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Learning To Cope As A Remote Worker: Observations Of A Lifelong Freelance Worker

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Learning To Cope As A Remote Worker: Observations Of A Lifelong Freelance Worker

Some sixteen years ago I decided that I was not ideally suited to the 9 to 5 world and sought a better means to make a living. At least one that was more well defined for my particular lifestyle. Having always been something of a recluse, I quickly determined that perhaps a freelance lifestyle was probably going to be my best bet.

The challenges it seemed, were that most of the freelancers back in those days, were stuck on the early freelance sites and hard-pressed to make a decent living. Amazingly, I still see this trend even today and have put together this article in hopes of helping people to cope as we enter the post Covid-19 phase where so many people have now found themselves working as remote service providers.

The first and most important thing to remember is that even a work from home job is still a job, and there will be adjustments that have to be made in order for you to do that job. Fortunately, work from home tips during the quarantine are common sense solutions that will work just as well even as the social distancing and isolation fade into distant memory.

One very interesting and relevant point of note, is how many people who were fired and forced to stay at home still shared two very common traits. All of these people still needed to eat and they all still had to pay their bills. This resulted in a great influx of people into the world of freelance work online. As we transition into “the new normal”, this trend is very likely to continue, especially for people who can successfully transition and turn part time freelance work into a full time, good paying career choice.

Chart showing how many people that want to work from home

Image Source: IPBuffer Website – Working at home is often preferential for people who have grown accustomed to the quirks and challenges of working from home.

How to Begin Your Work From Home Career: The Home Office

What are some of the most important work from home tips during the quarantine and will they help as we enter “the new normal” for other remote employees? To answer the latter part of that question, yes, these tips are just as beneficial in the post coronavirus world as they were during full quarantine.

Setting up a home office or a remote work location will still require you to work, and to assume many of the responsibilities formerly managed by administrators and other management personnel. You will need to ensure that your time management skills are up to par and that you remain productive during working hours.

It is important to minimize the potential for distractions, be they from children, pets or even noisy neighbors. Meals and other breaks should likely still be relegated to break time in order to remain productive in the work-from home environment. Productivity does generally increase for work from home employees, but it is up to you to ensure that your production levels remain up to par.

Pie chart of jobs that can be done remotely

Image Source: Global Workplace Analytics – The jobs that can be handled remotely are surprisingly diverse, bridging virtually the entire spectrum of career choices in the world today.

Work From Home: Finding Your First Freelance Gigs

While there are a great many advantages to being a work from home freelancer, there are also many different challenges, including tech security, as has been noted by Tech Republic in their research and reporting. Among the biggest challenges is starting your career, and the ability to continue earning a living wage at the same time.

While you may have seen those people that brag about using freelance work to travel the world while they make a great living freelancing, chances are better than not that they have already put in a substantial amount of work to build their freelance careers, and have much practice as remote service providers.

Whether your dream is to work from home or get out and see the world as a digital nomad, you will still have to build your career the same as you would with any job. While the freelance job sites are a great place to start, it is important that you do not allow yourselves to get caught in a “comfortable rut” lest you find yourself spending more time looking for work than actually working and earning a living.

If you are lacking skills necessary to enter immediately into the highest paying freelance jobs, you can always start as a remote language services provider. These are generally among the easiest freelance jobs to find, and can still lead to profitable careers as a remote freelance worker, working from home or even working as you travel.

If you have the necessary language skills, you can enter the world of translation and remote interpreting, both of which have seen an increase in demand since the global covid pandemic. Video and other audio transcription services are an equally viable means of making a living as a freelance language services provider.

Working as a remote language services provider will also allow for you to actively sell your freelance services to established businesses and increase the potential for gaining a steady supply of freelance work without devoting all of your time online to merely trying to find work. There are a great many part time opportunities for remote translators and interpreters at many major organizations.

The most notable among these are intergovernmental agencies and non governmental organizations like the United Nations, the World Bank and even for government agencies. While these jobs do pay very well, they are generally part time jobs and even the benefits may be limited. However, they are also excellent opportunities to build up your reputation and make it much easier to find long-term and regular clients.

The Importance of Long-Term Freelance Clients In Work From Home Careers

Certified legal interpreters can make an excellent income, but the work is not always steady. The same is true for certified medical translators and interpreters. When the work is available, it pays well, but there may be expansive gaps in between paydays at the same time.

It is easy to get lost on the freelance job sites and think that is the only place to find freelance work that you can do from home. The freelance job sites are important for work from home employees, but some caution should also be taken not to get caught in any freelance traps.

It is important that your freelance profile and all of your bids state clearly and plainly that you are seeking out long-term clients. This should actually increase your chances of getting hired, as people seeking out long-term clients tend to be more concerned about the quality of work that they will produce.

In the beginning, you may want to bid on virtually any job that you have the capacity to complete, but make certain that you continue looking for long-term clients and begin building them up until such a time as you have enough clients to earn a decent living. As is also the case with any career, you should then prepare to begin working a little overtime and establishing more of a career than just occasional freelance work.

From Freelance Worker To Freelance Career Worker

As you begin building your client list, you may still not be earning a good living as a freelance worker. This is where you may have to put in a little added effort from time to time. By this time, you should have a sufficient number of regular clients to ensure the bills are paid, but maybe not much more than that.

As you continue to search the freelance sites and to reach out through marketing and sales to offer your professional freelance services to established businesses and other professionals, you should begin considering the pricing for your work. Retain your regular clients at the same rates, at least until you have the means to replace them or to encourage them to perhaps pay a little more for your professional services.

When you find new, long-term clients who are willing to pay a slightly higher rate, take this as an opportunity to raise your rates among your existing clients. Reach out to the lowest paying of your existing clients and explain to them that you have new clients willing to pay a higher rate. Explain to them how much you enjoy working for them, but that due to the increased workload, if they wish to retain your services, they need to accept the new rates.

If they decline to pay the new rates, you already have a new client who will, so you have still made a net gain in your freelance career. If they accept the new rates, it may increase your workload for a while, but this should add to your ability not only to pay the bills, but helping you to build a freelance career where you can begin making a decent living.

From Freelance Career To Industry Professional And Business Owner

If you are still going strong at this stage of your freelance career, congratulations. The final step is a deep dive into the world of the entrepreneur and using that which you have formed into a full business, likely using other work from home employees and remote service providers.

Given my experience with language, translation and interpretation services, the logical progression was the establishment of a translation company that utilized remote language service providers. In the case of the translation agency, there were a surprisingly few number of steps that had to be taken to move from the world of freelance language services to a full B2B and B2C translation services provider.

It was of course, necessary to fully test and qualify remote language service providers in that particular case. Likewise, no matter what type of business you may be establishing, it will be important to make certain that any potential employees are capable of providing the actual work they are hired to complete.

Accounting practices and other administrative tasks will have to be established as well. These may vary depending on the laws in place, not only wherever you may establish the company headquarters, but potentially anywhere new employees will be hired. What are the relevant tax laws regarding the remote employees? What are any benefits that may be provided to remote service providers? Can any of the work of the newly formed company be outsourced to third-party service providers?

Over the course of time, more duties and responsibilities may be delegated out and relieve your work load sufficiently to begin actively enjoying the fruits of your labors. It may be that like me, you prefer to remain more actively involved with the business you have built from your freelance roots and do not wish to delegate the daily operations out to others.

Ultimately, isn’t that the reason for escaping the proverbial rat race to begin with? Whether you are working as a freelance translator or interpreter, or building a future for you and yours, it is not only possible but comparatively easy to build a career, even starting out as a freelance worker.

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About The Author
Ofer Tirosh is the CEO of Tomedes, a translation company comprised of remote workers and professional translators working from around the world.
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