Freelance designers work in a variety of creative fields including graphic design and website design and development. While freelance designers do not have the job security and steady paychecks of traditionally employed agencies, freelance designers have the freedom to work with a variety of clients and to express themselves creatively without managerial influence. Freelance designers can reach financial success if they can combine a strong work product with effective targeted marketing, advertising and networking.
Things You’ll Need: Resume, Online portfolio
Make sure you have quality, reliable equipment including up-to-date computer programs in order to work efficiently from home.
When contracting with a new client, make sure to specify in writing whether you or the client will own the rights to your work product.
If you love working with people or landscapes and you have a knack for photography, you might be cut out for a career as a freelance photographer. As a freelancer, you’ll sell your photos to people and companies who solicit photographs you’ve taken or they might contract you to take photos of specific subjects for them.
As a freelance photographer, a digital SLR camera is the best option. Choose a model with features that best match your style of work. For example, if you take sports photos, you want a fast automatic focus and high frame rate. For portraits, on the other hand, a basic camera with manual focus will be sufficient. You also need at least one lens, and ideally two or more so you can take photos from a variety of distances and in multiple styles. Lastly, you need a tripod to keep your photos crisp, especially with longer exposures. For outdoor photography, a sun shield will prevent glare and overexposure. If you’re taking photos indoors, set up three-point lighting with a bright key light just to one side of the camera, a half-power fill light just to the other side of the camera and a back light pointing at the camera, but out of the frame, to separate the person from the background. You’ll also need at least one muslin photo backdrop and stand for portrait photography.
Potential clients will want to see your best work to help them decide whether to hire you. Put together a portfolio with a variety of your best photos to demonstrate the style of photography the client can expect. Display part of your portfolio on your website and have a larger printed portfolio that you can bring to meetings with potential clients. If you specialize in a few different types of photography — such as wedding, babies, nature, wildlife and studio portraits — create a portfolio for each type of photography and just bring the type that applies to the client.
When your freelance photography work involves people, potential clients will want references who they can speak to about your personality and how easy you are to work with. This is especially true for wedding photography because the last thing a bride and groom want on their big day is a photographer who’s difficult to work with and creates stress, even if the pictures turn out great. Ask a few previous clients if you can provide their contact information to potential clients as a reference. If you have no previous clients, you might need to work a few free or low-cost jobs to develop a portfolio and reputation.
As a freelance photographer, you’ll be an independent contractor for tax purposes. Depending on the laws where you live, you might need to register a photography business and get a business license. This is especially true if you’ll have clients come to your home or office for appointments. Contact licensing office personnel in your city to ask about business licenses for a freelance photography business. They can also direct you to any state offices that require licenses.
Depending on the type of business you plan on running, you might need an office or studio space. If you plan on shooting outdoors and selling work online or directly to clients, all you need is office space. A home office should be adequate, although if you have high-profile clients coming for appointments, you can rent a room in an office building instead. If you shoot photographs indoors, you’ll need to rent a studio. This is most common with portrait photography. Choose a location that’s easy to find, has a waiting area for clients and includes enough space to set up at least two backdrops to shoot against. If you expect to get a lot of drop-in business, choose a location in a mall or strip mall. If you’ll be developing film photos at your studio, choose a studio with a darkroom, or a back room that you can convert into a darkroom.
Freelancing is a term used for people who provide products or services as independent contractors rather than employees of a company. They are self-employed in any number of fields, including art, graphics, copy writing, editing, computer programming and web design. Many freelancers have significant experience and often are experts in their discipline. They generally receive payment after they complete the assignment. Some freelancers may receive partial payment upfront. Before deciding on a freelance career, a person needs to weigh the pros and cons.
One advantage of being a freelancer is the freedom of being able to accept or decline jobs as needed. Active freelancers may have waiting lists of companies that want to use their services. Since the main goal is to complete a task, the freelancer can make her own hours as long as she completes the job in the allotted time. If her most productive time is in the middle of the night, the person or company contracting her doesn’t have any say.
Freelancers can piece together jobs to add variety to their work life, rather than work as an employee with a rigid job description. For example, a freelance writer may pen articles for one client and blog for another. Many writers wear more than one hat and also perform editing. A web designer might also have graphics skills and be able to take on clients in both areas.
A freelancer isn’t obligated to take on more work if he chooses not to. This allows him to test the waters in different disciplines to see which he enjoys the most. He can turn down contracts with companies that don’t pay on time, or he may try dabbling in a variety of jobs to see which ones are good for his working style.
Since most freelancers work from home, their commute is the time it takes to walk from their bedroom or kitchen to the computer. They don’t have to sit in traffic, worried about getting to work on time. If a home repair needs to be done, there’s no need to take valuable vacation time to meet the repairman.
To gain experience in a desirable field, a person can perform freelance work for companies that are willing to take a chance her. The work might eventually turn into a permanent freelance job, or if the freelancer wants to be employed, she has her foot in the door with connections and a track record.
A negative of freelancing can be loneliness. Most freelancers work from home, so they tend to be isolated from other people with the same interests, unless they actively seek social or professional networking opportunities.
Freelance work isn’t always steady. Some months, the jobs may be abundant, but other months may be lean. Many companies and individuals put freelancers last on the accounts payable list. To avoid having financial trouble that may force the freelancer back to a salaried job, the freelancer should save a comfortable percentage of the income from the higher-paying months to get through the down times.
Freelancers often don’t have access to group health insurance, unless they are members of an organization that offers it. They don’t get vacation pay or sick leave, so to take a vacation, they have to plan ahead and save money if they want to get away from their work.
With the continued proliferation of electronic publishing, it has never been easier to publish a book. However, just getting a book published does not guarantee success for the author. A freelance publishing agent can help the author find the right publisher and audience for the book.
Freelance copy editing isn’t as publicized a career as freelance writing or design work, but it is another creative and potentially lucrative independent career choice. Freelance copy editors provide style and grammar consistency and fact-checking for publishing companies, writers, organizations and an assortment of private individuals for an hourly rate or flat rate per project, page or word. If you’d like to make a switch to freelance copy editing from your copy editing day job or you’d like to start anew in this career, you’ll need to treat freelance copy editing like a business. This means setting clear goals and following through with actionable objectives to build a sustainable practice.
Check with your state Department of Licensing to determine any business licensing needs and be sure you are aware of all local, state and federal tax laws regarding your copy editing business.
Technical and creative writers have two main employment categories to choose from: freelance and staff writing. Each position has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you’re struggling with the dilemma of “freelance vs. staff writer” while trying to determine your career path, take into consideration a few differentiating characteristics of each position.
As a staff writer, you can usually count on a consistent salary or hourly pay rate and a guaranteed minimum schedule. You can rely on a specific amount of money each week, regardless of how many assignments you complete. In freelance writing, your income may vary significantly each week depending on assignments availability, price and your self-scheduled workload. Freelance writers often experience drastic highs and lows in their incomes.
Camaraderie in the workplace can be beneficial on both a professional and personal level. Staff writers work in group environments in which help and guidance are readily available and social bonds and friendships are forged. Unfortunately, as a freelance writer you’ll typically be working solo, with only minimal contacts via telephone and email. On the other hand, sometimes office environments lead to conflicts and uncomfortable atmosphere. Working as a freelancer, you are virtually exempt from such occurrences and free of “office-drama.”
Though freelance writing definitely has its advantages, when it comes to benefits staff writing has got freelancing beat hands-down. Professional staff writers generally receive competitive benefits packages. In addition to typical benefits such as medical, dental and vision insurance, they often receive paid sick leave, vacation time and retirement pensions. Freelance writers are independent contractors. This means they work for clients rather than an employer and are responsible for their own benefit plans.
Freelance writers must provide and upgrade their own computers, laptops, printers and office equipment. They also have to absorb the costs of Internet service, software, hardware and maintenance. Freelancers have to pay for all equipment upgrades, utilities, supplies and sometimes office space and furniture. As a staff writer, you’re not responsible for any of this. You are provided with a workspace, computer, office supplies, Internet connection, telephone and in most cases an IT professional.
Even in a casual office setting, staff writers are still required to dress and groom appropriately. In some offices this may even mean formal business wear. Freelancers evade all dress codes because they work in their own space. You can virtually roll out of bed and work all day long in your pajamas as a freelancer and save a fortune on business suits.
If you’re a structured individual who prefers consistency, staff writing is a better choice for you. Staff writers usually have a permanent Monday through Friday daytime schedule. You’ll report to the same facility and work the same hours each work day. Writers who have trouble committing to a regular schedule might be better suited for freelancing. Freelancers work whenever and wherever they please, at any time of day or night. Freelance writers also save money on commuting.
As a staff writer you are required to complete any given assignment. Sometimes, depending on the firm and required content, staff writers get stuck writing about the same topics repeatedly. This can lead to burnout, boredom and poor productivity. As a freelancer, you are able to write for who you want, when you want, about what you want. You have the freedom to pick and choose your own clients and assignments and add variety to your workload.
It takes a very focused and disciplined individual to succeed as a freelance writer. Though you may enjoy the freedom of no one looking over your shoulder, you mustn’t get carried away. In an office setting, supervisors will be quick to keep you on your toes and encourage productivity. Freelance writers are subject to a number of distractions when working alone, such as friends, pets, personal calls and playing on the Internet.
Copy editors play a crucial role in preparing writing for the public. Since many very creative and effective writers make grammatical and legal mistakes with their writing (such as copyright infringement) and since some writers experience blindness to their writing, copy editors can increase the quality of the final copy. But finding a copy editor can be challenging and becoming a copy editor is even more challenging.
Copy editors take writing and alter it in order for the writing to conform to the grammatical standards of a particular language, dialect or lingo. Copy editors also verify the accuracy of the writing they are editing and can even offer suggestions for revision. Though copy editing sometimes involves some writing, it is a discipline in its own right.
Both copy editors and copy editor employers should be aware of the different contracts that copy editors can have with clients. Copy editors are specifically editors who edit works intended for printing or publication. Copy editors can be hired freelance for individual projects or they can be staffed full-time. Copy editors can be paid per editing job, per word, hourly or salary. Some copy editors work within the office of the company they work for while others work at home and deliver finished work through mail or email.
Copy editing jobs can be advertised through a variety of mediums. Newspaper ads are the more traditional way of advertising jobs. There are copyediting services, such as ACE Copyediting. which have a whole staff of editors for hire. There are employment websites like Monster where copy editors can post their resumes and where businesses can advertise jobs. There are also online sites, such as Get a Freelancer, that allow buyers to post copy editing jobs that they need completed.
When choosing a copy editor you will ideally want an editor with experience and an editor who can thoroughly understand the style guidelines put forth by the publisher. But due to the law of supply and demand, if editors are in short supply and if the client cannot afford to pay the copy editor very much, the client should consider lowering the requirements for entry. One way around this is to allow a copy editor to pass a copy editing test instead of having a background in copy editing for other clients.
Getting a copy editing job can be difficult because most copy editing jobs expect copy editors to have experience. Aspiring copy editors might be able to find low-paying copy editing jobs that do not require experience. These are good jobs to take simply to build up work experience. Copy editors should also consider copy editing for free simply to build up experience. Consider editing for a small newspaper or newsletter. Also consider applying as an editorial assistant. Oftentimes editorial assistants do not actually edit, but instead carry out grunt work for the editor. But editorial assistants can eventually move up to becoming copy editors. Finally, there are some copy editing jobs that do not require experience and instead require that a copy editing test be passed before becoming a copy editor.
After reading a piece of writing, ask yourself if the goals of the writing are clear. Look for more complicated words and sentence structure and replace them with simpler words and sentence structure without changing the meaning of the sentence. Review the style guideline first thing everyday before starting copy editing. If you feel that a sentence is plagiarized or in violation of a law, check with your senior editor. If you are a head editor, ask a friend who is also an editor. When in doubt, ask the writer to revise. Finally, if the writing is important enough, consider finding a legal consultant who specializes in this area. Only do this if the expected revenue of the piece of writing justifies the hiring of a legal consultant.