Freelancing appeals to millions of people around the world and freelancers continue to take up a large proportion of the world’s global workforce with the percentage continues to grow. According to a presentation by Daniel J. Edelman Inc. in Australia alone in 2015, 4 million out of the 12.5 million civilian work forces (or 32%) are freelancers and moonlighters. Many other countries have experienced similar growth.
We can expect these numbers to rise as the years go forward, due to the obvious benefits of freelancing (like flexible work hours and minimal work expenses) and as businesses continue to move online and require more online manpower.
While there has been an influx of online jobs and non-traditional, remote work openings (thanks to the massive influence of technology, the internet, and social media), there’s this lingering issue of intense competition.
The online landscape is harsher than before, and hence is making it difficult for freelancers to land jobs and keep them. This is true also for Australian freelancers, not only for US-based freelancers and those competing from various parts of the world.
“Challenging” doesn’t even begin to describe the fierceness of the competition in freelancing.
Here’s why—specific examples of freelancing are implicit un-glamorous side:
You’re not alone and there are always people able to match your skills. Because the jobs are online, they are international, meaning, clients have a wide array of contractors to choose from—if they can’t find someone nearby, there are always options from other places in the world.
Let’s face it—freelancing isn’t a course you take up in college. Most freelancers learn on the job and without any help—it’s like teaching people how to swim by throwing them overboard first.
Most of the time, getting hired as a freelancer isn’t purely about possessing the talent. Selling “you” to your potential clients is also a big part, so being a salesperson for your own talent is also one of the many hats you need to wear as a freelancer.
Although the stats show that most businesses are outsourcing online, this does not make finding work any easier for new freelancers. Most potential clients usually have existing freelancers and are not open to looking for new contractors.
This can limit the options for new freelancers. Some clients are looking for US or UK based contractors only or are looking for people with 5+ years of experience or impressive certifications.
Unlike your regular desk job, freelance jobs are extremely volatile. One day you’re earning thousands and getting no sleep due to tons of projects, and the next day you are broke.
We have chosen Australia because it is a good example of the need for remote location working opportunities. This is especially true in 2018 as at the time of writing, Australia has once in a generation drought.
While freelancing sounds intimidating, it is one of the best options individuals have today. Compared to traditional employment, most online workers have the liberty to choose their hours and workload and work closer to their families—which are (almost) never options for desk workers.
As for Australians, the growing number of freelancers suggests that despite the perils and the long-term uncertainty of freelancing, it is one of the best (almost instant) financial solutions for individuals having trouble finding traditional employment.
Especially for areas severely affected by the recent drought, regular employment prospects may be bleak. While there has been "widespread and significant rainfall" in some parts of New South Wales, Australian farmers still struggle coming back from the devastating drought that has plagued the area in the last months.
Despite the rain, the more bad news keeps pouring in—according to the government, 99.8% of the state is still in drought and conditions are expected to further escalate should the dry season persist.
Although the drought’s impact sounds mostly agricultural, this dry season also had severe repercussions on traditional employment.
Since the dry spell has turned the east coast into a wasteland where nothing grows, there is also a massive livelihood loss for other types of contractors and produce and livestock-related businesses in the area.
Freelancing can provide an instant solution for individuals looking for ways to improve the supplementary farm income.
Australians living in the drought-stricken regions who have suffered losses in employment can turn to freelancing for extra income, at least until everything hopefully returns to normal weather patterns. Long-term structural change in off-farm income support needs to occur.
However, whether Australian or not, if you want to embrace freelancing, you must be able to cope with international competition. We’ve established that the freelancing race is no walk in the park, you have to have a few tricks up your sleeve.
Here are some tips to help you to cope with international competition and succeed in the freelance race:
Before diving into freelancing, make sure to identify exactly what you’re good at. You should be a master of something—anything—writing, web design, project management, coding, or even counseling. There will always be someone who is in need of your specialty, so make sure you find it, embrace it, and hone it, no matter how odd it seems.
While it is common to be lowballed in your early days, you must have a fixed rate that you can stick with and justify to your clients.
Although the market is flocking with workers willing to offer $3/hour services, you will eventually find someone who’s prepared to pay for your talent and expertise in the field, no matter what your number is, as long as you deliver quality.
You’re not only a freelancer—you’re also your own sales representative. Make sure to polish your profile and your references so you’ll stand out.
While you may get tempted to use a generic cover letter, think again. If you want to boost your chances at getting hired, make sure to take the time to understand the job you’re applying for, address the client’s concerns and be clear on how you are the solution to his problem.
Since freelancing isn’t as stable as a regular 9-5 desk job, no work means no pay. This means that you have to hustle hard and take every opportunity to work so you won’t lose your earning streak.
Instead of comparing success with others, work hard to achieve your goals. There will always be someone with the same skill set as you but earning more, so stressing on this may make you go crazy. Work with excellence, give every job your best and soon enough, you’ll reap the benefits.
As a freelancer, you must have clear goals for your future (like for instance, having a 40-hour workload per week). However, you must be flexible enough for when your goals are shelved or for when you are blown off course.
Don’t give up even before you start. Try out as many online working platforms as you can—if you haven’t been successful with one online platform, you can always try another. Here a few suggestions for legitimate websites for freelancing you can try.
One of the downsides of working solo is the lack of opportunities to grow and improve yourself. Most of the time, there are no promotions, training, seminars, or certifications from your online clients, so self-improvement will be your personal initiative.
Make time for learning new skills for your job—take an online training course or an online certification, or find a way to get certified locally at a nearby college or university.
These may take a part of your time, but with proper time management working while studying is possible.
And finally (and perhaps one of the most important points), as a freelancer, you need to have a safety net or a fallback plan.
This won’t directly guarantee your success as a contractor, but having a safety net will ensure that you won’t get broke once you get sick and unable to work for a few weeks. Make sure to pay insurance or at least build an emergency fund for unexpected overheads or bumps along the way.
It’s a great time to be a freelancer given the direction the world economy and businesses are taking. More and more jobs are going virtual, hence creating the need for more online workers in the near future.
However, since competition is more intense than ever, as a freelancer, you have to learn how to cope with international competition.
Whether you’re competing from Australia or any part of the world, as long as you have the talent, are serious about your career in freelancing, are dedicated, and excellent at what you do, you can be successful.
We’ve shared some tips we believe can bring you success in freelancing, and what’s left for you to do now is to go ahead and try them out!