If you're an IT professional who dreams of picking your own business hours, working in your pajamas and being your own boss, you may have considered going down the freelancing path. There are a number of pros and cons to becoming a fully fledged freelancer. Read on to find out whether freelancing is right for you.
Developer workign at home image from Shutterstock
Here's the full list:
|#1 Graphic designer||#11 Website development|
|#2 WordPress||#12 Search engine optimisation|
|#3 Internet research||#13 HTML5 development|
|#4 PHP development||$#14 Adobe Illustrator|
|#5 Data entry||#15 Logo design|
|#6 Content writing||#16 CSS|
|#7 Adobe Photoshop||#17 Virtual assistant|
|#8 Web design||#18 Copywriting|
|#10 Social media marketing||#20 Lead generation|
Upwork also released its second annual Freelancing in Australia study which surveyed 1000 Australian working adults. 324 respondents were freelancers and 676 were not. According to the study, 79 per cent of non-freelancers surveyed were open to the idea of working on a freelance basis provided they were able to do it alongside their full-time work. For professionals who were already employed but working freelance on the side, 40 per cent of them said they have thought about quitting their full-time jobs and become contractors.
We already know that software developers and engineers are in high demand all around the world and IT skills are prized in businesses that may not have their own IT departments. This opens many doors for IT professionals, especially coders, to give freelancing a shot. But it is difficult to take the plunge. Self-taught coder Joyce Akiko advises programmers to gauge whether they're ready to go freelance with this checklist:
- Build a couple projects and be able to show them off
- Talk about decisions and reasons for making certain design or development choices
- Look at someone else’s work and find areas that you’d be able to improve
- Go on Stack Exchange or similar and answer more questions than you need to ask
Provided it doesn't conflict with your current work arrangements, you can always keep your full-time job while you try out freelancing. But if you're looking at quitting your day job, then you need to do your prep work. While freelancing gives you a lot of freedom and flexibility, it's also financially unpredictable. I know a fair few freelance developers who talk of times when they are inundated with contract work and flushed with cash but often there will be a period when work dries up.
These lulls could last weeks or months so putting money aside for a "hibernation" fund to get you through the tough times could save you from subsisting on instant noodles during the quiet periods.
But before fully committing to a life of freelancing, you have to be honest with yourself and ask whether you're suitable to be a freelancer. Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you make up your mind, according to Harvard Business Review:
- Is your skill currently in demand? Some IT skills are more valued than others in the freelance market, as shown in the Upwork list above, so do your research first.
- Do you have the right temperament? It can be lonely working solo. You also need to consider whether you're up for dealing with clients who may be difficult or demanding.
- Are you disciplined about work? It's important to be able to work autonomously, meet deadlines and manage your own finances when you want to live the freelance life.
- Do you have a robust network? Part of being a freelancer means you need to build up your own client-base and if you already have an extensive professional network, that's going to give you a leg up.
If you're worried about not being able to net your first client as a freelancer, you could try approaching your current employer. Harvard Business Review says that about 20 to 25 per cent of independent consultants’ first customers were their former employer. So before you throw in the towel at your current workplace, ask your boss if there’s a possibility the company will work with you if you go solo.
Are you an IT professional that has thought about freelancing or have done some freelance work? Let us know in the comments.