The Ultimate Freelance Case Study: Introduction

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If you’re looking for a freelance case study for a specific profession, HomeWorkingClub’s case studies section has you covered, with tales of successful freelancers doing everything from writing to photography.

However, I wanted to do something a little different, and this post marks the start of what I hope will prove an interesting journey, and a valuable resource for new freelancers.

The idea for this freelance case study series came from a HomeWorkingClub reader, Sam Guss.

Sam plans to move into freelancing in the coming months, and pitched the idea of a series of regular articles describing all the steps he takes, along with an honest account of his highs, lows, successes and failures.

Aside from being really inspired by the basic idea of the series, I commissioned Sam to write it as a way of proving that it IS possible to get started in freelancing by showing the right initiative. Sam provided a perfectly-worded pitch, with no errors. This is depressingly rare, as I discuss in this article.

While I don’t have the budget to pay “megabucks” for these articles. Sam had an idea, pitched it, and had agreement on a paid commission within 24 hours. I hope it doesn’t sound in any way condescending, but I admire this initiative – and since I bang on about it in article after article, I was inspired to see it in action!

Sam will produce an article every couple of weeks, talking about exactly what he’s doing to move his new freelance career forward. We hope, over time, to build this into the ultimate freelance case study. To begin with, here we have an interview with Sam, so you can get to know him and learn a little about what to expect from the series.

I hope that this regular new feature proves inspiring for other people who are just beginning their freelance journey. If you’ve not subscribed to HomeWorkingClub already and want to ensure you don’t miss an instalment, you can use the signup box beside or below the article. It’s completely free and we won’t spam you!

Let’s begin.

The Ultimate Freelance Case Study: Introducing Sam

HWC: Hi Sam, tell us a little about yourself!

Hello world! I’m Sam. I’m in my late 40’s and currently in my “second life” career in IT after over 20 years in operations and sales management. I’m still learning the ropes and finding my place.

I live in a major college town in Texas, where people half my age are coming out of college with advanced degrees and have as much experience as I have. Many of them worked as student workers in the industry on campus.

Sam Guss

Not all is bleak. I’m about to start a job at a major national company whose technical support department is in my town. I am regularly headhunted for various positions in both my former and current career. So work is there – but it normally isn’t the work I’d choose to be doing.

This has made me reevaluate things, and I discovered that freelance work has several opportunities that appeal to me. For starters, it allows me some variety. As someone who is ADHD, variety is not only the spice of life it’s the salt and pepper! Secondly, freelancing allows me more control over how I make a living.

So here I am – on the brink of not only starting a new full-time job, but also on the brink of starting what I hope will become my freelance career.

HWC: What previous experience of freelance work do you have?

I started writing for a small local newspaper at the age of 14 and was encouraged by my editor, friends and family to submit articles to other sources.

During the next few years, I sold probably half a dozen articles. This was before the internet as we know it today – articles were typed out on typewriters and sent via snail mail! This process could take weeks, if not longer. On and off over the next 30+ years, I sold the occasional article, and for a while I was a contributing writer for a gaming website.

All that aside though, I haven’t done any freelance writing for several years, and at no point looked at it as a potential career. It was always merely a way to feed my ego by seeing my byline somewhere!

HWC: What kind of freelance work do you plan to do?

I plan on offering four services:

The first is writing, whether for blogs, ezines, or even the content mills!

The second will be home PC support and training. Then, even though I am not very experienced in website design and building, I plan on offering this as my third service.

Last but not least will be a service to help new home automation and smart home owners get their devices setup.

(Editor’s note: This is what I’d describe as a “portfolio career” – something you can read about here.) 

Computer support

HWC: Where would you like to have got to in a year’s time, and what level of income are you hoping to establish?

There are four stages I have in mind for my freelance career, none of which I’m actually putting a time frame on:

Stage 1: A little extra cash. Making up to $200/month.

Stage 2: Spending money. Making up to $500/month.

Stage 3: Part-time wages. Making up to $1,000/month.

Stage 4: Full-time wages. Making up to $3,000/month.

How long will each stage take? Well, through my upcoming series with we will all find out together!

HWC: What are the first three things you intend to do?

The first thing was actually unplanned. I reached out to HomeWorkingClub to write this freelance case study series! It was nothing but timing, but when I saw you share the “Write for Us” page on the HomeWorkingClub Facebook group, it sparked the idea of how this could be a perfect official start to my freelance career.

The second thing I plan on doing is establishing Craigslist ads in my local area for PC support and training, along with other technology offerings.

The third planned step will be to sign up for one of the writing jobs websites, such as Writers.Work.

HWC: What do you think’s going to be the hardest part?

Establishing myself in the various freelance work I want to do. There is competition everywhere, not just online but locally and nationally as well.

Finding PC support customers will put me in direct competition with such outfits as Best Buy here in the US and even the local computer shop owner.

HWC: Is there anything you plan to invest in to kick off your freelance career? Books, courses etc.?

I just picked up “The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guidebook” by Yuwanda Black and it is a great read – I highly recommend it to new freelancer’s out there.

Books learning

From my personal library, I brought back out two books to read. The first was “What Color is Your Parachute?” by Richard N. Bolles. It’s toted as the “job hunters reference guide,” but there are parts of the book that I think are well worth going over as a freelancer – mainly regarding recognizing your personal skill sets and about how transferable skill sets work.

The second book is an oldie and will not be everyone’s cup of tea: “Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design” by Laurence G. Boldt. I think everything you need to know about that book is probably right there in the title!

As for courses, I’ve been taking some through Udemy. The courses are usually on sale from $10-$15 and at the very least give you an introduction to the subject you want to learn. Some courses are even free.

Currently, since I want to expand my skill set for website hosting and design, I’ve been studying courses on AWS (Amazon Web Services) from Udemy. I’ve taken website design and programming courses in the past too.

HWC: How much confidence do you have in making a success of it all?

As I mentioned before, I plan to define my success in four stages.

As for the first stage, I am well on my way to that already, despite just starting out. As such, I have every confidence I will make the first stage within a few weeks and the second stage within a couple of months.

Stage three and four, we’ll have to see – and hopefully discover together if you read my updates! However, I while I’m aiming for stage four, the fact that I can say I’m nearly at stage two is already a success in my book.

HWC: Is there anything else you want to add?

I am really looking forward to this series! Not only writing about my experiences but also the journey of self-discovery within the freelance world.

It is my hope that my freelance case study will inspire and help others. The process though should be both fun and interesting.

What will I learn next week? What will I uncover as a potential freelance source next month? Let’s find out together 🙂

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