We’ve all thought about it, having no one to answer too, the freedom to work as and when we want. Ah, the dream! But what does it take to become a successful freelancer? Passion, determination and time, lots of time! In the early days, freelancing can be time-consuming especially when you’re trying to build up a portfolio of clients; you could find yourself working all hours of the day.
So assuming you’ve got an idea your passionate about or perhaps your already freelancing its time to decide whether freelancing will be a side hustle or a full-time job. You should define clear business goals and check in on them from time to time to make sure you are on the right track.
Finding the right client is just as important as finding your niche. People often point out to clients to make sure they find the right freelancer, but there are warning signs for both parties. When starting freelancers tend to be more lenient and use online platforms to secure work. Platforms like PeoplePerHour are great, but there are some people to watch out for. Entrepreneurs who don’t know what they’re looking for tend to mess freelancers around can be unresponsive. Unfortunately, there are also fraudsters online who will try to take the agreement off the platform, they’ll promise to pay you a better rate but then once you’ve completed your work they are no were to be seen. Make sure you identify your target client to minimise these risks. Decide the industry you’d like to work in, for example, you’re a content writer and want to be in the fashion industry, but maybe you only want to write for non-profits.
Set an affordable rate
What is affordable? That’s a big question, and it depends on what you’re offering. If you’re in the early stages of your career, you may not have much experience under your belt so start out offering a price that reflects your experience and quality. One way to decide your rate would be to take your current annual salary, work out your hourly rate and set that as your lowest hourly rate. Clients will always want to negotiate so you’ll need to establish a rate your willing to go down too. Add a few pounds to your current hourly salary and set that as your desired rate. You can increase your rate as your expertise and business grow.
Always sign a contract
A contract is a legal agreement between yourself. A contract also offers your client assurance. Your contract should clearly lay out the details of the work you’ve promised to do for the employer and include any requirements from the employer. Things you should include:
- Hours agreed or the delivery time agreed
- The price you have agreed on and any conditions where the price may be subject to change
- How you expect payment to be made and when you expect it
- Information about late payments –
According to The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (interest) Act 1988, Freelancers and entitled to claim a £40 late fee upon non-payment of debts. If the payment is not made within a further 30 days additional interest will be charged to the overdue accounts at a statutory rate of 8%.
- If you have any usage rights, you should include these too. Perhaps you still want full ownership of the work, or perhaps the employer is not allowed to sell your work on
- The notice period you require if the client no longer wants your services. Alternatively the notice period you are required to offer the client should you not want to continue working for them
Use text as much as possible
Of course, it’s easier and quicker to pick up the phone to discuss the project, but it’s always a good idea to get the important stuff in writing. But why is it important? Imagine your contract says you’ll work for 10 hours, but you agree 20 hours on the phone and don’t confirm that in writing, it could come back to bite you. What if the client asked for the result to be blue but on the phone, you discussed it would be red, and now the client conveniently doesn’t remember and isn’t happy with the colour. These things happen so don’t be naive thinking it won’t happen to you. When things go wrong people are always looking to point the finger.
Build a portfolio
Imagine you want to hire a graphic designer to create a logo for your business, you’d like to see some of their previous work wouldn’t you? Having a portfolio of your best work (not every piece of work you’ve ever done) is a good way of assuring potential clients you can deliver their project. When a client is searching for someone to handle their project they have a lot of risk factors that they’ll be looking out for. They’ll want to make sure you are the real deal and that you can deliver on your promise, so having a portfolio or website of your work will help solidify your promise.
Don’t stop learning
Working inside a company does have its perks when it comes to mentors and training. Often your boss will come to you and say there are new avenues they want to try or there are new trends to consider. Businesses are always on the lookout for new strategies and rightly so because business practices are constantly evolving. Don’t get left out in the cold, make sure you follow your industry so your practices are not outdated.
Communication is key. We’re not saying you need to be contactable 24/7, but your client should know that they can reach you if they need too. Equally, you’ll want the client to know they can reach you but you’ll also want them to know when they can’t reach you. Maybe you’ll schedule in a catch up once weekly, or maybe you’ll dedicate specific hours on specific days for the project, whatever you decide make sure you outline these communication rules at the start of the project.
Being a good person goes without saying. You should always deliver on your word but not only that you should be someone that people want to work with. Whether that’s because your friendly, efficient, organised or intelligent you’ll want your client to sing your praises to their business connections. Go the extra mile once in a while if you have too, you’ll prove you were worth the investment and if the business succeeds because of something you’ve done then your reputation grows.