I’ve been working freelance for about a year now and so far, it has been a rollercoaster of good and bad experiences. Right now, I am juggling freelancing and a part time job as an English teacher. At times it would prove to be difficult, but mostly, it’s very fulfilling. If ever you are not cut to be working under corporations, but still wants (and needs) to earn a pretty good income, freelancing may just be for you. Here are ten things that I have learned so far with working freelance:
- It’s okay to start small. First time freelancers with almost zero experience would find it difficult to get a client. I’ve got to be honest about how I used to accept job orders that are lower than my typical rates just so I could gather clients and build a portfolio for myself. Mind you, lowering your rate could lead to several negative effects, but doing so with caution with help you start up on your career as a freelancer.
- Build your contacts. Once you already have a handful of clients that you’ve worked with, remember to build good relationships with them. I’m not saying that you should befriend clients and rub elbows with them, but make sure that you are creating a good professional relationships between you and your clients. I have some clients who keep coming back for my services because they already know my skill set and are pretty much pleased with it. You can also ask your present clients to refer you to other prospect projects from different clients, but make sure that it would not sound as if you are begging them to vouch good reviews on your services. A simple “If you have any other projects available, just let me know so I could see what I can do,” would help tons in gathering new contacts.
- Have some respect. Being a freelancer does not mean you own your time, it just means that you have your time frame and you have got to stick with it by working on your own pace. Make sure you meet deadlines and respect the client’s time and efforts. This will help improve your professional image and provide you with a good review afterwards.
- Get some respect. Just because they are the clients, doesn’t mean they have all the rights to exploit you. If you feel that you are at the losing end in a deal, feel free to voice out your opinion and demand a higher compensation or a better time frame, etc. This will avoid abusive clients from debasing you and downright ripping you off.
- Be honest. Making sure that your clients know your capabilities and limitations could help improve your relationship with them. This will also set them with the right expectations and would make your job more comfortable for you. If you will not be able to meet deadlines for whatever reason, make sure to notify them at least 48 hours prior to the deadline, so they could work around with their own schedule as well. Remember we are all professionals in this field, so you need to act like one.
- It’s okay to say no. Even if they promise a very competitive compensation, when you know that it will jeopardize your own personal accounts (i.e. schedule and other freelancing stints), it is okay to decline the project. If you think that you are not going to be paid enough, it’s okay to turn down a job offer. If you think that you are not capable of what they are asking for or if you will have a hard time producing an output because you are not familiar with what they need, it’s alright to say no. If you are going to decline job orders, make sure you do it before the project starts or at the earlier stage of the project (depending if you have contracts signed) and NEVER on the final days before the deadline. This will give your clients enough time to find a replacement and also this would not make you come up as complete asshole. (see number 4, 5, and 7)
- Know your value. You have to make sure that you know what your capabilities are. If you excel in one field in freelancing, and you know that you are performing very well with it, it’s okay to demand a higher compensation. You can also research and ask around fellow freelancers on their rates so you could have an idea on how much you should charge your clients. You also need to make sure that the clients know your limitations, so they would not ask you to produce anything beyond it, because failing to deliver what is expected of you could garner a negative effect to your reputation. As what was mentioned in number 5, honesty helps.
- Give your best, but leave some for yourself. When you get job orders, it is very important that you exhaust every possible resource that you have in order to give them the best output possible, but keep in mind that you have your breaking points too. Do not overwork on a project because that will only get you underpaid. Deliver what is asked, no more, but definitely no less.
- Freelance isn’t free. If you are starting to build your own contacts and portfolio, it is okay to take pro bono projects ONLY IF you know that this will help improve your career as a freelancer. Nevertheless, make sure that the demands are not as high that you will end up at the losing end of the deal. Same goes for paid transactions, demand what you think you are worthy of. Remember that it is not bad to ask for updates on your paycheck or schedules of payment because IT IS YOUR RIGHT. I’ve had experiences when I was scammed by scumbags who do not have any respect for human beings working with integrity, but these instances can be avoided if you will take precautions.
- Enjoy yourself. You know you have worked hard for your money so it is your right to enjoy it in whatever way possible, but make sure that you are using it wisely. You know that you chose this career path because it is most comfortable for you, so make sure that it will remain as comfortable as it is without sacrificing on quality outputs.
Hope this helps! Good luck!