Freelancing has been going on long before the Internet was ever heard of; however, the Internet has had a tremendous effect on the freelancing industry. Before the Internet, freelancers might spend months advertising their services; now many freelancers find work the same day they strike out on their own. Just look at some of the ways the World Wide Web has affected the freelance market.
Work for People You have never Met
While networking is still a big part of freelancing, now you’ll be networking with people you’ve never met and probably never will meet. Also, you’ll be doing work for people you’ve never met and likely won’t. While this may have sounded strange twenty years ago, today it is an acceptable practice, although you should never enter into a commitment blindly. While most work-for-hire transactions are completed with both parties being satisfied, make sure you are working for someone reputable before you spend weeks on a project or you could risk not getting paid.
If you’re going to freelance online, you’re going to need a PayPal account. This is the most widely acceptable form of payment on the Internet and you won’t have to worry about bounced checks or slow snail mail. In fact, you may decide not to accept checks at all, which is entirely up to you but if you do decide to accept checks, know who you are dealing with first. With the vast amount of review sites and job sites on the Internet, anyone who sets out to hire someone to do work for them and then doesn’t pay them will get so much negative publicity that they may have difficulty repeating that behavior. Still, scammers can always reinvent themselves with new email addresses and new usernames so it would be a good policy to ask for references, check feedback when available, and you might also ask for a deposit upfront.
Make Your Portfolio Public
Instead of making appointments to show prospective clients your portfolio or samples of your work, you can post it for all to see and save that time for the creative process. While some potential clients may ask you to develop a sample just for them, by and large you’ll be able to answer ads with a link to your website where clients can get an idea of the kind and quality of work you do. In fact, use your judgment wisely when dealing with potential clients who ask for samples to be developed just for them with no promise of paid work. This is how some scammers get free work, although there are legitimate clients who will ask for personalized samples. This is one of those areas where you will need to consider all the facts and decide if you want to take the chance that your free work will net you the job.
Even freelancers who don’t conduct their business online can still benefit from having a website they can direct potential clients to. Don’t be shy! Showcase your talents. You never know who might be watching.
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