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The ups and downs of freelancing
Craig D'Mello
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October 03, 2007

Tradition tells us to look for stability, but sadly, the boundaries of this stability have been or are seemingly wrongly defined. Who says that you need to work every day? Or at least go to an office at a set time just because that's the way it's always been. There are those renegades who defy this tradition, giving work a whole alternative dimension.

Freelancers, our modern day lone rangers, Bedouins of the working world -- how do they survive? Do they save? Do they have regular work?

Affirmative! Get one thing clear, there is enough work in the world for everyone (provided you are skilled enough) and no matter how the world changes, there will always be those who wish to stay out of the work system, to define their own work times and work days.

Sounds like a jolly picture, but there are ethics to freelance work. No one will work with you if you do not deliver. Established freelance specialists are well received and further well recommended. So here's a small peak into what you can do and how people are already doing it.

Join the freelance revolution
Travelers, writers, photographers, designers, dancers, model coordinators, artists of all sorts, musicians, voice over artists, are just some of the freelancers already working the various industries. The difference between a freelancer and an organisation is that the freelancer is a one-man or woman business and production team. Many individuals take up freelance for the extra money whereas there are those who depend solely on their freelance earnings. A good way to start is by trying some freelance in your free time or time outside work.

Step 1: Getting started
Firstly, someone needs to recognise your work. This usually comes by way of what you already deliver in office. Opportunities may open up at the workplace itself, mostly with colleagues who need some work for external purposes.

Alternatively, there are online sites, which need the services of freelancers, there are also ads in the papers, for freelance or one-time jobs. Further, you can always just get your foot through the door and approach a client. It's aggressive but if you think you are good enough, then your confidence might just win you the job.

Once you have completed your first few jobs, maintain good relations with clients. It's most important that freelancers work efficiently on all jobs as one of the main reasons for the existence of freelance is the time constraint of the work.

Step 2: Networking 
Once you have a set of clients, start to network, see if the skill sets you possess can be applied to anything else. Have a base of clients you work for, as everyone may not need work at the same time. Mostly, watch the commitments you make, so that the workings of jobs do not clash.

There are innovative ways you can market yourself. For instance, if you are a writer looking for new clients, you could design an innovative communication to the desired audience. The possibilities are limitless, as the only person defining your work style is you!

Step 3: Riding the freelance wave
The secret to getting more work is always doing good work. If it's out in the market, some marketer, whether he is selling shoes and likes a design you made or is a film director and would like to employ your hairstyling services, there's no telling who will take notice of your work. Good things are noticed but bad ones are remembered. Once established, you will notice that you do not need to look for work, but will actually have to refuse it.

Money never comes for free
There is no sure-fire guarantee for a steady flow of work, but the work usually pays well. The amount every freelancer earns is dependent on many factors. Firstly, innovation and then experience. How much work the freelancer does or with how many clients they work with also plays an important role.

If you are good, you will earn as much as any company would and sometimes more. But the icing on the cake is that after all this you tell people you are going on leave, and not have to request for that vacation two months in advance. It may seem like an immature reason but the point of freelancing is to be free, adverse to that of someone who believes that how they vacation should be decided on the basis of policy or regulations. Life is meant to be lived and although rules are necessary, many of them seem Neolithic. 

Remember, if you take this up as a career, you are your own boss, management and HR team. Prioritise your work and use your time well.

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