We’re living through extraordinary and incredibly challenging times at the moment. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been wider, more intense and more harmful than anyone truly expected. And, for some people in our communities, there’s also been a significant economic impact.
Many people in the most affected industry sectors are now either out of work, or have been furloughed on lower wages, meaning money is likely to be tight… and looking to get tighter. So, with few options available when it comes to getting out and working, how can you boost your income?
One answer is to start a freelance side hustle – a means of carrying out work in the online space, whilst helping the organisations that still require assistance.
Deciding what freelance service to offer
With much of the world still on lockdown, very few of us can get out and work in the usual ways. So, if you’re going to start a side hustle then it needs to be a service that’s wholly home-based, works well in the online space and (crucially) meets an existing customer need.
The key to an effective side hustle is knowing:
- Where you can add value – we all have a unique set of skills, learned over the course of our careers, or through hard graft at the school of life. To create a freelance side hustle, you need to look deep into that skillset and see what skills you currently have, how you could use them and – importantly – how they could add value for a customer.
- How your skills can help people – You might be a brand expert, or an SEO specialist, or a content writer (like me). Whatever your specialism is, there will be someone in the market who’s crying out for those skills. Think about the essential work that’s being prioritised, what support these businesses may need and where you could bring your skills to the table. For example, I’ve been producing lots of practical advice for small businesses – explaining how to claim via the Government’s financial support schemes.
- How to turn this into an income – the idea of this freelance side hustle is to create a small uplift for your income, not to take advantage of what is an extremely serious and deadly emergency situation. So, set your pricing fairly, discount your rates for essential businesses and settle on fees that will help you to tick over financially.
Using the technology you have available
To deliver any kind of service-based freelance projects from your home, you clearly need access to the right kit and technology. In this digital age, most households will already be set up with the IT infrastructure that’s needed, but let’s quickly recap the core basics.
To offer a digital service, you’ll need:
- A fast, reliable internet connection – preferably on a ‘as much data as you can eat’ package, so your work usage isn’t eating into your own or your family’s data allocation for entertainment, leisure and social purposes.
- A decent laptop or tablet – so you have a core device to work from. This doesn’t need to be the latest high-spec machine. As long as you can run email, internet and basic work and productivity apps, then you’re sorted.
- A good quality webcam and mic – your core device should also have reasonable audio/visual capabilities, so you have a high quality, built-in webcam and mic for taking part in video calls, dialling into Zoom meetings or recording your own videos and vlogs.
Finding customers and work
The challenge now is to find essential businesses, organisations and public services that may need your skills. But there are plenty of ways to promote your side hustle and get your name out there in the marketplace.
Some avenues to explore will include:
- Creating a basic website – if you’re offering a digital service, you need a site to drive potential customers towards. This could be a basic WordPress site, or even a Facebook Business page at the most basic level. Tell people what you do, show them examples of your work and give them an easy way to get in touch with you.
- Using social media – platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram can all be great places to create accounts and raise awareness of your freelance business. Post regularly, share helpful advice and use the hashtags that are most relevant to your specialism.
- Reaching out to your network – if you already have a pre-existing network of colleagues, ex-colleagues and contacts, reach out to them and let them know that you’re available for work. You’re far more likely to be engaged as a freelancer if someone recommends you.
- Exploring freelance job sites – job sites, such as Fiverr and Upwork, post current freelance work opportunities and put you in touch with potential customers. This can be a good place to start if you’re new to freelancing, but be aware that this won’t create an especially stable pipeline of work.
Going Freelance: Building Work Around Your Life
Having a freelance side hustle may not be your long-term career plan. But if you get proactive and create your own freelance micro business, it does have a multitude of advantages for your work life.
Being able to choose who you work with (and when) gives you the power to build work around your life – reducing your stress levels, freeing up time in your life and improving your overall work/life balance.
If you’d like to start achieving the benefits of a more flexible career, where YOU are in control of your destiny, then now’s the time to start.
My new book, ‘Going Freelance: Building Work Around Your Life’, is a comprehensive guide for anyone setting out on the freelance journey. Each chapter gives you the simple, easy-to-follow tips you need, with clear advice on how to set up your own freelance micro business.
The book explains how to:
- Understand the Benefits (And Challenges) Of Going Freelance
- Ensure You Have The Right Experience And Skills
- Make The Jump And Get Started
- Know Why You’re In Business
- Find Your First Customer
- Market Your Brand And Services
- Choose Where To Work
- Join The Freelance Community
- Build On Your Client Relationships
- Manage Your Workload
- Manage Your Numbers
- Get Paid On Time
- Pursue A Good Work/life Balance
- Get Started As A Freelancer