When times are tough for your region’s economy, there are ways to tap into hidden resources across the globe. Try freelancing your specific job skill. While the economy might be dismal or flat in the US or UK, it is booming in Asia and other parts of the world. Find a way to market your skills long distance. This can work for graphic designers, animators, language translators, writers, consultants, computer programmers and more. You may need to job hunt for a long time, so try to freelance while you’re out there looking for a salaried position. Here is a quick start guide to freelancing in a bad economy, and some things to consider.
Where do I get jobs?
Look for projects and jobs on the free message boards, the Yahoo forums, and free job directories. Never pay a fee for this service, there is no need. Plenty of free sites exist, and they are quite good. Never let a job site handle your paycheck! Aside from taking a percentage (sometimes as much as 6%) they will also be in a position to delay or deny your payment. Most of these sites are scams, so stay clear of them. Free sites work best.
Your CV, resume or portfolio
Put up a simple 2-page website with a photo, CV, and samples of your work. Use the link to your site when applying for jobs online. This makes it simple and easy for both you and the employers.
Don’t expect to get top wages and full benefits on the freelance train. Freelancers make less than salaried employees, and no benefits (you must provide for your own insurance and sick days). This is the price you pay for telecommuting. You’ll save a lot on gas by working from home and not driving to an office. You’ll also save hundreds of hours otherwise spent in traffic, and best of all – no suit and tie required. That’s the tradeoff for benefits and salary.
When do I get paid?
A salaried job pays you every month, right on time. In freelancing, some employers will pay you in 30 days, while some pay in 45 or even 60. Many will pay late, and need to be reminded they owe you money. Over time you’ll run into one or two scam companies who won’t pay you at all. Keep track of all your outstanding invoices on a spreadsheet.
How do I get paid?
Most employers will send you a check within the US. International companies can wire money to your bank. This will cost from $10 to $30 at your end, since the US banking system still has not complied with international fee standards. We are hoping for a reasonable reduction of fees in the future, as this service costs them pennies to perform. Paypal is OK for domestic US payments, but try to avoid them for international payments. Even though it’s fast, it’s expensive – the Paypal foreign transaction fees will seriously cripple your payment received.
Long work hours
Your hours can be flexible, but keep in mind that you do need to meet deadlines. Don’t relax too much, and don’t accept so much work that you can’t meet some of the deadlines. It’s crucial to keep your reputation of meeting all the work criteria, but especially getting it done on time. Remember, this work needs to be done while you’re still job hunting. This often means working long hours into the night. Also keep the time difference in mind. If you’re working for a company in Belgium, and you live in Chicago, there’s a 6 hour time difference. If they need the job done by 11 am tomorrow… is that your time or theirs? Ask them, and make sure you clearly understand all the terms of the job.
Remember it’s only temporary
If you find freelancing to be stressful or disagreeable to you, just remember it’s a temporary situation until the economy recovers. You can still job hunt for a new position with an office and steady salary. There is stress involved with an unsteady paycheck, but there is also flexibility and savings on the commute, so look on the bright side. If you freelance while you’re job hunting, at least you’ll still be using your skill set, and getting an income. Some people end up freelancing for a couple years before landing the right full-time job.