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Freelancing Isn’t New – But Online Freelancing Is Newer!

Updated on July 22, 2013
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How many of us have been right up to our necks in something, probably something we don’t really enjoy that much, and paused to have the following thought, “I don’t really want to be doing this”.

We all do it, its natural to think that things would be different if….we won the lottery, we inherited a fortune or, more likely, we could stop working for someone else and start working for ourselves.

It’s a dream that never comes to be a reality for most people. The security of a “regular” job, a guaranteed pay packet each month, often combine to make leaving one’s job nothing more than a fantasy for all but a very few brave souls.

The extremes of, on the one hand, doing someone else’s bidding in return for a modest sum or, on the other hand, starting a business and being your own boss, are usually too far apart for most people to reconcile. Security versus insecurity and uncertainty.

There is, however, a third option, it isn’t new but is has just undergone a massive makeover, its called “freelancing”.

Freelancing Has Been Around For Ages – What’s Different?

The advantages of freelancing are significant for both parties. The freelancer, i.e. the person providing the skills and labour, usually gets paid at a higher rate and has the advantage of only doing the jobs he or she wants to do.

The hirer, or employer, has the very significant advantage of not having to pay someone if there isn’t any work to do and of being able to take on extra staff at peak times when they are needed and releasing them when work slows down again.

Perfect, that works for everyone then? Not so. The main problem with freelancing, for both parties, has always been that of awareness.
The hirer needs to be aware of who is available with the required skills and the freelancer needs to know who I hiring people with his or her skillset and when.

Of course, there have been recruitment agencies around for years who have freelancers on their books and that arrangement works for many but there is a level of cost involved which doesn't really have to be there. The recruitment agency needs to take a slice of the pie – and its often quite a big slice too.

It’s Like A Dating Agency – for Jobs

The latest development is that of an online agency that matches freelancers to jobs in much the same way that dating agencies match ladies to gentlemen. Each party writes a description of what they are looking for and pins it to a giant electronic notice board.

“Project Manager Required” to cover for maternity, or ”I Want To Rent A Coder for six months while my regular guy goes backpacking”, there are, after all, hundreds of reasons why hirers might need a little extra help.

What applies to dating, also applies to online freelancing. The freelancer usually writes a detailed profile of himself and describes what he, or of course she, is capable of whilst the employer or hirer, describes the job(s) that they need doing, how long it will last for and how much they are willing to pay to get it done.

You, the freelancer then spend the next few weeks and sometimes months perusing what’s available until, bingo; you find the “right” one for you. Someone wants to rent a coder with just the same skill set that you have to offer, what are you waiting for, go get it.

When the freelancer finds a job that looks right for them they are required to submit a proposal. The submission process is handled entirely by the website and the freelancer may not know who it is they are offering to work for.

When the closing date is reached, or maybe earlier, the hirer reviews the proposals received and selects the one that they want. Most freelancers know that they should never bank on getting any one particular job, it’s a numbers game, as they say, and if you don’t get one then you’re one step nearer to getting the next one.

One characteristic of the way in which the new breed of freelancing agency works is that they often advertise very small jobs – there is one such website that focuses on jobs that people are willing to do for just $5 and, although these are obviously not serious freelancing opportunities in their own right, they often serve to introduce people to one another who then go on and form longer-term relationships in the future.

Another factor that you should consider, if choosing to go down the freelancing path, is that of tax. Whilst I am not qualified to give specific tax advice you should bear in mind that freelance earning are taxable and you must declare them fully in order to comply with the regulations where you live.

With so many really good freelance sites springing up its well worth having a look to see if there is anything to suit your skills. Not just a one-off but an ongoing stream of suitable jobs to keep you busy today, tomorrow and well into the future.

After all, you don’t want to jump out of the secure but boring old frying pan, into an uncertain but possibly very rewarding, fire, do you?

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