In this article I describe my experiences and conclusions of working as a Freelancer over the internet. I will describe the benefits and drawbacks of Freelancing in general with an emphasis of Freelance I.T work.
Freelancing over the Internet is a career option pursed by many people these days. Its popular in both developing and developed countries. The advancement of Internet and Communication related technologies has led to an increase in the number of Freelance I.T workers. It has also created new challenges for individuals and society.
Specialized software tools such as online portals, social networking platforms, voice and video conferencing, support forums etc have led to the creation of virtual communities, where people with common interests meet and share ideas.
Freelancing over the Internet is made possible by specialized software that is used by the community members to interact with one another. For example Freelancers use communication tools such as Skype or an Instant Messaging client for communication with each other. Inspite of the rapid development in online communication tools, email remains a popular choice for communication between Freelancers.
Online payment services such as PayPal, Skrill and Payoneer allow Freelancers to receive payment from their contractees. Online project management tools such as Redmine and Open Project are used to record the details of all work done by the Freelancers.
Online Job Portals such as Upwork, Elance and Toptal allow Freelancers to choose the type of work that best suites them
Freelancers in most cases have the freedom to choose their work hours and work place. This means they have more flexibility in planning their day to day activities. Many offices have a strict working culture and do not encourage religious and charitable activities. A Freelancer who works from home can divide his time between family, work, religious and charitable activities. He can choose when to exercise, when to sleep, when to eat, when to work etc.
Another benefit of working as a Freelancer is that one does not have to commute to work and therefore does not have to spend as much on transportation and clothes. Also Freelancers suffer less from work related stress.
Working from home is the new normal and is part of the modern gig economy. The article 6 signs that the future of work is here today describes how elastic staffing and working from home are affecting the modern corporate work environment.
Freelance workers who work remotely cannot interact with their contractees in person. This is a major drawback since it means they cannot get as good an understanding of their work as compared to a person who works onsite.
Working onsite also means you get to learn from the experiences of others. Interacting with others professionally helps in developing personality and social skills. It also means the worker has a much better idea of what his employer is asking of him. He is thus able to contribute more effectively towards the achievement of his organizations goals.
Freelancers have the freedom to choose who they work for. They can work for anyone in any part of the world!. This has implications for society as well as the individual. If someone works for an employer who lives in another country and he spends over 40 hours per day working for him, then it would seem that part of him is a member of his physical society and part of him is a member of a virtual community.
I think this is not a fair assessment. An individual is either part of a physical society or he is not. He must not think of imaginary virtual worlds. He should regard his virtual community as another set of obligations not different from those of his physical world. He must focus on meeting those obligations.
Being a Freelancer not only means you can choose when and where to work, it also means you can choose who to work for. A Freelancer may work part time for a contractee and spend his remaining time contributing to worthy causes. He may also run his own business along side his Freelance work.
There are numerous opportunities available online for Freelance workers. For example a Freelancer who needs money, can simply work for more people. Of course he must be careful about fulfilling his contractual obligations. Before working for a contractee online, he must ensure that he understands the terms of the contract between him and his contractee. If an understanding cannot be developed, then the contractor must stop working for that contractee and look for other opportunities
Starting your own business is an attractive concept. Running a physical business is beyond the capability of most people. Not everyone is blessed with the mental and physical capabilities that are required to run a business.
The internet has allowed people to overcome this barrier. Anyone who can read and type, can build a respectable online presence. However this does not mean that everyone can succeed over the internet. Succeeding in any occupation requires hard work, dedication and patience. The internet I believe only provides new opportunities to excel. The hard work of course still has to be done.
Starting an online business requires very little capital and initial effort. All you need is a website that displays your products and services. These products and services dont even have to exist in the real world!. To attain true success however, the online business must be developed incrementally and improved over time.
For example, a Freelancer may start an online blog and transform it into a respectable online business. He may start with publishing blog posts describing his Freelance work. He may also publish the source code that he has written on his own website.
He may develop his own software components and make them available for others. While this may not make him a millionaire over night, it will bring him valuable feedback from which he can learn and improve. Fruitful and productive interaction over the internet, I believe is important for a person to understand how to benefit from the internet.
Drawing more visitors to your blog is a good idea, since it brings feedback which can be used to improve and build on your ideas of running an online business. How to start a business blog is a useful info-graphic that pictorially describes how drawing visitors to your website can help you grow your online business.
Cloud related technology has had a major impact on businesses. The Cloud offers various tools for collaboration, communication, data storage and computing that can benefit all types of businesses. The article 10 Tips How The Cloud Can Make Your Company More Productive in 2015 is a useful article that describes how Cloud related technologies can benefit businesses.
While the Cloud has created new opportunities for businesses, its usage has created new challenges for society. Excessive usage of any technology is not a good thing and the Cloud is certainly no exception. Excessive usage of Cloud related technologies has created health and social problems, which must be identified and corrected.
Freelancing over the internet is a popular occupation that has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years. The advancement of technology has led to specialization in the work that is done remotely. For example website development and maintenance, software development, help desk management and call center management are some of the sub areas of Freelance work.
The online job Marketplace freelancer.com lists over 900 job categories. Before choosing a career in Freelancing, I believe it is important to be aware of the pros and cons of Freelancing as well as the pros and cons of the technology behind it.