This blog was written by Management & Leadership student Kerri Collier.
Many people dream of working from home, wearing nothing but their pyjamas all day. Even more appealing is being your own boss and deciding the hours that you work. The question on many people’s minds: “is it all that it is cracked up to be?” From my own experience as a freelance virtual assistant I can give an insight into the reality of working in the industry and this can help you decide if it is something for you.
Back in 2012 I stumbled into the industry by accident. Many mothers are hoping to find a job where they can work from home and still spend time with their children. This is what I wanted too and soon found some freelance administration work via a popular freelancing website. The competition is incredible and you are often outbid for work by overseas freelancers offering cut price services. Don’t let this put you off however as being a UK based candidate will go in your favour.
Make sure you do your research and take time to add detail and personalise your pitch. More importantly don’t make the mistake of offering your services for a rate that is too low for you to make any profit. While it is exciting to find new clients you can easily lose money on overheads and tax if you are not careful.
The biggest piece of advice I would give is don’t fall for advertisements for “working from home” jobs where they ask for money from you first or from sites where there is no added protection. If it sounds too good to be true it most probably is! Some freelance sites offer an escrow system where clients pay a deposit into escrow first and this can be released by the platform on completion. These are the sites to look out for. They do add a small fee for their service but the peace of mind they give is essential.
Once I started working from home I soon discovered that the novelty of working when you want wears off. While great for some people it is certainly not for everyone. I found that because I had no office closing time I also had no sense of when to switch off. I often spent my time working late into the night to impress my clients. In reality, working like this could easily make my hourly rate fall well under the minimum wage just because I wanted to spend extra time on the project.
The worst thing about working from home was the loneliness. For an extrovert like me, I found it difficult and talking to my computer soon became a common occurrence! Despite all of this, if you can get along working by yourself and deal well under pressure, then the buzz and excitement of freelancing can be really rewarding. It can also bring a whole variety of tasks to your day and make work an exciting place to be. It is also a great way to make extra cash and network while you are a student. Working as a freelancer could soon lead you to being successful as the manager of your own business or land you that dream job on graduation.
Thinking of taking an unconventional career route or working online? Speak to Careers Zone for more guidance and support.