Faiza Yusuf, Founder of WomenInTechPK, a Product Management Consultant and someone who has spent much of her professional life freelancing, conducted an interactive session where she discussed the various things one has to look out for when taking the freelancing path, such as finding your niche, developing your portfolio and the importance of having a credibility trail.
Finding your Calling…
At the beginning of her session, Faiza shared her journey of how she first entered the world of freelancing. For someone who’s only at the beginning of their career, freelancing can seem overwhelming.
There’s always someone who’s going to be doing the same thing you are, and offering to do it cheaper or faster. But that doesn’t mean you should try to do it even cheaper, even faster. If you want to make it in the industry, you have to find your calling, and stick to it. This is a value that Faiza has stuck by throughout her career, and encourages new-comers to do the same.
Because once you’ve found something you’re good at and enjoy doing, you have to become an authority on it. When you’re good at what you do, it doesn’t really matter if there are ten or a hundred people offering the same services as you; your work will stand out.
And when you’re the best at your profession, people will line up to work with you.
But something to keep in mind with the freelancing world is knowing when to say no, and when to venture into unknown territory. While some projects may seem intriguing, if you have to learn everything from scratch to be able to even begin, then is it really worth the time and effort you’ll have to put in?
…And Turning it into your Portfolio
For new comers, Covid-19 presents a great opportunity. There is ample time to start building your brand, creating a portfolio and developing skills that you want to work on.
When the work you’re displaying is your own brand portfolio, to employers this is an indication of not just what you have to offer, but what they can expect from you in terms of quality of work and effort.
There is a lot of scope in the freelancing industry nowadays. Companies who previously insisted on having in-person employees and never considered hiring people online are slowly becoming more comfortable with connecting with freelancers and hiring them for their projects, meaning that having an excellent portfolio is more important than ever.
Since there is so much variety in the freelancing industry, there are different platforms that have begun to cater to particular fields. While some websites function with entry barriers in order to maintain a certain level of quality, you could easily take it as a challenge to keep honing your skills until you reach, and surpass, those levels.
Some well-known websites recommended by Faiza for freelancing are Upwork, Fiverr, Toptal, Scalable Path, Slack Workflow, Gun.io, PeopleperHour and SimplyHired.
Freelancing is unlike any other work. You can’t make a profile, upload a portfolio, and expect to be hired the next day, week or even month. It took a while before Faiza began receiving steady work. She saw it as a long-term commitment that requires you to build credibility over time to be able to receive more work: so once you’re in, you’re in for the long run.
…And Pricing it Fairly
A big worry for people who are just getting into freelancing is deciding how much they’re going to charge. Too high, and you might not get work; too low, and you might end up doing way too much work for way too little money.
But according to Faiza, freelancing should never be a play on price. You know the time, effort and labor that you are putting in, and you shouldn’t compromise that just because someone else is charging lower.
And the problem is, someone will always be charging lower.
This is a good time to remind yourself, and potential employers, that you bring value-added services with your work and with you, they get someone who cares deeply about what they’re producing.
Leaving a Credibility Trail
A credibility trail is essentially a blog or report detailing your experience while working on a certain project or product, or with a brand or company. You can write a detailed description of the steps you took from the beginning of your project to its development and conclusion.
For people working in any industry, having a credibility trail speak volumes about the quality, mindfulness and energy put in that is often not visible in the work itself.
Credibility trails are a valuable asset to have. They make it easier for future employers to see what they’re getting when they choose to work with you.
Freelancing can be a very lucrative industry, and more so because it cuts out so many steps that must be taken for jobs that are office-based. It is especially useful now, when all work has to be done from home, so make use of these tips and begin your freelancing career!