Entrepreneurs aren't afraid to break away from tradition, and British freelancer-turned-client Dom Bracher's early career path demonstrates just that.
Eager to begin working in his field of interest—mobile app marketing—and concerned by the rising cost of higher education, Bracher decided at age 19 to skip university and launch his own freelance career.
Given his interests, the obvious choice would have been to move from his rural hometown in south-west England to London, the UK’s technology hub. But Bracher chose to stay put. Recognizing that most jobs can be done online, he realized he could avoid London’s high rent and long commutes and still pursue his professional goals.
So Bracher gave online work a try and was able to quickly tap into the demand for mobile apps. "I signed up on oDesk, and within a week somebody sent me an email asking if I could teach them about mobile apps," he remembered. "I've been working ever since."
Entrepreneurship in Bideford, UK
Fast-forward one year, and the 20-year-old entrepreneur has helped promote nearly 50 mobile apps, growing his reputation and client base along the way.
As demand for Bracher's expertise grew, he decided to transition from freelancer to business owner—becoming an oDesk client—so he could hire people to help him on projects that went beyond the scope of his own expertise.
"I wanted to start offering a more complete marketing service to my clients," he explained. "A lot of the time, the app I was promoting needed far more than just [Apple] App Store optimization and [public relations], they needed some design tweaks and the implementation of various SDKs [software development kits]."
To find someone with the skills he needed, Bracher turned to oDesk where he found "millions of freelancers with a huge skill base at my finger tips."
Today, he uses oDesk to hire expert freelancers to help him with illustration, video, translation and copy. With ample experience both working and hiring online, here is his top advice.
For freelancers: Curate your online social presence and oDesk profile before applying to jobs
With online work, it's unlikely you'll ever meet your client face-to-face, so Bracher says it's imperative that your online profiles present you in the right light.
He recommends that new freelancers "ensure that their social channels are all up to date before applying to jobs."
Bracher also advises freelancers to be thoughtful about what they choose to include in their oDesk profile, especially their photo. "Having a smart, professional profile picture helps give you credibility," he observed.
For clients: Hire freelancers quickly for upcoming projects when you need to, but focus on cultivating long term working relationships
When Bracher first started hiring online, he was attracted to the idea of hiring for something he needed immediately. Now an experienced client, he prefers to work on projects with freelancers with whom he has a long-term working relationship because he knows he can trust them completely.
"If you can trust your team to do their job then your management time decreases and becomes easier," he explained.
Now hard at work leading his virtual business Kumuva, Bracher continues to enjoy the freedom and flexibility made possible by online work.
"The best part is that you can work from anywhere, at times that are convenient for you," he said. "It allows for a flexible lifestyle, which is a privilege that few can enjoy."
Photo by Andrew Bennett on flickr