Over the past few years, we have all received an influx of daily news reports about the dreadful outlook of our economy. This news was especially troubling for me at about this time last year. I was just preparing to finish the last few quarters of college before receiving my degree and was not feeling optimistic about the future career that it could provide for me. After all, there were scores of people with better degrees and more work experience that still couldn’t find a job. Even worse, my biggest nightmare as a pizza delivery driver had just come true: my car’s transmission suddenly gave out one day on my way to class. It began to seem as if any hope I had for a bright and successful future was lost.
But then I noticed something interesting about economic trends. I discovered that employers were still hiring workers, just in a different way. Rather than spend large sums of money hiring permanent employees, businesses were beginning to build their contingent workforce. Hiring freelancers and contractors provided substantial savings on payroll expenses. It also seemed like a lucrative opportunity from the perspective of the freelancer, as they were able to make a little side income from home on their own schedule. They were also able to save on traveling expenses by not commuting to and from work every day. Side hustling seemed like a great opportunity for me and I already had a head start with the skills that I was developing in college. So I decided to dig a little deeper and find out just how much money could be made working online.
First, I knew that I would need to enhance my skills in order to compete with other the many other freelancers out there. Fortunately, I found plenty of free and low-cost online tutorials that covered some of the essential skills that I would need to develop. I primarily focused on website development and administrative computer programs (such as word processors, spreadsheet editors, and presentation creation programs), as these skills seemed to offer the best chances of making a side income online. These tutorials were much easier to follow than I expected and I was ready to begin some side hustling projects in no time.
When I was ready to find work, I noticed that I had to be careful in my search. There were plenty of scammers attempting to con the unsuspecting and some of their methods were quite clever. Others wanted to hire freelancers with a portfolio of work and a reputation for producing quality results. So I decided to begin using an online freelancing service, and chose Upwork as my starting point. With Upwork, I was able to create a profile that could be easily used to market my skills employers. I provided a description of my background, the types of projects that I was interested in, and could even complete a few skills assessments to help me land that first project. Once I began completing projects using Upwork, employers could leave me feedback detailing how pleased they were with my service. This feedback, if positive, provided me with two benefits. First, it drew the attention of more employers using the site. Second, I could display the feedback, skills assessment, and other aspects of my profile to potential clients outside of the system. Side hustling turned out to be much easier than trying to find a new career and quickly began bringing in about 20% of my normal income (the equivalent of a second part-time job) while still taking classes in college. Since graduating, freelancing now accounts for nearly 50% of my income.
Of course, it’s not always smooth sailing. Employers aren’t always great at explaining their requirements, and if you fail to deliver the precise results they are seeking, they will ensure that others are aware of their frustration. Unfortunately, I had to learn this one the hard way. I’ve had a few clients that simply would not answer many of the questions that I asked them. When I delivered the materials, they did not find what they were looking for and left me with terrible feedback. So before you accept a project, you should always gather as much information as possible. If a potential client seems unwilling to communicate effectively, you’re better of avoiding them. Another pitfall of freelancing can occur if you accept more work than you can handle. Not only will this lead to negative feedback after turning in your work late, it will also have an impact on other aspects of your life. You may find it difficult to sleep at night, maintain relationships with your family and friends, and become too exhausted to work efficiently.
Editor’s Note: This article was written by Chris P. He has been my ghostwriter for about 2 articles on this site. You can find lots of people like Chris to hire on Upwork or you can even land a job yourself. If you need a side hustle or just extra cash, consider being a virtual assistant, ghost writer, programmer, website developer, customer service rep, etc., all online at a company like Upwork.