Thinking about a freelancing career or hiring a freelancer?

Gery L. Deer talks "Freelancing"with Shaun Kraisman on WDTN-TV2 Living Dayton.

Gery L. Deer talks “Freelancing”with Shaun Kraisman on WDTN-TV2 Living Dayton. 

During the peak of the recession many unemployed workers took matters into their own hands by setting themselves up as freelance professionals.  Some estimates put the current number of freelance workers at 40-percent of the total professional pool by the year 2020.

Those numbers aren’t as accurate as they might be, however, because, according to the website, “there is currently no universal definition of ‘freelancer’. Organizations, corporate bodies and government departments instead engineer their own definitions, according to the research or discussions in which they are engaged.”

Put more simply, GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd., defines a freelance worker as a practicing, independent, qualified professional who is not employed by any one company but instead can take jobs as they come from multiple sources. The freelancer is responsible for his or her own healthcare, retirement planning, taxes and other considerations.

Developing a thriving freelance practice takes dedication and time – and some money. Businesses that hire freelance professionals save money and time, while employing some of the most talented people in the job market.

Recently, Forbes magazine published a list of the most popular freelance careers. Here are the top five:

Marketing – Apx. $50 / hr.

Web Development – $40 / hr.

Accounting – $20 / hr.

Tutoring – $25 / hr.

Graphic Artist / Designer – $21 / hr.

Other categories include Business Project Management, Writing, Accounting, Insurance Inspection, and Social Media Coordinator – all of which offer freelance potential.

Before becoming a freelance worker, however, there are some things you need to consider such as:

  • You should have 3-5 years of experience in your chosen freelance profession.
  • The days of a predictable paycheck are over.
  • You must learn to be a small business owner/operator, which includes acquiring the skills of selling, networking and  management.
  • Building a portfolio takes time – don’t expect to get work right away.
  • Check to make sure your current or previous employer didn’t have a ‘non-compete’ clause in your employment or separation agreements.

Businesses who use local freelance professionals can save money and time by utilizing these highly experienced workers on an as-needed basis. But do your homework before hiring any freelancer. Most freelancers will provide you with a work agreement or contract or you should supply one that outlines, in great detail, the expectations of the job. You may need one for each project.

All of that said, those considering use of freelance workers should remember they are professionals and that you are not their only client. Generally, a freelancer will have a work agreement or other contract for you to sign before work begins. They will also require a deposit or retainer to get started on work. Keep in mind that consultations are often free, but don’t take advantage of someone’s eagerness to impress. Freelancers should be paid for any time during which they provide valuable information.

Freelancers are a valuable part of the economy and function as a small business, whether they work from a spare bedroom or from an office building.  There are many books and websites dedicated to helping freelancers learn how to manage the business of their craft.


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