CLEVELAND -- Kyle Davidson has been on many adventures, but one that's been most rewarding came after layoffs at online marketplace Living Social.
"Living Social decided to refocus, change their strategy a little bit and as a result, shut down the adventures division. Nationwide," Davidson said.
Facing his own unemployment, Davidson struck out on his own, starting his own adventure excursion business. And he brought along a lot of his former co-workers as freelancers.
"We employ 23 freelancers. We call them group leaders. We call them guides on our trips," Davidson explained.
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In a study commissioned by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, nearly 54 million Americans freelanced last year. That boils down to about 1 in 3 U.S. workers freelance. And of those surveyed, 60 percent said they started freelancing by choice.
"That's sort of the idea, that the job you create for yourself is the most stable job you can have," explained Dan Carroll who runs his Kansas-based tech company with the help of freelancers.
Freelancing isn't for everyone. Experts caution that you in order to be successful you must have the following qualities:
- Strong Self Marketing Skills
- Demonstrable Skills
LinkedIn, the social networking site for the business community also includes a list of criteria to help determine if freelancing is right for you.
There is no denying that some successful freelancers were forced into the career change because of layoffs. But if you are considering leaving your current job to become an independent contractor, here are some steps to take before you take the leap.
- Finances: This should be your first order of business. Figure out your budget and work backward to estimate the minimum you need to cover your essentials. Before you make a full-time commitment to freelancing, be certain you can earn at least enough to meet your minimum.
- Network: Star by creating a business website or online portfolio to show off your work. Polish your LinkedIn portfolio. And tell people you are available for freelance work. Build your network.
- Start Moonlighting: As the work builds and you get recommendations, your freelance work may be busy enough that you have the confidence to strike out on your own.
Sites such as Upwork (formerly Elance-oDesk) Guru, Freelancer and SimplyHired are all sites that can help you find work, as well as manage some of the challenges that come along with choosing freelance as a career.