Freelancing in Dubai : guide to everything you need to know

Freelancing is a way of organizing work that is becoming increasingly popular.

In France for example, there are almost a million freelancers. What is freelancing? How do you become a freelancer? Which legal statuses are compatible with freelancing?

Here’s our guide to all aspects of prolific domain.

What is freelancing?

A freelancer is an independent worker. A freelancer is a professional who carries out an economic activity on his or her own. In other words, a freelancer is a person who “works for himself” and manages his business alone. They are responsible for finding their own customers. Assignments can vary in duration.

Freelancers set their rates according to their experience, expertise and the prices charged in their sector. They may opt for an average daily rate (ADR), flat-rate or value-added pricing. They can negotiate their fees with each client, according to the specific features of each assignment.

Freelancers who run their own businesses need to develop marketing, management and sales skills in addition to their professional skills. These are essential to ensure the long-term viability of your business.

What are the differences between salaried employment and freelancing?

Freelancing and salaried employment differ in a number of ways.

Absence of subordination

The main difference between salaried employees and freelancers is that there is no subordinate relationship between the self-employed and their customers. In fact, the contract between a freelancer and his or her client is a contract for the provision of services. This implies no hierarchical relationship between the freelancer and his customers. As a result, freelancers are expected to carry out their assignments autonomously.

This means that:

  • Freelancers are free to define their own working hours (clients cannot impose working hours on them).
  • Freelancers cannot be disciplined by their clients.
  • The freelancing client cannot subject the service provider to any power of control in the performance of his or her tasks.

Employees, on the other hand, are bound to their employer by a fixed-term or open-ended employment contract. They are obliged to comply with their employer’s instructions.

What sectors do freelancers work in?

Freelancers can often be found working in sectors that depend on the digital economy.

Freelancing profiles can be found in the following areas:

  • IT, as IT consultants, developers, architects or devOps.
  • Web marketing as marketing, SEA or SEO consultants, copywriters and community managers.
  • Web design and visual communications as graphic artists or designers.
  • Interim management.
  • Training and coaching.

It’s worth noting, however, that freelancing is increasingly expanding into other sectors, such as fashion and wellness.

How do you go from salaried employment to freelancing?

It’s possible to consider a career change that involves moving from salaried employment to freelancing. This transition from salaried employment to self-employment is a major step that requires careful preparation. Here are a few things to keep in mind before embarking on this path:

  • An assessment of your skills and interests is crucial to identifying opportunities that match your talents and passions. It should be noted that a transition from salaried employment to freelancing does not necessarily imply a change in field of activity. For example, a web developer may wish to go freelance after a period of salaried employment.
  • Building up a solid portfolio will help you demonstrate your skills to potential customers. This can involve soliciting recommendations from former employees, for example, to populate the “Recommendations” section of a Linkedin profile.
  • Financial planning, including determining your average daily rate (ADR), is essential for managing income fluctuations in freelancing.
  • Understanding legal and tax obligations will enable you to navigate the specifics of freelancing in your jurisdiction (choice of legal status or wage portage). We’ll go into more detail on this point below.
  • Networking and marketing your services will be vital to establishing your presence and attracting new customers.
  • Community support through freelancer groups and forums can offer additional advice and encouragement during this period of change.

By taking these elements into account, the transition from salaried employment to freelancing can become a positive and rewarding experience, opening up new avenues for professional and personal growth.

Who are freelancing clients?

Freelancers can offer their services to a wide range of clients, including:

  • Private individuals
  • Start-ups
  • Digital Service Companies
  • Agencies
  • VSEs/SMEs
  • Large corporations

Collaboration with these different types of potential customers can take the form of one-off services, fixed-price packages or long-term assignments.

Other factors, such as the budget they can allocate or the way in which work is organized, help to distinguish the structures with which a freelancer may be called upon to collaborate. In the case of a private individual, for example, a freelancer often has greater freedom to carry out his or her activity on his or her own. However, in this case, the budget is generally limited.

On the other hand, in the case of large groups, the income generated by the services provided is more substantial, but the mission is often subject to the work processes defined by the large group, and is mostly carried out in teams.

Freelancers can choose to work with these different customer profiles, or specialize if they develop a preference for a certain category of customer.

How to attract and retain customers in freelancing?

Attracting and retaining customers for freelancing requires a strategic combination of various essential elements that contribute to a successful customer relationship.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Implementing a customer acquisition strategy. This involves defining a personal brand and defining the types of customers to target. A personal brand should reflect the skills and expertise of the freelancer concerned. It plays a vital role in attracting new customers.
  • Offering a clear, detailed quote is the first step in building trust. It should reflect the rate and Average Daily Rate (ADR) appropriate to the project. It should also include payment terms (down payment, deadlines, etc.).
  • Using a transparent and reliable billing system, with well-structured invoices, facilitates the payment process and demonstrates your professionalism.
  • Communicating openly and regularly with the customer ensures that you are on the same wavelength, and enables any problems to be resolved quickly. Communicating with the customer should also enable you to offer new services, discounts or win new business (retention and loyalty).
  • Delivering quality work that meets customer expectations on time is essential for customer satisfaction. The definition of deliverables in the quotation (for example) must enable you to meet these various imperatives.

By combining these elements, you can create a solid, consistent customer experience that not only attracts new customers, but also builds loyalty.

What about vacations when you’re freelancing?

Vacations are a crucial consideration in professional life, and their management differs considerably between freelancers and employees.

The case of “classic” freelancers

For freelancers, there’s generally no formal paid leave structure like that found in traditional salaried employment. Here are a few points to consider:

Freelancers have the freedom to choose when to take time off, but it’s usually unpaid.

It’s essential for freelancers to plan financially for these periods of non-revenue, and to keep clients informed.

Freelancers need to manage their projects around their time off, which can require clear communication with customers and meticulous organization.

Ported employees

Ported employees are in an intermediate position between freelancing and traditional salaried employment. They work independently, but are employed by a “portage salarial” company, which handles certain administrative aspects:

Ported employees are generally entitled to paid vacations, like other employees. Their “société de portage salarial” manages the calculation and deduction of vacation pay.

The umbrella company structure offers a degree of security and stability, particularly in terms of income during vacation periods.

However, this structure may also mean less flexibility when it comes to taking vacations than an independent freelancer.

In short, the choice between freelancing and wage portage will largely depend on individual needs and preferences, particularly when it comes to managing leave. The freedom and flexibility of freelancing contrast with the security and structure of paid leave that freelance administration can offer. Everyone needs to weigh up these factors according to their personal and professional situation.