4 Strategies For Freelance Success When You’re Over 50

By Michelle V. Rafter, Next avenue Contributor


Regardless of whether you have been a freelancer for years or are thinking about switching to a later career as a self-employed freelancer, there are various ways to increase your chances of success.

According to data from the recently released Freelancing in America: 2019 report by Freelancers Union and Upwork online platform, nearly a third of US workers over 50 are either part-time or full-time freelancers. (Next Avenue published an earlier article with detailed results from the Freelance Survey.)

Most over 50 freelancers do this by choice. This was the case for 60% of respondents aged 50 to 64 who were self-employed and 73% of those aged 65 and over.

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Here are four ways to maximize your freelance earning potential by taking advantage of the latest freelance trends:

1. Use your existing skills

According to the survey, the most common type of work that freelancers of all ages do is to provide qualified services – such as consulting, marketing or programming. And skilled freelance work pays off more than unskilled freelance work. The survey found that freelancers providing skilled services make an average of $ 28 an hour, compared to $ 20 an hour for unskilled work.

Some skilled freelancers do a lot more. For example, some of the highest-paying jobs on Upwork come in accounting and finance. Those with experience in corporate restructuring, Bitcoin, or international accounting are billing more than $ 200 an hour.

So, once you’ve had a career honing your skills in a particular area, consider using it as a stepping stone to freelance work.

2. Network, network, network

There’s one more reason to do what you know as a freelancer. The Freelancing in America report found that personal networks are the primary source of engagement for freelancers doing skilled work. Personal networks include past freelance clients, friends and family, and professional contacts.

Older freelancers have a leg up here because they’ve been on the workforce longer than people in their twenties, thirties, and forties. When you meet and work with more people over the long term, you build a larger network, and those connections can pay off, said Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork.

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the second most important sources of freelance work. However, having just one account is not enough, especially with LinkedIn, which is business focused.

“There’s a big difference between LinkedIn and knowing how to do it. They need to be in the groups and communities, ”said Jeri Sedlar, author of Don’t Retire, Rewire.

Freelance websites are another source of work. If you want to profile freelance platforms to advertise your availability, try general websites like Upwork, Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, and Freelancer.com.

But don’t overlook freelance locations for a specific industry, like Axiom, for the legal profession, or locations operated by the recruiting firm TrueBlue for people working on-call, temporary, or freelance in manufacturing, construction, transportation, hospitality, and want to work in other industries.

3. Invest in training

It is especially important for older freelancers not to complain about what they know. “If you are a marketing freelancer, you need to be educated in digital marketing and social media. You have to show potential customers that you are competitive, ”Sedlar said. “If you can’t, you can’t establish yourself as a freelance moneymaker.”

According to Freelancing in America: 2019, 73% of skilled freelancers believe that qualification is essential to their job, and 71% update their skills to ensure they remain marketable as the way they work evolves. In addition, 65% of qualified freelancers have completed some kind of qualification training in the past six months.

Freelancers can keep their digital skills up to date with free online training from office software providers. Or, they can sign up for paid courses online through sites like LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, or from local community colleges.

Don’t neglect soft skills like the ability to communicate with or connect with other people, work in a team, or negotiate. In fact, the percentage of freelancers who consider it very important to have soft skills is almost the same as the percentage of freelancers who see hard skills, according to the report

Soft skills are an important part of being a freelancer because you need to know when it’s okay to push back during a negotiation and when not, Kasriel said.

4. If you are thinking of becoming a freelancer, make yourself comfortable

Kasriel recommends people who are considering working for themselves slowly and gradually. That’s because there is a lot to learn when you become a freelancer. In addition to finding a job, you’ll need to learn how to negotiate fees, budget for unpredictable income, find health insurance, and pay estimated taxes.

Start with moonshine or freelance a project or two outside of your day job to see how it goes.

According to the report, freelancers spend 53% of their time doing billable work and the rest doing things that can’t be billed to a client, such as: B. Marketing. If your freelance sideline is growing to the point where you bill for 20 to 25 hours a week – roughly the equivalent of a 40 to 50 hour workweek – this is an indication that you are making enough to be freelance all the time Said Kasriel.

April 15, 2021