How Can Freelancing be Beneficial for People with Disabilities?
The flexibility of freelance work
makes it an ideal choice for people with disabilities for whom typical work structures pose challenges. Freelancers are able to maintain much more control over their work schedules, and this is helpful when work needs to fit around medical appointments and other health-related priorities.
Freelance work is sometimes based in-house, but it can often be performed remotely. This means that workers with disabilities can ensure greater workplace consistency. Being able to work from home means that people with disabilities can structure their own days to suit their routines, and they can structure their work environment to suit their access needs. People who struggle with travel, fluorescent lighting, noisy office environments, immonocompromisation, or desk suitability may find this level of control very helpful.
Freelancing can provide a range of opportunities that are uncommon in traditional workplaces. Freelancers are able to chop and change between tasks, which prevents work from becoming boring.
As wonderful as it can be, freelance work does have its fair share of challenges. Most freelancers need to put significant unpaid time into self-marketing, and this can be a major burden. It’s important to set healthy boundaries, especially when new to the freelance work. Setting loose ‘office hours’ can help to prevent burnout from answering round the clock queries, emails, and requests.
Income, particularly in the early days of a freelancing career, is incredibly variable. Pay can be inconsistent and unpredictable, so a strong budget and financial back-up plan are essential. Freelancers miss out on employer-provided superannuation and paid sick leave, so it’s a good idea to make alternative plans.
Additionally, people who move to freelancing after being used to large, social work environments often struggle with isolation. Professional networking and maintaining personal social relationships are important parts of ensuring that freelance work doesn’t become a burden on mental wellbeing.
How to Get Started
Starting a freelance business is a big decision, but it can be lifechanging. Here are few tips for getting started:
Decide What Kind of Business Will Work for You
There are lots of different kinds of freelance wo
rk. The best way to choose the field that works for you is to play to your strengths. You might try:
- Web development or IT
- Graphic design or illustration
- Accounting or bookkeeping
- Virtual assistant, social media management, or administrative work
Get Prepared with any Relevant Knowledge or Qualifications
Look into industry-relevant courses, books, and workshops that could help you to develop a better understanding of your new role, your chosen field, and the freelance world.
Understand Your Market
Who will be your market? Start thinking about who your ideal buyers or clients will be, why they will want to work with you, and what kind of marketing strategies might target them best (will you find clients on social media, through mutual connections, by cold emailing, or by TV or radio advertisements?). Think about your competitors and what will set your business apart.
Organise the Legal Side
As you begin to freelance, you’ll discover a number of legal requirements you need to adhere to. Firstly, apply for business licenses. You’ll also need to register your business name and get an Australian Business Number (ABN). Start thinking about how you’ll handle tax, too. It might not be an issue yet, but if your business is financially successful, you’ll want to have planned ahead.
Get Set Up
Make sure you have all the tools and resources you need to start work.
Register a domain name and work on creating an online business presence. There are a lot of great affordable web designers, many of them freelancers, who can help to create a neat, functional website (and maybe be your first industry connections). However, if you’d prefer to do some DIY work, services like Wix
, and Squarespace
are great for web design novices. Custom domains must be purchased, but there are free options available.
By this point, you’ll want to have thought about logos, social media accounts, and online business strategies. Starts sending emails, posting promotion materials, and advertising your new career.
Tools of the Trade
As a new freelancer, you’ll probably be spending a lot of time at your desk, so it’s a good idea to invest in something comfortable
that suits your mobility needs. Wide desks are available to accommodate wheelchair users, and sit-to-stand desks can be helpful for people who experience back issues and/or pain and need to move regularly.
Adapted Writing Tools
No new business is complete without stationery! There are lots of different pencil grips and easy-to-hold pens available. Have a look around and decide which aids will best suit your physical and business needs.
Typing and Computer Aids
Most freelancers rely heavily on computer work, so it’s important that it’s accessible. There are plenty of options for typing braces and aids, audio transcription software, adapted grip mouses and keyboards, and even hands-free devices.
Grants Offered to Self-Employed People with Disabilities
In Australia, there are some programs working to support entrepreneurs with disabilities.
In Victoria, the Entrepreneurs with Disability Voucher Stream
is available to Victorians with disabilities who may benefit from accessing specialist assistance to resolve issues that may limit their business growth. Vouchers are available to innovative product or service providers with disabilities and have a maximum value of $25,000.
In South Australia, the Richard Llewellyn Deaf and Disability Arts
organisation provides artists and organisations with funding to pursue arts projects and develop the careers of artists who are deaf or who live with disabilities. Up to $25,000 is available.
Nationally, the Employment Assistance Fund
provides workers with disabilities with funding for services, equipment, and workplace modifications they need in order to access paid employment. This funding opportunity will service people who are self-employed and is able to support a wide range of access-related needs.
To learn more about adaptive mobility solutions that might suit your needs, head to www.SunriseMedical.com.au
For people with disabilities, freelance work often provides an excellent solution to many of the difficulties associated with traditional work environments. Freelance work is exciting and accessible, and there are many different kinds of freelance work that people with disabilities can become involved with.