When I was young, I was told to study well, in order to secure a good job.
While I was doing my bachelors, I started a career as a freelance writer and realised that one can live their entire life working from home, if they’re dedicated enough. In a country like ours, there aren’t enough jobs for skilled people.
Freelancing is a good way to earn in such a situation. No matter what your skills are, here’s the simplest idea: if you can do it on a computer, it can be freelanced.
There are plenty of skilled freelancers abroad and so is the case in Pakistan, but the difference is in the demand and what is expected. Our local freelancers would charge lower for the same work compared to international freelancers. That’s what makes Pakistan and other developing countries a very suitable target for international clients. And with the quality of work that the freelancers provide, it even opens doors of opportunities for the freelancers to be hired as full-time employees as well. Freelancing has caught on pretty fast in the past couple of years, so much so that even our government is supporting it as an initiative for young and talented individuals.
Freelancing in Pakistan
When it comes to the web and technology, arguments can be backed up by facts and figures. And that’s true in case of Pakistani freelancers as well. So we contacted some authentic sources who could help us with statistics.
Saad Hamid, the city manager for Elance, one of the leading freelancing sites, presented some very interesting numbers. As per their statistics, Elance has almost 165,556 registered Pakistani freelancers. The top categories of Pakistani Elancers are IT and design. These are mostly from urban areas such as Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi. Keeping in view these two categories, we can compare Pakistan to the rest of the world. Pakistan is thus the 4th country with the most freelancers registered on Elance; the first three being the US, India, and the Philippines.
It seems that Pakistan might make it to third place very soon, as the difference between the 3rd and 4th spot is less than 700 users. In terms of earnings, Pakistan is rated third on Elance, with - over 61.5 million dollars in accumulative earnings so far, in the specified categories. The higher scorers in this case are US and India, with the top two position earnings of over 200 million dollars. This shows how much scope there is for the freelancers of Pakistan to earn from sites like Elance and others.
But there are some other statistics as well. We referred to P@SHA’s internet usage study of 2013, which had some pretty interesting numbers regarding freelancers in Pakistan. According to some excerpts from the study, “Majority of the users (80 per cent) never connected to the internet for working on freelance projects. Only three per cent of the users claimed to do it on either quarterly or monthly basis. The frequencies of working on freelance projects were equal for both genders. Three per cent from each gender worked freelance once in a quarter or month. The income groups showed little variation for experience with freelance projects via the internet. Those earning over 50,000 rupees were more experienced than other groups”.
Also, “the employed users got more opportunities to work on online freelance projects as compared to students and housewives. Students got the least opportunities to work on freelance online projects. Only three percent of them claimed to work on either weekly or monthly basis or once in a quarter”.
That’s a point to think and reflect upon. It could be the other way around. Students can make the best use of their time, compared to professionals. But things seem to be going in the opposite direction here; professionals are taking on freelance projects, and students aren’t making use of it. Students can even pay their tuition fees by taking on freelance projects; this fact has not been realised yet however.
Let’s have a look at some of the best places which can land you a freelancing job. Note that these are some of the most trusted sites on the web, and offer guaranteed and reliable payments, so you can be sure of earning something once you take on a project using one of these sites.
Elance is one of the oldest and most renowned names in the world of freelancing. It works like every other freelance marketplace. Clients post their job, and Elance recommends the most suitable people for it. Of course, the client can also sift though the freelancers’ portfolios to find the best one according to their needs. The payments are powered by Escrow, and Elance provides time tracking software to ensure accurate payment. A service fee of 8.75 per cent is deducted by Elance on all payments.
Pretty much similar to Elance, oDesk is one of the most reliable freelance marketplaces with over one million clients and more than five million freelancers. The name is a shortened form of “online desk”, meaning that anyone can work from anywhere. Everything else works pretty much as on Elance, but oDesk takes a cut of 10 per cent of the payment amount. Some people prefer Elance over oDesk, and vice versa; but it all comes down to the freelancer and the client. If you’re starting out, try both, and see which one brings you better luck. Although an interesting fact is that Elance and oDesk have collaborated to create a unified platform. More power to the freelancers!
This one holds a special place in the freelancing community because freelancer.com has set up almost 25 regional marketplaces, which allow better language and currency support. Other than that, the freelancer.com network works just like all other freelancing sites. Clients post work and look for freelancers, and available freelancers are always in search for projects. Rest assured, the payments are guaranteed and secure.
Being one of the oldest players in the freelancing market, Guru.com also holds a special place and is a trusted name when it comes to payments and transactions. It uses the SafePay system, and the employer (client) pays the money in advance to the site. Once the work is done, the money is released to the freelancer. Finding work and hiring freelancers works in the same way as on other websites.
Here’s one that you might have not come across because it follows a slightly different model compared to other freelancing sites. Fiverr is based on the simple concept of paying and earning five dollars per job (referred to as ‘gigs’ which are sold). There are now more than three million services available on the site ranging from 5 to 500 dollars. Fiverr offers a variety of freelancing jobs in that range. If someone is already offering a service for five dollars, you (as a freelancer) might consider taking a different approach on the job, to make it different from others and stand out from the crowd. Fiverr takes a 20 per cent commission on each sale of a gig. It’s pretty much the same concept of freelancing, but implemented in an ingenious way so that the buyer (client) can look for existing services that the freelancers are providing, and the freelancers can showcase the unique gigs that they can offer.
So now you’re hopefully more aware of the potential of freelancing, and how lucky you are to be in a country which is rated quite well in terms of freelancers. International clients look forward to working with individuals from Pakistan. You too, can be one of them - all you need to do is to start now, if you haven’t already done so. Take on some projects, regardless of the payment (for the first couple of projects), and build your portfolio with good ratings from clients, and then work your way up by gradually improving your rate. Good luck!
For more live updates, follow Dawn.com's official news Instagram account @dawn.today