Freelancing can be an easy way for individuals with sought-after skills to grow their experience and personal brand, as well as learning the ropes of earning extra money in exchange for their profession, similar to running a small business.
The digital capabilities to work remotely mean businesses can better communicate and work with freelancers for one-off jobs that require quick turnarounds.
Freelancing can be a great way to grow your personal brand and earn money, especially for graduates, but does it have the same benefits for someone deeper into their career? Or does it interfere with a full-time job?
Yohanne Esguerra is the Growth and Marketing Lead for Prosple, the overarching company for GradAustralia – an organisation that helps students and recent graduates find internships and graduate programs.
Ms Esguerra said she started freelancing her services as a graphic designer while she was a student, gaining a steady flow of income and opening the doors to a career in marketing.
“I started freelancing in 2017 when I was still in college,” she said. “I was doing design work for small entrepreneurs wanting to design their logos.
“Back then it was a social networking platform, where locally aspiring businesses would use this platform to transact or sell online.
“My freelance business came up really drastically because there was a lot of demand during that time and, after I graduated, there were a lot of clients who would need my service.”
Ms Esguerra said her freelancing success led to a startup company inviting her to work on a collaborative project, before offering her a full-time role.
“That led to a bigger network and more knowledge in web design, digital design and then e-commerce and digital marketing,” she said.
Eventually, the startup company folded, but Ms Esguerra’s strong freelancing brand meant she was able to go back with even more free time to further establish her freelancing business.
“I went back to freelancing, this time through Upwork, a freelancing platform where I was able to really establish myself as a creator for digital marketing,” she said.
“That's where I also met GradAustralia, who were looking for a freelancer to help with the layout of the publication.
“So they also offered me a full-time role and that led to where I am right now.”
How to get started in freelancing
Although it can be daunting taking the leap into freelancing, with people often not knowing where or how to start, Ms Esguerra’s top tip is to just do it.
“Don’t overthink things,” she said. “Sometimes you are held back by not having a portfolio or a long list of reasons why you can’t do it, but if you just put yourself out there and spend some time – an hour or two – looking into groups or forums where people need your services, raise your hand and converse, you can start from there.
“Small and medium-sized enterprises like these usually don’t have budgets and they want things done fast, they want things to be cashable.
“So it is really just for you to reach out and tell them, ‘hey, I can help you’.”
Taking on freelancing as a side gig
For some people, freelancing is often a side hustle, with many taking on work in addition to their full-time job for extra cash.
Balancing the two may seem like an impossible task, however it all comes down to being on top of everything, according to Ms Esguerra.
“My take on it is that the opportunities are always there for you to grab, and the limitations are just yourself.”
“Time management is very important and prior organisation is also important.”
In terms of whether freelancing hinders your career, Ms Esguerra believes it brings you nothing but benefits.
“I would say it helps your career because you get to build a lot of skills, not just the technical aspects that you’re working on but also communication, the business side of things, finances, packaging the products and more,” she said.
“So, it builds a lot of multifaceted skills for a person.
“You will be tested on decision-making, accounting, marketing, communication skills and customer service – it's all going to fall under you.”
How to be successful in freelancing
According to Ms Esguerra, whether a freelancing career is successful is largely dependent on the overall goal of the individual.
She said the ability to take on projects that differed from a person’s full-time job could be appealing but having a key source of motivation was integral.
“You have to identify the reason you want to do freelancing,” she said. “Do you simply want to earn more money? Are you saving up for something? What's the motivation behind freelancing?
“That would define how many hours and how much effort you are going to put into it.
“This will help you assess what kind of freelancing path you would like to go down. If you already have a career and you would like to dip your toes into an industry you think might be helpful for you in the long term, then that would give you the motivation to spend a lot of time on it – the long-term goal is there and the motivation is there.”