The hope of life returning to what it was before the outbreak of Covid-19 is becoming gloomy day by day. The shift has seen even corporate workers adapting to lockdown conditions, by learning to work from home (remotely). No doubt, life will get back to normalcy. The question is which normal? “Will it be slightly better than this normal or the yesteryears’ normal?”
I believe for any freelance creative; this is the time to explore telecommuting or remote working. While your fear of hunger is understandably greater than that of the Coronavirus, you may not enjoy the daily wrangle with the Zimbabwean police on your way to the office or coworking space. If the workplace is not receiving any significant traffic seems to be a waste of time and money.
Why not seriously consider working remotely as a Freelance Graphic Designer? You can still complete local projects with less or no physical meetings. You can take it Online, removing the need to meet your client physically. But of course, your worry will be on finding jobs! Here is a solution.
Finding jobs as a Freelance Graphic Designer
For general freelance jobs, ryrob.com alone listed 78 websites on the 16th of July 2020. Over 50 million people use Freelancer.com, Upwork, and Fiverr according to 99firms.com, who also reports that 15% use social networks and 14% do this through business-oriented networking sites such as LinkedIn.
Getting your first gig on these platforms is one of the most challenging things that I had to experience. But you have to bite the bullet while there is time. In the long-run, it will reward you handsomely. After all, remote working is the new normal, so get used to it.
There is a large community of freelance graphic designers on the internet, teaching people how to get hired. Recently Chris Do of the futur.com, an expert globally and a former freelancer tweeted:
I’m looking for someone to mentor. If you use a creative marketplace like Fiverr or Upwork as your primary sales platform, have been unsuccessful at securing work, and believe your work is good, I want to talk to you. If you meet these 3 criteria, drop a link to your work.
If you make finding work your job, you will get inquiries as time goes on. Set aside as many hours per day to build an online portfolio on Behance, Pinterest, Dribbble, and Instagram to mention but a few. A portfolio website will give you an edge in the race for online gigs.
But since this post is not entirely about “How to get jobs online”, I will skip to the advantages of working remotely as a Graphic Designer based in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s economic struggles mean that a Finance Manager is earning around 38 thousand Zimbabwean dollars according to www.payscale.com, which is 551.684 in United States dollars using the official exchange rate. Across the borders, Danyal Saleem, a Pakistani designer earns over $20,000 each month, freelancing online writes tribune.com.pk
You may not earn $20,000 that easily, but whatever you would get as a freelancer will eventually exceed half a thousand in time.
A survey conducted by Payoneer reported an increase freelancer average hourly rates, from $19 two years ago, to $21. These are above the average hourly rates in respondents’ countries of residence, which is quite a positive testimony!
With Zupco failing to cope with transport demands, you would need to either drive to your office or hire a Vaya for $1.15 USD a kilometre. Fuel costs $1.07 USD per litre. Given such a huge sacrifice, only to be greeted by an empty CBD, stings. Sometimes the effort may not be worth it.
This is, however, the cost of travelling only. An Office will demand close to $200.00 USD excluding utility and internet bills while a coworking space means forking out from $90.00 to $150.00 USD a month.
Working from home in Zimbabwe would require an upfront investment to cater for a stable internet connection and a reliable off-grid electricity source. In the end, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, by a wider margin.
Flexible working time
Working from the comfort of your home provides an opportunity to use the Pomodoro technique of taking approximately 25 minutes in length on your work, separated by short breaks. You can take long breaks when overwhelmed to refresh and boost your creativity. Jacob Cass of the Just Creative Brand took it a step further by traveling around the world and still managing to work on his freelance projects during vacations. Who wouldn’t love that?
You can have the freedom to set up your noise level without anyone asking questions. You can even work from a local coffee shop, a cafe, or set up a home office, or somewhere in the garden while enjoying the serene view of birds singing.
A study by Owl Labs found that full-time remote workers reported being happy in their jobs 22% more than office workers. Remember, these are employees on less paying jobs, conforming to workplace rules, e.g. dress code and noise limits. This freedom can mean a lot for a freelancer who previously reported to a boss!
How to work productively
The joy that comes from working remotely, if not managed, could affect one’s productivity. How best can you stay productive in an unmonitored workspace?
Your mind can not be relied upon when it comes to memorizing tasks. A to-do list can help you organize projects according to their order of priorities, among other criteria. Once mastered, tracking your progress becomes a walk in the park.
You will need a better way of eliminating any form of disturbances. This can mean having a physical spot to work from, be it a room dedicated as your home office or a nearby cafe. Choose the place with the least distractions, for better productivity.
Oftentimes, waiting for feedback can disturb your workflow. To overcome that challenge, develop quick, clear, and easy communication channels like chat apps rather than relying on emails. Use of voice and/or video call apps can result in effective communication.
To sum it all up, working from home is now the better option in Zimbabwe. From Cyclone Idai to Covid-19 on top of worsening electricity and fuel shortages, our Government doesn’t appear to be ready to fight the rising rate of unemployment. However, when one door closes, another opens. When presented with so many opportunities as a result of technological advancements, it appears now is the best time to pursue freelancing remotely.