A freelancer, or contract service provider, is someone who works on a contract or freelance basis. As a freelancer you are acting as a specialist, or expert, in your field. This is not to say you need dozens of awards hanging on your wall, you just need to be proficient and knowledgeable in the duties you perform.

Freelancers are in high demand by employers for many reasons -when a project deadline must be met, when the company lacks adequate expertise or experiences sudden and explosive growth, and so on.

Many times an employer simply cannot justify the additional expense associated with hiring another employee. Since you are not an employee of the company, you keep 100% of the money you earn and are responsible for your own taxes. On the whole, you don't have to be licensed, insured, or have a business of your own. You just have to be a person that can do the project.

Truly, this is self-employment at its best!

The type of projects available for freelancers include accounting, translation services, language consulting, creative writing, Web design, programming, technical and business writing, data entry, Internet and off-line research, and everything in between. Believe me, there are all kinds of projects out there (including some really extravagant and offbeat stuff).

To help you get familiar with the process of finding freelance work, let's talk about some concepts you should be familiar with.

First, when you take on a project you are promising to complete the specified assignment within certain parameters... the time it will take you do the project, the pay you expect for completing the project, etc.

For you to get hired to do a project you must "bid" on it. The term "bidding" can be misleading... you are not paying any money to get the job, rather you are offering the employer a price you will accept to complete the project.

Let's say you find a company seeking someone to write a series of press releases for their new product line. You bid the project at $75 per press release with three revisions allowed each. The company will likely have several bids to look at, and will choose the service provider they deem most suitable.

So how does the company determine the best candidate for the job?

The lowest bid doesn't necessarily get the job. The company only partly bases their decision on the bid. They especially want to know whether or not you are qualified for the job.

Your qualifications are determined by your resume, or portfolio. Keep in mind that many companies hire for services on a continual basis, therefore your skills and experience level should accurately represent your abilities in order to secure future projects with the company.

Is there a catch, you ask?

There is no real catch. What you will notice are the dynamics of a marketplace with supply and demand features. That is, lower skilled projects tend to be more competitive, as do specialized projects where the market is flooded with experts.

How do you compete when there's a large pool of bidders?

Be the best competitor on the block, that's how. Get additional training if you need to upgrade your skills, or take an internship to enhance your experience level.

Actually, you want to be the best competitor on several blocks. Bid as many projects as you reasonably can within your area of expertise. Never lay dormant - search for projects and bid, search and bid, search and bid...

Now then, for you to get started as a freelancer here are the necessary steps:

Register at sites that list projects. It's free to register in most cases and makes you a member of the site. Register at several sites to increase your chances of getting projects. Many freelancers work several projects at the same time. Just be careful not to take on more than you can handle.

Not only must you register, you must submit your skill set at the project site. Your resume must be in tip-top shape. It must be current and an accurate representation of your experience and skills.

If you're not comfortable writing a resume you should consider hiring a professional to do it for you. You don't get a second chance to make a great first impression.

Now just search the listings for projects you feel qualified for. When you find one... bid on it!

To go a step further, set up your website as a showcase of your talents. Direct prospective clients to your site and give them a tour of the *benefits* only you can give them. Further extend your reach into the worldwide community by advertising your services both offline and online. Go global!

So what are you waiting for? If you've been searching and searching for a home-based job and you're feeling frustrated with the whole thing... this could be the perfect way for you to start working from home.

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