Freelancing is a term used for individuals who are self-employed and offer their services to a client or multiple clients on contractual basis. This means that they are not committed to a permanent employer rather offer their services to multiple companies or clients. The best part about being a freelancer is that you do not have a boss or a 9-5 job where you have to sit for long hours to get a particular salary at the end of the month.
A freelancer is not bound to dedicate certain hours every day to a boss; they don’t have any boss and have the freedom to work as per their preferred hours and time. Freelancers have the liberty to increase or decrease the amount of work they are doing as per there ease.
Even though freelancing is a very broad term but we will be talking about freelancing in the IT industry and people with relevant skills. As of 2015, any work that can be done remotely via a computer is available as a freelancing job on several platforms like Upwork, Freelancer and Fiverr etc.
Millions of freelancers are closing thousands of sales and earning decent living through freelancing and so can you.
In this guide we will discuss each aspect along with facts and statistics so that you can make up your mind and look towards a promising future. Freelancing is becoming the new normal with 40% of Pakistani population being self-employed.
Here is a quick example of someone we helped break 9-5 circle and build his own thing:
In the past few years there is a significant rise in people who are switching to freelancing. College students start freelancing even during their education by creating profiles at different freelancing platforms. People who are stuck with monotonous job routine get rid of 9-5 by starting their own career. Freelancing has become a billion dollar industry in various countries across the globe. The top countries with Freelancers are United States, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Philippines.
In the United States, freelancers make up to 35% of total work force and had a collective earning of $1 trillion in the past year. While in Pakistan, there are 150,000 freelancers earning a total revenue of $1 billion as per Punjab IT Board chairman which is far less than the actual figure.
Pakistan is the top fourth country after India, Bangladesh and United States in the freelancing community. According to a recent survey, Pakistan accounts for 9% of the total freelancers in the world which will increase with time as more awareness about the industry and skills is spread.
In 2015 Pakistan’s freelancing industry saw a 328% growth which is second highest ration after Philippines (728%). Most Pakistani freelancers work on the Australian platform Freelancer.com, followed by Odesk/Upwork and Fiverr.
The freelance programmers in Pakistan account for $850 million of country’s software exports bringing in foreign revenue and contributing towards a stronger economy.
As per Bina Shah’s article in The New York Times,
“There are now estimated 1500 registered companies in Pakistan and 10,000 IT graduates entering the market every year.
In its top-earning countries growth rate, Upwork ranked Pakistani programmers in the upper 10-25%. “Out of 4 million freelancers on Odesk/Upwork 214,000 million are Pakistanis working 2.6 million hours as of July 2013”, reports Khayam to Express Tribune.
As per the freelancer income survey certain skills pay more than the others. Freelancers in the legal industry make $31/hour on average while those in sales and marketing make $21 and writing being the lowest paid make an average of $17 per hour.
Most of the Pakistani freelancers bid for jobs in the following categories:
There are a hundred reasons why being a freelancer or running your own business is better than a job but some reasons are more critical for you to decide whether you are ready for such a career choice. Below are top reasons why you should freelance as compared to sticking with a day job and staying inside your comfort zone. Of course there is a risk involved when you don’t know how much will you earn and what will be your career path, but without risk there is no success.
The most popular reason for anyone to start freelancing or entrepreneurship is that you get to be your own boss. You don’t have to put up with strict management or an annoying boss. You have the liberty to start and end your work as per your preference without having the fear of late deductions, sandwich deductions and unpaid overtime.
You are free to start as an individual and scale it to any level as your career progresses. You can build your own company in a matter of few years like I did and there is no one stopping you from working on a particular niche or certain clientele. It is rightly said,
“Build your dreams before someone hires you to build it for them”.
No matter what part of the world you are in or what industry you are working for, dirty office politics is the number one factor for making people miserable. Doing odd jobs, giving favors and staying overtime to please management or get a certain position in team are just a few setbacks to nominate. Once you are working for yourself, you don’t have to be a part of dirty politics and do only what you love to do.
Why I love freelancing is because I hate dress codes and written notices for every small thing. Being a freelancer or entrepreneur you can work in your PJs from your bedroom or be on a travel tour along with your laptop. There is no one telling you to sit in a specific pose and follow specific instructions.
There is no denial that working environment impacts productivity but you can create an ideal environment for yourself as per your ease either at home, a café or on a tour. You are responsible for your actions and know that you have the complete control of how you work and what you work on.
Iqbal Azeem a graduate from FAST and a full time freelancer put this as,
“Free in freelancing stands for freedom”.
He further explains that its not only developing countries like India and Pakistan where freelancing is a rising trend rather developed nations like U.S have a high percentage of freelancers because of the liberty it offers and the rates you get for quality work. If your work is quality, there is no reason for you to not get paid the amount you deserve. There are great clients to build long term relations with if you build sustainable businesses for them.
The prominent legal difference between being a freelancer and an employee is that you haven’t sold your time to anyone. You just commit to a contract in a certain timeline and you do it at whatever hours suit you. You don’t necessarily have to wake up at 8 and rush to the office after getting all dressed. If you are a night person, no one can stop you from working at 1 am and sleeping till 12 in the morning. If your clients want you to be available in a certain time, that is mostly going to be for meetings or calls but the rest of the time you can decide what to do, when to work, when to sleep, when to shop and when to have fun.
When I started my career, I worked for long hours during the eve and the night but I slept during the day as much as I liked. In all my years of freelancing I have never had to worry about attending a wedding, going out with friends or being on a vacation during peak working days because I was doing my assigned tasks and it did not matter to the client whether I am sitting in an office chair or lying in a couch.
As per my personal experiences, I have worked at places you could hardly imagine. I would sometime lie all day in bed and write the articles or be at a friend’s place enjoying gossip, sipping margarita and formatting my pieces. I have even worked with my kids in the play land and on coffee dates with my husband.
No one is going to come and ask you to be at a specific seat for specific hours in a specific dress following specific office etiquettes. If you have a contract for let’s say designing a logo and you have 3 days to deliver it, you can very well start you research on first day, then shut down the system and go out with friends and do nothing for the rest of the day. You make initial drafts the next day taking 1-2 hours and then watch Netflix all day long. On day 3 you refine your idea and submit it to the client taking another hour or two and still have the whole day ahead of you to plan any meet ups or do any house chores you were planning.
There’s a high number of people today working as a digital nomads (location independent freelancers) running their blogs or doing contractual work. If you are single and don’t have family to bound you, you can very well travel to any part of the world with your laptop and keep getting paid for the work you are doing.
I was a writer, but I never liked writing business proposals so I never bid on them. I know designers who don’t like to work for alcohol companies so they don’t bid on them. When you are an employee, you have to work on every task assigned to you by your boss regardless of whether you like it or not. There is a hundred jokes about people hating their boss and jobs but I am yet to see any about hating freelancing since you are not forced to work on tasks you despise.
As a freelancer you choose the projects you would like to work on and the amount you would like to work for. You don’t always find the perfect jobs but most of the times you are working on your passions. If design is your passion, and you even get challenging jobs, you will be happy to put your skill to test. But if your passion is writing and yet you are to create boring grants and proposals for your boss then you will eventually start hating writing even.
I once had a client that kept asking to increase the fonts on the web design, regardless of my recommendation; he wanted to have BIG BOLD fonts in 24-30 points, which was way against web design standards. However, we did what he demanded and once the design was send to coding, the client called one day, furious that his friends think that the agency does not know about web design standards. I was surprised; this is what he demanded to have? But there was no point arguing, I simply fired the client.
I am happy to do revisions for my clients, but taking blame for something that we were not responsible for? I knew the client would be a trouble maker if we continued so I just stopped working for them. And that is why freelancing is best. You don’t have to put up with other people’s bullshit for no good reason. In freelancing, both parties are in win-win situation, however in a job, only the boss is winning and you keep losing your mind, dignity and patience.
You must be familiar with the companies who ask you to spend some extra hours, we call it overtime with no benefits, and this is quite overwhelming. Freelancing life is completely different from the office work; your every second spent on work will get you money. There is no concept of unpaid hours when you are working for yourself.
Exactly during the start of your business career as an owner you will take the work you can get. With the passage of time you will get more business than you can handle. This is the time where you can choose between different contracts and get the rates you are comfortable working for. Usually, freelancer earns more, compared to those employed at the same position. The question here is why? Because freelancers have to deal with their own expenses and income.
Notably, business owners aren’t given contractual security and they charge exceptionally high for that insecurity. As your business grows you can remarkably earn a lot.
If you are an employee then you must have a fixed salary and you get some incentive at the end of the month based on the performances of the other employees as well. If you are an employee of the company which is not gaining profit no matter what you still get paid. On the other hand, you do not get profit even though you work too hard which brings company a lot of profit. Contrary to that, if you are running your own design business you will get paid for the efforts you paid. The more creative you are the more money you will earn.
Take a breath and relax with all that money you have earned. Freelancers get rewarded based on their efforts.
The most important thing in freelancing is that no one can fire you from the job. You can’t deny the fact that there are pros and cons in freelancing as well but with the passage of time you will overcome all the problems in it. After all it’s far better than working for someone under their pressure of firing you at any time.
Every day in the life of entrepreneur and freelancer there come new challenges. You get to learn a lot from it. You can be more than a designer a developer or a writer; you will be a business person, and you dramatically learn to solve the complex business problems every day.
When you are the boss you get to see the world differently. People treat you in another way. Most importantly you get to handle client relation, sales and meetings which are critical for your self-growth and confidence.
Certainly, not everyone gets lucky to follow their passion and earn by doing what they love. Working as a freelancer and an entrepreneur makes you proud of what you do. It’s completely a different feeling when your customers get happy with your work and seeing them come back makes you more satisfied. You run your world.
Great things come with small possibilities, mostly big freelancers and big design agencies always take small step at the start. If you are working for someone you are not building your legacy you are building their dreams.
The Take Away
You can find tons of reasons to start your own business as an entrepreneur. However, there must be strongly good reasons to start your independent career. Give yourself time to think and see what appeals you the most.
If you want to know anything about online earning, freelancing, digital marketing or internet business just post your question on facebook, instagram or youtube and tag it with #askdankash we will get back to you.
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