It will be a learning process when starting out as a freelancer and mistakes will be made. The knowledge in this guide will help you succeed quickly and reduce stress.
At the forefront of your mind should always be your client.
You want them to return with more work in the future, so you spend less time searching for new clients.
For two years, my focus was building a freelance business while working full-time. Freelancing helped me clear my debt and save up enough money to feel comfortable quitting my job and employer for 24 years.
In this guide, we will go through the do’s and don’ts of Freelancing, focusing on the common mistakes new freelancers make.
Do not use freelancing platforms
The likes of Upwork, People Per Hour and Freelancer are good places to research what kind of work companies are looking for help on. They are not places you should build your freelance business around.
You have no control over your business if all of your clients are referred from a third-party platform you have no control over. Changes in algorithms can harm your business.
Do build your own client base
At the start, it is easier to acquire clients on freelancing platforms. You might want to use the sites mentioned to gain experience, but your long-term aim should be to build your own client base.
You want direct clients who contact you via your website or social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter.
Do create content to showcase your skills
When you are starting out, no one knows who you are. It is essential to build trust by creating content to showcase your skills. One of the biggest challenges new freelancers face is the need to have a website.
Untrue. Instead, to start, you should be spending time where your perfect client spends their time online. LinkedIn is so undervalued. Most people will create a profile, add their job history and leave it dormant.
Every day, create content on LinkedIn.
Add value, share advice, experiences. Use 1-3 hashtags to the niche/industry you are focusing on. Do not include links within the content because this affects the algorithm and how it is promoted. Instead, leave a CTA in the comments.
Do not cold call potential clients
Companies and entrepreneurs do not have time to talk to people on the telephone. The best way to communicate with your perfect client is to build relationships with them on social networks.
Or, you could send a short email with a link to content showcasing your skills. Tell them why they need you. Share what value you will bring to their business. You want to use a subject that will catch their attention.
Attend networking events – did I say how important networking is? It is critical when starting out as a freelancer. Over time people within your network will talk about you to potential clients, and word of mouth will be how you gain most clients.
Do not live invoice to invoice
The worst thing you can do is rely on an invoice to pay your bills and rent/mortgage. Save a percentage of your income for those days where invoices are slow at getting paid.
Saving 20-30% of each invoice you are paid will build up over time. During quiet times of the year, you can take time off work and not worry about money. Most freelancers stress is over money so, make life easier.
One of the downsides of freelancing is you do not receive sick pay or paid vacation leave, so save money each month.
Do save money for taxes, pension and healthcare
Following on from when work is quiet. Make sure to save money for your tax bill, your pension and healthcare if you live in a country where healthcare is not free. Getting control of your finances is essential.
One of the biggest mistakes new freelancers make is waiting for the tax bill to land on their doorstep rather than saving their money wisely.
When you are bringing in regular money, hire an accountant to take care of the financial side of your freelance business. The money you spend, a good accountant will save you 3 or 4 times in taxes.
Do ask for 50% of the payment upfront
As a new freelancer, you might not feel comfortable asking for 50% upfront, but sadly there are bad clients out there.
You are covering yourself financially, especially some companies can take 2-3 months to process invoices.
If the client will not process 50% upfront, the next best option is to set milestones with your client. When you reach a specific stage in the project, they will pay you a percentage of the final bill.
Do not work with everyone
Another problem when starting out as a freelancer is feeling you have to work with every client who contacts you. Where possible, invite them to a video call and ask them questions about the project and expectations.
Go with your gut instinct. After a 15-20 minute video call, if you have any doubts, reject the work. The benefit of freelancing is having the final decision on who you work for.
Do write up a contract with your client
To avoid any difficulties and cover yourself legally and financially, draw up a contract both parties sign. Make sure the project scope is included including, pricing, payment schedule and options.
Include the deadlines and timeline if it is a project over a long period. Who owns the copyright and ownership of the work? As it is a legal document, it can be used in court should you have any difficulties.
Do create a work routine
Finally, please take care of your health. It is so essential as a freelancer. If you are ill and cannot work, then you are not going to get paid. Take days off work and create a work routine that fits within your lifestyle. Think about when you are most productive.
Maybe you work better in the morning or evening. Also, think about time zones because communication is critical with your clients.
Ask any remote work questions
These do’s and don’ts are often the common mistakes new freelancers make. Hopefully, this will give you something to think about. Do not forget to ask any remote work questions, and we will happily help you.