It’s unlikely that the traditional 9-5 work model will die out anytime soon, but freelancers are growing in number by the minute. Tech professionals stand to gain the most with the gig economy, with Tech Republic reporting that some of the most in-demand jobs via freelance platforms are tech-related. These include API developers, web and e-commerce developers, machine learning experts, and coders.
This means that there are plenty of opportunities for freelance tech professionals. Whether you’re doing it full-time or as a side hustle, our ‘Tried & Tested Ways to Make Money From Home’ article highlights how freelancing can be very profitable for skilled workers. However, we understand that getting started is often the most intimidating part. To help with that, here’s a short guide on how to break into the gig economy as a tech professional.
1. Determine your services and find your niche
The tech industry is vast, with many highly skilled professionals. Your challenge is to determine whether you’re going to offer standard services, or if you want to specialize in a certain area. This should help you determine your target market and find a niche where you can flourish. One very specific example is developing websites for real estate agents who sell condos.
2. Create a portfolio and a real business presence
Freelancing doesn’t give you a pass to skimp on being professional. You still need to make business cards, write a resume, and create a killer portfolio. Include testimonials from past clients or recommendations from former employers. By doing this, it will help attract clients and let them know that you’re serious about expanding your client base. Otherwise, they’ll look for other tech experts who seem more trustworthy.
3. Market your services
Now that you’ve got your portfolio, the next thing to do is to pass it around. For freelancers, this is often done online. The key is to treat yourself as a business. Use sites like LinkedIn or freelancing-specific platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr. There are also sites that cater to tech professionals specifically like Workana for a range of tech jobs, and Topcoder that is a global network for software developers. If you think you have what it takes, freelance platform Yoss picks out the top 1% of tech freelancers through a meticulous qualification process. These types of specific freelance platforms automatically help distinguish your skills from a sea of other competitors. Other options include utilizing social media, creating a website to sell your services, and offering promos or free consultations.
4. Determine your rates right away
One mistake inexperienced freelancers often make is to price too high or too low. Writer Matthew Baker argues that you need to charge based on the value of your work, not based on market rates. Building a website from scratch, for example, will cost more than maintaining one, and you also have to consider all the design work involved. Your rate should include all the added costs of being an independent contractor, such as insurance and other business expenses that are typically covered by an employer. Some clients pay by the hour, while others pay per project, and that’s something that should be considered. Be honest about what your services are worth, but don’t be too modest with your rate that you can’t support your freelancing career.
5. Require contracts
One habit you need to develop right away is to be upfront with your rate, the terms of your services, deadline, and other pertinent details, which should go into your contract with a client. Unlike an e-mail agreement or a phone conversation, a contract is legally binding. It will protect you and your client in case of breaches.
6. Keep learning new skills
ITProPortal reports that 70% of tech pros admitted to not feeling confident that their current skillset can enable them to manage IT environments in the next few years. As a tech professional, you should know better than others to keep updating your skillset, as it will give you a competitive edge over others. After all, the industry you belong in is largely responsible for helping other industries evolve.