If you have been near a computer for the last couple of years, of course, you must have probably heard of freelancing. There have been many talks about it on why you should or should not get into it. Some people in the UAE have actually quit their day jobs to fully become freelancers in Dubai while others are doing freelancing jobs part-time. This post will take you through what freelancing is really all about, stressing much on how you can join the business and also why you should join it.
So what exactly is freelancing?
Freelancing is basically working ‘freely’. It should not be confused with working free as that will mean charity work. The ability to work for a client you met online (or offline, doesn’t really matter), is termed as freelancing. It is mostly based on contracts as there is not only one specific employer. However, a long relationship between the employer and the freelancer can be built over time. There are many popular jobs available for a freelancer online such as; article writing, transcription, academic writing, consultation, virtual assistants, marketing influencers, etc.
Freelancers in Dubai are hired by employers from any part of the world. And they are paid via PayPal, bank transfer, credit card or even mobile banking in advance or after the work is completed successfully.
Why should you start freelancing?
There are many reasons as to why you should start freelancing, whether you are a freelancer in Dubai or any other part of the world. We have listed some of the key reasons for you below.
Freedom to work from anywhere
This is by far the biggest reason why people in the UAE have begun to see freelancing as a viable option. Many of us dread the routine working hours, waking up early every morning and getting through the morning traffic in Dubai in order to get to work on time. Then in the evening going through the same level of stress before getting home, worn out. The following day; repeat. With freelancing, one has the freedom of working from wherever they are, even on holidays. Although working from home requires a high level of commitment and dedication, to stay focused and produce high-quality results.
Freedom to be your own boss
Alright, to begin with, you are technically not really your own boss because even as a freelancer, you most certainly depend on your clients to send you projects to work on. They are the ones with the money so you are technically under someone. However, the freedom to choose your own schedule and your own rates can also qualify you as being your own boss. There is also no boss to quarrel you over getting to work late or having to face office politics (God knows how much those things irritate).
Freedom to choose your projects
Unlike a dull and boring office work routine, a freelancer can actually work on the things they believe in are more conversant with. This enables them to improve their knowledge and skills, as they get to work with different employers. As you gain more experience, you will get to choose the type of clients you want to work with instead of having them choose you. You can always turn down a client who offers you unattractive rates or expect unrealistic outcomes.
How does one become a freelancer?
Now that you know of why you should begin working as a freelancer, let us look at some of the key ways one can begin a freelancing career. Freelancing is a job that needs patience and self-discipline and requires quite some time to build a good profile. So what are the steps to becoming a successful freelancer? Let us find out.
Create a brand
Due to stiff competition from other freelancers, it is advisable to first build your personal brand. Share your work on professional platforms like LinkedIn or dedicated platforms for freelancers, such as our freelancing platform, Bawabba.
Also, do not shy away from using your own social network to extend your reach and demonstrate your expertise. Contact every single person you know to help you find some gig. You never know, maybe your next client is already on your contact list. The key here is to let everybody know (of course not everyone, only those you think may be helpful) of your skills. You can even build a portfolio website, where you will display your work, testimonials, and case studies. Do not offer your services directly, offer a solution to the problems your clients have to build trust and a positive brand image.
Build your freelancer profile
There are many freelancing websites and platforms in the world like Bawabba. They have freelancers from all over the world. You can join these platforms for free. After joining, you should create a very appealing profile. You can also market your profile on other platforms such as LinkedIn. If your profile is appealing, even with a few projects, you can win a few clients. There are a few local platforms featuring freelancers from specific countries & regions. For example, Bawabba, our freelancing platform in the UAE, has a database of freelancers from the United Arab Emirates. The competition on our website is much lower (because these are region specific). Therefore, the chances of getting hired for a given job are much higher than other websites.
Deliver work beyond your client’s expectation
Getting the first project on such platforms is hard, with some people even thought to be giving up. However, never give up. Whenever you get your first client, make sure to work hard and impress your client. Keep your existing clients happy and ask for recommendations to get new clients. The new clients that you get through recommendations will any day be better than going out finding new clients. Also, you will be able to charge those new clients a premium. Going out and finding new clients is a short-term strategy and getting recommended by others is a long-term strategy. Have a proper mix of both.
Be transparent with your clients
One thing a lot of clients expect from a freelancer is their honesty. Do not take up a project you think you cannot really handle. Furthermore, do not be hesitant to say ‘no’ to a project you think does not benefit you or the pay is too small.
Do not ignore yourself & your loved ones
As you start getting more and more work, you may find it difficult to balance work with your personal life. The only problem about being a freelancer is that you reap what you sow. The more effort you put, the more you earn. However, do not exhaust yourself. Always create some ‘me’ time to relax your mind and spend time with your loved ones. You need to keep your energy high in order to be creative and productive at work.
Do what you are passionate about as a freelancer
The best thing about freelancing is to do the work you love. If you are passionate about your work, you will not get as tired. Do not pick a career that you do not love. If you love writing then consider becoming a content writer. If you love to spend time engaging on social media, then social media marketing may appeal to you. If you love to design, then you can work for many companies in need of a graphic designer. A few other popular freelancing jobs include photography, videography, web development & designing.
Price your time correctly
Make sure you do not undervalue or overvalue your services. You can refer to research papers to ensure your prices are competitive. Ask other freelancers how much they are charging, or view the profiles of other freelancers in the same field to understand the market value of your services. There is always an opportunity to charge higher by enhancing your customer service, value addition. For example, offer free monthly consultation, access to training material, templates, etc. You must focus on fostering a strong relationship with your clients to ensure they stay with you longer. If there is a client who is taking up too much of your time and hinders your growth then it is in your best interest to let go of that client. If possible, consider getting help from other freelancers who can share the workload. You must take into account the cost of such help when pricing your services.
In the UAE, you need to have a freelance work permit to work as a freelancer in UAE. Read our detailed article on UAE Freelance Work Permit
So there you have it! If you decided to quit your job for freelancing, then it is important to also take care of your finances. Also, in the beginning when you start you will be earning very little as you would be having very few clients. So it is important that you keep your expenses to a bare minimum. Keep a record of all your expenses and income. Reinvest a portion of your income and set aside a small percentage for helping the needy. Never give up and do not ignore yourself and your loved ones.