September 09, 2022
About this guide
There are millions of freelancers around the world
Freelancers are great for businesses
Freelancing is also great for people
Am I ready to jump into freelancing?
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As technology makes the remote working experience (nearly) as seamless as working in an office, companies are becoming remote-friendly. They’re also increasingly working with a remote workforce of contractors and freelancers. And this trend isn’t going away anytime soon.
The talent market has also shifted. People increasingly want to have more flexibility over where, when, and with whom they work. We’re turning away from the traditional 9-to-5, and towards the flexibility of working when it’s best for us, on the projects we find the most fulfilling, wherever in the world we choose to live.
As the number of people freelancing as part of their careers skyrockets, there’s never been a better time to get started than the present.
And to help you take the next step in your career, or upscale your existing freelance business even further, we’ve put together a guide on the freelancing essentials for the modern workforce-of-one. In this introductory post, we'll take a look at the global picture and tell you why there’s no better time than now to start freelancing.
This guide covers why freelancing is so great, what to consider when getting started, and how to effectively be your own CEO while also running sales, marketing, and growth. There are practical tips, as well as some of the commonly used resources and tools, and even some German-specific info for expats (though you’ll still get a lot from this even if you’re not in Germany).
We hope you’ll find this guide actionable, and we hope it provides you with the confidence you need to take your freelancing activities to the next level.
In the EU, there were 32.6 million self-employed individuals in 2018, making up 14% of total employment in the region. There were five million self-employed individuals in the UK in 2018 – up from 3.3 million in 2001. And in 2019, there were over 56 million freelancers in the US, whose income made up $1 trillion — nearly 5% of the country’s GDP.
That’s a significant portion of the economy and workforce that can’t be overlooked. These global numbers are on the rise, as people become drawn to the flexible lifestyle freelancing offers, as well as the opportunity to become skilled experts by focussing their energy on a handful of skills.
Plus, freelancers are well positioned to adapt to changing situations, are available on short notice, and can generally work in both remote and in-person setups. Thanks to the exponential development of technology, maintaining effective communication with people no matter where they are is easier than ever. Tools such as Slack for instant messaging, and Zoom for video calls make it easier than ever to stay in contact no matter where you work from.
As companies in 2020 face a period of uncertainty and the need to innovate, there’s a likelihood they’ll put more resources towards freelancers and contractors rather than investing in hiring full-time employees.
As a business owner, working with freelancers is a fantastic way to bring in expert talent on an as-needed basis. This article in Entrepreneur even goes as far as to say freelancers can make or break businesses.
Though we can’t comment on that directly (but might have strong opinions on it if asked privately) we can say that working with freelancers allows business owners to become modular and agile, pulling together expert teams for projects and business goals, using a combination of in-house and external talent.
Chances are you’ll get higher quality work when you need it, and no overhead when you don’t.
Sounds like a pretty good setup if you ask us.
Freelancing is a great option for anyone looking to do fulfilling work for a number of companies, someone who enjoys working hours that sometimes aren’t the typical 9-to-5, and who doesn’t mind the little bit of uncertainty that comes along with being your own boss.
You have the freedom to choose your own hours, and can go to that fitness class at 2pm on a Tuesday, or drop your kids off at school without worrying if anyone will be wondering where you are. This flexible working setup also means it’s easy to plan work around life events, and is easily adaptable to those who love working until three in the morning (calling all night owls).
Plus, if money is your main driver, freelancing can be a lucrative way to make more than a modest living after a few years. If your skills are in high demand, and you’ve built up a solid client base that continually brings in more work, you’ll be on your way to having it all.
In the beginning, it can take some effort to set up, as you’ll have to wear many hats at once. Chances are you’ll be doing a little bit of marketing, sales, and bookkeeping, while also delivering fantastic quality work within the agreed deadlines — it can be tough to balance and stay sane (nevermind throwing in some much needed recharge time).
But it’s a truly rewarding experience for anyone who’s up for the challenge.
Possibly the best thing about being a freelancer is that there’s no wrong way to do anything — there’s just your way of doing things.
So, here's the most important info in a nutshell:
The number of freelancers is increasing globally
Becoming a freelancer allows you to find your own work-life balance
The exponential rate of technological change makes it easier to work with freelancers
It can be a financially lucrative career
Business owners get access to top talent when they need it
Complete this checklist first:
Can I easily explain what I do in a couple sentences?
Am I sure there is demand in the market for my skills?
Have I identified my first few clients?
Do I know how much I want to earn in the next year?
Will I go freelance full- or part-time?
Not sure how to answer these questions? We'll help you get there. In the next blog posts in this series, we'll cover crucial aspects such as self-management, selling and marketing for freelancers.
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