More and more people these days are making the decision to quit their day jobs to go freelance. In fact, according to Upwork and the Freelancers Union’s Freelancing in America: 2016 report, more than one third of Americans (55 million people) are currently freelancing, and that number is expected to bourgeon in the coming years. So why do these people choose to be freelancers instead of building their career within a company? Answer: being a freelancer means freedom, flexibility, and financial independence.
However, as with most things in life, there are risks and rewards to freelancing. Although it may sound easy, there are always challenges and difficulties, and it can be especially hard when you are in the initial stages of your freelance career. But with good sets of skills, knowledge, passion, and the right attitude, it is not impossible to be successful in this field. A good list of tips and advice will help you refine your skills and work processes. Like this one, for instance!
Fly Free: 7 Tips for Becoming a Successful Freelancer
The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.
– Peter Diamandis
Use a contract for every project
Even if it is just a small project, having a signed contract before you do any work is important. Why? Because a contract will protect you and give you guidelines on how to do the job. So how are you going to design a contract? You shouldn’t make it too complicated. Just include a general agreement that covers the vital details of the job that you and your client have agreed upon. The following are the basics that should every contract should include:
- An assurance that the work you will complete is original and that you will not plagiarize other people’s work.
- An assurance that everything about your client will stay confidential.
- Your payment details.
- A stipulation that once your client accepts the finished product, they accept full responsibility for any other processes in which the work is used.
These are just some of the things that you should include in the contract, but you can always draft your own according to your needs.
Always get a down payment
Most of a freelancer’s transactions are done over the Internet. The tendency to get scammed online is higher since most of the time, you do not personally know your client or where he/she lives. You also do not know if he/she is using their own identity. Getting a down payment beforehand will help you protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud. Try to get at least 50% of the total payment prior to the start of the project and the last 50% before you send the finished product to your client. Do not send any of your work unless you are fully paid to avoid the risk of being swindled.
Learn to say no
If you are just starting your freelance career, saying no may be an issue. You want to impress all your clients, so you will offer all the help that you can give to avoid disappointing. This will result in too much work and stress that will certainly lower the quality of your work.
Whatever your decision is, one thing is for sure: You will disappoint someone. Whether it is the client because you can’t finish the job on deadline, your family since you have to work extra harder and spend more time on it, or yourself because you might get dissatisfied with your work. That’s why you should learn to say no if you think your workload is already enough to balance everything.
Treat your clients well
Your freelance business should reflect who you are, because clients want to know who they are working with. So make sure you have the interpersonal skills to deal effectively with every client. Be sure to be personable enough.
How are you going to do that? You should always be completely transparent and professional with them. Explain to them everything they should expect when working with you. Let them feel that you are not just interested in your earnings, but also in their business and in the client themself. This will help your clients build up trust and confidence in you and your work.
Create a personal website or blog
To reach more clients, having a website and/or blog will really help. Try to put your work portfolio on there. You do not have to put every example of work you have done in the past. Just remember to post the types of jobs that you hope to continue working on, and most especially all projects that you specialized in.
Know your numbers
Numbers can serve as a guide for your business. Knowing your numbers means knowing how much your skillset, efforts, and work are worth. Additionally, you should know where your income came from (what clients, type of projects, passive income), and focus more on the areas that are producing the greatest results. Knowing these numbers will shed light on the aspects that you need to work on most, and help you understand where there’s room for improvements.
Save for the rainy season
Freelance work is seasonal. Having enough projects to finance your daily needs doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get a steady income all throughout the year. Like any other business, there will be times when the incoming work will be insufficient to meet your needs. So to close the gap during those seasons, it’s important to build up a rainy day fund by saving a portion of your income during the thriving period.