3 Steps To Take To Start Freelancing

The majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers by 2027. That mind-blowing prediction comes from the new Freelancing in America: 2017 report, conducted by the Edelman Intelligence research firm and commissioned by the Upwork freelancing platform and Freelancers Union.

Odds are, you’ll want to know how to become a freelancer, either full-time or part-time and either as a side gig while you’re holding down a full-time job or as a way of earning income in retirement. I’ll offer three suggestions in a minute.

The Freelancing in America: 2017 study surveyed 6,000 U.S. workers (freelancers and non-freelancers) to analyze the growing freelance economy and the role it plays in the future of work.

Of course, no survey can predict exactly how many people will be working on a temporary, contract or project basis 10 years from now. And even determining how many people freelance today is tough; statistics on the freelance economy are notoriously elusive. But this report’s findings leave little doubt that we are rapidly barreling towards a freelance-based workplace — and the sooner you prepare for that shift, the better.

A few fascinating findings from Freelancing in America 2017:

  • The U.S. freelance workforce has grown three times faster than the overall U.S. workforce since 2014. Currently, 36% of the workforce is freelancing.
  • Although freelancers skew younger, many in their 50s and 60s are freelancing, too. About half of freelancers are Millennials; roughly 28% of workers in their 50s and 60s are.
  • More freelancers are doing it full-time these days, not as a way to supplement their income. Over the last three years, the number of full-time freelancers increased by 12 percentage points, to 29%, while the percentage of moonlighters and part-time freelancers fell. And 63% of freelancers started freelancing more out of choice than necessity (that’s up 10 points since 2014).
  • Freelancers are doing well financially. Nearly 2/3 of freelancers surveyed said they now make more than they did when they had an employer. That’s up 10 percentage points since 2014. Of those who earn more now than before, 75% said that happened within the first year of freelancing. The survey found that 36% of freelancers now earn $75,000 or more. Notably, half of freelancers claim they wouldn’t even consider a traditional job, no matter how much money was offered.
  • Technology is making it easier to find freelance work online. Nearly 3/4 of the freelancers surveyed said they found work online this past year, up 5 points from the year prior. In short: As technology has improved and companies continue to outsource work, freelancing is becoming a more acceptable, enjoyable and desirable way to work.

Credit: Edelman Intelligence

This doesn’t mean freelancing is a perfect work solution, though. The triple whammy of unpredictable work assignments, fluctuating cash flow and the challenge of securing and paying for health insurance is still a major obstacle for many freelancers (although most freelancers surveyed believe the Affordable Care Act has helped them and prefer Congress keep it). Worth noting: 63% of full-time freelancers dip into their savings at least once a month; just 20% of full-time non-freelancers do.

So how can you best prepare for the possibility that you may be freelancing at some point? Here are three tips culled from the survey results:

1. Update your skills regularly. If the last time you learned a new skill or technology was over six months ago, you’re losing ground. An impressive 55% of freelancers updated their skills in the last six months; by contrast, only 30% of non-freelancers did.

So before year-end, make it a priority to take advantage of any company-sponsored training, workshops or tuition reimbursement you can get. If that’s not an option, look into online courses and community college offerings for affordable training options.

Incidentally, Money and PayScale just came out with a list of the “25 highest-paying side hustles,” which might suggest skills you’d want to learn. The top five, based on hourly pay and assuming doing the work four or five hours a week: disc jockey ($65.70 per hour); musician or singer ($43.40 per hour); photographer ($36.20 per hour); makeup artist ($34.00 per hour) and piano teacher ($31.20 per hour).

Three others in the Top 25: tutor (No. 11; $20.10 per hour); delivery driver (No. 16; $14.30 per hour) and dog walker (No. 17; $12.80 per hour).

2. Seek out work assignments that diversify your capabilities and make you more valuable. You may now have a job that seems automation-proof, but nearly half of freelancers say robots and artificial intelligence have already impacted their work. And 77% of full-time freelancers expect at least some of their work will be done by robots or machies within 20 years.

You just never know how or when technology might encroach on your job. Whenever possible, look for opportunities to take on responsibilities or even side gigs that diversify your skill-base, industry expertise or technology prowess.

3. Step up your networking, both online and off. While freelancers are finding more work online, their biggest source of leads are family and friends, followed by professional contacts (81% combined). That percentage mirrors the oft-quoted statistic that 80% of new jobs are found through networking. Regardless of whether you go out on your own, you’re well served to make networking a priority.

The survey also listed social media as the third most popular source of leads for freelancers. That’s a helpful reminder to take at least a few minutes each week and check in with your professional network on LinkedIn or Twitter. You never know when those connections might lead to an exciting new opportunity, perhaps in your future life as a freelancer.

Source: forbes.com ~ BY:  Nancy Collamer ~ Image: pixabay.com

The Future of Work: Freelancing Goes From Rags to Riches

With the current global spend on contingent workers reaching over $3 trillion, opportunity abounds for all parties.

In 2015, the current global spend on contingent workers was over $3 trillion with nearly 70 percent of that being independent contractors and freelancers (seen as highly skilled professional workers).

And, by various estimates, 20-33 percent of today’s US workforce now comprises of freelancers, contractors and temps, up from six percent in 1989. Worldwide, companies now spend an estimated $300 billion dollars per year on such contingent labor. There are now large United States-based conglomerates that spend upwards of $80 million in contingent labor alone per year to keep the lights on in their businesses and to maintain competitive advantage.

Economists project that the extended workforce will continue to increase as part of a long-term trend and there are important conversations to be had about how that affects the economy, U.S. businesses and the workers themselves in the long run.

Workers can sit back and worry about how things are changing, or they can take action and drive their careers forward. There are currently four clear options for American workers.

1. Maintain a Salaried Job

A job for life is an antiquated terms these days. It is rare for people to stay in a single job from the time of graduation through to retirement age, no matter how good you are or how hard you work. Economies demand efficiency and better, stronger and faster resources seem to win. That being said, we are seeing an upward trend for workers staying with some jobs for longer, especially for the younger generation.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for 25-34 year old workers the average tenure at a job was was 3.2 years in 2012, up from 2.7 years in 2002. This is still true today and is partly due to the recent recession (2008). As the U.S. gets stronger financially and more opportunities arise, we will likely see tenure dropping due to the rise of multiple salaried job workers or hybrid salaried/freelance workers. While this is not a job for life, it certainly is a job for a few years, and that is good.

These are the hybrid salaried/freelance workers, and this is the most likely future for many Americans. People are starting to see the opportunities to follow passion projects and even turn them into reality. No longer are people constrained by lack of funds, or even lack of time.

Brian Chesky, CEO of AirBNB puts this very well, “Now we’re living in a world where people can become businesses in 60 seconds.” And, it’s true. We are more connected than ever and we can grab our smartphones and a credit card and get going.

Start Projects on the Side

These days, on-demand freelancing, and crowdsourcing platforms, like Freelancer.com, let you post projects to build apps, ecommerce website, hire virtual assistants and even do the accounting quickly and easily without the constraints of the local workforce and availability. That means the day job can carry on while the dreams are being built in the background. It’s like being a mini-entrepreneur, or solo-preneur as some like to say.

Having a second source of income, from a fun project is always going to make people feel more satisfied and that can even have a positive effect on their day jobs as well.

2. Go Freelance

In 2014, the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that 2 million Americans are leaving their jobs every week. Some end up at new jobs, however, many are choosing to forge their own path forward. Freelancing platforms have become increasingly streamlined to allow for real-time communications and freelancers can browse thousands of jobs every day.

There was a time when being a freelancer was seen as a risky proposition and a second-class worker in companies. In 2014 the Freelancer’s Union found that 65 percent said freelancing as a career path is more respected today than it was three years ago. With this acceptance comes growth, both personally and with the economy. Companies are growing stronger by hiring these contingent workers.

3. Become the next UBER, Facebook or AirBNB

All of the aforementioned companies worked hard over years to build technologies and then grow their businesses. They received funding early and built on successes they had. Although they are now seen as the unicorns, that does not mean you cannot get going to prove out your idea.

In the U.S. alone, Freelancer.com has over 2 million registered users that are across all major cities—NYC, Chicago, Atalanta, San Francisco, LA, Boston, Seattle—and everywhere inbetween. There are freelancers with over 850 different skills, from mobile app development to engineering, and from accountancy to 3D printing to even more complex tasks like quantum mathematics, VR development and mobile games. They can be called up with your smartphone in a few seconds and your idea can become a reality in minutes, hours and days.

This paves the way for bold ideas and confidence that experimentation with business may not lead to bankruptcy for fledgling businesses. In fact, 42 percent of founders cited a “lack of capital” as their biggest obstacle to growth in 2015, up from about 35 percent the previous year, according to Mainsail Partners, a private-equity firm that works primarily with bootstrapped businesses.

Now it takes just hundreds of dollars to get a business running and get online and only thousands of dollars each year to hire teams across the world for core business functions like business development, support, customer care, accounting, design and data analysis.

Sound too good to be true? Many companies have become multi-million (or even billion) dollar businesses. Whatsapp’s early technical team was even found on these platforms and they have certainly done well.

There are the options and opportunities. Even if you have a small idea for something you’ve always wanted to do then just do it. Maybe it’ll be the next unicorn and you can be the next CEO that everyone is talking about.

Source: business.com ~ By: NIK BADMINTON ~Image: pixabay.com

15 Popular Reasons to Become a Freelancer or Entrepreneur

People can choose from so many reasons to start their own business that it would be impossible to list them all. Here, you’ll get an overview of the most popular reasons which will help you reflect upon and decide whether freelancing or entrepreneurship is for you.

Be Your Own Boss

The most common reason for starting out as a freelancer or entrepreneur is the ability to be your own boss. No more working with control-freak management, no more being clocked in and out of the office, no more getting told off for being late—you are the master of your own ship, and that’s a great way to feel.

Being your own boss is the top reason to start your own business. It can mean becoming a self-contained, one-person company. Happily, the work that you do under this new system will take a skill that’s so close to your nature that you’ll see work and being a boss in an entirely new way.

The End of Office Politics

Office politics have a horrible habit of making people miserable. Many employees say that it’s the worst bit of their job, having to play for favour between competing managers or competing teams. Fortunately, from the day you start working for yourself, you can say goodbye to office politics forever.

You Are in Control

Freelancers and entrepreneurs make their own decisions. There’s no debating which version of a website to use or what the office dress code should be; it’s all up to you. If you want to work naked in your living room or if you want to wear a suit and sit in the suavest of cafes with your laptop, you can.

As the folk singer and influential artist Bob Dylan said, “A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.” (In a self-published interview for his Biograph album set).

Your Time is Your Own

There’s no 9 to 5 unless you want there to be. If you feel most productive between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., you can work then. If your clients want you to be there 9 to 5, you can always excuse periods of absence as a “client meeting”—who’s going to know?

You’re Free to Work Anywhere – Freedom

The author has worked in hotel rooms, apartments, coffee shops, by the pool, and in some really strange places. You’re a business owner—you dictate where you work as long as the job gets done. Your clients pay for your work, and it’s not their decision where you work.

In fact, from a legal perspective—one of the key tests between “freelancer and entrepreneur” and “employee” is that a freelancer and entrepreneur can choose the times and places in which to work.

Today, many entrepreneurs and freelancers become location-independent workers or “digital nomads”. They choose to work wherever they like and change location on a regular or semi-regular basis.

You can work anywhere, but that doesn’t mean you have to – the bath is, perhaps, not the most practical place to work from, not least because of the safety issues involved.

Here, you see parts of the Interaction Design Foundation team working from a beautiful island in Thailand. It’s a lot of fun; it gives an amazing sense of freedom, but it also takes a lot of self-discipline to get the hard work done before going snorkelling after 8–14 hours of intense (but interesting) work.

You Choose the Projects You Want to Work On

If you’re a web designer and you hate working on tobacco company websites, you don’t have to. If you’re a writer and never want to write a single sales letter, you don’t have to. Employees have to work on projects their boss assigns them. Freelancers and entrepreneurs choose their own projects based on their expertise and passion. You might want to bear in mind that it’s unlikely you’ll ever find a “perfect” freelance or entrepreneur job which is 100% interesting and motivating all the time. There’s still boring, repetitive work to be done (such as accounting, admin, etc.), but the majority of your time should involve doing the things you love.

You Choose the Clients You Work With

Back when the author started freelancing, one of her first clients was insanely pernickety. The client had sent a document to ask her to change the position of a comma. The fact that moving the comma herself would take less time… completely escaped the client. So, what did the author do? She fired the client.

She’s happy to edit her work based on client feedback, but she’s not happy to waste 15 minutes reading an e-mail, changing a comma, and writing an e-mail to send that comma back.

Freelancers and entrepreneurs don’t have to work with people who annoy them. They’re free to choose the people with whom they work.

You Never Have to Do Unpaid Overtime Again

You remember that nonsense that companies like to tell you about how salaried employees are expected to hand over their free time for no compensation because they’re salaried? That’s not part of the freelancing life. If you’re working, you’re earning. You charge clients for work, and you don’t work unless you’re getting paid.

You Can Earn More than You Did Before

Sure, in the early days of your career as a business owner—you’ll take the work you can get. Over time, however, you’ll have more offers of work than you can handle. Then you can pick and choose, and, better still, you can raise your rates. Traditionally, freelancers get paid much higher rates than their employed equivalents. Why? Freelancers meet all their own expenses. They buy their equipment; they pay for their health insurance; they pay for their own vacations, etc., and so do entrepreneurs. That stuff doesn’t come free.

More importantly, business owners aren’t given contractual security and they charge a premium for that insecurity, too. As your businesses progresses – your earnings potential is unlimited.

Your Efforts Reward You

An employee is paid a set salary, and while they may get the occasional bonus, much of that usually depends on how other people work, too. If you’re a regular employee of a company which makes no money, you still get paid. On the other hand, you often don’t get a bonus if your work brings in lots of money for your company. On the contrary, freelancers and owners of design businesses get paid for the work that they put in and the results they create. The more they work, they more they get paid. The better results they create, the better they get paid. Every bit of work you do benefits you and only you—no more subsidizing the lazy guy/girl who spends all day talking about work without doing any. The money’s yours.

Sit back and relax with all that money you’ve earned. Freelancers get paid for their efforts and not the efforts of other people.

You Have 100% Job Security

No one can fire you when you’re the boss. Sure, freelancing and entrepreneurship has its ups and downs, but—as long as you keep at it—in the long run you’ll have complete control over your future and your earnings. That’s far better than working for someone who can, at any moment, tell you that the company—the same one you’d given so much to—suddenly doesn’t need you anymore.

You’ll Learn More than You Ever Thought Possible

Every day in freelance and entrepreneurial life brings new challenges, and you’ll learn from each of them. You’ll be more than a designer or a writer or a developer; you’ll be a businessperson, and you’ll learn to solve business problems every single day.

You’ll Gain Confidence

The world’s different when you’re the boss. People see you differently and treat you differently. Plus, you’ll handle client relations, sales, meetings, etc. by yourself without the company of colleagues, managers, etc. Your confidence increases in leaps and bounds when you’re a freelancer.

You Do the Work You Love

Admittedly, not all successful freelancers or entrepreneurs follow their passions, but most do, and even those who don’t find themselves coming to love what they do. Freelancing and entrepreneurship gives you pride in a job well done. Making your customers happy is a thrill. Seeing them come back time and again for more work is incredibly fulfilling. You make things happen as a business owner, and every business owner comes to love that feeling.

The Potential for Growth

Most freelancers and design agencies start small with solo practices, but from little acorns come great oak trees. Many freelancers go on to form their own companies, to hire staff and to build a lasting legacy. That’s something that could never happen as an employee; you’re always building someone else’s legacy, not your own.

Great things come from small beginnings. Freelancers and design agencies who embrace their potential can build bigger businesses in their own image.

The Take Away

You have dozens of reasons to start your own business as a freelancer or entrepreneur, and the list above comprises only a small section. Nevertheless, it certainly contains the most popular reasons. Take your time to consider which of them appeals the most to you.

Source:  interaction-design.org ~ By:  Rikki Dam ~ Image: pixabay.com

Examples of Niche Markets and Businesses

Niche marketing is the fine-tuning of your marketing to focus on a specific demographic of customers and/or products and services you offer. More simply put, it means a business is choosing to play to its strengths and highlight them for the people with whom it will resonate the most. Niche marketing affords many benefits, but finding your niche market isn’t always easy. In fact, you don’t always “find” your niche market. Sometimes it finds you. In this post we’ll go over some examples of niche markets to help you start thinking about what a niche strategy might look like for your business.

Why Niche Marketing?

Finding and catering to your niche market can help your business growth in many ways. By specializing in a particular product, service, or market, you effectively distinguish your business from its competitors. Another nifty thing that niche marketing can do is help you to get the most bang for the buck for your sometimes limited marketing budget.

Knowing that you need to make every marketing dollar count, niche marketing can help you to abide by the Pareto Principle, better known as the 80/20 rule.  This theory purports that roughly 80% of your results will come from just 20% of your efforts. When applied to marketing in general, that means 80% of your efforts are not directly tied to your results. In other words, less is more, and this is where niche marketing comes in.

Examples of Niche Markets

Narrowing your focus and not trying to be all things to all people can help you establish a stronger business reputation. With this strategy, you can become THE expert and attract more profitable customers to your business. Here are some more specific examples of several small businesses and their niche markets:

Law Firm Niches

•  Single dads in Northern California.
•  Car accident victims in Phoenix.
•  Coal miners with mesothelioma.

Personal Trainer Niches

•  New and expecting mothers in the suburbs.
•  Military/police programs candidates.
•  Triathletes attempting to qualify for Ironman events.

Physical Therapist Niches

•  Runners recovering from panthers fasciitis.
•  Stroke victims who have lost mobility and motor skills.
•  First-responders with work-related back injuries.

Home Repair Niches

•  Retirees who need ADA-compliant renovations.
•  House flippers in Central Ohio.
•  People who live in neighborhoods over 30 years old.

Catering Niches

•  Parents of kids with an upcoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
•  Retail employers with more than 10 employees at/around the mall.
•  Working moms with school-age children.

Computer Security Niches

•  Victims of identity theft.
•  Parents of teenagers getting their first cell phone.
•  Baby boomers learning computer skills.

Examples of Niche Businesses

By embracing a niche marketing strategy you can get your business to stand out above competitors who are taking a more general approach to marketing. Niche marketing involves targeting a specific demographic, where you might have several products or services that are beneficial for that particular group. However it can also involve providing a specific product or service, from which a broader market might benefit. In this case, you might consider your business to be niche more so than your market. For example:

•  CPAs who do taxes for the self-employed.
•  Law firms that specialize in family law only.
•  Hair salon that only does blowouts, no cuts.
•  Dog training for older or formerly abused dogs.

Finding Your Niche

To find your niche market, think about what you’re best at, what you enjoy doing most for your clients, and the clients you enjoy most. Your niche market can find your business, you could stumble upon your niche, or you could choose a specialty and make it work. Having a firm grasp on the primary goods and services that you provide, and the different segments of your audience will help you to hone your strategy. Don’t be afraid to experiment either. Experimentation is the key to learning, which is the key to growth.

Source:  thrivehive.com ~ Image: pixabay.com

10 Success-Boosting Motivation Tips From Millionaire Entrepreneurs

Motivation is a daily struggle for entrepreneurs, so I’ve put together these motivation-boosting tips from 10 of today’s successful entrepreneurs.

1. Fear of failure.

In an article that he wrote for Bloomberg, Mark Cuban stated that he uses the fear of failure for self-motivation.

“No matter what business you’re in, you’re always at risk — particularly in technology, where it changes so rapidly you’ve got to put in the effort to keep up,” writes the Shark Tank panel member. “There’s always the opportunity for some 18-year-old to come out of nowhere and crush you—that motivates the hell out of me.”

“Every one of my companies, whether something I started or something I invested in, is a scoreboard. How am I doing? A lot of investors or advisers play it as a numbers game.”

“If they invest in 20 companies, as long as one success covers 19 losses, they did OK. I look at every loss as a huge failure. I had an investment go bad recently. I lost $1.5 million on it. It pisses me off to no end.”

Failed at something? Ask these Mark Cuban questions.

“You can also use it as motivation. What did I do wrong? Who did I trust that I shouldn’t trust? What can I learn from this situation so I can avoid it next time?”

2. Do what you’re passionate for.

This is the key. However, as Chalmers Brown, co-founder and CTO of Due writes, “We want to not only make a lot of money but enjoy what we do as well. We are willing to take on the risk of unstable pay in exchange for following our dreams.”

“Unfortunately, your dream job may not always be the best decision financially. Sometimes your hobbies are best kept as projects in your spare time for fun (which is great!). If you do want to try to turn your passion into a full-time job, these tips can help you get started the right way.”

Brown gives the tips below:

  • Improve something that you’re already doing.
  • Figuring out where market.
  • Sharing your passion with others.
  • Stay happy and motivated by assigning tasks that you’re not a fan of to someone else.

3. Keep affirmations where you can see them.

“It’s so easy as an entrepreneur to get sucked into feeling exhausted or frustrated, and often the blame is yours alone,” writes Murray Newlands, founder of online invoicing company Sighted. “But a negative mindset sucks up mental bandwidth and energy that you need to stay focused and successful.

“It is crucial to maintain an optimistic attitude in the face of setbacks. Whenever you see a quote or a picture that helps you stay positive, place it front and center so you can remember what this journey is all about.”

4. Leverage the power of rejection.

“On June 26, 2008, our friend Michael Seibel introduced us to seven prominent investors in Silicon Valley. We were attempting to raise $150,000 at a $1.5M valuation. That means for $150,000 you could have bought 10 percent of Airbnb.”

“Below you will see five rejections. The other two did not reply,” writes Airbnb Co-Founder Brian Chesky on Medium. “The investors that rejected us were smart people, and I am sure we didn’t look very impressive at the time.”

Today Airbnb is valued at just under $30 billion.

5. Surround yourself with highly successful and motivated people.

“No one does it alone,” said Mark Zuckerberg during a Q&A in 2016. “When you look at most big things that get done in the world, they’re not done by one person, so you’re going to need to build a team.”

When building your All-Star team, seek out people who excel in the areas where you’re not strong or have less experience. “You’re going to need people that have complementary skills,” Zuckerberg emphasized. “No matter how talented you are, there are just going to be things that you don’t bring to the table.”

6. Never feel sorry yourself.

“All of my best successes came on the heels of a failure, so I’ve learned to look at each belly flop as the beginning of something good,” said Barbara Corcoran, founder of The Corcoran Group and Shark on Shark Tank.

“If you just hang in there, you’ll find that something is right around the corner. It’s that belief that keeps me motivated. I’ve learned not to feel sorry for myself, ever. Just five minutes of feeling sorry for yourself takes your power away and makes you unable to see the next opportunity.”

7. Look for inspiration.

Inspiration is a driving force that you can use to motivate you. Lyft Co-Founder Jordan Zimmerman said that, “Right now, my daughter is a huge inspiration. Thinking about the future of our cities, the world and what environment she’s going to grow up in.”

“Also, the driver and passenger stories we hear every day. In a past team meeting, we had a mother come in and tell the story herself. She is a Lyft driver living in New York and her daughter is in Los Angeles.

“The daughter was going through a rough living situation with a roommate and had to leave and move into a new place. The mother called a Lyft for her daughter, had a quick conversation with the driver and the driver took care of her daughter in this tough situation.”

“These stories inspire us to think how we can make things more efficient and create a platform for two people to have a really positive interaction?”

8. Don’t obsess over your vision.

Yes. Think about your vision. But don’t spend too much time over it or it will bog you down. Elon Musk, for example, only spends around 30 minutes a week on his vision of SpaceX colonizing Mars. Besides those 30 minutes, Musk spends a majority of his time focused on the milestones that are the most immediate and critical.

9. Be grateful.

“Most of the time when people ask me about motivation, 80 percent of the time I attribute it to gratitude. If you want real fuel to win, be grateful,” writes Gary Vaynerchuk.

“Gratitude is what has gotten me through my toughest moments in business. Whenever I have lost a deal to a competitor, or an incredible employee, or millions of dollars in revenue, I default to gratitude. It’s impossible not to stay motivated or get too down when you’re feeling grateful.”

10. Forget about motivation.

“So many people wait to feel ‘motivated’ before they do anything. Here’s a newsflash: happy productive people do not wait for motivation, they just get on with it,” said Marie Forleo. I suggest that you watch the entire video where Marie shares her tips for motivation. It’s spot-on.

Source: entrepreneur.com ~ By: John Rampton ~ Image: pixabay