Guide to the path of freelancer or home employment

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There is no such thing as a free lunch. Neither is there an easy way to earn money, especially from home. To make yourself employable, you need to ensure that you have the required skill sets as well as good marketing and interpersonal skills. A sound portfolio (for aspiring writers, editors, photographers, designers, etc all) is a must.
Today, several private companies and MNCs are employing people who prefer working out of their homes. A host of opportunities exist for home employment in areas as diverse as telemarketing, selling insurance, data entry, accounting, writing (academic and journalistic writing), editing and proof reading, web design, content development, Internet-based research for companies, graphic design and desktop publishing, programming, audio and video editing, and translation.
With a fair bit of technology skills (typing and word processing skills, being PC literate), entrepreneurs can use the worldwide web to start companies and work from the convenience of their homes. A network security firm in Mumbai, for instance, sourced almost all its initial jobs from the Internet crawling through Google, advertising the website, and improving its page ranking on search engines so that users looking for a certain security solution, would hit their site as soon as they entered the particular keyword. Before you get into the home employment groove, make sure you have the requisite qualifications, hardware, and time management skills to convince potential employers that you are the right person for the job.
Before you consider quitting your day-job or begin working from home, take a piece of paper and list out your skills, preferred areas of employment, and your comfort-level in each area. For instance, if you are a programmer, weigh the benefits of home employment versus working in a corporate environment. If you are a student, chart out your daily schedule and figure out how much time you can spare for a ‘part-time’ job, even if it doesn’t involve stepping out of home. Remember, you may or may not earn as much as you would in a full-time job, and freelance projects take time to source and payments are delayed, in some cases. Zeroing in on the right kind The story titled ‘Home Is Where The Money Is’ featured in the February 2005 issue received nearly 700 e-mails, from readers across the country. While we cannot source jobs for our readers, we can recommend methods using which you can make yourself employable, without entering the ‘corporate rat-race’ of job is important. Don’t get stuck with a job you don’t like.
Once you have narrowed down your choice of employment, you can set up your workstation. You need to make sure that your future work area is very comfortable use ergonomic furniture, wherever possible. For Writers/Editors: A fast PC is a pre-requisite, you may also have to install software such as MS Office, Open Office, QuarkXPress or Adobe In Design. For Designers: Although it’s not important to invest in a Mac (Apple Macintosh), make sure your PC has enough RAM (at least 3GB), hard disk space, and install a good graphics card. For Data Entry/Typing Assign-ments: A computer, MS Office, Open Office, or other data-entry software. For Medical Transcription: Medical transcription involves transcribing medical records dictated by doctors (patient history, records, notes, lab reports), usually located in clinics abroad. Basic requirements include a PC with about 200 GB hard disk space, 1 GB RAM (minimum), sound card and Internet access. You would also require headphones, word processing software, and a good dictionary.
Prepare a good resume, entering the right key words under ‘Objective’. Use sites like Monster (www.monster.com), JobsAhead (www.jobsahead.com), Naukri (www.naukri.com), IT-people (www.it-people.com), and Times Jobs (www.timesjobs.com) to get a basic understanding of the job profile. Use Resume Builder on these sites (needs registration) and on MS Word.
Create a good web site (one that’s not too garish, text or image heavy). Use services such as Godaddy.com or Net4India.com or free services such as, Geocities to purchase domain space. If you are a free-lance photographer or graphic designer, put up thumbnails of your work on the site. You could also set up a web log (blog) on sites such as Blogger.com and LiveJournal.com. Don’t forget to provide your e-mail address, resume, and contact details at a prominent location on the site.
Use the best search engines in the business (Google, Yahoo!, MSN Search, and the right keywords (‘freelance programming’, ‘freelance translation’) to find the jobs you want. Don’t provide personal details while registering on a website unless its absolutely essential. Rent-a-coder (www.rentacoder.com), a freelance-sourcing site has a ranking system to rate the work of freelancer programmers, and help companies choose people best suited for a particular project. Guru.com (www.guru.com) and I Hire Programmers (www.ihireprogrammers.com) are other popular freelance sites.
It’s very, very important to ‘connect’ with the outside world. Join networking groups such as Friendster (www.friendster.com) and Ryze (www.ryze.com), have your blog linked to blog rings, and enroll in forums, user groups and other specific online communities. A caveat online communities have their own set of protocols and etiquette. Remember to follow the rules; don’t forward your resume to everyone you meet.
Create a ‘work culture’ for yourself. Just because there is no ‘boss’ breathing down your neck, you can’t afford to slacken or miss deadlines. In fact, you have to work twice as hard to ensure that the companies/clients hiring you have absolutely no reason to regret employing a freelancer.
Be your own boss, and brand manager. While it’s important to have an online presence in the form of a website or blog, it’s equally important to be aware of competitive pricing and different payment strategies. Do not charge your clients less because you are working from home. Make enquires pertaining to the market rates for a particular project (say, web-design or coding), and charge them accordingly. Also, do not under-rate or over-rate your skills; and do not undersell or oversell yourself. Be as honest as far as possible. Tip: To ascertain that Google throws up your site when users enter a certain keyword, make the title of your web page very specific (‘Fashion Photographer’ or ‘Freelance Writer’ as the case may be). Ensure that your site is linked to other prominent ones, by publishing research papers online, being part of active online communities or regularly updating your web log with quality content.
When you have time, enrol in training sessions, part-time diploma courses or distance education programmes to upgrade your existing skill sets. With technological advancements, there will be rapid changes in the employment scenario as well. The IT industry, for instance, is continuously evolving. You may have to invest in software courses, at least once every year, to learn new programming languages, improve your design and editing skills, and so on. Not upgrading your skills periodically would reduce your chances of employment, in any field.
As the maxim goes, health is wealth. Working from home may reduce your travel time but it might also bring to a halt the little exercise you were getting earlier by walking to and from the train or the bus station. To ensure that you give your best to the projects you source, some physical exercise, yoga, and meditation sessions coupled with a balanced diet will help you stay mentally and physically in good shape.
Browse through the classifieds of your local newspaper. There are plenty of opportunities to ‘earn from home’, from growing mushrooms, to clicking on advertisements. Web Sites such as, mginger.com, for example, You might have to ‘share’ some of the moolah with middlemen who charge a ‘commission’ on daily earnings. But what makes the difference between a sustainable source of income and a flash-in-the-pan job opportunity is how you go about preparing yourself for a sustained, long-term effort. As Confucius says, “The mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” So are you ready to hit the home employment road?

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