Being a freelancer can be liberating and terrifying at the same time. So where do you begin? What are the processes and structures that you must put in place? How do you locate and communicate with clients? How do you price your services? There are endless questions that you shall be asking yourself.
Today, loads of people are quitting their jobs and go the freelance way. According to Upwork and the Freelancers Union’s report in 2016, about 55 million Americans are freelancing; the number is expected to grow in the coming years.
So, it’s easy to understand why people choose to freelance instead of continuing their company careers- There’s a lot of freedom, flexibility, and financial independence in freelancing.
As much as it might sound easy, freelancing has plenty of challenges and difficulties; it’s even harder when you are just getting started. If you develop passion, combined with knowledge, appropriate attitude and right sets of skills, only the sky can be the limit for you.
We have prepared some professional tips for walking you through the process of becoming a successful freelancer over the coming years.
Connect with your existing network
A freelancer needs nothing more than a strong network. When you have these group of people who are ready to assist and support you, it becomes a little easy to attain your goals. Therefore, for you to be successful here, reach out to those closest to you, let them know that you are into freelancing.
So how do you reach out to the existing network? Well, invite the potential clients out for lunch or coffee, from there, it will be a lot easier to ask and offer them help in any way that you can. So, by just informing them of the kind of work you do and showing that ready to help attitude you are making the right steps towards your success in freelancing.
Make new links and connections
In freelancing, you can not make it on your own. Besides, you must keep learning from new people. People who you can always turn to for advice and support in your network.
In most cases, these people are your competitors; however, they are also a great source of ideas and information. For instance, there are professional associations in every freelance niche, find especially people who are doing the same things as you and share new ideas. Find out what they are doing differently, what makes them better than you. Also, don’t shy away from learning new niches.
Determine your fee
Well, most people get into freelancing not knowing what to charge for each project. You might end up “sending away” a potential client in a case where you overcharge unintentionally. Here’s is where your network can help you right away. As you interact with them, you learn the average rates for each type of project that you shall be handling.
Most freelancers are on record for using their expenditure and other bills to determine their hourly rates. That’s wrong!
Instead, you can randomly ask your network to share with you their rates, do the overage and add or subtract a few dollars from it. It all depends on the quality of work that you are sure to deliver.
In the beginning, you may have to quote lower rates, this helps you in figuring out how much you’re worth. You shouldn’t however, take long before raising your rates. Just ensure that you have somewhere to start.
Get a good accountant to work with
If you genuinely want to succeed as a freelancer, even before landing your first job and have money coming in, get yourself a trustworthy accountant. A competent professional that can advise you on the financial decisions you shall be making going forward, critical yet straightforward issues like how to save in taxes, and ways of managing all of your expenses. Setting up an LLC separates your business and your assets. An accountant will advise you to sign up for a business credit card which is vital as it makes taxes and tracking of expenses a lot easier. Besides, it gets you in the right mindset.
Familiarize with the legal procedures
It’s not necessary that you have a lawyer to set up a Limited Liability Company. However, it’s essential that you have someone who you can turn for advice on legal matters, especially when you are at the initial stages. This person must be business-minded and not legally-minded. He/she will help you understand simple rules and basics of things like the nondisclosure agreement and more like an independent contractor agreement. As soon as you know these, you can sign different contracts without having to consult a lawyer every time.
Freelancers face a challenge of mainly by the clients who fail to pay. Before starting to work, insist on contracts that offers protection for you and your work so that you don’t find yourself in such trouble. In a case where you sense that it may be a nonpayment situation, consider stopping to work immediately and contact your lawyer if possible.
Have your paperwork ready
As soon as you start bidding for jobs from different clients, you must show your competence. You must be able to respond within the shortest time possible because chances are there are a lot of you that are trying to get the same job. So how do you do that? Well, you must read the job description before applying, make yourself familiar with the demands of the job posted since a few questions from the client may follow your bid. Also, get your credential in place, things like a portfolio, sample projects related to the work you are applying for that you have done in the past, you can share your business cards, resume, and the likes.
Furthermore, you need to have a standard statement of work, invoice, and even contract. Most clients have templates for contracts; you need to have yours just in case a need arises.
Make yourself known by getting the word out
Once you have the above logistics sorted, the next step is actively marketing yourself. Make yourself and the quality of your work known out there. On the minimum, you should ensure that you have an active and up to date LinkedIn profile.
Your profile must show that you are looking for new opportunities, you can go as far as creating a simple website to show how committed you are.
You can add something to your websites and the online presence by speaking at different professional events to enhance your reputation, remain active in online communities. Keep reaching out to your network, let your friends, family members, and even the relative help you with this as well.
Have a proper schedule
Most freelancers make the mistake of taking in too many jobs to the extent that they are overbooked. You need to develop a culture of having your programs lined up appropriately so that you don’t eat into time meant for a different task. When this happens, it’s likely that you will disappoint one of your clients by not delivery projects in time. If not, there could be some compromise in the quality of your work because of poor planning. Low quality does not do anyone any favor but dents your reputation. Therefore, if you want to excel as a freelancer, have some schedule.
There are dry spells ahead, be prepared
There are times that there shall be a scarcity of projects. Seasoned freelancers are aware that the income is episodic. Therefore, you need to stash away some cash so that you are ready for the inevitable valleys. Develop some coping strategies so that you shall experience “less “ of these spells. An easy way to do this is by sharing jobs to your network when you have too much to handle. Hopefully, when you shall be facing dry spell, they can reciprocate.
Freelancing is fast growing, and if one can show some commitment, there are very high chances of success. All you need is an organized approach to your work. Try and read something every day and remain in contact with your network. So that you become a top freelancer, develop that urge of wanting to know more. Ensure that every day, you add someone new to your network. If you can follow the points shared above, then nothing will stop you from achieving your objectives as a freelancer.