Posted: Thu 27th Apr 2017
It's no secret that working practices are changing and freelancers are becoming much more common in the working environment. Jazz Gakhal, director of Direct Line for Business, takes a look at some freelance career options that you can make a start on today.
How we work is becoming increasingly flexible and many jobs no longer confine workers to an office or even a shared work space. And with technology continuing to advance and make communicating with workers in other countries much easier, work is also often no longer confined to a traditional 9-5 day.
With these barriers removed in a wide-range of industries and professions, many people are looking to go it alone and set up as a freelancer.
A freelancer's circumstances can vary greatly. They may be building up their own business alongside their day job by developing a particular skill or interest. Or, they could already be an expert in a particular field and want to have more freedom in their working life.
If you're interested in going freelance, but you're not sure where to apply your skill set, we've shortlisted some popular freelancing job ideas that you can start on right away.
It's quite possible that you already have a good number of creative skills that you could make a living from. Writers, copywriters, editors, photographers, graphic designers, illustrators, and many more all contribute to the creative economy; 24% of which is made up of freelance workers.
The route to becoming a freelance creative depends on your previous work experience and skill set. If you're new to your profession then you might be able to take on small jobs around your current job until you're in a position where you can make the switch to working freelance full time.
On the other hand, you may have already developed a great deal of expertise and positioned yourself as an expert who can work directly with clients or through an agent. In which case, you'll be able to transition to working as a freelance creative full time a bit quicker.
You may want to bring your creative knowledge home and work from there or work from your own studio or office. For either approach, it can be helpful to get the support of a network of other creatives to connect and collaborate with.
Having a creative community around you to meet, chat with and exchange ideas could also help you to get your own creative business off the ground. If there aren't any near to where you're based, there are digital communities where you can share ideas and get advice.
Once you've chosen your field or specialism you can start by taking on small projects and building from there. For example, if you're a photographer you might focus just on weekend wedding work, or you might decide that full time photo shoots for brands are the way to go.
Do you have a product that you long to get out there into the market place? Maybe you already sell it at local markets or online.
The likes of Levi Roots, whose Reggae Reggae sauce was backed by Dragons' Den business investors and went on to be stocked by Sainsbury's, are a source of inspiration to many-a would-be producer. But there's a lot to put in place before a manufacturer can reach those lofty heights.
Making sure there's a market for your product is the first step. Get retail-ready by first checking out your competitors, finding a gap in the market and planning for how you might handle growth if your product does take off. It's no good selling a brilliant product if you can't meet the demand.
Think carefully about how to build loyalty among your target market. Trade shows might be your first port of call. Here you can capture the interest of potential buyers by being passionate about your product.
The alternative might be to sell direct to consumers, in which case you will need to research your platform carefully. There are many opportunities both in person and online to sell your wares, so finding out which context will work best for yours requires investigation early on.
Many businesses looking to outsource their IT will turn to freelance programmers, developers, tech designers and those offering flexible tech support and solutions.
It may go without saying, but to be a professional IT solutions provider you will need to be well qualified, or at least proficient enough in your specialism to tackle some of the issues facing a variety of businesses.
The level of service you offer could range from high-level IT consultancy to day-to-day IT troubleshooting. You might have developed a wealth of IT knowledge garnered through experience, or you may have a degree in engineering, computer science or IT.
Once you've decided to make a go of freelancing as an IT professional, make sure your offerings are clearly listed, either your own website, or on a freelancer marketplace like PeoplePerHour or Upwork.
And whatever your route into the industry is, keep your knowledge up to date in this fast-changing field so you're ever-ready to respond to queries with your technical know-how.
Social media sensation
The advent of social media has seen an industry of bloggers, vloggers, Youtubers, Instagrammers and other influencers flourish seemingly overnight.
Often those who excel in social media are passionate and knowledgeable about their platform and already possess some kind of knowledge or interest, either niche or popular, for which there exists a hungry and receptive audience along with keen-to-be-involved advertisers.
Building up a following takes commitment and time.
It's rare to make serious money by becoming a social media celebrity, but it's possible to build some revenue through the sale of products you offer, or from ad revenue by generating traffic to and activity on your chosen social platform.
Naturally there's more to becoming a member of the 'Instarati' than taking a good selfie. To attract advertising revenue your following doesn't just need to be numerous, but enthusiastic too. Essentially you're selling yourself, so what you have to say needs to be worth saying and presented with a strong personality.
To have any impact you'll need to keep things interesting, regular and up to date. It could also be worth seeking sponsors, but don't sell out. It's important that your content is clear and uncorrupted by advertising influence.
Small businesses and startups often cannot afford essential professional services.
Overworked business owners can find themselves juggling multiple demands from sales and customer services through to advertising and bookkeeping.
So if you're looking for freelance ideas that fit flexibly around your other commitments, then being a self-employed bookkeeper is one option.
The advantages of starting a freelance bookkeeping and payroll service is that you can choose the services you offer to your clients. You can also work for several clients at once and adapt your working hours to suit your life. However, you may need to get certified to be able to offer some services.
There may also be some overheads at first, such as investing in some software to keep on top of your clients' books, but these can be a sensible investment, especially if you can customise the software to meet a particular client's needs.
Do a little research into rates and set your own prices. Joining your local chamber of commerce can also be a good first step to help build up a network of contacts and drum up initial business.
Becoming a home-based consultant can be a good choice for those working in a variety of industries or sectors. There are all sorts of reasons why you might decide to start freelancing, but it's no longer the case that consultants are those looking to supplement retirement.
You will require authority and knowledge in a specialist field to be competitive in a crowded marketplace and to win the contracts you want.
The knowledge and experience of others can be invaluable, so don't be afraid to get some guidance from an established consultant when you first start out.
Depending on your objectives, work can be rich and varied and you may find yourself working across a variety of industries and sectors, at home and abroad. Keep track of your existing connections and network to generate leads.
Even if yours is the kind of freelance work you can move into fairly seamlessly, setting up and running your own business does require significant time, energy and resources, which is why it's important to minimise the risks to that investment.
If your client decides your advice or service is inadequate then getting the right level of professional indemnity insurance can give you the cover you need for the legal costs and any expenses or compensation incurred in defending a claim. Find out more on the Direct Line for Business website.