By Lauren | November 3, 2014 | 0 Comment
Freelancing is an ever-growing career path, or way for professionals to earn some extra money on the side of their current careers. The popularity in this field is constantly rising with there being an estimate that 40% of America’s workforce will be freelancers by 2020.
Companies are now turning to freelancers to produce work that can’t be done in-house, and many professionals are seeing the value in freelancing out their services to others. Just about anyone can use their skills to become a freelancer, but how do you get started and what do you do once your first potential client reaches out to you? Here’s some basic rules and necessities you need in order to cover your butt and make sure you have a successful transaction.
Know what’s expected
Before you get started with any freelancing project, be sure to know what is expected for the project and from yourself. Ask as many questions as needed about the project, what the client is expecting, deadlines, etc. The more questions you ask, the better chance you’ll deliver exactly what they are looking for. Meaning, you’ll have less changes to make, plus they will be more likely to want to work with you again.
This is one of the most important rules to freelancing. No matter who you are working with, whether they are family, a friend, or complete stranger, get them to sign a contract! A contract is made to protect yourself. Look up templates of contracts online
and make sure you both sign it before you begin any work.
Within your contract, add in anything like what sort of rights the client has to your work, what rights you have to your own work (like if you can use it in your portfolio), and also how and when to expect payment. I know this may seem like a bit overboard, especially if you’re doing a small project for someone, but this can make or break how your freelance relationship goes.
If you are doing a large project for someone, it isn’t out of the ordinary to ask them for a deposit before you start the work (add this into the contract). This will save you from any issues down the road, or from you working your butt off to complete a project and then not getting paid a cent.
Quoting your work
For new freelancers especially, it’s often hard to come up with a cost for your work and services. To be honest, there is no rules or guidelines laid out for this. For me, I take a look at the project and see how long I think it will take me.
For example: If I’m asked to write 3 articles on a topic I know nothing about, that’s going to take longer than writing 3 articles on social media which is my specialty. Therefore I’d cost the first 3 articles more than I would the other 3.
For many people they like charging hourly. Personally since I do my freelance work on the side of everything else I have going on, and may work on it for 20 minutes, do something else, come back to it for 20 minutes, etc. it’s too hard for me to cost by the hour and keep track of it. If you don’t even know a ballpark idea of what to charge, ask the client what their budget is and work from there. Quoting higher and saying it is negotiable is also a way around this. The more freelance work you do, the more you will begin to get a better idea for pricing. Also, the more experienced you are, the more you’ll charge!
Once all the work is completed and the client has stated they have no additional changes or edits to the work, send them an official invoice to prompt payment. Often in your contract you will layout how long they have to pay once they receive the invoice before it begins collecting interest. Don’t wait around and expect that since the work is done, they will automatically send you money. Many companies need these invoices also for their records.
Fake it till you make it
My last rule of thumb that I’ve lived off of when I had the person person ask me to do some work for them is “fake it till you make it”. Be confident about your skills, the services you can offer the person, and the work you are providing and doing. Remember, you’re the expert, and you know your worth. I don’t mean lie to all your clients about what you are capable of doing, but for example, when someone asks you the price of something don’t answer, “I don’t know”.
Freelancing can be a great source of additional income, and can really allow you to build your portfolio, and gain valuable experience. Make sure you stick to these general guidelines, and force your own path into the industry.