Why The Coronavirus Pandemic Is the Best Time to Become Part of the Freelance Economy
There is an incredible opportunity right now to become part of the freelance economy. If you are one of the millions of people who lost their job, was furloughed, or are waiting to get called back into work, you’ll want to keep reading to see how this crisis can become an opportunity that leads to your financial freedom.
COVID-19, aka the coronavirus, continues to spread around the world. You can take a look at this Coronavirus Dashboard to keep track of the number of infections, fatalities, and recoveries around the world. With close to 2 million cases globally and over 100,000 deaths so far, COVID-19 has already drastically changed the economy. In the past three weeks 17 million people filed for unemployment in the United States. That comes out to over 10% of the entire labor force! Edit: As of July 2020, there are over 50 million Americans filing for unemployment! That’s over a third of the entire labor force if my math is correct.
Initial unemployment claims have hit record highs
Millions of people now cannot be sure that they will have a job to come back to once this pandemic fades away into the annals of history. Thankfully there’s something they (and you, if you’re one of those millions) can do: freelancing.
Why You Should Join the Freelance Economy
While many are losing their jobs, getting furloughed, or seeing their working hours diminished, the freelance economy is going strong. In fact, I received the inside scoop from my Fiverr Seller Success Manager that traffic to Fiverr in particular has exploded in April.
It appears that the freelance economy is doing so well because with so many businesses shutting down their physical locations, they are becoming more reliant on remote support. Freelancing has not only become a way for some unemployed and underemployed to earn some extra money, but even do it full-time. You can even make more money freelancing within a few months than you did when you worked a desk job, as was my case.
The economy may never recover to the same way it was before the coronavirus pandemic. This is why you should you set up a home office and starting freelancing online.
Here are some of the benefits of freelancing you’ll get to enjoy:
Become More Productive
Let’s face it: most of us don’t enjoy the jobs where we work for someone else. We have to abide by their rules and their wage caps. We also don’t always feel that inspired or motivated to work all day for them.
When you become a freelancer, you feel motivated, which is in part because you have less distractions. Also, (and this is a big one) you have total control over your environment. You have full creative freedom to feng shui your home office to achieve incredible productivity. You’ll find it easy to adjust to your new home work environment.
Most freelancers prefer working from home most of the time than working at an office or even a co-working space. There was a study done recently that found when people work from home, they were around 13% more productive. This means more money in your pocket and being more satisfied with your work.
Increase Your Earning Potential
Freelancing lets you take total control of how much you earn. Instead of having just one “client” in the normal workplace (the company that hired you), you have access to an endless number of clients. You can work on projects with people anywhere from the United States to Thailand.
Once you learn a certain skill (it was writing & editing for me), you can position yourself as an expert or highly-skilled individual. When you get those initial few orders and projects under your belt, you start amassing a portfolio that you can present to prospective clients, showing the quality of your work.
If you are somewhat decent in something, like graphic design, but feel your skills are not on par with some of the great freelancers out there, read and watch tutorials on how to fine-tune your skill! This will bring you more confidence that will make it easier for you to increase the prices you quote prospective clients, which increases your earning potential.
When you become a freelancer and are a part of the freelance economy, you allow for yourself to grow and expand in a way that wasn’t possible when you were within the box of a regular job. You will increase the amount of experience you have in a skill set that you genuinely interested in. You will also develop an amazing portfolio that will lead to you earning more.
Enjoy Greater Freedom
Yes, we’ve all seen the photos of someone sitting on their laptop at the beach while working for one of their clients. The reality is pretty close to it. On the island of Koh Phangan in Thailand, I worked at a co-working space for a few weeks that was on a beach. While I don’t recommend bringing a laptop directly onto a beach, given that sand and salty sea breezes don’t go well with electronics, it really did feel expansive and liberating.
When you are remote working as a freelancer, you have the freedom to create your own schedule. If your chronotype is the kind that is the most productive when they wake up at 4 AM, working until 3 PM, and going to sleep by 9 PM, you can make your schedule match that.
Creating your own schedule helps you be more flexible with your living situation, as well as your clients. I have clients located in dozens of countries around the world, in all sorts of time zones. I can change up my schedule when I need to. This makes it easier to work with a particular client.
On Koh Phangan, I would get up at 5 or 6 in the morning and work for a few hours, then head off to the beach for the afternoon. I was able to do all of this while making more money than when I was working a desk job, or even remotely for a major company.
Payoneer recently did a study of 7000+ freelancers around the world who are part of the freelance economy. They found that people who work full-time in the freelance economy make more money. They also have greater work/life satisfaction than people who work for a company. Freelancing lets you achieve a better “work/life balance” so that you can have more time to work on yourself, enjoy life, and spend it with those you love.
No More Commuting
Forget about getting stuck in traffic while driving to the office. Your commute time drops to zero…or however long it takes for you to get from your bed to your desk/couch/dinner table.
Of course, you could still head out to work outside your house, like a co-working space, coffee shop, or somewhere else. However, with the COVID-19 lockdowns, quarantines, and curfews still in effect, you can work from the comfort of your own home. Making that decision won’t disrupt your normal way of working.
Spending less time commuting, or not commuting at all, also has some other perks. There are major environmental and financial benefits to freelancing. You not driving as much will create less pollution, which helps keep everyone and everything healthier.
Traveling around Southeast Asia, I’ve seen and experienced firsthand what exhaust from tons of cars and motorbikes does to the air. If I didn’t wear a face mask in places like Chiang Mai or Vientiane, instead of seeing a white mask turned gray, I would have inhaled lots of nastiness that would potentially give me respiratory issues.
As we can now see all around the world, the effects of people staying at home and not commuting has produced crystal clear skies in places that used to be smog-filled. In some places, you can now see so far that mountains suddenly are towering over your city!
Besides helping out the one environment we all share, there’s also some huge financial savings in it for you. The average American spends somewhere between $2,000 and $5,000 on commuting expenses to get to work. That, to me, is insane. Not only do you have to spend sometimes up to a few hours in traffic get to and from work, but you have to pay thousands of dollars for the pleasure of doing so.
When you are working remotely as a freelancer in the freelance economy, you don’t even have to normally go anywhere, saving you quite a bit of money. What’s more, you’ll be less stressed out, which can lead to improved health.
How to Start Freelancing
Today, it’s easier than ever to become a freelancer. There are freelance sites and marketplaces within the freelance economy that make it incredibly easy to get started. You don’t even need to cold email a single person.
There’s quite a bit of choices when it comes to freelance marketplaces. However, you don’t need to just choose one. You can set up profiles on a few and see which ones work best for you.
When I first started out, I set up profiles on three major marketplaces. After a few weeks, I saw which one was my big moneymaker, and diverted most of my energy towards it.
These platforms will make it easy for you to connect with clients all around the world. Here are some of the leading freelance platforms being used right now that you can explore further.
Fiverr is my go-to freelancing marketplace that has worked the best for me. Unlike its name suggests, you don’t just make $5 for every project. In fact, when I firsts started on Fiverr, my lowest “gig” was one for $20 for writing a 500-word article.
Fiverr connects businesses with freelancers offering digital services in 250+ categories. In fact, it bills itself as the largest online marketplace for digital services.
You can see that Fiverr continues to become more and more popular as a place for freelancers and buyers to go (blue line). Starting out may take a few weeks for most people. Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll be getting so many orders that you actually have to increase your prices. Otherwise, you’d be working 12-16 hour days like I was at one point. It’s possible to earn six figures on Fiverr, as long as you commit to delivering the best services you possibly can.
Upwork is one of the largest freelance platforms out there that connects freelancers, independent professionals, and agencies. This platform works a bit differently than Fiverr. On Fiverr, you, the freelancer, create gigs that clients can buy. On Upwork, you have to actively bid on projects. You will have to compete against other freelancers to get awarded a project. This makes things quite competitive and difficult for a newcomer to get started on projects.
As you can see on SEMRush, Upwork has somewhat flattened out. As of right now, overall search traffic is a little less than Fiverr sees.
What’s more, you have to pay for “connects” if you want to bid on more projects. You also need to pay a monthly fee if you want your profile to be visible. These were all changes that led me to stop using Upwork. On Fiverr, you don’t have to pay any monthly fees. Instead, a 20% cut from your earnings is taken before you are given your earnings. You can counterbalance this by raising your prices by 20%, thereby not losing out on any earnings.
As you can see, I really like Fiverr. Still, you should try out Upwork and see if it works well for you. Maybe for your particular skillset, Upwork will be more rewarding than Fiverr. It doesn’t hurt to create profiles on these, as well as other, freelancing marketplaces.
PeoplePerHour is another popular marketplace for freelancers to take advantage of. There’s lots of different categories, so chances are that if you have a skill you want to start making money with, you’ll find it on PeoplePerHour. The level of quality for the work delivered is high, according to businesses who use it. This means that it’s a respected place that can lead to some high-paying gigs.
SEMRush shows us that PeoplePerHour has been seeing its traffic increase in the past year. This makes it a great candidate for you to jump on and start landing freelance clients.
I don’t have much experience with this one. However, I’ve heard good things about it, so check it out and see how it goes for you.
Toptal bills itself as a place to find the top 3% of freelance talent out there. I’m not sure how they measure that. But, it sounds like you will need to have some experience under your belt if you want to be successful on this platform. The vetting process can take an entire month. It’s an exclusive network where the best freelancers, in software design, graphic design, product management, and other areas can get hired by some great companies.
You can see that Toptal has been steadily becoming more and more popular. That makes this exclusive network one you’ll want to get onto if you can. The thing with Toptal is that the freelancer-to-project ratio is high. This means you will have to complete for them. However, that’s pretty much the same on any freelance platform. You also can’t set your own hourly rate, although you can ask a recruiter to increase it.
The coronavirus pandemic brings with it some great opportunities to shift away from a dead-end desk job. You can become your own boss as a freelancer, where the sky’s the limit. Instead of watching Netflix all day, or putting all your energy into baking, take this opportunity while staying indoors to unlock your financial sovereignty.
The world is shifting towards remote working. You’ll want to get in while it’s still early enough and the competition is not too great. Even if you still have a job and are just waiting to get called back into work once things settle, you can make some extra income on the side with freelancing. Who knows, maybe you will fall in love with freelancing so much that you will once day quit your job like I did and unlock your financial freedom.