Working flexible hours and being your own boss sounds great, but it’s not a job for everyone. As many companies have halted their travel plans and their employees are forced to work from home due to the epidemic, business networking is increasingly taking place online. Since then, the market for freelancers has been growing, so it’s no wonder many of them choose to work outside their countries.
However, to become an international freelancer, you will need a few skills and some experience. However, there's more to overcome than the distance alone when doing business online and abroad. You’ll be speaking English with clients in most cases, but knowing an additional foreign language is a big bonus. Depending on the type of work you do, becoming an international freelancer can bring many upsides to your career. But before we get to the upsides, let’s learn more about freelancing internationally and the prospects of freelancing abroad.
An international freelancer is a self-employed person who can work anywhere in the world from their home country. In other words, they perform the same type of freelance work in another country that they do in their own country.
International freelancers, just like other freelancers, are ready to accept any assignments from as many global companies as they want. They are usually knowledge workers who have a high level of skills and knowledge in a particular field, e.g., designers, writers, programmers, translators, project managers, etc.
Perhaps the most crucial difference between freelancers and international freelancers is that freelancers tend to focus on local clients. In contrast, international freelancers work with both local and international clients. We believe that in order to make a seamless transition from a locally focused freelancer to a freelancer who freelances internationally, there are specific preparations to be made.
Many freelancers may want to freelance internationally but in the comfort of their own homes. But if you think of always doing your work in the same place, you may eventually get bored and might want to consider working while traveling to different exotic locations.
Once you equip yourself with the knowledge and experience to work with clients internationally, you are just one ticket away from traveling abroad and freelancing from places you have always dreamt of.
International Freelancers don't necessarily have to stay put in their home countries - they can travel to whichever countries interest them and work from there. So if you're thinking of visiting a country, you may consider going there to continue your freelancing career.
It’s known that freelancers enjoy flexible working hours. However, this doesn’t mean their job is always easier. Finding new clients and adapting to different projects can be stressful. Without the knowledge and experience, it could be challenging to find freelance jobs.
On the other hand, plenty of freelancers are looking for work outside their countries, and for a few reasons. First, learning a new culture and experiencing different kinds of communication with clients can be interesting. With a few years of prior experience, there is also an excellent chance to earn more money. Let us take a look at some of the more significant benefits of becoming an international freelancer:
Now let’s focus on what you need to prepare to become an international freelancer.
It is possible to travel and have a freelancing career simultaneously, but if you plan on freelancing. At the same time, make sure you research the visa and licensing requirements of the destination country before traveling abroad.
Many countries require freelancers to acquire proper permits or visas before working in their country.
Fortunately, many countries have special visas to attract freelancers like you. They understand that freelancers are not bound to a single location, and they can work from anywhere. Therefore, there are around 50 countries that issue a particular type of visa, generally known as a Digital Nomad Visa, or sometimes known as Remote Workers Visa, that will allow you to travel and work in the destination country. You, as a freelancer, could apply for a Digital Nomad Visa before traveling to a country and stay and work up to at least one year.
With a digital nomad visa, you can stay in any country and not have to be an employee for a company in that country. Instead, you can simply do your freelance work for your international customers.
Nowadays, it is getting easier to travel and work legally abroad with the advent of digital nomad visas or remote worker permits, which is all the more reason to prepare yourself to become an international freelancer.
International freelancing is never easy, especially if you are a beginner in your field. To start working for international clients, you will need some experience in your field. If you have never worked freelance, there will always be ways to educate and learn how this process works. On the other hand, if you have years of experience in the freelancing business, working internationally could pay off big time.
Previous experience in the business will be a benefit in two ways. First, if you have ways to beat your competition, you’ll have an easier time finding new clients. Also, becoming an international freelancer is easier if you are already used to flexible working hours.
Finding work abroad has one small catch. On the one hand, this is usually the chance for freelancers to book projects for more money. However, this process also includes a broader competition market, so finding clients is not always easy. If you decide to become an international freelancer, all you’ll need to do is look for countries with higher living standards than yours. Obviously, 50 United States Dollars doesn't have the same value in every country. If you manage to book clients who pay more than you are used to, becoming an international freelancer could pay off big time.
Learning about a new culture is a part of the everyday job for some freelance jobs. If you are a writer, a marketing expert, or do a similar position, you know how important it is to expand your knowledge. For other freelance jobs (like in architecture), you might need to learn more about the country you’ll be working for. Getting to know a new culture and different laws and regulations will most likely be a part of the job.
Flexible working hours can be great, except when working in different time zones. So, if you want to be in bed by midnight, it might not work when you become an international freelancer. On the other hand, if you have deadlines for specific projects you need to send, your working hours could be more flexible. However, communicating with clients online will require being available at different times during the day.
Freelancers who command a high income are good at handling clients from different cultural backgrounds. To better communicate with foreign clients, you must prepare for cultural differences, formalities, and ways to speak to clients. Before engaging a client from abroad, it is always good to research the cultural differences between the client’s country and yours so that you won’t commit a faux pas or fester cultural misunderstandings during the engagement.
If you are just starting your career, consider looking for English-speaking clients for a start.
Since English is a global language, most foreign countries use it to communicate. So before you embark on your freelancing journey, you should improve your English to speak with your clients.
If you are worried about your English, do not be. You can learn it to improve your communication skills. For example, some people watch movies, series, or books to improve their skills. Also, several tools on the internet can help you improve your English communication skills. Some of these tools are Grammarly and the International House Bristol site, where you can learn different phrases for different situations.
To become an international freelancer, you will most likely need proficient knowledge of English. However, knowing another foreign language can be a significant upside in this type of job. If you can incorporate another language into your freelancing career, it will be a big plus. If you can communicate in your clients' language, they will enjoy working with you and work well with you. It will also make it easier for you to attract more clients from that particular country whose language you speak.
It’s not easy to book reputable clients for a freelancing job, especially if you are a beginner. Moreover, freelancing internationally could be even more difficult considering the competition. Therefore, if you need to find work or clients as an international freelancer, you will have few options.
The first option is to use the various freelance platforms on the Internet, such as Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelance.com. You can attract international clients on these platforms if you have good communication skills and can showcase some of your previous work. In addition, you will have the opportunity to present your expertise and reputation in a solid network, which will help attract the attention of big-money clients since you will work longer and have better reviews.
In addition to these platforms for freelancers, Facebook groups are another way to look for clients. You can search and join Facebook groups of various markets and industries. Try to be helpful in the group and participate in conversations. Share before you sell. Once you build rapport with group members, it is easier to market your services.
Suppose you are a seasoned freelancer with years of experience in the field and have a reasonable budget to start a business. In that case, an excellent way to manage your freelancing business is to register a US LLC, a type of company structure in the United States of America. Having a US LLC means your customers can pay for your services to your US LLC via Stripe or Paypal. In addition, with a US LLC registered, you will be able to apply for a US bank account and start accepting US dollars from your customers instead of asking them to make an expensive international wire transfer to your home country's bank.
Perhaps the most significant benefit of a US LLC for freelancers is, that if you provide services from outside of the United States, it is possible to create a tax-free US company with an LLC structure. Read more about what is a US LLC here.
Yes, you can. If you wish to work from another country, you'll need a particular type of visa, generally known as the Digital Nomad Visa. You need to apply for a digital nomad visa before visiting the other country.
Yes, freelancing abroad can cost money. For example, traveling from one country to another, booking a visa, and staying in that country will cost money. However, you can lower the costs by choosing a country with a lower cost of living, such as Costa Rica, rather than an expensive country.
When you travel to different countries, you will exchange currencies quite often. In doing so, you may incur exchange losses due to exchange rates. A better way to avoid foreign exchange losses is to keep all your money in U.S. dollars and deposit it in your company's U.S. bank account. We recommend a company that is not tied to your home country, and we think the US LLC structure is best for freelancers who work and travel abroad.
Upwork charges 5-20% of your earnings, depending on how much you earn. The platform charges 20% for the first $500 from your client, 10% for total earnings between $500.01 and $10,000, and 5% for total earnings over $10,000.
Legally, freelancers and the self-employed are the same things; they all work for themselves. What separates freelancers and self-employed people is their working style. For example, freelancers often work on short-term projects for different organizations or customers, while self-employed people typically run their own businesses and have more autonomy.
In short, all freelancers are self-employed, but all self-employed people are not necessarily freelancers.
There are some different self-employed roles too. You have the freelancers who work predominantly online and others like “gig workers” or “contractors” who work in the field.
Some freelance businesses might need a license for their work. It depends on where you are working and which freelancing profession you are in. There are a few types of license:
There are many more options, such as Western Union and Paypal. However, options like Paypal could get costly when you factor in the transaction fees and foreign currency exchange fees. If you have a steady income as a freelancer, you can consider registering a tax-free US LLC company and having access to US bank accounts so that your clients can pay you USD directly by wire transfer. Before applying for a Bank Account in the US, you will probably need an EIN for your US LLC.
It's easy to get discouraged when branching out to new countries, but if you follow the advice of this post, you'll be off to a great start: Don't forget the legal necessities of any country you offer services in, take time to practice your language and communication skills, and use freelance marketplaces to your advantage.
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