One of the vital putting observations from these calls is that no two information science freelancer journeys had been the identical. Simply to provide a way of this, listed here are the tutorial backgrounds of the ten freelancers I spoke with Biomedical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Biostatistics, Electrical Engineering, Laptop Science, Finance, Physics, Information Science, Advertising, AI, Economics, Math, MBA, and DS Bootcamp.
Discover there are extra backgrounds right here than interviews, that is for 2 causes.
- Most had coaching past a bachelor’s diploma, and
- No 2 out of the ten freelancers had the identical actual coaching
The latter level is one in all my favourite elements of information science. It’s a subject that attracts a variety of views and experiences, which makes for very fascinating dialog and collaboration.
That is essential to bear in mind when studying this text. The variety in backgrounds extends to how freelancers function and the place they’re headed. Put merely, completely different is the norm right here.
Whereas every freelancer’s begin was distinctive, there was a typical beginning technique that got here up a number of instances. Within the early days, many freelancers tended to have a sturdy concentrate on studying and status constructing.
There’s extra to information science freelancing than simply the “hands-on-keyboard” work. Not solely do you’ll want to do information science, however you additionally have to promote your self, juggle purchasers, handle your financials, and many others.
A typical method freelancers navigated this was to tackle a (comparatively) excessive quantity of small initiatives within the early days. Not solely does this present a number of repetitions to be taught from, however having a protracted checklist of efficiently accomplished initiatives (with testimonials) creates credibility and makes it simpler to get new purchasers.
Whereas this “small-and-wide” technique was nice for getting began, it didn’t appear to be a typical (or good) long-term technique.
Consistent with the “completely different is the norm” theme, there was a large mixture of how these freelancers at the moment labored and received paid. Listed below are a number of examples to provide you an concept of this.
- Freelancing full-time
- Freelancing part-time whereas pursuing a facet enterprise
- Working full-time function whereas freelancing on the facet
- Full-time contract function (1099)
- Transitioning out of freelance right into a full-time function (W2)
This highlights the flexibleness of freelancing. It permits professionals to tailor their work to what works greatest for them.
For many who weren’t searching for full-time work, it was frequent to restrict the weekly time dedication for every consumer. 10 hr/week per consumer gave the impression to be a candy spot, with a typical variation between 5–20 hr/week. With this time allotment, freelancers would usually have 2–3 purchasers at a time.
There have been 3 frequent methods the freelancers received new purchasers. The first and most typical method was making use of for contracts on Upwork or different websites.
The second method was by way of inbound leads (i.e. purchasers discovered them) on Upwork or different platforms. This occurred most frequently for these with an excellent status, a listing of testimonials, or a powerful presence on social media.
Lastly, the third method (which was frequent for probably the most profitable freelancers) was getting work from referrals alone. This appeared to occur when there was rather more demand from purchasers than the freelance may provide (which additionally naturally drove up costs.)
Every freelancer had a novel imaginative and prescient for his or her future. Nonetheless, to make this extra digestible, right here I partition the long-term objectives into 3 buckets.
Preserve Freelancing & Scale Up Consulting Enterprise
The primary bucket contains those that may see themselves freelancing endlessly. They get pleasure from it, and it offers them a pleasant life. They work when they need, on what they need, with who they need, and the place they need.
Additionally, on this bucket, I put those who wish to scale up their consulting enterprise. This tends to occur organically for individuals who have an excessive amount of work than they will do alone and who get pleasure from venture administration. For a lot of, this is so simple as having subcontractors that they work with incessantly and even full-time staff.
Generate Passive Revenue & Construct a Product-Oriented Firm
Though freelancing offers great freedom and might be profitable, it nonetheless primarily consists of buying and selling time for cash e.g. I pay you an hourly charge to do a job. Whereas this isn’t so dangerous, most would fairly commerce a bit time for some huge cash e.g. you construct a product as soon as and promote it many instances.
That is the second long-term objective bucket which lumps collectively producing passive earnings with constructing a product-oriented enterprise. Whereas these are technically completely different, they each can serve the identical goal: producing extra worth in much less time.
Some freelancers deliberate to do that by creating on-line programs or different digital merchandise. A handful of freelancers had been actively constructing buying and selling bots or different buying and selling instruments for private use.
Others thought of constructing software program options tailor-made to mid-size corporations or particular industries by leveraging their freelance expertise and clientele. Whereas I haven’t but personally seen a profitable realization of this latter concept, I’m optimistic about it.
Transition to a Full-time Position
Whereas freelancing gives flexibility and independence, some freelancers might ultimately transition into full-time roles. Some even constantly cycle out and in of full-time roles. A number of causes for this from people who I interviewed had been: you can also make a much bigger influence at an enterprise, extra social interplay and collaboration, extra certainty and earnings stability, larger alternatives for profession progress, and a consumer turns into an employer.
These calls fulfilled the promise of mentorship that I used to be searching for in that they helped speed up progress towards my objectives. Whereas it’s laborious to say how issues will end up, I’ve a sense this can be the most effective investments I made in my entrepreneurship journey. I’m wanting ahead to placing these learnings into observe and persevering with to construct relationships with others on this house.
To wrap issues up, listed here are the 4 key takeaways that I’ll preserve high of thoughts for future freelancing endeavors.
- Do good work so you’ll be able to function on status and referrals. If individuals come to you, you’ve gotten larger leverage and optionality to assist make sure the work and purchasers you tackle are aligned along with your objectives.
- Discover a area of interest. Selecting a distinct segment may help make you an enormous fish in a small pond. Listed below are some niches that got here up in my interviews: finance, crypto, power, OCR, LLM purposes, and information technique.
- Type alliances throughout the tech stack. Information science work alone might be restricted in its enterprise influence and worth era. For this reason forming relationships with different specialists (e.g. SWE, internet dev, UX/UI, and many others.) may help you present larger worth to your purchasers.
- Develop a private model. Having a powerful model presence on social media platforms could make it simpler to land freelance contracts by providing you with credibility. Moreover, sharing beneficial content material and showcasing your experience may help supreme purchasers discover you (versus you having to seek out them).