Which of these 10 types of freelancer are you? (31.05.16)

31.05.16  Which of these 10 types of freelancer are you?  |  Have you had a holiday in the last five years? Are you accepting dinners, chocolates or flowers in lieu of cash? Or maybe you have an awesome idea that's going to go viral and propel you to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. Find out which type of freelancer you are.

1. The Career Freelancer

You are freelancing full time and earn 100% of your income from it. It’s likely that you have regular clients, if not retainers. You’ve probably been at it a while and have built up a good reputation by being professional, communicating well and delivering the goods (on time and on budget). Whether you’ve had a holiday in the last 5 years is another story…

2. The Between-jobs Freelancer

Whether you quit your last job, were retrenched, or have just moved cities and are looking for work, you think that a bit of freelancing will be a good idea to tide you over until the next permanent position comes along. Chances are that unless you have connections, you’re finding it difficult to find work and are a bit clueless about how to promote yourself, take briefs, quote accurately for work and handle the money side of things. Do a little reading about what makes a good freelancer (there are loads of useful articles online) and remember, this isn’t just a stop gap – it’s good experience, and you might even find your next full time job with or through one of your freelance clients.

3. The Digital Nomad

You’ve set up your life so that you can work from anywhere in the world. Location isn’t important  - decent WiFi and coffee are. You’re probably a combination of the Career Freelancer and Business Owner, and are complementing your paid-per-hour work with income from your blog. You might even have a virtual assistant in India helping you with all your admin. Tim Ferris is your hero. Your Facebook friends hate you.

4. The Moonlighter

Your day job doesn’t simulate you – or pay you – enough, so you’re freelancing regularly after hours and on the weekends. Maybe this is just to earn extra income, or get varied experience, but chances are you’re laying the foundation for a move into Career Freelancing. You’re giving up some of your social time, so you’ve definitely got ambition.

5. The Dabbler

Also known as the Sporadic Moonlighter. You freelance after hours… sometimes. Usually when someone approaches you. You design wedding invitations for people you know, or write their LinkedIn profiles. You’re probably under-charging for your work, and often accept dinner, chocolate or flowers in lieu of hard cash. The danger here is that you’re undervaluing freelance work generally and making it harder for freelancers who are trying to earn a living. Do some research to see what you should be charging, and learn how to communicate the value you offer. Whatever you do, don’t fall for ‘we can’t pay you, but we’ll give you great exposure’ line. The only time you should work for free is for a non-profit organisation.

6. The Opportunistic Hobbyist

Lots of people have told you that you should sell your photographic prints, greeting cards, calligraphy, etc. So after some research about Etsy and other online sales platforms, you’ve taken plunge. Facebook page? Check. Instagram account? Check. Maybe this hobby can earn you some easy money. This might evolve into Career Freelancer or Business Owner status… it depends on your levels of motivation, perseverance, resilience and business savvy – and the time you have available to devote to it.

7. The Frustrated Creative

You worked in an agency for years until one day you had enough of the politics / working on another boring execution for the SAME client / having to account for every 10 minute increment of your day... ‘Screw this’, you thought, ‘I could earn more if I went out on my own. AND I’d get to choose more meaningful, creative work.’ Perhaps you’ve realised already that Going Out On Your Own is not as glamorous as it sounds. Clients who allow you complete creative freedom are like unicorns. Plus now you have to handle all your admin yourself. All you really want is a patron of the arts to sponsor you and let you create beautiful things. What might be best for you is actually the security of a steady paycheck. Channel your creative spirit in side projects after hours instead.

8. The Zuckerberg Wannabe

You think your awesome idea is going to go viral within weeks and propel you to the upper echelons of Silicon Valley. Maybe you’ve quit your job to pursue this dream. Or maybe you’re dreaming of doing so. Either way, you’ll need about 6 months’ salary in the bank and a healthy dose of realism. And a viable revenue model, and a receptive target market, and and and… You’re not really a freelancer at all, as chances are, you’re not actually earning anything yet. Find a mentor, do some business courses and give it a go.

9. The Long-term In-houser

You’re freelancing 9 to 5, 5 days a week at an agency. Actually, you’re doing longer hours than that, but it’s OK, really. They pay you via their payroll and deduct your tax. Dude, you’re basically an employee who doesn’t get any benefits. If your retainer is not at least 30% more than the equivalent salaries of your peers, what are you doing?! Take a good look at your situation and figure out whether it’s really beneficial for you, or whether it’s skewed in favour of your client (employer!). Work to expand your client base, even if it means after-hours work. Having all your eggs in one freelance basket is never a good idea.

10. The Business Owner

Your dream is to have your own successful agency, and perhaps to sell it to the WPP Group for a small fortune. Maybe you’ve already got a couple of staff members and your team is growing nicely already. You’ve probably realised that you’re not a freelance creative anymore – you’re running a business. Creative work takes up maybe 10% of your week, if you’re lucky. 90% is spent finding and managing clients, managing your staff, doing admin, keeping an eye on finances, and a million more business-related tasks that are Not Creative At All. If you want to keep doing the creative stuff, find a partner to handle the business side of things. Otherwise, appoint a Board of Advisors, find a business mentor, learn as much as you can about entrepreneurship and start connecting with WPP people on LinkedIn...

Which type of freelancer are you? Let us know on our Facebook page.