How to Choose Between In-Person or Online Freelancing

What lures many people to freelancing isn’t just the make-your-own hours, but also the opportunity to work beyond the usual, often stifling office setting. Whether you’re just beginning your freelancing journey, or are looking to make a change within an established career, times of choice arise.

You’ve already figured out the niche (or niches – don’t spread yourself too thinly and focus on three at the most at any given point). Moments of decision-making will perennially pop up when it come to the approach you’ll take.

Do you need to get out and about in the world, amongst live people and not just computer/laptop screens for hours on end? Or, would you prefer a quiet space at home where you can truly work by and for yourself? In the interest of personal and professional wellbeing, it’s important to understand the positives and negatives of both in-person and online freelancing before you commit to either route.

Know your networking needs.

We undoubtedly live in a highly digitized age. In mere seconds, we can connect with information and people from around the world. Wouldn’t it seem, then, that in-person freelancing opportunities would be slowly phasing into the past? Nope, not at all – such a thought is indeed far from the truth. This is particularly true if you happen to freelance in what I like to call the “constructor” industries, such as architecture and design.

What’s generally happening for many freelancing niches is a hybridization of in-person and online work. Some people have physical and digital presences for their businesses, while others call the Internet their office but will sometimes venture out for meetings and collaborative projects.

Although social media plays a big role in the networking process, really take a moment to consider engagement levels. A couple of pertinent examples include:

  • Twitter has unfortunately morphed into a land of fraught with complaints and petty interactions, while care for compassionate content dwindles. So many are entirely focused on networking for networking’s sake that likes and retweets rarely result in many click throughs to actual content.
  • YouTube, in its attempt to curtail detrimental content yet still be profitable, has subjected its content creators to stricter rules and “where-did-this-come-from” demonetization/decreases in promoting various videos in favor of others.
    • If media freelancing is your thing, you could ride out the wave there, or seek out other disillusioned YouTubers to collaborate on new alternatives.
  • While various platforms wax and wane in terms of relevancy, Linkedin has done an excellent job of adapting with the times, remaining the go-to resource for professional online and in-person networking.

Ponder your price points.

More and more businesses across all career spectrums are switching to online alternatives in an effort to consolidate overhead costs. Yet, conferencing software can only do so much; there’s a pervading impersonal atmosphere to collaborations that are entirely online. Coworking spaces have popped up as a “happy medium” of sorts.

Even if you eschew freelancing opportunities that require being based in a physical company office or shared space, keep track of inevitable expenses for other must-pay-for-things such as data plans, software subscriptions, equipment upgrades, and materials for projects.

Maintain a motivated mindset.

Freelancing can be draining, no matter the method. In-person scrambles to reach destinations, complete projects on-schedule, and work with others can leave even most attuned-to-the-chaos freelancers frazzled at the end of the day.

Online freelancing opens the door to additional communication glitches and misunderstandings, especially if you’re a writer and/or editor. The immediacy of a home office and the necessity to reach financial goals can also result in a tendency to work more and get paid less.

So, as you decide what your approach to freelancing will be, do it with an outlook that’s prepared to rise above challenges and honors self-care at the same time. Acknowledge that productivity levels can thrive best with and through periods of change, and don’t be afraid of that. And finally, remember if your freelancing character is rooted in equal parts discernment and versatility, you’ll have a competitive edge like no other in all aspects of the working world.

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