Now that we understand the current Future of Work ecosystem, leaping into a full-time freelancing career may seem a bit more doable, and less like a long, dark fall into an unknown abyss.
If you’re not already a freelancer or strongly considering becoming one, then this chapter should be beneficial. Alternatively, if you are a freelancer then lookout for a few tips and tricks you may not have come across during your career.
Why is freelancing great?
Life as a freelancer is a desirable position to be in as the optimum word here is “free” which means the job comes with much more flexibility than the usual nine to five.
Such freedom offers professionals ownership of their skillsets, triumphs and losses. They can set their rates and market themselves based on their understanding of what they bring to the table. Often in full-time positions, the expectations, hierarchies and salaries are preset before a new hire walks through the door. For freelancers, the control is in their hands much more.
So, if the goal is to gain control over your professional narrative, avoid long commutes and unfulfilling work environments, then freelancing is a road worth travelling.
Taking this route also means being your own boss and setting your standards and work ethics. For some used to relying on company structures, this can feel like unchartered territory, but due to the popularity of freelancing, tech companies are developing collaboration and organizational tools like Slack, Toggl and Wave which make life a lot easier for contract workers.
For tech freelancers, their purpose in this current climate is even more definite. As we are moving through the digital revolution, tech specialists are in demand, and top quality ones are found all over the world, which has inspired flexible working in most business models.
Freelancing as a developer, designer or product manager can also offer access to multiple tech projects popping up everywhere, “Products are constantly being updated, and open source development is incessantly yielding new compatibility issues and improvement opportunities,” writes Invoicing Ninja.
A little background
Freelancing in Europe arguably picked up in pace in 2013, five years after the beginning of the most current recession, according to the CRSE report “Future Working: The Rise of Europe’s Independent Professionals,” nearly 7 million Europeans lost their jobs during this time.
The combination of an employee exodus and the rise of technology in the workplace resulted in freelancers becoming the fastest-growing group in the EU labor market.
Combatting freelancer loneliness
Working for yourself is great, and the positives outweigh the negatives, but like anything in life, there are downsides.
Freelancers mostly work alone and from home. That experience can start with a bang; fewer disturbances, less pressure to socialize with coworkers and engage in office politics, plus the comfort of being in your own surroundings.
Eventually, loneliness can kick in, we are humans after all, not just freelancing machines. An Epson survey found that 48 per cent of freelancers said their job could be lonely and isolating. Creating communities, virtual or physical, can be a productive way to combat this singular existence.
For human connection, CodeControl manages international communities bringing tech freelancers from all aspects of the industry together in Slack channels and video calls — even hosting get-togethers in their freelancers’ home cities.
You may be sacrificing a buzzing office environment for the multiple benefits freelancing offers, but it is possible to integrate a carefully selected social circle into your lone ranger style of working.
In their own words
Recently, we met up with CodeControl community members at a Berlin Boutique meetup or BBM. These are monthly get togethers located in any of the freelancers’ home cities aimed at promoting a social environment beyond Slack chats.
We asked our Berlin community what they think are the most significant challenges that freelancers experience at the start, how to create a brand, and a few nuggets of wisdom. Here’s what they had to say.
“Maintaining a good balance between on-the-clock hours vs hours off-the-clock and how much time should be dedicated to marketing.”
Creating a brand
“It’s not just about doing the work of the freelance service, you must be able to adapt into roles with marketing and management as well from time to time, as all of these are important for working as a freelancer.”
“Remember that you should be more confident in your skills because this is part of what sells to potential clients.”
“Treat your business like a business from day one. Make sure you have contracts and time trackers in place.”
“You cannot do everything in one day. Take the time to ground yourself, ask for feedback, and double-check your work.”
Nuggets of wisdom
“Take ownership of the project and push it to the finish line as if it were your own, even if you are just a freelancer on the project.”
“Introduce yourself to a new team, face to face if you can.”
“The first week involves a lot of adaptation, so it means being ready to be flexible.”
There is no “right” way to go about this process, it comes down to what works for you, but taking from other experiences can only enrich your entire perspective.
Why modern companies desire freelancers
A KPMG report noted that business leaders see a flexible IT force as a source of success, “digital leaders are better at ensuring that non-IT staff have the right technology skills, and at using both internal and external resources to access the right skills.”
A flexible force is a great way to describe what freelancers represent within modern industry, they are prime examples of why variety is the spice of life. A contract worker is desired for a few reasons.
They are more cost-effective, meaning they don’t break the bank as they work within a set amount of time for a fixed rate without the cost of added benefits common for salaried employees.
Freelancers are also highly self-disciplined as their reputation is what brings in the dough. Image is everything to them. Companies with an entrepreneurial mindset appreciate the laser-sharp focus that comes with a freelancer.
Beyond these points, the niche expertise they bring is vital as companies are becoming more agile in the way they work. According to Forbes, freelancers “make complete sense from a business economics perspective.”
Luckily, there are existing organizations like CodeControl that work closely with businesses seeking out freelancers for specific projects, and so far, the results have been stellar.
Here’s a great example: CodeControl carefully selected two senior iOS developers from our community to work closely with heavyweights in both the automotive and insurance industries. Our developers worked over six months on a cutting edge application that was the first of its kind. The result was an award winning product. It can be difficult to engage in such a project while working as a full-time employee.
Use cases like these only confirm what great options freelancers are for any industry. For freelancers, the opportunity to work on such an exciting project is what makes the gig worth any mind-numbing moments of solitude.
Freelancing offers experts complete ownership over their profession, triumphs and losses.
Tech freelancers are seeing a surge in demand thanks to the cloud boom.
There are 11 million freelancers working in Europe right now.
Joining freelance communities is a great way to combat loneliness.
As a freelancer it’s important to see yourself as a business from day one.
Investment in IT workforces both external and internal is higher than it has ever been.