Posted by: drdata921 | January 31, 2014

ACCENTUATE THE “FREE” IN FREELANCE

Freelancing may be the future of work in America. Freelancers offer their expertise to companies on a project-by-project basis rather than working for a specific company as a normal employee. The benefit for the company is that they can contract the expertise that they need without incurring the costs of a full-time employee.

The benefit for the freelancer is that they have the freedom to determine how much work to take on and when to do the work. This is in contrast to the normal situation where you are locked into an “8 to 5” schedule that you may have little control over. There are obvious advantages of a full-time job in terms of compensation and benefits. However, there are also costs in terms of freedom, lifestyle, and stress. Would freelancing be a viable and acceptable solution for you?

Freelancing is a natural outgrowth of the offshore outsourcing and contractor hires that has been going on for years as companies have tried to cut costs without cutting capabilities. In the old economy, companies staff up with the expertise that they need. The advantage is that employees develop a deep understanding of the business and their expertise is readily available on a moment’s notice. However, personnel cost are substantial when you factor in compensation, benefits, and taxes. In the new economy, some people believe that corporations will evolve (or devolve) to a core management team that will contract externally for the expertise that they need. This could include functions such as marketing, sales, IT, and administrative support, hired on a freelance or contractor basis.

There are two groups that would find freelancing particularly appealing. The first are Generation “X,” people born between the years of 1965 and 1980. Gen Xers cherish the freedom to determine when and how projects will be completed and have an intense dislike for bureaucracy. The other group who would be receptive to this idea is retirees. As I often tell people, when I retire my intention is not to jump from my current full-time job into another full-time job. However, neither is it my intention to divorce myself completely from the working world. I would still like the intellectual challenges and the income would be nice. Freelancing is the perfect solution. I can take on work when I have the inclination or decide not to when I just want a day (or week) at the beach.

Let’s consider the case of retirees and freelancing. American business is about to face a significant crisis. You see, when their employees walk out of the door into retirement, leaving the building are people with considerable knowledge and expertise built up over the course of a career. If you think that you can fill this vacated job slot with a “twenty something” and have the same level of capabilities and expertise, think again. Even those being hired from prestigious schools have the basic foundation, but not the experience to be productive contributors, at least at the level of those who are leaving. Contracting retirees on a project-by-project basis could be one way to recapture what you are losing as the wave of baby boomers head for the exits.

So, I am guessing that most of you are following what I am saying and might even agree with my assessment. However, there is one obvious question that you should be asking: “What do I need to do to get freelancing assignments.” There are two answers that I could offer. First, the company that you are leaving may feel the loss after you are gone and be willing to contract you on a project-by-project basis until they can backfill your position with an effective replacement. This is certainly something you should explore. Similarly, if there are other companies in your local area that may have a need for your special expertise, a letter, e-mail, or call might spark some interest. You are asking for project work, not full-time employment so you could be a resource that they could tap into as the need arises. For the company, the benefits are great and the costs are relatively low. By the way, if you haven’t noticed, we live in a wired world. So, I would not even limit my search to the local area. Working as a freelancer does not generally require that you work on-site. It is “location agnostic.”

However, there is an even more powerful alternative that is available. That alternative is the Internet. There are a number of websites that specialize in helping you identify and land freelancing gigs. The two big ones are elance.com and odesk.com. When you go onto these sites, you establish an account and create a profile highlighting your skills. You can then search the site for freelance opportunities in your area of expertise and bid for jobs or fill out an application. The procedure varies by website, but the basic concept is the same.

The idea is to make potential businesses that may need your skills for a project feel that you are well qualified to provide the expertise they are after. Sometimes you may be hired based on a low price bid. However, on projects that require special or unique skills, you should be able to earn more because the selection is based on how the hirer assesses the skills you have in respect to their needs. The more specialized or technical the skills required the more likely you will be rewarded handsomely, particularly if you have a unique, but in-demand skill set. As you are hired for freelance gigs and prove yourself, the demands for YOU will likely increase as will what businesses are willing to pay to get your expertise.

Here is a shortlist of freelance sites that appear to be the most popular. Check them out if you are interested in possible freelance opportunities:

– Odesk
– Elance
– freelancer
– guru
– ifreelancer
– Craigslist

So, consider freelancing as a potential income opportunity when you retire. You have developed skills and knowledge over the course of a career. Now is the time to profit from this expertise while also enjoying the freedom that retirement affords.

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