Freelancers are becoming a large part of the national economy. These entrepreneurs are adding to the GDP (which helps us all) and their efforts and mindset are helping many talented individuals become masters of their own destiny and carve out a satisfying, lucrative career. To help create an understanding about freelancers and what they do, we’ve created this helpful infographic guide that details some areas you may not have considered -- about making the freelance life your career destination.
The life of a freelancer
The infographic starts with a definition of what it means to be a freelancer. Your role involves working for yourself rather than committing to a long-term working relationship with an employer. You can opt to work for many clients at one time and determine how, when and how much you want to work. You can also choose the dollar amount you can and will accept.
Other benefits of being a freelancer includes lower taxes, a better chance at a work-life balance, often more money and a happy, healthy life. You can also work from anywhere; the world is your office -- from your home to a coffee shop and everywhere in-between. All freelancers get the caution from each other to be sure -- not -- to get distracted wherever you set up shop!
The pitfalls to avoid as a freelancer
The downsides to freelancing that should be considered is there’s no guarantee that you will get work or even get paid for that work. Also, the amount of work you receive can be inconsistent, and there are no health and other standard benefits.
It’s up to you and your own level of motivation to get as much work done as you can in order to achieve the income you desire.
Knowing these disadvantages can help you formulate a strategy to get around these pitfalls and still enjoy a well-paying career as a freelancer.
Strategies to thrive as a freelancer
One of the best ways to get the most work as a freelancer is to create a personal brand. You can do this by having a consistent look and feel across all platforms that includes a logo, statement about what you offer, your services, examples and of course, contact details.
A portfolio of your work, including the projects that represent your best work, should be made available. Illustrate your diversity and range of talent so you can attract all types of clients.
Get your pricing down and determine if you want to use one of three models described in the infographic on freelancing -- cost plus pricing, market rate pricing and value driven pricing. You also want to decide how to structure your pricing -- will it be hourly, daily, weekly or will it be based on the project? All of these options work and you may be using a combination of options depending on your client.
Your next step is to focus on promotions and marketing. You have many options to showcase your talent here, including case studies, testimonials, events, social media, workshops or a trial offer. You can also seek out work on job boards and online freelancing marketplaces where you can proactively go after the amount of projects that meet your income level and available time. The focus should be on creating long-term clients so you don’t have to spend too many resources on regularly hunting down work.
Working as a freelancer
To develop these long-term professional relationships with clients, you need to make sure you agree on the terms of the relationship, you communicate regularly, you have a contract and you remain flexible in how you work and when you are available. That means, if a client calls you in total desperation in the middle of the night for a deadline -- will you help them or are they on their own? Once there is a respectful relationship and they’ve been a quality, consistent client -- I opt for the former. Of course, you don’t want the clients miss-planning to hit you every few days, but once in a while, it feels good to be the white knight. You may come across clients who have many red flags due to past experiences, so be patient, understand where they are coming from and help put their fears to rest.
Stay organized with a calendar so you know when projects are due. It helps to put in all your projects, especially as working on multiple projects with different clients can get confusing and unmanageable if you are not organized. I really to enter project dates and see an analog calendar. Your calendar invites may work perfect for you.
While most clients pay quickly or on time, you will run across a few that aren’t as willing to stick to your payment terms or respect that you’ve done the work and you need to be paid. Our infographic suggests being professional and courteous, but don’t work unless you have been paid and make sure there are clear terms about how and when you should be paid. Charge upfront on large projects and use online invoicing to bill frequently to maintain cash flow. I have been astounded at the number of freelancers who have told me of dishonest clients who haven’t paid them for work rendered. Luckily, new laws are being considered for protection for freelancers, from these types of clients. At present, if you do one project and are not paid by your client -- please -- do not do another project.
Last thoughts about freelancing
Freelancing is a great career full of so many opportunities. Make the most of those benefits by working hard, but make sure you take care of yourself, as well. Don’t feel guilty about not being open 24/7/365 because you need to take care of yourself. While the money can be jaw-dropping, don’t forget to put money away because you have to pay your own taxes and you may need an emergency fund for those times where you may have to take time off and won’t be paid for that time. Save your receipts and keep on top of your finances. Lastly, enjoy your work and remember how fortunate you are to be able to control your career and make it into just want you want!
For more, check out our infographic below.
(By Deanna Rampton)