Monday, August 23, 2010

Freelancing and the Internet by Alex Simmonds

In recent years the advantages of freelance or contract work have become more and more obvious as the 'jobs for life' culture has disappeared and people have become less trusting of office life and fixed employment. People now see freelancing as a way to adjust the trajectory of their career - they can choose the jobs that suit them, the hours that they work and how long they want to go on holiday, as well as the clients they want to work with.

Moreover, freelance jobs and contracts have grown and grown in recent years, so the opportunities are now endless. At the heart of this growth has been the internet and the global nature of online employment. Freelance contract work is now only a mouse click away.

The question though, is how best to grasp this online opportunity. The good news is that the scope and range of online jobs is increasing every day. Working online is now no longer the domain of computer programmers and graphic designers. Freelance websites offer work on everything from writing to accountancy and from engineering to law.

It is important to choose reputable sites. Some of the larger ones with decent reputations, are, Sologig, Odesk, VirtualAssisstants and Elance. These all have a massive choice of jobs. Elance, for example have the following broad job categories: Web & Programming, Design & Multimedia, Writing & Translation, Admin Support, Sales & Marketing, Finance & Mgt., Legal and Engineering and Mfg.

The bad news however, is that more and more people are now working on these sites. So how do you compete successfully? Firstly, and obviously, you need your own website. This needs to be well designed, well written, and include a portfolio of your work. It also needs to be search engine optimized to make sure you are not buried in the millions of similar sites on the internet. This site is your calling card, your online business card and you should not underestimate just how important it is to get this right.

Secondly, you need to build a good reputation on these online employment sites. Your supply of freelance and contract work depends on every single review you get from clients. This means you may have to work for lower rates and longer hours at first, so that you can build a good reputation and decent reviews to get you going. Be prepared to take lower pay because the client may be taking you on trust at first. Then, make sure that any work you do is absolutely top notch, because the better the review you get, the more likely you are to attract more clients to utilize your services the next time.

Finally, be aware of some of the pitfalls of online work. Many clients and employers will try and pay a pittance for work just because it is online. Some will ask for free samples of work as part of the process. Some want to pick your brains for free. Others will try and get you to deal with them away from the security of the employment site. All of these should be avoided at all costs.

Naturally, there are other downsides, from no health care or pension, no paid time off and with everything online - very little interaction with human beings! But if you can deal with these factors you will find that working freelance, both in the real world and online, is the best decision you ever made!

The Bedouin Group offers Freelancers Umbrella Company alternatives so they can increase their take home pay.