The How and Why of Becoming a Freelancer in Dubai, UAE

The How and Why of Becoming a Freelancer in Dubai, UAE

The How and Why of Becoming a Freelancer in Dubai, UAE

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 photographyvideographyweb 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

 

Conclusion

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.

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Ultimate Guide: Freelance Visa & Work Permit in Dubai, UAE

Ultimate Guide: Freelance Visa & Work Permit in Dubai, UAE

Ultimate Guide: Freelance Visa & Work Permit in Dubai, UAE

Freelance visa requirements are simple in the UAE. We will walk you through the basic information to get you started.

Is freelancing legally prohibited in the UAE?

Freelancing is absolutely legal as long as you fulfill all the legal prerequisites to obtain a freelance visa in UAE.

What do you need to work as a freelancer in the UAE?

In order to work in the UAE, whether as a freelancer or otherwise, you need both a residence visa and a work permit.

How to become a freelancer in the UAE?

One of the easiest ways to become a freelancer in Dubai is to apply for a freelance work permit along with a residence visa if you are not sponsored by your spouse or father. The work permit and the visa can be obtained from the following free zones.

  • Dubai Media City
  • Dubai Studio City
  • Dubai Production City
  • Dubai Knowledge Park
  • Dubai Design District
  • Abu Dhabi twofour54
  • Fujairah Creative City
  • RAKEZ
  • Ajman Free Zone

Which services can freelancers offer in UAE?

There are specific activities allowed for freelancers in UAE. You can apply for a freelance license for the following sectors:

For a detailed list of permitted activity for a freelance visa from RAKEZ, click here:

Required Documents for Freelance Visa and Work Permit in Dubai

If you are on spouse or parent visa, here is what you need:

  • Business plan
  • Updated Resume
  • Degree Certificates, attested from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well
  • Application form
  • Passport copy
  • NOC from the sponsor (husband/parent)
  • Bank references & a good standing certificate issued by your bank certifying that the individual holds a satisfactory account.
  • 2 Professional Reference letters from current or previous employers recommending your capability to perform relevant tasks.
  • Work portfolio

Residents on employment visa can also get a freelance visa in Dubai provided they have the no objection certificate from their current employer.

The complete procedure of getting a freelance work permit in Dubai

Step 1 When fully equipped submit your online application for provisional approval. The application form can be downloaded directly from the free zone websites. You must also submit the business plan, passport copy and reference letter along with your application through email in most cases.

Step 2 Wait for the approval notification email. Once all your documents have been scanned by the free zone team and if you meet the requirements, you will receive a confirmation email.

Step 3 Visit the nearest free zone office to sign and submit the remaining documents.

Step 4 Make the required payments:

  • Freelance permit fee,
  • Employee visa sponsorship fee,
  • The first installment for rent or office, (if applicable)
  • Plus deposit (if applicable);

The cost of freelance work permit excluding the freelance visa cost and the office space starts from AED 7,500.

Step 5 Sign the free zone sponsorship agreement

Step 6 Freelance permit and residence visa are granted

Step 7 You will then have access to a ‘hot desk’ and business facilities (including a PO Box address) within the free zone that sponsored you; this is basically a single desk in an office environment that can be shared with others.

Step 8 Check your inbox for your freelance work permit that gives you the license to kickstart your career in Dubai.

Step 9 UAE Freelance Visa Application Cost: Once the permit is obtained, you may apply for eligible visas online or in person. To proceed with your visa application, you will need to register for the E-Channel online system mandated by the UAE government. The registration and renewal charges of E-channel are AED 2,200 and AED 1,200 respectively. As per RAK Immigration, there is a separate fee of AED 250 for Immigration pre-approval.

Step 10 Medical Test & Emirates ID cost in UAE: You will be required to go for the medical test including the blood test and X-ray to obtain a valid UAE visa. The good news is that the refundable deposit of AED 2,000 previously required by the immigration department was waived off in 2018. However, service charges for processing Medical test and Emirates ID would be an additional cost of AED 2,400.

How to find the cheapest freelance visa in UAE?

Freelance visa UAE cost typically varies between AED 7500 – AED 20,000 based on the selected free zone. The important thing to remember is that the Visa renewal cost is incurred annually.

There is good news for residents of Abu Dhabi. Freelance Visa Abu Dhabi allows you to establish yourself as the sole proprietor under your birth name and practice specific business activities outlined in the license. Abu Dhabi residents can obtain a freelance visa in Dubai free zone areas as well. The UAE Freelance visa will give you a head start to your future business success with a healthy work-life balance.

Sign up on Bawabba to start receiving freelancing job opportunities directly from the employer. It is absolutely FREE to join the platform for freelancers & employers both. Click here to get started today!

Download This Article As A PDF File

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Ultimate Guide: How To Find A Freelance Social Media Marketer

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Ultimate Guide: How To Find A Freelance Social Media Marketer

Marketer in Dubai In 5 Easy Steps

  • Step 1: Identify your social media needs
  • Step 2: Create a brief job description For A Freelance Social Media Marketer
  • Step 3: Allocate a budget for finding the right talent
  • Step 4: Share your job post on your company social media platforms
  • Step 5: Shortlist and interview Freelancers

Whether you are posting a press release to your website or working with an Instagram influencer to tag products in their stories, you require expert skills to properly engage your target audience across all your social media platforms.

A Social media marketer can effectively enhance your online presence, diligently working towards the preset KPIs (key performance indicators) that are integral to your social media marketing success. However, the high cost of employee visa, health insurance, annual tickets in addition to the high salary demand of the social media specialists, puts an extra burden on the SMEs. As the results are often seen after 3 to 6 months, the return on investment is not enough to satisfy the business owners. 

Fortunately, now the UAE government has allowed SMEs to work with freelance social media marketers in UAE. Here’s what you need to do to find one for your company in five easy steps:

 

Step 1: Identify your social media needs

First of all, you need to identify your social media requirements. It will help you find a freelancer with the required skill set. Knowing your requirements will also help you in creating a clear job description and detailed job requirements, for example, education and experience level of the ideal candidate for the job.

Simply ask yourself the following questions in order to make a well-informed decision:

Do you need a new social media marketing strategy or do you wish to work with the existing one?
If the answer is yes, then you need to hire a freelance social media strategist

How many social media platforms does the freelancer need to work on?
If you are looking for someone to boost your presence on Instagram, then you need to look for a freelance social media marketer with a great aesthetic sense. Freelancers with experience in photography and graphic designing should be preferred in this case.

What do you want to achieve from your social media campaigns?
Your goal has to be very clear from the beginning. If you are a new business, looking to create brand awareness, then you need someone to manage your social media page by posting twice or thrice every day. You could hire someone with mid-level expertise. However, if you are a well-established business, looking for more leads. Then you must understand the complexity of the lead generation process. A lead generation campaign requires an advanced level of advertising skills, for example, the ideal candidate should be able to create Facebook ads through Ads manager, simply boosting a post would not be enough. He/she should be able to work with Facebook Pixel and understand the importance of ad objectives, audience selection, and the various features of the Facebook Ad platform.

What Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) (e.g. likes, shares, subscriptions etc) will be used to assess the performance of your social media campaigns?
You need to determine the most suitable KPIs for your business goals. If your goal was to create brand awareness then the suitable KPIs may include the “number of followers”, the number of “people reached”, and the engagement on your daily posts. On the other hand, if you are running ads to generate leads, then you will have to monitor the number of emails captured, newsletter subscriptions, products sold, E-books downloads, coupons redeemed etc.

 

Step 2: Create a brief job description For A Freelance Social Media Marketer

Once you have set your marketing goals, you need to look for the right talent to help you achieve those goals. You may also include a brief project description and a short company introduction with the job description to attract the right freelance social media marketers.

Here’s a sample social media marketer’s job description you can use to create your own:

Common deliverables include:

  • Developing strategies for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms for a period of 3 months.
  • Creating Content such as photos, videos, or blog posts.
  • Reaching out to influencers & bloggers in Dubai.
  • Analyzing and leveraging analytics.
  • Identifying new tactics to engage your target market.

Outline your scope of work and identify the skills, credentials and experience you’re looking for.

Download 10 Sample Job Descriptions For Hiring A Freelance Social Media Marketer

Step 3: Allocate a budget for finding the right talent

You must have an estimated budget for finding the right talent for your business needs. Common costs include:

  • Project scope: If you do not understand different aspects of digital marketing yourself, It is advised that you hire a digital marketing consultant who can help you out in developing a project scope. He should be able to identify the specific skills required to successfully execute the social media marketing campaigns from start to finish. You can use Bawabba to find a freelance digital marketer in Dubai as well.

  • Different rates apply for different skills: Each platform requires a different skill set. Social media marketers are expected to have expertise and skills such as graphic designing, content writing, video editing, or data analytics. You should be aware of the market rates for hiring a freelance social media marketer in Dubai with your desired skills. The rates may start from AED 1,000 per platform, posting thrice a week with simple text and images which are usually provided by the client. If you are looking for someone with advanced level graphic designing and copywriting skills, then the price of hiring a freelancer may start from AED 3,000 which is still a lot cheaper than hiring a full-time employee with the basic level social media marketing skills.

  • The number of social media platforms: The cost varies depending on the number of social media platforms included in your project. There is no need to invest in all the platforms. You must focus on growing your company page on 1 to 2 platforms. If you are into B2C then find a Facebook and Instagram marketing expert. If you are selling to other businesses, as in B2B, then we highly recommend hiring a LinkedIn specialist. Although LinkedIn is also becoming increasingly popular for many industries in Dubai if your target audience includes Chairman, CEO’s and other decision makers e.g. Realtors are doing exceptionally well in generating leads from LinkedIn. You must remember that someone great at Facebook marketing, might not necessarily be so great with Instagram and LinkedIn.

  • For fast results, you may have to invest in paid ads. All social media platforms have become very commercial. They intentionally restrict the reach of your posts to entice users to invest in more lucrative ad campaigns. Therefore, you may want to find a freelancer who has experience in running ads on your chosen platforms. Facebook and Instagram are the most popular social media platforms all over the world, including UAE.  

Step 4: Share your job post on your company social media & Freelancing Platforms in UAE

With the job description and the budget in hand, you’re finally all set to upload your job post on Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, and other leading social media platforms with a well-diversified audience. Here is the secret sauce that not many business owners know. There are dedicated websites in Dubai for hiring freelancers in UAE for FREE. All you have to do is sign up for a free account at Bawabba to gain instant access to thousands of freelancers in UAE available at your disposal.

 

Step 5: Shortlist And Interview Freelancers

Once your job post goes live, it won’t be long until the first batch of applications hit your inbox. Shortlist freelancers you would like to interview by screening their applications. Alternatively, If you do not wish to be bombarded with irrelevant job applications then login to Bawabba and start contacting suitable freelancers that match your requirements. This way, you will not have to spend hours shortlisting suitable freelancers. You can leave them a message with your requirements without having to leave the website and start receiving responses from highly talented freelancers of your choice.

The next step is to arrange an in-person or over the phone interview with the shortlisted freelancers. At this stage, you must go back to your marketing goals and the job description you had created in Step 1 and 2. Consider profiles that match the specific requirements of your company. Platform-specific interview questions can help you gauge their level of proficiency with your chosen social media platforms. Share a newly launched social media marketing campaign and seek their opinion about the campaign. This will ensure the right freelancer is hired who has an adequate amount of knowledge of the local market. 

Once you have found your ideal freelancer, there is no need to apply for their UAE visa or health insurance. Now freelancers can get their own Freelancers Visa In UAE which gives them the license to work in UAE. You do not even need to accommodate them in your office, as most freelancers prefer to work from home, a co-working space or a nearby cafe. 

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, you must be very clear about your business goals, skill and experience requirements. Then you should create a suitable job description highlighting the responsibilities of the freelancer. You also need to allocate a budget for sourcing the right candidates. You can avoid the high cost of recruitment and selection by using a freelancing platform in U.A.E. to gain direct access to thousands of talented social media marketers in the UAE. The shortlisting process is much easier if you are directly contacting suitable freelancers rather than posting a job online and receiving hundreds of irrelevant applications. You can experience instant success with the 5-step process to get the right freelance social media marketer in Dubai today.

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