Why Baby Boomers make the best freelancers

  • freelancer
Published on 2020-09-16 at 08:00 by JerryANelson
American expat, Jerry Nelson, lives in Buenos Aires. He is not quite a digital nomad, but he is not the typical 65-year old either. The expat tells us about his experience freelancing abroad and why more baby boomers should think about freelancing.

Expats who freelance are in demand globally

One minute I'm at Starbucks, just blocks from The White House in Washington DC. Twenty-four hours later, my plane is landing in Buenos Aires.

I was missing my wife of six-weeks and drinking a latte when I asked myself, “Why am I here missing her when I could easily move to Argentina?”

I called a friend who worked at the State Department and told him about my situation. Two-hours later, I was walking out of a government office with a newly minted passport.

Now, to find a job in a country where I have never been and where I don't speak the language.

Thanks to Wifi on international flights, and a 12-hour layover in Mexico City, I was able to score an interview with La Nacion, Argentina's largest newspaper.

Everything was looking good.

And then the world stopped turning. Between the moment I received notification of the interview and 48-hours later, the Argentine government clamped down on employment rules and no one, who was not a resident, could work in the country -- legally.

Argentina was turning its back on freelancing, especially on expats. Buenos Aires did not seem to be a welcoming place for ‘digital nomads,' with the emphasis on nomads.

Things aren't as bad globally for expats who want to freelance

According to Small Business Prices, Paris is the number one city, globally, for freelancing. The world was charging into the age of the “digital nomad” before the pandemic, but the pandemic gave a boost to the change.

Professionals everywhere are leaving the life of cubicle farms and looking for freedom and freelancing. Ready with a passport and laptop, their office may be a hammock in Thailand, a co-working space in New York, or a sidewalk cafe in Buenos Aires.

How does a person establish themselves as a freelancer in a new nation? What's all that about taxes and visas? This article is about making the leap into international freelancing and a completely different lifestyle than you may be used to.

Stephanie Odea, writing in the February 2020 edition of this magazine says, the #1 requirement is ‘to be prepared'. “The first thing to look into is whether you will need a visa to work there,” says Odea. “ If you need a visa, remember the process can take months.”

That's excellent advice for Millennials who have plenty of time ahead of them, but what about us older codgers?

Baby boomers are the fastest-growing group of workers

Right now, Millennials are the largest generation in the American labour force, and that is reflected in the “digital nomad” world. More than a third of them are Millennials. But watch out, us old people or ‘baby boomers' are the fastest-growing segment of the American workforce. A survey, conducted by Glassdoor in 2019 says this generation born between 1944 and 1964 is expected to grow over 61% over the next ten-years. 

To online writer and freelancing expert Winton Churchill, that comes as no surprise. Winton has long-known that Baby Boomers make excellent freelancers, and he's made it his mission to hand them the know-how to turn their existing skills into rewarding incomes.

Baby Boomers are not just well-positioned to become freelancers; in certain categories, they are well-positioned to dominate.

The reason for this is simple: Experience.

Of all the freelancers working today, Baby Boomers have more experience than any other age group.

For the most part, we have solved more problems, shown up on time more often, and delivered more completed work than any other freelancing age group.

Let's look at some of the reasons people who hire freelancers cite a preference for working with Baby Boomers.

Ability to meet goals and deadlines

One buyer I spoke with said, "Boomers have a better sense of how their work for me fits into the overall assignment I'm working on. They realize project time goals, when met, help keep my overall project running smoothly. They take deadlines seriously and seem to deliver on or closer to the planned completion date. If there is a scheduling problem, they let me know sooner by communicating in advance, so I can adjust other aspects of the project to deal with changes to the schedule."

Less experienced freelancers tend to want to go by the book and seem to take longer to get back on track when something changes.

Baby Boomers know to anticipate bumps in a project along the way and are better able to avoid crises by planning around them.

Effective communication

Another freelance buyer suggested communication in both written and spoken forms is better with Boomers.

Boomers have had so much more experience communicating verbally and in email and that brings clarity to the words they say and write.

Lack of clarity on the part of less seasoned freelancers can unnecessarily delay a project and increase the overall costs.

Sadly, much of what passes for communication today is a scrambled text or cryptic email message that can easily send an assignment careening in the wrong direction.

Switch to plan B and keep moving

One freelance buyer I spoke with complained that many freelancers hit a snag in a project and stop.

They look to the buyer to figure out what the new plan is. In the freelance world, this quickly puts a lot of stress on the freelance buyer.

Boomers, with decades of living in a world of change, are better adapted to coming up with a "reprogrammed" way to meet the overall aim.

Creative new approaches, a simple re-sequencing of steps and every suggestion in between are like a breath of fresh air to the freelance buyer dealing with project changes.

Another freelance buyer recently told me, "I constantly look for the person who can show initiative when I hire freelancers and frequently increase the work for those freelancers who can bring that to our relationship.

If all this has been a revelation to you, you probably have more "pluses" than you ever thought when it comes to becoming a freelancer.

Now it's up to you to make the best of them.

The takeaway

Remember, there is a time of adjustment, and everybody's experience is a little unique.

Being location independent doesn't mean working from a beach every day. The sand is annoying, and the sun makes a lot of glare on your computer. It definitely takes some time to find your way of working that feels good and allows you to actually get work done.

Freelancing can fit in nicely with being an expat. Just be sure to remember to do some research and planning before you set out.