Last weekend, I was giving lectures about youth participation and active citizenship in municipalities. The participants discussed what bothers them on local level, and what they can do about it. One of the girls told a story she witnessed about a person in a wheelchair who was waiting for a bus to go somewhere in the city. The busses just passed the person by. The girl supposed that it is because the sidewalk is very high and the buses’ platforms, that help persons in wheelchairs enter into the bus, do not match, which ultimately prevents the bus driver to stop and pick up the disabled person from some spots. The discussion on this topic continued, as participants were brainstorming on ideas how to improve the life in their municipality. They came up with an idea to ask the municipality authorities and/or collect money from the citizens to make high sidewalks accessible to wheelchairs, and as a result improve the mobility and socialization of disabled persons.
This debate inspired me to think what else can be done to improve the quality of life of those who are disabled. Persons in a wheelchair, in particular, can be very productive, work, and earn money from home. Working from home and freelancing is a growing trend nowadays. Persons in wheelchairs can easily join the freelancers club, as working from home does not impose any physical obstacles that they can’t overcome and hence start earning.
Disability doesn’t mean no ability
Some still see success only through capitalistic lenses. They consider themselves successful if they manage to get higher and higher in a hierarchy of a company, become famous in some circles, gain societal status and earn a lot. Basically, success is defined only through materialistic expressions. However, it seems that organizations/businesses who force this type of reasoning leave a lot of people unhappy, especially the ones who value their freedom more and feel like their creativity is prisoned. While in traditional workplaces looks are important, hence “dress for success”, and while it is also critical that you are nice with everyone, especially with your boss so that you don’t hurt his ego, knowledge and skills are the number one and the only thing that matters in the freelance economy. Your opportunities to freelance are not affected by your looks, but whether you can or can’t get the job done. Some started freelancing out of necessity, some did it because they had the courage to take their freedom back and release their inspiration and creativity. They turned to freelancing, where the greatest concern is to really get the job done, not to pretend that you work so that your boss doesn’t notice that you are actually bored as hell and you hate your new colleague. Today, we are witnessing the rise of freelancing.
How many freelancers are there?
There is no exact data about the total number of freelancers in the world. However, there are numbers about some countries. According to the Freelancers Union there are 53 million freelancers in America, which is 34% of the workforce, or 1 in 3 Americans work as freelancers. The estimates are that the percentage will rise, and it will reach 50% of the workers by 2020. However, freelancers come from everywhere. For example, the Freelancer.com’s statistics show that the largest number of users of this platform come from India. The trend does not omit Europe as well. There is even a European Forum of Independent Professionals. Yet, the point of the article is not to present the number of freelancers per country, so I will focus the attention on a more specific group that needs to be encouraged and take active part in the new labor market trends – the persons in wheelchairs.
Freelance economy is more hospitable for disabled people compared to traditional workplaces, but how to start?
Computer literacy, internet connection and good command of the English language is a must in order to jump into working online. Also, you need to know your skills, so that you start searching for matching jobs online. The next question is where to find the job. To sum it up: computer literacy, internet connection, English language, skills and online platform mark the entering into the freelance world.
There are online platforms that in fact are online marketplaces for connecting businesses and freelancers. For example, you can consider oDesk or Freelancer for freelance jobs, or Fourerr for micro-jobs. Read this short article to know the difference between micro-jobs and freelancing. After you’ve identified your platform, understandably, you need to create a killer profile. Make it as good as you can, and improve it in the future. Just be sure to keep the profile up-to-date, and add any new skill or knowledge acquired.
Now, it is time to see what type of jobs will you search for on the platform you’ve chosen. Here are a few suggestions, just to give you an idea into the kind of jobs that you can perform, in case you are confused about the type of opportunities that online market offers. The good news is that all jobs mentioned below can be found on the online market places mentioned above, since there is really a great number of occupations which vary across industries that look for online workers.
Freelance opportunities for persons in wheelchair
Article writing. There is a chance to write on any topic you could possibly imagine: cooking, books, music, TV, arts, sports, politics, philosophy, self-help, beauty etc. The list is virtually never-ending. If you have knowledge and specific interest in any area, you can write down your insights and earn money from it. Of course, once you find someone who needs your article. The good news is that there are a lot of clients on the platforms mentioned above who need articles on many different topics. You can even write about your disability, provide others with tips, or maybe just inspire them by sharing your own positive experience. There are a lot of clients, especially businesses’ blogs and “how-to” websites that continually need new content. And what is the best thing of all, you can improve your writing skills by reading few how-to tips on the internet, and at the same time, the more you write – the more your writing skills improve. For that reason, there is no need to be afraid to start.
Translator. A type of job that is self-explanatory. If you have a good command of at least two languages, you can work as a freelance translator. In case you are not sure whether you can translate legal documents or medical books, or anything in a specific niche, there are still clients that need translation of simpler content.
Data-entry, transcription, call center, and administrative assistance are jobs that you can effectively perform if you dedicate yourself to the task at hand. For this type of jobs, you don’t need any specific college degree, or trainings, courses and deep insight into a particular subject. Of course, this is not to say that these jobs do not require any skills at all. On the opposite, they do require skills and patience. Nonetheless the good thing is that this type of jobs are wanted and you can easily learn how to execute such tasks effectively and efficiently.
Data entry. No need to explain, right? You just need to be able to really focus, type fast and be accurate. Hundreds of jobs are open on a daily basis for entering data.
Transcription. There are a lot of businesses and researchers who take minutes while conducting interviews, focus-groups, and call conferences, to mention but a few. Some clients occasionally need a transcription of CD programs, video footage, lectures, sessions etc. There are a lot of things that clients need transcriptionists for. For this job you need basic word skills, to listen carefully, type fast – proficiently and accurately. Don’t worry if you don’t type very fast at the beginning. By time you will improve. You can thus advance your skills and learn 10 finger typing through free online courses. Try searching “online typing” and choose one of the hundreds of results that show. With persistence and discipline, this skill can be learned very fast.
Call center. If you are good in communicating with others and have the patience to talk to many different people, you can try working as a customer support person via phone or chat. Clients typically provide you with guidelines on how to communicate with customers, so you don’t need to worry what you should say at all. It will be given to you in advance.
Administrative Support / Virtual Assistant. There are a lot of non-profits, businesses, even a single extra busy businessman who needs someone to assist them in the execution of their daily tasks. Your responsibilities can include: booking flights and accommodation, schedule meetings, responding to emails, manage files, do some simple research etc. For this kind of job, you will need some organizational and communication skills. Everything is online and tasks are simple. Some clients may as well require additional skills like marketing or design.
Take note that there’s more demand and higher-paying job opportunities on the online marketplace in design and IT. You need some preparation for it, more than the preparation you need for the previously listed jobs.
Designer. We all recognize the importance of virtual environment nowadays. A designer can work on creating infographics, website design, e-book, e-magazine, logo etc. Graphic designers are of the most wanted freelance categories. If you are one of them, you probably work as a freelancer already or considering options to start working as one. If you have a flair for the arts, but do not have the skills for graphic designing, you can take online courses, or try to learn it for free by watching tutorials on the internet. It will pay off. Also, a lot of companies hire designers because they recognize the value of a good design. Since we are talking about infographics, here is very interesting one about the beauty and madness of freelancing. Definitely a must check one!
How to acquire quick skills to help you get more paid job opportunities online?
Perhaps, you’ve already heard of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are principally online courses that help you gain knowledge and skills in many diverse areas, offered by different universities. You can also obtain a degree or certificate. Most of the courses are free, and you don’t need to complete them entirely, although it’s advisable.
An article published in The New York Times identified Coursera, Udacity and edX as the leading MOOCs providers. We are not recommending any MOOC in particular. You can check those three platforms, or search for others. However, we do recommend that you take an online course as soon as possible, gain new or advance your skills and knowledge, and start working online.
Just for illustration, you can obtain 191 different verified certifications on Coursera, and also you have an option for 97 specializations. Specializations help you “master a skill”. This is where you can acquire skills related to digital marketing, data mining, interaction design, cloud computing, data analysis, reasoning, data, analysis and writing etc. There is a price for obtaining the specialization certificate, although small, but it will pay-off, as the skills you can learn online in a short amount of time can be very soon applied in making money from it. The good news is that all taking these courses can help you boost your online portfolio with a free or verified certification, thus, giving you a higher chance of landing a job (or two).
There are literally hundreds of job available online. You can earn a lot from them without leaving the comforts of your home. You don’t need anything more to work and earn, except your arms and brain.
When it comes to micro-jobs mentioned previously, you can check out Fourerr’s 10 Best Selling Micro-jobs on Fourerr for October. The list will give you a clue on what sells hot like pancakes.
Tip: There are many tutorials and online courses available for nearly anything you can imagine. You can also ask a friend to guide you, or maybe there are some nearby non-profits that provide free courses for the things you need. Check the opportunities and start acquiring the skills and knowledge. Do not procrastinate as you start your journey as a freelancer. Improving your skills is a process. It will never end. So start freelancing as soon as possible.
For the ones with a will to make the world a better place and restore faith in humanity.
How many of you started freelancing as a result of an inspiring conversation with a friend, or someone else you know, who shared his experience about working online? Well, broadly speaking, persons in wheelchairs anywhere in the world, are not able to socialize as much as a persons with no disability. Therefore, the chances of getting familiar and inspired to start freelancing are definitely smaller. At the same time, you can observe the unemployment rates in any country in the world you want, just to see that the unemployment rates of persons with disability is always higher than the percentage of unemployed persons with no disability. There is something each one of us can do, to help increase the sociability, employment rate and earnings of persons in wheelchairs.
What can YOU do to help persons in wheelchairs make money online?
If you know a person in a wheelchair, or if you know someone who knows a person in a wheelchair, share the article or simply go and spend an hour of your life to talk to them and inspire them to start working online from their homes.
In line with today’s Veteran’s Day in the U.S., we would like to show our support for the Wounded Warrior Project:
The number of non-profits that dedicate their work to improving the employability, and hence inclusiveness of the people in wheelchairs varies in different countries. However, such non-profits can be found everywhere in the world. They can serve as a “middle man” and “enabler” that makes persons in wheelchairs capable to enter the online labor market. All that non-profits need to do in this regard, is to pick a few demanded online jobs and skills that can easily be learned and provide short courses for persons in wheelchairs, so that they acquire specific knowledge and skills needed to start working online.
It would be even better if non-profits are able to open co-working wheelchair-friendly spaces, so that the newbies in freelancing will be able to work, socialize and share experiences.
And don’t just “share” this article. Go to someone in a wheelchair you know and motivate the person to start working online. With working comes earnings, and with earnings comes self-respect. It takes a little to create a “lollypop moment”.
Don’t know what a lollypop moment is? Check this really short TED video to see how Drew Dudley changed someone’s life and how everyday acts can improve each other’s lives: