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We freelance for various reasons. Many begin that path just as a first job, while they are still under their parents’ roof. It’s a great way to gain an extra buck and while at it, get some valuable experience and create one more entry for the future CV. Some of those folks are successful enough to keep freelancing as their job. Some choose to open their own advertisement agencies, other just get employed in one.
I pretty much did everything on that list and yet I reverted back to freelancing full-time as my job of choice. When people make a pros and cons list of that model of making a living, one of the entries you’re going to see most often in the cons section is “unsteady income.” That’s absolutely true, but you’re indeed working for yourself so the “unsteady” factor can be minimized to the extent where you don’t really need to worry about paying your bills.
People do say that freelancing is a much harder job than if you’re just employed and work the regular 9-5.. Every week, every month… every year.
Don’t know about you, I definitely would like to avoid having to wake up every morning and do the same thing just waiting for the weekend to come so I have some time to relax. Freelancing maybe a tad harder than a usual job, but you do it when you want to and where you want to.
So let’s think about what we can do, to stabilize your monthly income as a freelancer. So your mom stops telling you to find a REAL job.
The common perspective of a freelancers job is – fishing for a client, completing the single job for him and moving on.
If you do that you’re going to eat your nails in two or three months. If you want to make freelancing your full-time and primary job, you need to think about how you can acquire some steady income sources from it.
What could those be?
One of the best income sources, as you pretty much don’t do anything after you’re done. What do I mean? There are a lot of sites out there which sell photos, icons, templates etc. Whatever your field is, you’re going to find someone who will be willing to mediate between you and the client. You just create the content, put it on the portal of your choice and wait for people to pay for it. Of course, some of the cash will be taken by the site for their involvement, but in the end if you publish a lot of content you can just sit back and see the checks coming.
Some materials like photos, icons etc. pretty much never get outdated so once you create them, they will have the same value for years. Your main competition here is all the free stuff out there, which are getting constantly better. Quality is king, though, as they say and if you’re good enough people will pay for your work.
Just to point you at some of the bigger sites selling people’s work:
Much more easily findable in Google.
I’m not telling you here to start your own hosting company. But over the years you’ll probably work for quite a number of clients and create a considerable amount of websites for them. Why not offer hosting for them? You tell the client that he can buy his own server where you will put his website, or that there is a possibility that you’re going to host it for a slightly lower price and additionally you’re going to keep an eye out to make sure that everything is working correctly. Make sure you tell him how dangerous of a place the internet is and especially going there without your protective powers. It’s actually true, the amount of things that can go wrong is inexpressible in human numbers, so every time tragedy strikes, it’s just going to make your work easier, when you have quick access to all your client websites in one place, you know well.
Catch a lot of clients for the service and you got yourself an extra yearly bonus for doing pretty much nothing. It’s a mutually beneficial agreement, as your client sleeps a bit more calmly knowing his website is safe and you sleep on a bit more expensive pillow.
Be careful though. There is one string attached here and it’s a big string. Imagine you have 50 clients that you provide hosting for and suddenly the hosting company crashes. I’ve been there and it’s not fun. Took a few lawsuit threats and a gazillion calls to set things right.
Point is, if you choose to go all in and start hosting for your clients, be absolutely sure you choose the best, not the cheapest host.
Drafting a written agreement that keeps you safe from lawsuits in case of third party liability would be helpful as well.
That being said, I don’t think you should not host your clients websites. Apart of that one string, it’s only for the best of everyone involved.
Graphic Designers in particular will be able to spread their wings here. Though coders as well can find something for themselves, it’s just going to take a little more effort and imagination.
Take as an example a company that sells dog food. They are not too big, but not that small either, a successful local company. They will constantly need posters for their shop, business cards and so on. Hiring a media expert can help their business greatly. Many of those people just try to create their own designs in Word and Excel.
Most of us have probably had a client who only wanted a website initially, but somewhere along the way he shows you some other designs he made for his business and you struggle not to laugh. That’s where you shine. Offer him additional services, explain how improving the quality of designs can help his company and return the money he invests in you, with interest.
Most of the medium-sized companies out there, to some extent, need someone to help them with the media part of their business. Thing is, most of them are not aware of it. Which actually gives you only an opportunity to put your convincing hat on and gain income sources.
If needed, you can even go into an agreement with them where they pay you a monthly wage for a set amount of hours.
If you have some knowledge and the ability to put thoughts onto paper, there just might be some money for you in it.
Blogs have become an extremely popular form of exchanging knowledge on the internet. With a lot of money to be made, there is a pretty good chance you could land a job with one of them.
Actually, my girlfriend found this gig right here for me on Twitter (writing for this blog I mean). So yeah, following some blogs is a good way to go. Just randomly turning my Twitter on I saw a few job offers for writers the past month alone. Not to mention, we’re hiring here as well at the moment.
You prefer to speak rather than write? Not a problem. Hook up a microphone and a screen recording program and you’re set to create video tutorials. Sites like http://tutsplus.com/ will be happy to pay you for your time, given it’s worth it.
It’s not necessarily for everybody, but provides a better field for expressing your thoughts on various subjects than updating your Facebook page all day.
Additionally, there are hidden benefits from undertaking such a job. You develop your writing skills with every word as well as expand your knowledge by researching the topics you write on. Many people would not go through such a process if not forced to do so.
Let’s say you’re at a point in time where you have already established a reputation and connections. Your friends are not, however, but they have a nice set of skills which you could find a use for. Offer those skills to your clients (of course preceded by an agreement with mentioned friend) and, if it lands, push the job to your friend.
What just happened? You made money with minimal effort, not to mention you gained additional services for your business. The client in this agreement will pay you, then you take out a percentage and send what’s left to your friend.
Be sure you can trust the friend, as nothing is really stopping him from going behind your back and stealing your client. If you are concerned it might come to pass, don’t give out any information which would allow your friend to contact the client directly. Of course, if he really wants, he can find out who the client is based on the information given with the job, but you minimized that possibility.
Or just write a proper contract and your problems will be solved.
Many people with their own businesses do not see how big of a chance it would be to sell their products online.
Not to reach too far in the past. Some time ago my friend bought a specific product from a guy. A few days later we offered to create an online shop for him which would, in turn, expand his business to additional countries. Two weeks later we’ve made a very satisfying amount of sales and are working on expanding further.
There are lots of businesses out there like that. It’s your job to see an opportunity in places where no one else can see them. If it succeeds, you can gain a very, very good income source where you don’t even have to do that much. It’s all about making it right in the beginning, then it starts rolling by itself.
You will probably need to involve some other people to help you in the process. It’s a considerable amount of work to create a new shop, especially when you’re doing other things at the same time. No risk, no fun, right? You have to sacrifice something to gain something. That’s a universal truth when it comes to freelancing.
Lot’s of big websites out there, even more being built. Seems everyone nowadays wants to have one. Can’t blame them really, I’m part of that group.
It’s a great job if you manage to get on board with one of them. Especially the ones being built. You agree on a number of hours a month and the pay. After that you’re set for a long time.
On websites the job never really ends and rarely do people want to replace the existing staff. That’s due to a number of reasons. The most important one of them being, if you are working for a specific website for a longer time, you just know it well. That’s very important and impossible to learn from anything other than experience. What I’m trying to prove here is that if you are lucky enough to land a job on a good website, you’re in a very good place. Many of your slip-ups will be, if not completely overlooked, than at least forgiven. Of course all within reason.
Starting off as the “new guy” on a big website, on the other hand, can be quite challenging. Your new employer will count on you to get accustomed to their style of work as soon as possible. Chances are, you’re not going to stumble upon a stupid type of boss on websites though. At least not on the successful ones. It takes a specific type of approach to people if you’re to make it on the internet, which is in fact a pretty social place. Not saying there aren’t exceptions…
Either way, it’s not like you have something to lose really.
Yeah, put out books.
For some strange reason we like books. Ironic coming from a group of people who are glued to a computer screen most of the time. But somehow when we want to read something, we prefer to have it printed on paper.
Every trip I take to town starts with visiting the design corner of a book store. Maybe it comes from the belief that the more books you have, the more professional you look. Whatever the reason, people in our field of work are willing to buy books. Putting one out there could be a great help not only for your wallet, but reputation as well.
Have no idea about publishing? Not a problem. Lots of people out there will kill to do it for you, if the book is good. Of course they will want a part of the money from it, but you’ll probably be better off with them, than without.
You don’t even need to write all that much. Designers love inspirational books, filled, for example, with hundreds of pages with just logotypes, websites, product boxes et cetera.
So yeah, there’s one more way to make money.
If you’re freelancing full-time, then there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t try creating your own startup. I mean, how many times did have you had an idea for an app, or site? It’s all it really takes – an idea… and a design and someone to program it. If your idea is good, you can try finding people who will be willing to work for you in exchange for a share in project. If it’s a really good idea, you can even convince some investors to invest in it.
Startups are the biggest gamble and the vast majority of them fail, but if you’re aiming to get far, that’s the way to go. Every big portal started small, how far they get depends on the idea, skills and pure luck. So if you keep failing, keep getting up. Every experience should make you try to get better. If you’re patient enough, eventually one of your startups is bound to take off for one reason or another.
What do you do if one of them does? Get back to the drawing board and create new ones. Now you have one site that generates income, the more the merrier. Eventually you can hire additional people to take some of the work load off your back so you can free up some more time.
Why would you do it all over again? First of all, to generate more income in the end. Second – it’s just that fun.
Visualizations - I’ve had some brief experience with 3D Graphics years ago. Never went anywhere though and pretty much forgot about the whole thing. Until recently where I had the opportunity to take up a job creating visualizations. After a few months with my nose in books and stuff and hey, I’m creating visualizations. It’s actually a very useful skill to have and pretty well paid. The downside of it is the fact that it may be a tad harder to find work in that sector than it is to find work, for example making websites.
Why not implement it in your websites?
Imagine you’re making a website for a restaurant. Now you can offer your client to make a 3D Model of the whole place and offer the visitors a tour on the website. Or animated models of the clients products and so on. The possibilities are quite vast and now you can charge them for extra.
Video – It’s a similar case with the ability to work on video. There’s a trend on websites, to switch from the old model of site tours, where the whole thing was explained with pictures and text to just showing the users a video with explanations. The better it looks, the better impression the viewer is left with and the bigger chance he’s going to stay on the site.
That’s just one of the things you can do with this skill set. Again, the limitations are only really bound by our own imagination and the ability to see an opportunity. Don’t scratch something out, just because no one else does it.
Others – I believe you get the idea now on increasing your offer in order to increase your earnings. There are of course many other fields you can specialize in, pointing every single one out would be rather pointless. The thing you need to understand is that more knowledge equates to more opportunities and every one of those opportunities can transform from a one time job to a regular job giving you yet another steady income source.
It’s never it. You will always be able to find one more way to create extra income. One of them better than the others. Thing is, if you’re trying to find them, then you’re in the exact mindset you need to be in order to succeed.
It’s a long way, which makes it even more important to get on it with an idea of what you’re doing and where you are going.
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