larger pool of clients is always the challenge, though. In the age of SEO and increasing competition from other freelancers, getting found by a client searching for your skills when you work from a home office, café or co-working space remains a challenge. So, make sure you’re making the most of the platforms that do exist, including LinkedIn, social media and The Freelance Collective.