Monthly Archives: October 2016

How to be Full Time Freelancer

According to the Freelancer’s Union, as of Fall 2015, almost 54 million Americans considered themselves freelancers, and nearly two-thirds of those people “made the jump by choice.”

But interestingly, the results of a 2015 survey conducted by Contently show that only about one-third of freelancers would decline “a full-time job in [their] field, with identical pay plus benefits…” Part of that may stem from the fact that, along with the perks respondents identified—like making their own hours and choosing what they work on—there are also concrete challenges. One-third of those surveyed listed “securing enough work” as their greatest struggle, and another 14% indicated they had trouble making enough money.

If you are (or would like to be) a full-time freelancer, you’ll need to prepare for and address the real issues that might come your way so you can be as successful as possible. Luckily, there are a ton of resources out there to support you in your endeavor—and we’ve gathered them all in one place:

You have a talent or skill that’s in demand. Colleagues and friends alike ask you if you’ll proofread their work, if you’ll design a logo for their latest ventures, if you’ll share your marketing expertise, if you’ll photograph their events, or if you’ll explain the latest social media trends. You know you could be charging for that thing you’re particularly good at, and you find the idea of freelancing pretty enticing.

Before you jump in with both feet, remember that working for yourself means more than wearing whatever you please and not having to share the team fridge. You’ll want to think through where you’ll work (Do you have a designated area at home, complete with a desk? Does it make sense to invest in a co-working space?), what hours you’ll keep (so you don’t get pulled into errands and lunches you really don’t have time for), and other seemingly small but super important things like having a phone plan that accommodates lengthy client calls and dependable Wi-Fi.

I’d recommend reading this article by Kate Kendall, the founder of the “talent marketplace” CloudPeeps. Kendall lays out a feasible plan for analyzing what separates you from the pack, finding your first clients, and getting real about just how paltry your income may be (at least initially).

How to Ask Your Boss Naturaly

So you want to work from home. Maybe you’re moving further away from the office, maybe you’ve recently had a baby , or maybe you know you’d be more productive not being chained to your cube, trying to block out the ambient chatter of your co-workers nine hours each day.

The good news is, more and more companies are agreeing to part- or full-time telecommuting arrangements for their employees. So if you want to work from home, and you have a good reason, don’t be afraid to ask. I did—and here are the tips I learned for bettering your odds that you and your boss can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.

 

1. Weigh the Potential

These days, so many of us do work that can be completed from any location with an internet connection. But—not all positions are suited to working from home, and it’s important to know that before you begin. Do you do mostly solo work, or do you interact with people from different departments on a daily basis? Are you mainly on the phone and email, or do you attend lots of in-person meetings ? Do you supervise others ? Be honest with yourself about whether or not telecommuting would really make sense for your gig. Unfortunately, your desire to work from home and the practicality of the arrangement may not always be in sync.

Next, outline your responsibilities and detail how much time you spend working on each one. Make note of the tasks that might be more difficult to complete from home, as well as those that would be easier. You’ll need to show your boss how, exactly, working from home will impact your position.

Finally, make sure you think about your timing. If you’re new on the job or gunning for a promotion , now is probably not the time to be spending your days out the office.

 

2. Formulate a Plan

Rather than just having a casual conversation, it’s better to design a formal proposal—for your boss to take the arrangement seriously, you’ll want to show that you do, too.

First, propose a specific schedule of the days and hours you will work remotely, explaining that you will be fully available by phone, email, IM, or whatever, during those hours. Your plan is also more likely to be considered if you start off asking for a temporary, part-time schedule, say, two days each week to be revisited after 60-90 days.

Then, outline the benefits of your proposed arrangement. Remember, the arguments that will appeal most to your boss are ones that have the “what’s in it for me?” factor. Sure, telecommuting may relieve you of a killer commute, but it will also mean that you can start work earlier (and more refreshed) by avoiding 60 minutes in the car each morning. Present it that way. Be prepared to show at least three ways that telecommuting will make you a better employee and a better asset to the company.

 

3. Identify and Address Concerns

Alleviating possible concerns—i.e., concerns about your productivity or IT security issues—should also be a big part of your proposal. Try to put yourself in your boss’ shoes , think about what her biggest questions or hold-ups might be, and be prepared with solutions. For example, propose face-to-face weekly catch-up meetings or weekly task lists to serve as accountability that you’re not just watching daytime TV. Or, suggest working with your IT department to ensure that your equipment is safe. Many companies also have secure VPNs (virtual private networks) that you can log into and enjoy the same security benefits as if you were in the office. Doing your research, especially on these concerns, will show that you’ve thought through every facet of the arrangement.

All Work Flex Schedules Soon

Several months ago, I was talking to a college senior about her career plans. She wanted a job with flexible hours, and I asked why. The young woman said she wanted the freedom to take a short nap right after lunch when her energy flagged the most and the ability to work late at night when her brain was sharpest.

If I had made a comment like this when looking for my first job 16 years ago, I would have been laughed out of the room. But coming from a college student today, the request doesn’t sound all that strange.

According to a new study by Bentley University, 77% of Millennials say that flexible work hours would make the workplace more productive for people their age. Given their comfort with digital technology that allows them to work anytime and anywhere, this statistic hardly comes as a surprise. But as the Millennial generation becomes the majority, we can expect flex time and telecommuting to become a common workplace practice rather than a special privilege.

In fact, by around 2030, the Millennial majority will likely have done away with the 9-to-5 workday entirely. Here are four key reasons why Millennials will insist that flex-work hours happen sooner rather than later

 

1. Work-Family Balance

Leslie Doolittle, assistant dean and director of academic support services at Bentley University, has found that work doesn’t define Millennials as much as it does older generations. Doolittle says family, friends, and making a difference in the community are more central to Millennials than they are to older people.

Given this, demands on Millennials’ personal time are bound to increase as they balance work commitments with raising young children. And, as they are closely connected to their parents, they are likely to be personally involved in caring for them as they age.

The trade-off, of course, is catching up on email at 10 PM or finishing a project on a Saturday morning to make up the time, but in my experience, that’s one that most Millennials are fine with making.

 

2. Continuing Skills Education

According to research conducted by The Hartford, 50% of Millennials desire training and development from their employer. And companies are listening. Bersin by Deloitte said that U.S. spending on corporate training grew by 15% in 2013 (the highest growth rate in seven years).

In addition, many companies are fulfilling the Millennial desire for “experience-hopping” through leadership rotation programs that allow them to test out different areas of a company. The renowned General Electric rotation program is a great example, which allows young employees to experience various functions within GE, such as finance, sales, manufacturing, and engineering.

In any case, Millennials will be spending time taking classes and working additional jobs to skill up, and some of this activity is bound to occur during the classic workday.

 

3. The Disappearing Corporate Office

By 2030, professionals will work mostly from home using super-fast data terminals. Most companies will have nixed their permanent physical office locations in favor of chains of interconnected hubs with different plans for individuals to access space. Meetings will routinely occur virtually and across geographies and time zones, rendering air travel to visit clients or partners unnecessary. And if the office isn’t necessary—why are set office hours?