Beginning a career as a freelancer has become a much more popular option in the past few years since the pandemic.
Working as a freelancer gives you the ability to control your schedule, your revenue, and your work.
As a data scientist, you can make the decision to leave a traditional office job and strike out on your own to get these benefits.
However, there is a right way to start a data science freelance career that will bring you success and help you achieve your goals, and a wrong way.
In order to ensure that you are getting the most out of your freelance career, you need to know how to become a freelance data scientist and learn where you can find jobs to get you started on the new path.
Keep reading to learn more about it!
What is a Freelance Data Scientist?
A data scientist is a specific type of analytical data expert who uses technical skills to analyze data to put together actionable insights and solve complex problems.
A data scientist needs to be able to take complex data sets and then transform that information into something that brings value to an organization.
A freelance data scientist does everything that a traditional data scientist does, they only work for themselves.
Rather than be employed by a company or an agency, a freelance data scientist will do projects and jobs for a wide variety of companies and charge for their work.
This gives them more control over what they do, who they work with, and how they go about doing their job.
Why Would Anyone Want to Become a Freelance Data Scientist?
You might be wondering why someone would want to pursue a career as a freelance data scientist.
There are a few different pros and cons that you should take into consideration before you make the decision to begin this career path.
One of the biggest pros of working for yourself as a freelance data scientist is the time flexibility you get.
Rather than working the same Monday to Friday, 9-5 schedule, you get to pick the days and times that work best for you.
That gives you time to travel, spend time with family, work during your most productive hours, and take breaks.
Another great benefit is the income flexibility you will have.
When you work for someone else, they get to dictate what your earnings are and how much your salary is raised every year.
When you work as a freelancer, you get to set your own rates and take on as much or as little work as you want, giving you control over what your earnings are.
Other pros of being a freelance data scientist include the location flexibility you have to work anywhere in the world that has an internet connection, the career growth you can get by taking a non-linear route, and the option to pick and choose who you work for and what types of jobs you do.
Like with all career paths, there are some negatives that you need to be aware of in order to make a decision.
When you begin any freelance career, there is a chance of unstable income.
You won’t have the exact same amount coming in each month, and you are required to set rates and withhold for taxes.
You also won’t get employee benefits and won’t have the social benefits of an in-person office and team.
What Kind of Skills Will do You Need as a Freelance Data Scientist?
Like all jobs, data science freelancing requires a specific skill set that will help you do your job successfully and delight your clients.
Here are a few of the specific hard and soft skills that you will need as a freelance data scientist.
- Probability and statistical knowledge
- Algebra background
- Data wrangling skills
- Data visualization skills
- Programming skills
- Machine learning skills
- Communication skills
- Negotiation skills
- Sales skills
How to Become a Freelance Data Scientist
Now that you know more about what a freelance data scientist is and why it might be a worthwhile career path for you to explore, let’s take a look at the steps you should take in order to become a freelance data scientist.
1. Build Up Your Online Presence
Freelancers tend to find their clients and jobs online, so you need to be visible online and have a strong online presence. Clean up your social media profiles and make sure they are built out and robust for any clients looking for work.
2. Pick a Speciality
Rather than a jack of all trades approach, it’s more useful to pick a niche or speciality as the focus of your career. This will allow you to differentiate yourself from competitors and target specific customers and audiences.
3. Improve Your Skill Sets
Being a freelance data scientist requires both technical and soft skills. Working on your areas of weakness and improving your skill sets will help you improve your craft and work with your clients better while also delivering better results each time you work.
4. Learn How to Manage Your Own Business
Being a freelancer is essentially running your own business. You need to learn skills like setting timelines, offering post-delivery services, setting hours of operations, communicating with clients, marketing and sales, and billing.
5. Determine Your Rates
One of the hardest parts of being a freelancer is setting your rates. You don’t want to overvalue your services, and you don’t want to undersell yourself either. Most data scientists tend to charge hourly for their work, but you can also charge for the project.
6. Gather References and Customer Testimonials
You need to be your own marketing department, and a great way to accomplish that is with the help of positive reviews and customer testimonials. This allows you to showcase your happy clients and prove to new leads that you know what you are doing.
It also helps your brand become more visible to potential new customers and clients.
Where to Find Good Freelance Opportunities in Data Science
If you choose to begin a career in freelance data science, then you’ll likely find that it takes a while to build up a client list and find regular work.
That might mean some extra hours or other up front work to get things moving. It’s helpful to know where you can find good freelance data scientist opportunities online as you begin your career.
Here are a few of the best places to look:
One of the biggest freelancing job sites is Fiverr. Fiverr is a digital marketplace that helps connect people to low-cost providers for their freelance needs.
It’s a perfect place for a beginner, but data scientists at a higher level might want to look for different sites where they can charge higher prices.
Toptal is a remote talent agency that helps match up people with specific skill sets to open projects that need that skill set to complete.
In addition to having many data scientist jobs available, the site also offers many different resources and remote events that can help you improve your skill sets and your craft.
Upwork is a popular freelance job finding website, helping freelancers of all types connect with clients and find work that will help them advance their careers.
You can also find different jobs that have either fixed payments or hourly pay, depending on what type of work you are looking for.
Anyone looking for freelance tech and data science jobs should check out AngelList.
This website is a great place to find freelance technical roles for every level of experience, from beginners and graduates to full-time freelance professionals. Make sure to look for remote freelance roles.
Another place where you can find your perfect match in data science is Lensa. This search engine is using technology to search millions of job listings for opportunities that fit your skills, goals, personality, and needs.
With this more personalized approach, you can filter to “remote-only” jobs, as well as search for positions based on salary and benefits, professional growth opportunities, work-life balance, and other essential values.
6. LinkedIn Job Finder
While most of us think of LinkedIn as a place to find full-time employment, you can also use the job finder tool to locate freelance jobs.
By using the search filters for “contract” or “temporary”, you can track down different job listings that are meant for a freelance worker.
Starting a data science freelance career isn’t an easy step to take.
It requires advance planning as well as self-assurance in your own skills, so that you have the confidence to move forward, create your own client list, and accomplish your goals without the support of a traditional office setting.
If done correctly, however, you can have a great and fulfilling career as a freelance data scientist.
One of the most important skills you need to have as a data scientist is an understanding of visual data. If you want to learn more about this area of your industry or want to keep up to date on data visualization trends, then check out our blog on data visualization.
There you’ll learn about different types of data visualization, the biggest current trends, the value of interactive content in data visualization, and much more!