If you’ve read my first post on the topic, then you already know that I am an electrical engineer traveling the world with my wife. One of the things I do to stay relevant as an engineer is freelance work that I find online. I believe that freelancing has a lot to offer, especially for those that find themselves in a circumstance like mine.
What I Think You Could Take Away From Freelancing Work:
You learn how to market yourself.
I think everyone hears that they need to be able to sell themselves to potential employers when they finish school. However, this isn’t a natural skill for most people (including me). This is a skill that you get better at with practice and experience, as trite as that may sound. Being able to market yourself is something you have to practice. It’s like working out a new muscle, or learning a new skill set. You won’t get better until you work at it, but I can guarantee this: After bidding on 2 – 10 jobs a week, you will quickly learn how to market yourself, which is a necessity!
Improve your communication skills.
As a freelancer, almost all interaction you have with a client is via email, and maybe a Skype conversation or two. This can be challenging, especially when the client’s native language isn’t the same as yours. Another challenge is cultural differences. What you may think is an important detail may not be important to a client, and the reverse can often be true as well. And if the client’s native language or culture doesn’t cause difficulty, then technical jargon will. You can’t assume that the client understands the technical aspects of the project, which means you get to do all the translating from technical concepts to normal, every day terms that the client can understand as well as getting the client to be specific enough to avoid having to rework the project several times. By working for clients from different cultures and backgrounds, you will learn to communicate your thoughts effectively and frame your questions to get the answers you need to make sure that your product matches the client’s expectations.
Gain experience and confidence.
The glory about freelance work is that it is a great way to gain experience in your field(s) of interest. You don’t have to get hired for a job to decide to do it for yourself. When I first started out, I was looking at iOS app development jobs, even though I had never programmed an app. What I found really daunted me, and I realized just how little I knew. But I also saw an opportunity. I found some projects that were specific enough that I could develop the projects on my own, and used them to help me build up experience for my résumé. This can work for anyone, and has the added benefit of letting you really stretch your bounds and take on jobs that you aren’t confident enough to charge for!
Finding inspiration and new ideas.
I have found that working as a freelancer has given me inspiration for new ideas and projects. Often times as a freelancer you come across jobs that you may or may not bid on, but they still leave an impact by sparking your imagination. When I first started out as a freelancer, I was constantly amazed at what jobs people were posting. There were jobs using technology in ways I had never thought of, which gave me new ideas for new projects of my own, and sometimes even some new ideas for projects I had sitting on the back-burner.
In short, I have found that working as a freelancer is a fantastic way to gain experience and inspiration, improve your marketing and communication skills with people from all over the world, and will even give you a whole new insight on some of you own personal projects!
My next post on this topic is going to cover how I find freelancing jobs that match my skill set, and how I successfully find clients to work for. As always, if you have any questions or if there is something you want to hear from me, let me know!