If freelance work has been on your mind recently, you’re not alone.
In the face of economic uncertainty, a growing number of tech professionals are ditching the nine-to-five in pursuit of the flexible freedom of self-employment.
In fact, according to TechJury, freelancers make up almost 47% of the global workforce in 2023.
We’re well and truly in the midst of a “freelance revolution” that could drastically reshape the tech employment landscape as we know it.
So what is it about freelance work that makes it such an attractive option? And how easy is it to find freelance work from home jobs in today’s market?
In this post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about freelance work, from choosing the right career path to tackling taxes.
- What is freelance work?
- The benefits of freelance work
- How to transition into freelance work
- The best freelance work jobs
- Where to find freelance work from home jobs in 2023
- Closing thoughts
Let’s dive in!
1. What is freelance work?
Freelance work is a type of self-employment where individuals provide specialized services to various clients rather than being employed full-time by one organization.
As independent contractors, the work that freelancers do is incredibly varied—with projects ranging from a few hours to several years.
Some freelancers work with one or two big clients on a retainer basis, which means they’re contracted for a set number of hours (or deliverables) every month. Others work on short-term assignments for multiple clients at the same time.
Freelancers are 100% in control of their rates, schedule, and workload—so how they work and who they work for is totally up to them.
Freelance work has been on the rise for a number of years. The tech layoffs and hiring freezes brought on by the pandemic meant a growing number of businesses turned to freelancers as a flexible, cost-effective solution to growing their workforce.
Towards the end of 2022, multiple freelance job board platforms reported surges in job postings—confirming the rising trend of hiring managers opting for freelancers over in-house employees.
The takeaway? If you’re new to self-employment, you certainly won’t find any shortage of freelance jobs.
2. The benefits of freelance work
Now we’ve got a handle on what freelance work entails, let’s look at some of the drivers behind the freelance revolution.
Autonomy over how you work
Many freelancers experience an unprecedented level of freedom and flexibility when it comes to setting their working hours.
With greater control over your working week, maintaining an optimal work-life balance is well within your grasp. It also means you can work in tune with your fluctuating energy levels rather than hopping online for a set number of hours each day.
With no manager or teammates to answer to, how you get your work done is totally up to you.
Pursuing freelance work also empowers professionals to select clients who share their values and objectives, making for more meaningful collaborations (and greater work satisfaction).
No cap on how much money you can make
While there’s certainly a lot more security in a monthly salary, one of the most compelling reasons to pursue freelance work is that there is no cap on how much money tech workers can make.
Being a specialist in a specific field means many freelancers can charge more per hour than they would as an employee. On top of that, you can establish multiple income streams by taking on as many clients as you choose—meaning your earning potential has no limits.
Plus, you can boost your earning potential by diversifying your skillset and adding more services to your offering.
Freedom of movement
Tired of limiting your travels based on vacation days?
Without being tied down to one location, you can join the growing number of “digital nomads” who are taking their work on the road and earning money from anywhere that has a stable internet connection—whether that’s a coffee shop, the beach, or a faraway city.
This makes it an attractive option for keen travelers who like to switch up their location regularly to stay energized (and inspired!).
3. How to transition into freelance work
Going self-employed takes research, planning, and preparation. Here’s a step-by-step guide to a smooth transition into full-time freelance work.
Get set up as a freelancer
Once you’ve committed to taking the leap into freelance work, you might be tempted to start firing pitches off to clients immediately.
But if you want to avoid problems down the line, you’ll need to do your legal due diligence first.
This could mean registering yourself as a sole trader or business, getting your tax and VAT number, learning about work permits, setting yourself up with a business bank account, and understanding any other fees or expenses you might face (i.e., national insurance).
It’s essential to take care of the paperwork early on—not only so that your clients feel confident that they’re doing business with a legally compliant professional but also because it’ll help keep your finances organized in the long run.
Choose your freelance/invoicing tools
Without an in-house HR or finance team, it’s up to you to put processes in place to manage your workflows and ensure you’re getting paid in a timely (and secure) manner.
Luckily, there’s a myriad of tools to help you manage clients, send and keep track of invoices, and create contracts. Apps like Bonsai and Harlow are all-in-one tools to help freelancers manage their entire workflows—from proposals to invoicing reminders and even taxes.
Create your website, portfolio, and marketing collateral
Next, it’s time for the fun part: Marketing! If you haven’t created a website by this stage, now is the time to showcase your marketable skills, services, and portfolio with a standout website.
It’s also worth doing some social media housekeeping, so you’re ready for all the visitors and inquiries that’ll come through when you announce your new business on LinkedIn.
Your personal brand will win you business, so it’s worth putting some real thought behind it. What will you call your business? What do you bring to the table? Why should companies hire you over someone else? It’s important to tell a story that ties your past experience together with your new direction and let that story across any marketing collateral you put out.
Start pitching new clients
Now that you’re all set up, it’s time to find some clients. Even the most successful, high-earning freelancers would admit that this stage can take the longest, depending on your commitment and strategy.
It’s worth putting together a client list of the ideal companies and individuals you’d like to work with, and making your way through the list with a pitch email.
Pro tip: Be sure to tailor each email for each client. Generic pitches have less impact than emails that demonstrate an understanding of their needs and goals.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of networking! If you can’t attend in-person events and meetups, LinkedIn is great for finding leads (but make sure that any connections made are genuine relationships rather than just numbers on a list).
Join a freelance community
While self-employment has its benefits, the transition from full-time to freelance can be bumpy.
In many ways, you’re losing your security—and it can take some time to build up a pipeline of business. When impostor syndrome strikes, a community is everything.
Across social media and on sites like Meetup, you’ll find groups that provide a safe space for freelancers to share their experiences.
Being part of a supportive network of experienced freelancers can provide life-changing advice when facing various—or even give moral support when times get tough!
4. The best freelance work jobs
Almost anyone can stake their claim as a freelancer in today’s gig economy, no matter their niche or specialism. But certain skill sets are in exceptionally high demand—making some jobs more lucrative than others when it comes to freelance work.
Let’s explore five of the best career paths for freelancers.
UX designers create functional, enjoyable digital products that solve real-world problems.
UX is a versatile career path that requires a combination of creative thinking, technical knowledge, research, problem-solving skills, and the ability to collaborate effectively with a range of stakeholders.
As good user experience has become an essential driver for revenue, it’s no surprise that UX designers have become increasingly sought after in tech and beyond.
What’s more, the digital-first nature of the role makes UX designers ideal candidates for freelance work. Remote user research tools like UserZoom, plus design tools like Figma, have made freelancing as a UX designer even easier—and in the face of high demand, there’s no shortage of freelance work to be had.
UI designers focus on the look and feel of apps and websites, creating the beautiful, trendy, and intuitive digital products we know and love.
UI design is a great career path for creative folk with a great eye. From individual business owners to startups, every business needs a website or app—or even just someone to help them refresh their brand collateral with sleek color palettes and typography—and they’re increasingly relying on contractors to get the work done.
Both UX/UI and web design feature on Upwork’s list of the most in-demand skills for freelancers in 2023, so it’s safe to say that you’ll have plenty of business as a freelance UI designer.
Web developers are the technical masterminds that turn design prototypes into real functional, dynamic websites.
Using coding languages and problem-solving skills, they can create responsive UI elements, build custom databases, and code applications, and take care of all the behind-the-scenes activity that keeps a website ticking away.
With “frontend development” featured as number two on Upwork’s list of in-demand freelance tech skills, web development is one of the most popular freelance jobs available. Companies are always looking for skilled developers who can tackle complex projects and are usually willing to pay handsomely for the help.
To succeed as a freelance web developer, you need an extensive knowledge of coding languages and the ability to provide unique solutions to your clients’ needs.
Luckily, you can quickly learn these skills (and more) on a web development bootcamp program—which could see you earning as a freelancer web developer in a matter of months.
Copywriters specialize in writing persuasive content for landing pages, blog posts, emails, advertisements, and other marketing collateral. A copywriter’s job is to come up with clever copy that grabs users’ attention and encourages them to take action.
Even small startups recognize that words matter. You might have a great product, but you’re unlikely to win business unless you communicate its value with the right words.
Because of this, companies are usually more than willing to invest in bringing a freelance copywriter on board to help them convert visitors into sales with compelling copy. Bonus points if you’re a copywriter in a specific niche or understand the fundamentals o SEO (also in high demand).
Data analytics is a growing career path that involves analyzing large bodies of information to detect patterns and draw conclusions.
Data analysts help drive business strategy forward by synthesizing data into actionable next steps. These invaluable insights are gold dust for companies looking to supercharge their growth, and freelance data analysts are capitalizing on growing demand.
Data analytics requires a lot of focus, making it ideal for remote and freelance work.
Sites like Upwork have made it easier than ever to find freelance data analytics gigs—and we’ve also written a practical guide to getting started as a freelance data analyst.
For more detail on the most sought-after freelance roles, check out our full guide on The Best Freelance Jobs To Get in 2023.
5. Where to find freelance work from home jobs in 2023
One of the biggest challenges freelancers face is finding clients. Direct outreach is a great way to get your name out there, but in order to start earning straight away, you need to look for initial gigs that’ll help you build your business up.
So where do you go about finding freelance work from home jobs?
Online freelance job boards are a great start.
Many freelancers, like Kaitlyn Arford, have newsletters or job boards where they post freelance opportunities from around the web.
Some of these require a paid subscription, but for the convenience of having freelance work from home jobs delivered straight to your inbox once, it might be worth the cost.
Finally—as mentioned earlier—networking is a crucial step on your journey to being booked ‘n busy. It’s worth reaching out to your existing network to let them know you’ve gone freelance, but you’ll also need to get some regular face time with potential clients if you want to make an impression.
Freelancing is all about getting your name out there, so don’t be afraid to make new connections. After all, the worst someone can say is no!
6. Closing thoughts
From limitless earning potential to complete autonomy over how (and where) you work, freelance work is a fantastic option for professionals seeking more control over their careers.
Transitioning from full-time employment to freelance work can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! By taking the time to think through your business strategy, and confidently marketing your skills, you’ll be winning clients and building your freelance portfolio in no time.
Going freelance takes a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it if flexibility and autonomy are important to you.
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