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Freelancing article

  1. 1. Freelancing in Information Technology- Obstacles and Suggested Solutions Mahhek Tahir, Khizra Samad Computer Science Department, National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences Abstract— A freelancer works online as a self-employee and is not associated to any organization. This article illustrates freelancing, its history, different modes of freelancing and payment methodologies.Freelancing in information technology is emerging as a popular activity because of its numerous benefits but unfortunately freelancing has some obstacles and there are various ways to overcome these obstacles. This article highlights benefits of freelancing, the obstacles faced by freelancer and suggest the possible solutions of these obstacles. Keywords— Freelancing, Methodology, Payment Modes, Obstacles, Suggested Solutions I. INTRODUCTION There has been a massive shift in the way people prefer to work. Work is no more captivated by complex boundaries such as legal terms, single client, space and time. Freelancing is the word that properly defines these phenomena. In definition freelancer means a person who does some work or a job without any long term commitment to a particular employer. This term is getting popular day by day. According to a survey there are about 1.6 million freelance in the UK with £84 Billion added to UK GDP. Freelancing has broaden up the horizons for people to seek and do work. They are free to work, they are on their own boss, they can excel, develop, grow and do what and how they like. In short they are Self Employed. When you are a freelancing you are an expert in your field, you prove yourself to know everything without needing a supervisor or manager in most of the cases. [1] Freelancing has penetrated many industries including computer application development, accounting solutions, quality assurance, web designing, gas and oil contractors, business and management consultants, medical professionals, technical writing, data entry operations and many more. Many people are shifting from routine office based jobs to freelancing. People in different industries are also finding ways of starting freelancing in those industries too. Even small companies are emerging out of this profession. People start individually or in small groups of friends and colleagues and when they find positive response from clients they start hiring people to share their work. This way small entrepreneur emerges. It helps people who have a business mind and do not have much capital to start of a company of their own; they can start with small projects and small capital and then increase by growing it slowly and steadily. The practice of freelance is different for different types of clients. Some believe on the words of the freelancer while other want them to fill up contacts like the NDA document which has list of the rules which the freelancer is obliged to follow including rules like the work remain the property of company and freelancer is not allowed to re use it etc. II. HISTORY The word freelancing was used for the first time in a novel called ―Ivanhoe‖ which was written by Sir Walter Scott. It was used to describe a free-lance with a person who is not under oath to any lord and his jobs, It converted to noun in 1860s and then finally as a freelancer verb in 1903 defined in Oxford Dictionary. Now a day it has been given a term as a noun (freelancer), adjective (a freelance engineer) and adverb (he worked as a freelance). [1] III. MODES OF FREELANCING There are many modes of freelancing. There are many websites called freelancing market places where the client puts their requirements and the bidders have their bids and profile and the client is free to choose from the bidders after a formal interview with the freelancer and sometimes a quick test to evaluate what he really knows. The client also asks for code samples of previous work done and work history of applications made for real clients. They might also ask for references of clients especially clients in their own country, they contact these references via email or phone and
  2. 2. make sure they were happy with the freelancer’s reputation and that their work was completed on time and within budget. Other then this client consider the years of experience, expertise, rate, location, similar projects done before, comments and feedback of other clients, skills, education history and many other criteria but the most important of them is how fast and efficiently the freelancer can do the job within the budget the client can afford. Other then website there are clients that becomes the permanents. These clients directly contact the person if they have done their work before and were satisfied by it or ask their colleagues if they know a freelancer that they have good experience with. There are also companies who hire freelancers and find clients and then they introduce the freelancer to the clients, keeping a profit margin. [2] IV. PAYMENTS In freelancing there can be many types of payment plans. It can be hourly, daily, weekly or monthly. It can be based on a task module, milestone, objective, groups of activities or a whole project. Some freelancer chooses value optimizing pricing based on the historical price of a project. The price can be either decided by the client or by the freelancer itself. The client can decide price of the project either by experience, historical evidences of similar work, suggestion from colleagues, his pocket and average of bids from other developers. Where as a freelancer can decide a price by his experience with the field and that particular project, options available to him other than that particular project. In most of the cases price is decided by considering all of these factors mentioned above. Sometimes the freelancer keeps an upfront payment for liability that the client will not leave the freelancer unpaid after getting his work done. Many rules of payments are also imposed by the third parties involved in freelancing like the market place. V. BENEFITS Freelancing has many benefits. Few of them are outlined below. Ease of work – Freelancer choose what they want to work on. When you are on a job for any company you are bound to work on everything that your manager assigns you, even if you are not comfortable with that or even if you are new to it, still you are bound to do it, but in freelancing you are free to choose anything you want to work on, you apply on tasks you are sure you want to learn or you already know them. Multiple clients- Freelancer can work for more than one client at a time in freelancing. Person are not legally bound to work with one client at a time, so if there is a client is not giving you complete work for the whole week due to his busy schedule or vacations, you can always switch to other client to complete your hours for that week. Unlimited hours of work – You can work as much as you like, normally in offices we are suppose to work 40 hours a day but when it comes to freelancing we can work as much as 60 hours a week or even more. That can help you improve your income by putting extra effort on work. Freelancers can work on weekends and can get paid for that time as well where as in job even if you work extra hours or work on weekend there is very little changes of getting a fair amount of bonus. So in short freelancing comes handy especially when you are willing to save/earn some extra money. Expanded markets – Sky is the limit when it comes to the boundaries of freelancing. The world boarders start to fade off. You can apply anywhere in the world and can do the projects for any client around the world. That improves your changes of learning and getting a fair amount of work from all over the world. And compete as international level of standards and money. New connections all over the world – Freelancers get to know new people, new cultures, new societies and get good business connection all over the world too. That can help them throughout their life and can become their recommendation even if they plan to move abroad to seek a fortune. [3] Advantage for partial workers – The world is moving toward a situation where everyone needs to work to earn a living. There are people especially who can’t work because they are bound to stay at home due to social, economical and other factors or even there are people who can’t give full dedication of 8 hours a day. Freelancing is a miracle for them. They can work from home and even if they put small hours on the job daily, they can still earn a fair amount of money. Better income - Freelancers generally have improved hourly rates as you are competing at international levels. Especially for the resources from the third world countries when they convert into their own currency its comes real fruitful. So you have better income and hence an improved lifestyle. Self employed – You are your own boss. Imagine! Flexible Timings - Freelancers can work when they want. No more bound by time of 9 to 6. you can work late night to compensate for a party at noon, or can even work early to compensate an exhibition in the evening. So in short one can plan his life according to his will. Improved learning curve – When a person is on job his/her learning curve is not so high, but when it comes to freelancing one can learn what he/she wants to learn. Freelancers can take risks of working on different technologies and tool, they struggle to find solutions online,
  3. 3. and in the process of doing so the learning curve is improved by many folds. [3] New technology curve – In freelancing it is very easy to shift to different technologies, mostly when a person is on job your manager will like you to stick to the technology you master in as that benefits the company. You might get lagged behind due to that, but in freelancing you try to conquer the lion by trying to learn and intervene into new technologies. Thus you stay with the pace of the world easily. Can start own setup – Pretty good chances of starting a personal setup either with the help of client investment or slowly and steadily by increasing clients one by one and hiring resources for projects. Improved level of confidence, communication and English skills – Not just you get a chance to work with different clients throughout the world but you also get a chance to talk to them daily. That improves your confidence level and communication skills. You get an improved vocabulary, pronunciation, oral and writing skills. VI. OBSTACLES AND SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS Having a long list of exciting benefits described above, still many companies avoid freelancing as a medium to get their work done and even many personnel avoid it to adopt freelancing as a profession. Now we will look at certain obstacles that freelancers face and we will state some possible solutions to these obstacles keeping in mind the benefits we discussed above. Obstacle: Finding client – When person starts his career as a freelancer then the first problem wait for him is finding client who can give you work and pay you in return. Finding loyal client is very difficult task because some client are very cunning they don’t pay back to freelance once freelancer complete the project and sometime client quit project in between without stating any reason. Solution: There can be two ways to find clients either request your seniors to refer you and recommend your work to their clients to consider you for some of their projects but not all the senior do this because if they refer you then what they will do. The second way to catch client is to create profile on any trustworthy freelancing website e.g.,, and apply for project through these freelancing websites. Obstacle: Grabbing project at early stages – There are many trustworthy freelancing websites and these websites contain countless project of various domain. Anybody that is authorize to those websites and have profile on these website can bid for the open projects but grabbing project at initial level is itself a spiky task because mostly client reluctant to approach people who just started freelancing, their preference is to hire skilled and experienced people. Solution: Most of the time people drop their guns after successive failure but this is not the right approach and don’t panic in this situation and keep on applying on different open jobs and projects of your interest. Follow up that job and keep visiting to that job application to view the status. The more you apply to different job the more are the chances to be hired for different projects. Obstacle: Low income in start – This is a common problem for every new freelancer no matter how much skilled you are in your domain you have to suffer with this problem because you are building your profile as freelancer. In start, freelancer forced to charge less so the income rate is low because it takes time to establish your profile moreover clients tend to pay less to new freelancers as compared to already established freelancer with strong working profile on the other hand newbies are compel to place low bid to win contract. Solution: In this situation try to apply for small contracts, focus on fixed price jobs and once you get hire and successfully complete that task that will add in your profile and this will give you chance to increase your hourly rate. Obstacle: Concentration diversion – Employer who are associated with 9-5 type jobs have thoughts that working as a freelance is a relatively easy and relaxing job as compared to regular 9- 5 job although situation is opposite to it because freelancing means working from home and in your own home there are a lot of stuff like TV, cell phone, play stations, radio, laptops, internet, eatables and many other things are enough to distract you from work. Solution: To avoid such distraction you need to be your own administrator because there is no one sitting at your home to monitor you and to realize you that you should do your work to earn and to fulfil your commitments. You must create your schedule for working, stay away from all the stuff like TV, cell phone, play stations, radio, laptops, internet, eatables etc during working hours, and follow the schedule strictly. Obstacle: Ignore Self Promotion – A freelancer is so much engage in his assignments and client’s work so sometime he ignores his self promotion and growth. He confined himself in some specific domain by doing this freelance impede his learning curve and in long run he will have to suffer when he has no work in hand of his specialized domain. Solution: To handle this situation freelancer must keep himself updated by IT industry , stay in contact with other freelancer and share knowledge to learn from each other experiences. Make habit to visit different IT blogs to stay inform about latest happenings and advancement in IT industry this will really helpful for improving learning curve.
  4. 4. Obstacle: Contract violation – A contract is an agreement between freelancer and a client, all the terms, conditions, penalties and work responsibilities clearly mention in the contract. When a freelancer and client signs a contract then it is a legal and ethical responsibility for them to follow contract but even then some nasty client deliberately breach the contract taking the advantage of being located in foreign country and knowing the fact because of this reason it is not possible for freelancer to take any action against them. Solution: Contract violation is very difficult problem to deal with. In such situations have patience and don’t fright. If you are dealing with an independent client first talk to him and try to sort out the issue but if he is not agreed then you must file a law suit against your client for contract violation. You must find a lawyer locally who deals such sort of cases and discuss your case so that he can help you in taking legal action against your client. If you are dealing with a client from any freelancing websites like, or any other website, then just file complaint against your client for contract violation in their customer support system and follow up with their representative to solve this issue. [4] Obstacle: Client never ending demands – Some client treats the freelancer as full time servants and demands for the features that are not listed in contract. When a freelancer is working with a client then sometime client ask to do additional work at run time for which no detail mention in contract. If you are doing something that is not mention in contract then client is not supposed to pay you for that extra work and it means you are doing your work with effort free of cost. Solution: It is very difficult to say NO to client for additional work that is not mention in contract but it is possible to deal with such situation efficiently. When client demand additional work simply discuss with client the effort and cost of doing that work , document all the detail and take sign of from client before doing that extra piece of work. [5] Obstacle: Poor Communication – Freelancers need to communicate with clients of different locality and different cultures, there are many factors that cause poor communication e.g. different time zones, command on language, unfavourable circumstances etc. Poor communication sometime annoy client and compel client to take actions that are not in your favour. Solution: To overcome poor communication issues, first select proper communication medium and communicate client off and on. Regularly touch base with client and communicate work status by email, phone calls and Skype. Obstacle: Poor time management – Freelancers most often fail to manage time because of large workload or they get involved to other activities like watching TV, listening radio, hang out with friend etc, in result they have to work hard and overnight to complete tasks to meet deadline Solution: The best way to manage time is to create schedule and plan your work and activities accordingly. Prioritizing your work is also helpful and just focus on your work in working hours because timely delivery of work make the client happy and also bag more task and money for you. Obstacle: Delayed Communication – The common complaint of clients is delay communication from freelancer. Sometime freelancer does not check their inbox on time and somehow they miss latest messages from client and in result unable to provide client with timely feedback this may make client unhappy. This delayed communication can cause cancellation of contract. Solution: The solution of this problem is very easy and tricky, always login to the freelance websites if you are dealing with clients from there. Make sure that you are login to your email account on your machines and mobile devices this way you won’t miss any message and notification from client. Try to reply client messages and queries as soon as possible. Don’t let the client to wait for the update keep in mind that its you that need work otherwise client have many other options available. [6] Obstacle: Lack of Social Activities – Freelancer usually keeps on working without any break because the more they work the more they earn this attitude affect the personal life and reduce social activities. Sometime they work more than 24 hours just to complete task on time and ignore family and friends and sometime client ask to work over the night to complete work and in this situation one have to bypass the personal activities. Solution: Only the freelancer owns attitude can solve this issue. If your family, friends matter for you then commit only the amount of work you can easily handle. Take a day off in week and plan social activities with friends and family. Try to complete work on time and enjoy spare time with family and arrange social activities in leisure time. [7] Obstacle: Late Payments from client – Late payments from clients are unfortunately a critical issue for a freelancer. Freelancers deliver their quality work on time but sometime clients intentionally or unintentionally paid late. The late payment upset freelancers if he does not have another source of income. Solution: In these circumstances, all you can do is just send a reminder email to the client or you can communicate the payment delay issue with client over skype but do not get harsh while communicating with client because it might possible you get chance to work with same client again in future. [8] Obstacle: Client refused to pay – unlike the regular job where salary transfers at the end of month, in freelancing payment are made at the end of work. Sometime when freelance deliver his work to client but for payment he has to wait long but the situation gets worse when client refuse to pay back to the work done , this thing seems weird because all are professionals but these situation arise in freelancing
  5. 5. field when client decline payment and stops payment for anonymous reason. Solution: This issue can be solved by various means like before start of every contract always ask for down payment. Freelancing website like, and have their own specified payment policies and if you are working through these websites then you can file complaint against that client in their support centre, the support team investigate the issue and helps you in resolving payment issue. Obstacle: Lack of benefits – Being a freelancer you cannot avail the benefits that corporate companies offered to its employee. You cannot have health insurance, retirement incentives, pay for doing late sitting for task completion and bonuses. You cannot take sick leave you have to complete your task even if you are sick because its your work and you have to do it to get paid otherwise client will hire someone else to complete that project. Solution: Despite the fact that you cannot enjoy these benefits even then being a freelancer is itself a blessing because you can enjoy the freedom of working according to your own way. You do not have to follow company rules and regulations and you are free from office politics. You can develop good working environment at home too. Obstacle: Retaining clients – Retaining client is very difficult thing because there are massive professional available in market and client can access anybody who charge less. Quality of work also matter to client but if a freelancer charge less than you for same task then client will definitely think about him once and then the ball is in the court of client and he has to decide to whom he should select for that task. Solution: It is very important to stay in contact with old client and if client was satisfy with your work in past then he will definitely contact you and prefer you for future projects and there are more chances of you that client hire you for his projects. VII. CONCLUSION Freelancing is a very exciting way to earn better money. It has a diversity that can be enjoyed. It gives exposure to a person to improve his learning. It allows a person to decide his own schedule, the type of tasks he likes to work on, and how much he wants to work, and more importantly his own lifestyle. Its benefits are much more than its drawbacks. Again a very important phrase, if you have a will you are definitely going to find a way. It provides freedom while working because no one monitors you in freelancing so its all about you, if you really want to do it. One just needs to be fair and flexible with his dealings and he will definitely get the reward in return. ACKNOWLEDGMENT We are very obliged to our teacher Sumaira Sarfraz for her advice and continuous support. REFERENCES [ 1] place [ 2] t_Home_As_a_Freelancer.html [ 3] clients/ [ 4] problems-and-how-solve-them [ 5] [ 6] with-freelancers-solved/ [ 7] 0%99t-let-these-common-freelancing-problems-kick- you-in-the-butt/ [ 8] how-to-overcome-them/