Freelancing is one of the most difficult career choices, yet if done right it can be one of the most fulfilling. There are close to one and a half billion people freelancing in the world. Yes, that is a billion. It’s a very popular form of work. The competition is intense.
Freelancing requires discipline. A freelancer is usually their own boss, it’s up to him or her to create the work and check the quality of the work produced. Top notch project management skills are a must. You can use a free project management software like Redmine or Jira to structure your projects or just wing it. Project management software like Jira and Redmine can help you to handle scheduling and requirements around your projects.
You need to stay organized and become efficient. Avoid situations where you are switching between projects to meet deadlines. You can end up taking more work than you can handle, creating a mountain of work, unrealistic deadlines and expectations. It can be tempting to take as much work as possible.
There are over a dozen websites and platforms to choose from. Evaluate the freelance platforms that will meet your requirements and needs. You can also choose to get clients based on word of mouth.
Being a freelancer does not only mean you should be expertly skilled in your trade. You also have to be multi-skilled. As a freelancer you are a CEO, marketer, worker, bookkeeper, customer care and sometimes a lawyer of your business venture. It requires almost all these skills to be effective.
Motivation is one of the most underrated aspects of working as a freelancer. You need to be motivated to complete tasks no one is forcing you to do. Maintaining a high level work ethic even if you are your own boss is incredibly difficult.
Topcoder allows you to choose which projects to work on. When working in a company for someone else you usually have no choice in picking which jobs you prefer to do. If a client is rude or unprofessional, too bad. You can’t just quit or leave without leaving your job entirely. On Topcoder, one rarely has to interact directly with clients. You can also work wherever you want, as long as the work is completed on time. You will never have a problem coming into the office for a meeting. You just need your laptop and an Internet connection and you are good to go. This also helps you maintain a good work/life balance as you cut out the need to commute to the office. It saves you time and provides you with an opportunity to be flexible with your time. You will choose your own hours to get work done. I, for instance, live in a country where regular blackouts can throw my scheduling off course, but because I am a freelancer, I can be flexible with my schedule. If my power is scheduled to be off at a certain time, I can organize my day around doing my work when the power has returned and everything else in between blackouts. I can remain productive without sacrificing time for other activities in my life.
Topcoder allows you to work and see how other programmers out there in the world build software. You get to compete against other fellow programmers and data scientists. It helps improve your skills. As Topcoder projects are reviewed, it means you get to present your best foot forward as nothing less than your best is demanded. There are opportunities to improve your skills while learning. You get to work on projects that are used all over the world, like NASA competitions and competitions for other big companies.
Topcoder also offers gigs for freelancers looking to work on various projects in a more traditional style mode instead of competitions. The developer can choose from a list of gig work published weekly and sent from an email list. Freelancers can then apply to be considered for the gig based on experience and skills. The projects vary by length and location. You can choose projects that match your availability as most projects usually require a minimum set of hours per week. You might work with other freelancers or developers at the company providing the work.
Independence: You are the boss. You can work where you want to work and with who you want to work with. No one will dictate to you on what to wear to work, for example.
Choose the jobs and projects you want to work on. You will be able to select only the clients you want to work with.
Ability to dictate the pace and time you can work on projects. You and only you can decide how to break up your day for a project. You can choose to do all the work in the morning or choose to do some late in the evening. You can easily control the workload to fit your needs.
You keep all the money charged for the job. All the profits are yours and yours alone. You will save money from having to commute to work. An experienced freelancer will have a long list of clients to show off and be able to charge higher rates to potential clients as his expertise will be easy to determine.
No guaranteed salary or payment. In fact clients can dry up as quickly as they came.
Bills to pay, like medical aid and benefits come straight out of your pocket.
The line between working and personal time can become blurred if no discipline is maintained. You have to work extra hard to keep clients happy, as ultimately you are the person responsible for everything.
It is very possible that you might not get paid for completing a job. If that is the case you might have to polish your debt collection skills to try and recover some funds. It is very common in the freelance environment. Every time you take on a project you should consider this a real possibility and a risk, especially with new clients.
Unlike a regular job where an employer might cover your medical aid, you get no benefits for being a freelancer. Everything comes out of your own pocket. Your laptop got short circuited, oops; get a new one yourself. No employer to replace it for you.
Buy your own coffee genius.
Copywriting and documentation skills
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Social media marketing
Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence
Full stack developer
Front end developer
Back end developer
Python - An old workhorse of the computer industry, applied in too many domains to count, and one of the easiest languages to introduce people to programming.
Laravel - A PHP-based web framework.
API Development - Develop APIs for consumption or consume other APIs.
AWS/DevOps - Create and maintain the cloud infrastructure for companies using various cloud providers like Amazon’s AWS, Google’s Cloud Platforms and Microsoft Azure.
Figma - Create and collaborate on designs for mobile, web, and desktop platforms.
Project Management - Manage projects in various industries, it can be in other disciplines like engineering or leading a construction project.
3D Content - Creating 3D videos and content for brands using tools like Maya, Blender, and Unity
Video Game Creators - Making video games for consumers with tools like Unity 3D.
Data Scientist - Create analytical software to analyze mountains of data.
While freelancing can seem like a great way to work and live, it can be nerve wracking, especially in the beginning when you are not generating any income. There will be times when you doubt yourself and your skills. The clients will be few and far in between. However, once you have a client list and projects under your belt, you will have a brand to showcase to prospective clients and offer your expertise for a price. You will be able to even charge a premium for services, giving you an opportunity to control and grow your income. There are various platforms to further your career in freelancing like Topcoder, Upwork, Freelancer, Fiver, etc. Each will have its pros and cons. You can choose to use one or all of them. Just like everything while freelancing, it’s ultimately up to you.