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Q: Any tips to help me start freelancing?

RobK's recent blog: http://space.echinacities.com/27601/blog/detail/1809 inspired me to make an effort to learn some marketable skills for the future, with the intention of gradually shifting from teaching to freelancing. Yes, I'll be buying his kit with alleged helpful info, but I won't base the decision on this alone. Of course, escaping the teaching profession is a motivation, but this is not so much out of dislike for the job: I'm thinking of the future. How on Earth am I going to be able to move to a western country for my kids' education without some form of marketable skill? Evolutionary Biology, ESL in China and student work as Security guard is a useless set of random skills that's hardly on demand.

 

Plus, age matters. I'm 31 now. Young bucks will work for less, and bring heartwarming wide-eyed naivete to a workplace. My life is hardly over, but jobs will become increasingly difficult to come by as time passes. I need to move away from employee situations, and find a needed skill on which my services will be judged instead. So freelancing it must be.

 

I contacted a German expat I met in my city. He's an accomplished web programmer, and actually shifting his activities to project management. He has a young kid of his own, too, so I can't expect him to mentor me as I learn the ropes. But he's putting together some starter info so I can study on my own. He knows I'm a slacker into computer games, but I mentioned that most of the games I play employ mods, hacks, and editing tools. And concern for my kids' future is making games and TV a lot less appealing for me nowadays. My wife's incessant whining about money might also have something to do with it - if so, perhaps her attitude is not a completely useless drain on my emotions and energy.

 

I convinced my friend that it wasn't a whimsical decision that will fade, and he's making an effort to put together useful things for me. When he's managing projects in the future, he said he may even employ my services, depending on my actual abilities. I claim to pick things up quickly, and have a fondness and aptitude for computer software, but it all remains to be seen how well I'll understand what I study. I plan to start studying web editing, design and programming for starters. I'm hoping I can get the hang of things like html and java. I've always wanted to understand how websites are constructed, and I'd love to be able to make webpages for a living. Skills like this are useful no matter what business I'm involved in in my daily life. If nothing else, it will help me keep my computer clean from hackers.

 

As with all major career changes, I could use all the help I can get. General freelancing advice is welcome, as well as tips on how to find and attract clients. I've been made very aware of the dangers and illegality of working for any Chinese contractors while residing in China, so I'll be relying on the web for tasks.

 

I registered on Odesk, and my friend suggested I could already get started with my proofreading ability. There was actually a British proofreading test I nonchalantly activated, and I was shocked that I could barely pass the time-limited test with a 2.6. Now I can't retake that test for another 6 months on the site! Too much punctuation, not enough grammar and spelling in the test, IMHO. I'm looking at the Elance site now, because my profile as a proofreader on Odesk will look less-than-sparkling now.

I like to re-use my username coineineagh all over the internet. People like to shorten it to "coin", which would be fitting for a freelancer. I always thought of freelancing as similar to mercenary work. I'll be working for pennies until my reputation builds up anyway...

 

4 years 41 weeks ago in  Business & Jobs - China

 
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Posts: 7043

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Sounds as if you have it all worked out. Best of luck to you.

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4 years 41 weeks ago
 
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Try before you buy...

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4 years 41 weeks ago
 
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I'm reading "A beginner's guide to Web Design". My friend suggested it was a good starting point. The preliminary goal is to design a bilingual website for my wife's school, to demonstrate my skills to potential clients.

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4 years 41 weeks ago
 
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if you are talented in learning things by yourself, why not.

you always have to know that you can only reach a certain level till you stuck. otherwise we might not have universities.

webdesign might be easy at first, but when it comes to the deeper things like sql php java flash cs it is a lot work that you will have. you have to learn ALL to be a good webdesigner

 

and as you see it is one of the easier skills to obtain you have feirce competition by even young kids and informatic students who do that next to the study. and they study that stuff so they have an advantage.

 

i started as a teacher, now i am GM but thats due to the fact that i had a useful study backhome already.

 

as you working as a teacher you have a bachelor degree... may i ask what was your major?

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4 years 40 weeks ago
 
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My thought was to get a lance, suit of armor, horse and a sidekick / squire.

 

 

Oh, you wanted a serious answer?

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4 years 40 weeks ago
 
Posts: 148

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www.odesk.com

www.freelancer.com

www.peopleperhour.com

www.elance.com

www.getafreelancer.com

 

They are all similar, you should focus on getting some portfolio, learning programming and web site design will take you 1-3 years to be middle level if you learn every day around 4 hours.

 

Learning programming:

www.codecademy.com

www.khanacademy.org or cmn.khanacademy.org for Chinese

 

For building reputation try finding projects like: "find me factory in China", "paste from PDF to word", something simple that don't need coding skills.

 

After few months you can try finding some company to offer your skills for free, to work on actual projects for 2-3 months before you start asking them to pay you and request working at home, bla bla....

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4 years 40 weeks ago
 
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I have been doing freelancing now for quite a few years (as you know). And here are some quick tips I would give to anyone trying to get into it (my kit does into more depth on this but currently revising the kit and marketing angle):

 

1) oDesk and Elance are merging to beat out Freelancer. These are the top three and shouldn't be missed. 

 

2) I made an account with Freelancer in 2009 and I was the 800 000th person. They recently sent me a notice that they have 10million people signed up now. Obviously, only going to grow and so will the competition. Build up potential clients NOW. 

 

3) If you can partner with someone that handles clients and finding new jobs while you just focus on the work. That would make a much more effective team. 

 

If you are a coder and not good at design, then you should link up with a good designer as well. Going solo is okay but best to outsource the stuff you can't do too well.

 

4) Spend a lot of time making a nice portfolio and always chase clients for feedback, references and testimonials. On oDesk I have 100 reviews with 5 stars, so now getting jobs is much easier than when I started... so it DOES get easier as you build up. 

 

5) The tests are pretty fricking hard... even the English one if you don't cheat lol. Somehow I got way higher marks on my marketing tests than my design tests but I TOOK A COURSE for the design one and not the marketing (I just learned that through trial and error). But you need to get at least 3-4 under your belt to raise the oDesk limit.  Same on Elance. 

 

Hope that helps. 

 

Sent you a message BTW. 

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4 years 40 weeks ago
 
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Btw, if anybody wants to make a team. I am open for that. I am mainly working on sourcing products in Asia and vector designing (logo, book cover, etc.) and also vectorize jpgs.

 

 

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4 years 39 weeks ago
 
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I've been working as a freelance translator for over 8 years now.  I think that one of the most important things for freelancing is an ability to build a network of trustworthy friends and clients who can help you hone up your services and skills needed in the market.  In the world of freelancing, always put experience first.  Also you may want to start to learn money management and investment as a way to cope with "down" time.  Best of luck to you.

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4 years 39 weeks ago
 
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Agree with flyingheart. I've managed to create a group of people around me, that if work comes their way and they don't have time for it, they'll recommend me, or we will work on it together. 

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4 years 39 weeks ago
 
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4 years 39 weeks ago
 
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Freelancing what exactly? First lesson = focus. 

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4 years 39 weeks ago
 
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Freelacing skills.

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4 years 39 weeks ago
 
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