If you want to create-work-earn and carve a living through your creativity read on
This is the first part in a series of posts about earning a living through creativity. To create-work-earn is no longer just a dream, it’s very much a reality and it could be yours too.
The Freelance Economy the place to create – work – earn and thrive
- What does the freelance economy mean?
- How does the freelance economy change how we work?
- Is it possible to join it under your own steam?
- Is there a future for you and the freelance economy?
Leap and the net will appear
These are some pretty significant questions but anyone wanting to leap must know what it is they are leaping into. After all, you wouldn’t leap into a pond without knowing what was lurking in the water, would you? For the bungee jumping, cliff diving types, that may come across a stupid question. But for the rest of us it’s a good thing to really get to understand what the freelance or gig economy is all about. After all, it’s likely going to be the place where many of us create- work-earn for some time.
Be available and deliver your creativity
Basically, what we all know, more or less, is that the freelance economy comprises of hiring people, freelancers to undertake tasks for a specific fee. That’s it. Your half of the bargain is to make yourself available and deliver the task in the way you have been asked, for the sum of money promised and in an agreed timescale.
Be part of her/history
However, it’s more than that. We are in the Fourth Industrial revolution. Think how the history books will describe this period. Certainly it will be seen as a time of intense and rapid change. Automation won’t replace us all. Personally I think what we do and how we do it will change. We will definitely lose some of the mundane, drudge tasks for sure. CEO of one of the largest freelancing platforms, Upwork has been quoted as saying: ‘ we have a unique opportunity to guide the future of work and freelancers will play more of a key role than people realize.” It’s a fab opportunity for us to create – work -earn and really flex our creativity.
Risk will become your middle name
When people make the decision to work in a freelance capacity they take a massive risk. However, they also know they wrest back an element of control too and that is liberating. It does mean that we are no longer passive but need to be proactive in our understanding of what market trends are dictating and what is constantly shifting in the world of work. Imagine you are a fisherman and need to check the tides and understand the condition of the sea before you set out on a trip. Freelancers need to do the same and get used to refreshing and reviewing their skills regularly. The best way to create-work-earn effectively is to keep training.
All this might sound daunting but it’s incredibly exciting.
Freelancers are never lazy or complacent
We are all in the business of advancing our economies. Come on, be enthused! It’s amazing and we can all be a part of it. Upwork’s 2017 Freelancing in America report, stated freelancers keep learning. Their survey found that 55 percent of freelancers took part in skill-related education within the last six months. Paid employees are less enthusiastic it seems, and only 30 percent of non-freelancers did the same. This is what I mean about risk and opportunism. Freelancers are always looking, evolving and being opportunists. They are not risk averse usually. It makes me laugh than self employed have more difficulty in getting mortgages but I say if you want to out a bet on who can get money more quickly someone salaried or a freelancer I know who I would back every time.
We are skewing the norm – whatever that is!
Having read this far you might be pondering whether freelancing is quite as “out there” as non risk takers imagine. Consider this, as more of us make the decision to be self sufficient then we skew what’s considered “the norm”. What does stability really look like these days? Compare it to 25 years ago. Stress happens when you don’t feel in control of your circumstances. Stress feels very different as a freelancer – oh yes, there’s plenty but it can be energising.
Probably within a decade most of us will be self-employed in one capacity or another.
You only have to see how big businesses are under pressure and that work as we have known it for so long is definitely evolving. The gig marketplace is disruptive, technical innovation is rapid and even the fact we can communicate so easily is mind blowing. It’s good for anyone wanting to become self-employed and the time really is right now!
But be aware you aren’t on anyone’s books
You don’t get paid sick pay or holiday pay. You have few or no rights. However, you can create your working life according to your own rules. If you don’t want to work, you don’t work. If you want to work from home, just do it. If you want to put the washing on the line in the middle of the day then no one is checking. If you want to develop extreme feral tendencies then freelancing is the career path for you.
Uber and Lyft were in the vanguard
You may source jobs from conventional means like classified ads, or online job boards. You might want o join a freelancing site or pick up gigs on social. Some businesses rely 100% on freelancers. Think Uber or Lyft for example.
The freelance economy is transformational
It has transformed so many aspects of working and often overturned barriers to entry. I think back to when I was 16 years of age. I so wanted to be a music journalist. I went for an interview at a top music paper and was so excited. They said they were impressed and would very much like to take me on. However, union rules meant they had to keep the vacancy open for 6 months just in case. When you are 16 six months is forever and that opportunity never transpired. So when I decided to become a full time writer I answered an ad for a children’s writer and because my starting price was very attractive I was hired, just like that.
Uber has disrupted conventional cab driving for better or worse.
Forget getting trained or buying a licence. You just need a decent car and a great smartphone and you’re done. Obviously, it has caused all kinds of problems that we won’t explore here. But essentially the prices get driven down (see what I did there?) and opportunities are created. Freelance work is growing in popularity. It gives companies the chance to bring in the skills they need for the time they need them. It’s like a cash transaction, no loyalty, no responsibility. You give me the project and I fulfill it. You pay me and I’m off to the next one. Apparently Americans are very keen on this modus operandi. You can start as a freelancer and notch up a lot of experience and then find yourself pitching for work in a full time capacity. The old conundrum of not being able to get a job with no experience is up ended.
Of course there are some downsides to the freelance economy
With no benefits, no company pension there can be economic hardship. However much you might sit and plan economic world domination if you’re not working for some reason then no-one will support you. In the long term your income may not be able to support a good quality retirement. It’s a risk and you need to decide if you can and want to take it.
In addition working for yourself can make you fiercely independent
It can then be hard to work under other people’s rules. The longer your freelance the more feral you become. I’ve had so many conversations with people who say ‘now I am virtually unemployable as I just don’t do as I’m told!” That doesn’t mean they are not punctual or provide poor quality work or are unreliable. The thing is we enjoy planning our work schedule to suit our lives. I often find freelancers are very good at multi tasking and have numerous projects on the go. That’s not everyone of course but be mindful, independence is addictive.
Society is also changing as a consequence of freelancing and the gig economy
Many inner cities are facing shortages of rented accommodation, as Airbnb is more lucrative than full time rentals. However, you might say that fewer people need to live in overcrowded cities when they can work fro anywhere with a stable Internet connection.
There has been a lack of regulation within the freelance economy
It has put some people in danger. Yes, very different from the over regulation I witnessed back in my youth. In fact rolling back regulations seems to be in fashion at the moment. Therefore freelancers are also very attractive in 2018 and beyond.
Define your offering
Whatever you choose to do this year the first thing to consider is what you are thinking of offering. Then do some research. Consider how you would like to be known. Ponder over the type of clients you might be looking for. Are you going to specialise? Are you going to serve everyone who asks you to work for them? For example I have been asked to write content for escort agencies, casinos, betting companies, pharmaceutical companies and others. Are you going to say yes to everyone or are you going to undertake some due diligence? If you were a company and remember you may well be one day, how would you like to be regarded? Can you afford morals? That truly is the million-dollar question!
Trust and transparency are keys
You might be thinking this all sounds a little premature but the freelance economy is changing and morphing into its next skin. Trust is very important. Transparency is also important. People are sick to death with being sold a lie and they will be watching out for the next one.
Yes it’s easy to use a freelancer and ditch her when the next one comes along.
We have not rights and there’s nothing much we can do about that. However, it slows companies down when they keep having to stop and retrain. It didn’t take long for business to realise that someone who truly understands the brand can create more effective assets for them. As a freelancer integrity, communication skills, reliability, attentiveness, a detailed approach and an understanding of value for money are key skills. You will need them as businesses finally begin to understand that people crave integrity, transparency and trust.
Will everyone make the transition?
This also links in with new vendor management systems and generally integrated HR management. It will mean that freelancers can find themselves on the system and be ‘tracked.’ Already many freelancers are used to using time tracking and task management software. Now it will be much easier to evaluate how much work is being done, your on-time percentages and hourly rate etc. workOS will mean enterprises have access to a centralised, automated and agile platform. Some of the freelancing platforms we have grown up with may not make the transition.
Whatever happens, it pays to be professional, as you will probably meet the same people on your way down!
Vivienne Neale is the author of Create, Work, Earn that is published on the 8th October 2018. If you want to get a hold of a copy in advance and with a discount please order Create, Work, Earn right here.Creativity Book, Freelance Career, Freelance Economy