The battle for the consumer’s attention has never been harder fought than it currently is. The days of buying a print ad, an outdoor billboard placement or even a 30 second TV spot can no longer guarantee that customers will flock into your store, visit your site or buy your product. The increasing fragmentation of the media scene coupled with a growing resistance to even notice ads means that reaching your potential customers is now tougher than it’s ever been. People download their favourite shows and watch them concurrently with no breaks, they install ad blocking software in order to browse uninterrupted online and print circulations are falling fast. With thousands of companies using the same channels to reach the same consumers there’s an increasing need to cut through the noise and stand out. Enter content marketing.
There are multiple ways going freelance can empower young people. Whether you are looking to fill up your free time with a couple of challenging tasks or break the routine that has been dictating your life, a challenging freelance project can make for an exciting experience whose lessons could stay with you forever.
The financial benefit
I don’t blame you if when you say, see, hear or read the word “job”, the first thing you think of is “how much?” We all work to make money—at least the vast majority of people. The flexible nature of freelance work and the fact that most projects are short-term could lead to a freelancer being paid higher rates than those a full-timer would be receiving for doing the same exact job. Looking for freelance work might be your best option if you’re a university student looking to make some pocket money while still having some extra time to do homework, read, or go out with friends. While some worry that freelance might not be a stable prospect in the long run, a bigger number of clients—and more projects—can ensure an almost-stable flow of income. Perhaps one of the best advantages of being a freelancer is the fact that you usually don’t have too many expenses — make sure to inform the client beforehand if you need to go to the field, travel, or buy material, and make sure to make sure they will cover the expenses. Starting to make money at a young age leads to financial independence, and the latter not only liberates you, but also empowers you.
Developing skills before you hit the marketplace
Although you might choose to go exclusively freelance and never have to spend time in an office ever again, you might also decide to accept a full-time job offer at a certain point. Regardless of the professional direction you deem fit, it is crucial that you start working on acquiring and developing basic skills so that when you hit the marketplace, you do so running. Freelance work can complement your studies in a way that classes and professors can only talk about—theoretically, for the most part. Marketing yourself as the right person for the job, agreeing with clients on the terms and conditions of a task, delivering, reviewing and finding quick, effective solutions to overcome daily obstacles are all activities you would have to do on an almost-daily basis while freelancing your way through the pre-career phase of your life. More know-how and a set of social skills is bound to empower you, maybe not overnight, but most definitely somewhere down the line.
Staying ahead of the curve
Competition is fierce out there. It’s a cut-throat job hunt that could leave many scarred for life, especially if you’re one of those people who get their hopes a bit too high a bit too fast. Although you will most probably be scanning the market for entry-level positions upon graduating from university (or high school if you’re too eager), all employers will ask you to submit both a CV and a cover letter, and they usually expect neither to be blank. Being a freelancer is in many ways similar to doing an internship at home. Only difference is: you would actually be doing work! By the time you decide to apply for more senior, higher-paying positions, you would have managed to learn and achieve more than your peers of the same age.
Nabbesh is proud to announce the launch of our Student Business Ambassador Program, and we are currently recruiting for our inaugural class of students! Please read more about this exciting new opportunity for students to see if it may be a good fit for you!
The Nabbesh Student Business Ambassador (SBA) Program
What is the Nabbesh SBA program?
The Nabbesh SBA Program is an exclusive opportunity for university students exhibiting leadership qualities to gain real-world business experience liaising between their student communities and Nabbesh. SBA’s will gain practical hands-on skills while helping to lead and empower their fellow students into the workforce the Nabbesh way.
You will be an Ambassador to your fellow students by sharing basic educational tools Nabbesh offers to students:
- Tips to create marketable Nabbesh profiles that will help them find jobs
- Exposure to freelance, flexible-work and entrepreneurship opportunities
- Teaching students what employers look for in entry-level candidates
- Practical career guidance and interview practice
- Access to a large business and employer community seeking their skills
Requirements: You must be a current university student enrolled in a full or part-time degree program. The program requires approximately 10 hours of your time each month to engage in virtual hangouts, educational opportunities, networking sessions, and on-campus events. You are not required to live in the UAE, but you are required to live in the greater MENA region.
Duration: The SBA program is a renewable 3 month arrangement between Nabbesh and the SBA candidate. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.
What does Nabbesh look for in an SBA candidate?
Nabbesh looks for current university students who are preferably in their senior year and possess the following characteristics:
- Leadership: an ability to inspire and instill action among the student body
- Positive mindset: an ability to see open doors instead of walls
- Energy: someone who can campaign tirelessly for a cause/ brand
- Inspiration: the ability to inspire other students towards their future careers
- Curiosity: the willingness to contribute ideas and learn in the process
Why work with Nabbesh?
SBA’s have the opportunity to be part of the exciting technology start-up scene in the UAE and greater MENA region by joining the fastest growing and most exciting start-up in Dubai. If you have an entrepreneurial flair or dream of starting your own business, then gaining hands-on business experience is vital to your success.
If you would like to promote a worthy brand, if you care about your community and if you want to make a difference in people’s lives, then Nabbesh is a great fit for you.
At Nabbesh, our vision is to help showcase the best in people’s skills to help everyone find jobs, particularly the youth of the Middle East.
Do you want to be part of Nabbesh’s vision? Are you excited by the prospect of helping your fellow students enrich their lives by finding meaningful jobs?
Do you want to learn from the best and work with a winning team? Do you want to contribute and have your ideas heard? Do you want to have “Nabbesh” on your CV?
If you answered yes to all of the above questions, then the Nabbesh SBA program is a great starting point for you.
At Nabbesh we’ve been hearing many questions lately from our community members regarding the “rules” of setting-up as a freelancer in the UAE, and we have been listening to you!
Many of our community members in the UAE are expats who want to earn extra cash, but at the same time, want to make certain they are doing it legally! Our Nabbesh community of nearly 30,000 come from many different backgrounds in the freelancing world, and although there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for everyone, we compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions to give you insights into the UAE’s rules on freelancing.
Frequently Asked Questions on Freelancing in the UAE
1. May I legally freelance in the UAE?
Yes, you may freelance in the UAE! However, it is important to distinguish between part-time work and freelancing. Freelancing is working for yourself, where you are essentially a company made up of one person, which is perfectly legal as long as you are licensed to do so.
2. So, I need a license?
Yes you do! You will need to secure a Trade License pertaining to your business activity from your selected Licensing Authority, and adhere to their stipulations.
3. What kind of license do I need?
The kind of license you need depends on the nature of the business you are looking to conduct.
There are two main ways of setting-up a business in Dubai and different license options for both, which a business setup specialist can explain in detail. The first is through the Dubai Department of Economic Development and the second is through one of the many Free Zones (e.g., Fujairah).
a. Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) Business Setup
The main license types in the DED are:
1. Commercial (51% Emirati owned; 49% foreign owned), and;
2. Services/Professional/Consultancy (100% expat owned with a local Emirati service agent).
b. Free Zone (FZ) Business Setup
For the free zones, both of the above license options apply, but the main differences are 1., an Emirati partner is not required, and 2., FZ businesses are 100% expat owned.
4. What are other benefits of setting-up through a Free Zone?
The general benefits of setting-up through a FZ are that companies can remain 100% foreign-owned and benefit from being “tax free” for 50 years, according to Article 15 of Law No. 1 of 2000 of the Emirate of Dubai.
5. If I’m not a resident, may I obtain a residency visa through one of these license options?
Yes, you may!
6. May I freelance if I’m on my husband’s visa?
Yes, you may! You would first need to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your husband as well as a labor card issued from the licensing authority/immigration office of the Emirate where the freelance company has been registered.
7. I’m working full-time but I’m interested in turning my hobby into a business. May I obtain a license even if I’m sponsored by my employer?
Yes, you may! Most (not all) licensing authorities would request you to provide a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your employer in order for you to start your own freelancer company.
8. How long will it take to get a freelance license and setup my business?
On average the process can take anywhere from one week to ten days.
9. Do I need to rent office space?
The majority of licensing authorities do require you to have some sort of office space within their jurisdiction, be it something minimal like a flexi-desk or a smart office, which is often already built into the price of the company setup package offered. These packages are typically catered to fit the needs of freelancers like yourselves.
Some licensing authorities are even able to provide you with a Trade License without taking office space of any sort, however under this option you wouldn’t be able to secure any residency visas on the company, so this option is best suited to a freelancer who already has a residency visa be it through their spouse, parent or current employer.
10. Do I have to get a freelance license through a business setup specialist or can I do it myself?
You certainly can do it yourself, however most of our community members have testified that using a business setup specialist was a wiser, more sensible and efficient option, as setting up a company in the UAE can be a very time consuming and draining process.
There are so many facets to consider when setting up a new business in the UAE, like obtaining your trade license, applying for your visa, getting business cards printed and setting up your bank account. The business setup specialist takes care of all the admin, allowing you to focus your attention on developing and growing your business.
To learn more about special licensing options and discounts available to Nabbesh users through our partners, e-mail us at support@Nabbesh.com
Disclaimer: The information contained within this blog post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal advice. The information contained here may not necessarily relay the most up-to-date regulations by the government of the UAE. Nabbesh always recommends you check with your local authorities to make certain you are compliant with current regulations.
11 – Where Can I find freelance work?
Click here to browse freelance work opportunities on Nabbesh.
Looking through the 2,000+ freelance projects that have been posted on Nabbesh since the beginning of the 2013, we are proud to assure freelancers everywhere in the Middle East – there’s an employer out there who needs YOU. So far we have had jobs from employers in over 100 Cities in the Middle East & North Africa, and even some from the US and Europe. How’s that?
Month on month, over 300 jobs are posted from various cities. Aside from the UAE, the majority of freelance gigs on Nabbesh are originating from Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. We are also proud to have an increasing number of jobs from Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. A recent survey done by Nabbesh in September 2013 highlighted that 35% of employers registered on Nabbesh are open to hire freelancers residing in a geographic location different to their own, this truly emphasises Nabbesh’s unique position to be the regional marketplace where people connect & sell their services.
If you are a freelancer or a supporter of the freelance movement, and if you want to help talent in the Middle East find work opportunities, then we have a modest request! Please share this post on the interwebs to spread the word so we can build a vibrant regional marketplace and create more wealth to our Nabbesh community.
Many of our Nabbesh guest bloggers have spoken about the challenges of freelancing particularly in the Middle East. The fact that we lack a mature marketplace, proper regulations to protect freelancers as well as a lack of best practices may deter many people from venturing into the freelance world.
At Nabbesh, we have made it our mission to enable freelancing via the creation of a transparent marketplace as well as learning from our community to establish a set of best practices for freelancers, regardless of their type of skill, to provide their services to clients and more importantly get paid for their work.
During September 2013, we surveyed our 25,000 freelancers from across the Middle East, with a majority in the UAE, Lebanon and Jordan to find out about their attitudes towards freelancing.
The survey has revealed that whilst freelancers are accustomed to doing free jobs for friends and family, volunteering or offering sample work to improve their portfolio, a whopping 30% of freelancers have come across a non-paying client in their career.
Here are the top 10 reasons and the story-lines behind them :
– He/ she was not happy with the quality of work
– We had a disagreement on the fees that should be paid
– Client kept delaying and postponing and then ignoring follow up
– Client was deceitful – It turned out to be a scam
– Client simply doesn’t like to pay anyone, I found out he did the same to many other freelancers
– Client claimed they weren’t making enough money to pay me
– Client did not understand the amount of work that was put in providing the service
– I was too young to put proper agreements in place and they took advantage of that
– Client had a cashflow problem or company (startup) closed
– Company management put the project on hold and decided not to pay
– There was a requirement, deliverable and communication gap
Call it occupational hazard, freelancers are prone to these types of clients and need to protect themselves at all times and have the ability to pick up the warning signs.
Some went as far as calling it an attribute to the Middle Eastern culture as highlighted by one of the respondents: “I did not get paid by clients more than once. I blame the lack of professionalism in the Middle East. Now I don’t even lift a pencil without a non-refundable down-payment.”
We do not agree with the notion that “professionalism” is lacking in the Middle East. We believe that in the presence of a marketplace, both parties will be required to be respectful and ethical in the way they treat each other and it is the marketplace that will reward freelancers and clients who honor their agreements and deliver quality work.
We highly recommend that freelancers put together agreements (like this sample agreement from the Freelancers Union) with their clients detailing a concrete scope of work and a milestone-based payment. Another common practice is to ask for a deposit before starting the work. Lastly, ensure you agree on the method of payment and make sure to understand the various charges for the money transfers, for example, a bank may charge up to 30$ for a transfer.
In order to be enablers for freelancing, Nabbesh is launching an online payment facility where clients are required to pay upfront for services, in the form of a deposit that Nabbesh holds in Escrow, while freelancers are bound to the work they agreed to deliver. Freelancers will get paid once the project or task has been completed.
While it may not be a panacea for the freelancing woes, we believe that a marketplace can create a layer of trust, which protects its participants and enables a healthy environment. 88% of our survey respondents confirmed that they will be managing their payments through Nabbesh in order to get paid in a timely manner and have a strong mediator in the event of conflict.
As we prepare for this major step in Nabbesh’s development we look forward to more feedback from you, to help you get better freelance gigs and we hope that our tips will help you stay vigilant!
Note: The full survey will be shared as soon as the data compiling is complete!
After years of working the 9 to 5 lifestyle, I felt stifled. At day’s end, there did not seem like much room for creativity left in the corporate world. Rumors of company cutbacks pushed me to start thinking what if I lost my job? That in addition to the fact that I needed some extra cash to pay for my college classes pushed me to a brown study mode where I began to identify my marketable skill-sets. I had done a few résumés for my colleagues and students with great reviews and feedback – until one day someone offered to pay me to do theirs. Hence, my ah-ha moment!
I began on a small-scale and grew my clientele base over time via word-of-mouth and eventually social media. Although, this has never been a full-time gig for me, it has allowed me to work whenever I need to and make some extra income. There have been times, I’ve had to turn clients away. But I did not become a great resume-writer overnight, which is my key takeaway here: you must maintain a solid grasp of the latest developments in your area of expertise and focus on selling or marketing one skill that you have truly mastered. Clients looking for freelancers do not want a jack of all trades.
My advice to those who want to become freelancers is to take a close look at all of your current skills and interests to see if any of them can be turned into a freelancing career. This can be just about anything you’re really good at, have good knowledge of, and most importantly really enjoy doing. The possibilities are endless and can run from copywriting, business writing, and audio production to catering, cartooning, researching, social media virtual assistant, photography, proofreading, language translation, medical transcription, tutoring, voice-overs and dog training. The potentials are well worth looking into. Best of all, it’s a business you can run out of your own home right from your kitchen table, although I highly recommend establishing a home office free of distraction. You can establish your own hours and take it to any level you desire! Most importantly, pursue a path that you REALLY are good at, otherwise you will find yourself pushed outside the door by your more qualified peers.
We have recently been on a hiring spree to grow the Nabbesh team by recruiting expert freelancers from across the Middle East to work on specific tasks or even manage certain business areas.
Our needs range from technology related jobs, to data analysis tasks to business development and community management! So of course we put Nabbesh to the test!
We were not able to fill all the positions yet, however we thought we’d share with you our top 5 tips to land a job via Nabbesh. Quite frankly, these tips are built into our selection criteria!
1 – Be professional
No matter how friendly or casual a job description may seem, make sure your application is professional. Do not use jokes, caps, shorthand or inappropriate language. Before you submit your application, make sure it is free of typos or major grammatical errors; it can be a turn off for employers. Make sure you spell the employer or the company’s name correctly. If English is not your first language then clearly mention it in your application in order to set the expectations, employers will respect you for that.
2 – Read the job description
There is nothing more off-putting to employers than someone responding in a generic way for a specific job description. For example “I am interested” or “I can do the job” which can signal to the employer that you did not make any effort to address his or her needs. Take the time to read the job post, understand the requirements and address them in your application. Highlight key strengths that you may have in relation to the job like relevant industry or market experience, refer to your skills listed on your Nabbesh profile page as well as highlight your portfolio on Nabbesh.
3 – Be specific in your application
Employers have a short attention span and they quickly scan for relevant information with respect to their job post. Be brief, make sure you get the employer’s attention but not necessarily tell them your life story. Do not by any shape or form copy and paste your CV into the job application as this will certainly lead to your application being ignored. From our experience, CVs are secondary to how you phrase your job application and how you convince the employer that you are the person for the job!
4 – Show your enthusiasm
It is quite nice when you end your application with comforting notes like how much you would love to work for the employer, that you are willing to provide the employer with additional information if needed, that you are available to start immediately and that this is an opportunity that you wouldn’t want to miss! Flattery goes a long way.
5- Follow up
Employers may be busy and may forget to respond, or they may have several applicants that they are interviewing or several proposals to go through. If you follow the above tips, we are almost 100% sure that you will get a response. In case you don’t, it is always beneficial to drop the employer a gentle reminder mentioning that you are looking forward to hear from them and always offer additional information if needed to further emphasize why you are perfect for the job!
We wish you good luck! And we are still taking applications for the jobs on Nabbesh. To apply please visit http://www.nabbesh.com/careers
This is a Guest Post by Anne John, a software engineer who switched careers to follow her passion for the written word. Currently she works as a web content manager with an online women’s magazine and moonlights as a freelance writer and editor.
Freelancing comes with many perks such as the ability to choose your work assignments and work flexibility. However, it has its downside as well. A common problem that most newbie freelancer writers face is keeping up your morale as you kick-start your freelance writing career. Trust me, I’ve been there. As a beginner, you haven’t built up a strong portfolio yet and with every pitch you send out, your hopes go soaring, only to fizzle out a week later. Rejection is hard to face and we freelance writers voluntarily expose ourselves to rejection over and over again. One of the hardest things to do when starting out as a freelance writer is keeping up your morale in the face of continuous disappointments. Here are 3 tips that helped me keep my chin up – and will hopefully help you too:
1. Learn to feel good about yourself: Although it is very difficult to believe in yourself when you keep getting rejection letters from editors, it is also exactly the time to give yourself some love. I save every good comment or appreciative feedback that I ever got for my writing. It could be from family, friends or total strangers. It could be on one of your published articles or even on your blog. Build a database of all the positive comments that your writing has ever garnered – you could print out the comments and save them in a folder or simply bookmark them on your computer. When you are feeling particularly uncharitable towards yourself, revisit them. Surely, all those people would not be wrong about you? This will help nip negativity in the bud, cheer you up, build your confidence and restore your faith in your work.
2. Don’t take it personally: Don’t take every rejection as a personal attack on your writing skills. Perhaps, the pitch was not suited to that particular publication at that point in time or perhaps they carried a similar piece quite recently or maybe the editor simply missed seeing your mail. You have no clue and there is no need to be offended. Train yourself to let it go. If the editor gives you any explanation for turning down your pitch, view it as constructive criticism and see what you can learn from it.
3. Keep writing for yourself: Most freelance writers start out because of their love and passion for writing. However, we often have to alter our writing to suit the editors’ or readers’ tastes and requirements. Soon, many writers get disillusioned with the whole process and writing begins to lose its charm. To prevent this, keep writing for yourself too. Maintain a blog or a journal where you can give free reign to your pen without worrying about word limits and house style. Simply savor expressing yourself and keep the magic of writing alive. I hope these pointers will help keep your morale up on your freelance journey! All the best!
Freelance work is considered exciting as it is considered dubious. Exciting, perhaps, because it offers the leverage to work for multiple employers on temporary or short-term contracts, hence augmenting the overall experience of the worker. Dubious because it is offers no long-term or recurrent confirmations from the employer for the worker.
Differences between ‘independent’ and ‘full-time’ modes of work may be as contrasting as chalk and cheese but it led me to wonder if there were any variations in work ethics and morality when one day, at a social gathering, on hearing that I was working as a freelancer, an associate commented casually: ‘But freelancing is quite different from working at a permanent position; you can walk away scot-free anytime.’
As I walked away that evening, I realized how strong the bromide was – It is no enigma that amongst employers exist many who refuse to take freelancers seriously. What I realized later was that it is because we freelancers rarely take ourselves seriously.
As a freelancer, I strongly feel that if valuing our work is important, equally imperative is to ensure we qualify for that value, hence there are – or ideally should be – no differences in work ethics. Committing to a task on a stipulated deadline with certain quality standards should be treated as an ABSOLUTE priority, for a freelancer as it is considered for a full-timer.
Understanding the importance of work ethics will lead the freelance community to accept their responsibilities. We must NOT, under any circumstances believe, we can GET AWAY.
In my professional career, the first lesson I learned was to ensure that I don’t consider myself a freelancer. I am a professional with a task at hand which is to be delivered on time with the quality that will illustrate my ability at hand. It is a true representative of my character and professionalism and that is something I cannot get away from.
Contributor: Zainab Mansoor is a freelance journalist and contributor to various local and international publications. She is an equally doting mom and strives to strike a perfect balance every day.