If you have a skill that you have used in your career, could you do it freelance? Using a skill people know you have a talent for will help you when starting out. You should also look at people from previous employment and consider whether they could help you. Some may directly employ freelancers. If so, get in touch with a good resume of what your skills and experience are. Even if they know you well, it won’t hurt to remind them what you offer, and they may pass your details on. Even if you have contacts who don’t directly employ freelancers, tell them you are looking for work and ask them to recommend you if colleagues need help.
Register with appropriate online freelance directories. www.elance.com is one of the biggest, but you have a lot of competition and may not get the best rates. www.freelancers.net is a UK based site with an IT focus. Research rates for your job. Your union can not recommend a rate as this is illegal, but may have collected data on what members charge. Ask friendly colleagues for advice, or check out other people’s websites if they display rates. www.people4business.com has a wide range of freelancers and displays their hourly rates.
Set up a website outlining what you offer, with up to date examples of your work. If someone wants to see what you do referring them to your website is quicker than posting examples. Then, if they need someone urgently they can make a swift decision and you will have an advantage over freelancers who have to send examples of their work and experience by mail.
Helen used to work in publishing and now offers proofreading, copyediting and research from home. She says, “When I handed my notice in after having my first child I resigned and asked for freelance work all in the same breath”. She enjoys the flexibility of working while the children are napping or at school. However, going freelance was not easy. Helen says, “Early on I had to pluck up the courage to cold call potential clients. It was worth making myself do it though as it led to the regular clients I still have now. I haven’t had to look for work in quite a while, it tends to find me”. Another problem can be taking on too much at once. Helen comments,”It is hard to say no when you’re not sure where the next job is coming from. I have three or four regular clients and a much clearer idea of when work will come in. It can be hard to switch off when you know that the work is there. Once the children are in bed I sit straight down and some nights I need to work until midnight or one which can be exhausting”. Helen beats stress by making firm plans for one night each week, either getting a babysitter and going out with her partner or getting a bottle of wine in. She adds, “I’m considering getting a childminder one day a week for my youngest, to enable me to get more done in the day and free up some evenings. Overall, though, I feel privileged to be able to spend so much time with my children while still earning a living”.
More ideas for freelance services