Let's face it, freelancing is tough! We have to deal with sporadic payment schedules and amounts, no health insurance or retirement fund, weekends are for work and we have to constantly chase clients - but the pros outweigh the cons. Being your own boss is liberating and the ability to do what you are passionate about makes us very lucky. We get to create our own schedules and we can work from almost anywhere (as long as there is WiFi).
Here is 8 things I wish I knew when I first started out:
Present yourself as a brand
Simple things: Get a logo on a golf shirt, keep your on-site apparel standard and wear safety gear where required. This will allow you to charge more competitive rates and you will appear more professional to prospective clients.
This is extremely important. Don’t let clients push you around. You have a set price and you work for a set amount of hours and if someone agrees to your price there should be no debate about them paying you.
Arrogance is completely off-putting. Always be humble.
Keep on learning
Read books, watch TED talks, know your industry, know your craft trends and ask questions. Knowledge truly is power.
Don’t work for free (but there are exceptions)
If you are going to work at a discount, understand why: long-term gain, learning experience or entry into a new field. Doing a few projects for free will help you build up a reputation and get some practice. Other than that, charge accordingly for your service. Respect yourself and your skills / knowledge.
50% deposit upfront
Sometimes you will get a job that you have already started working on and a client will drop it. This sucks but at least you still have the deposit for the time you have already put in.
Do not deliver work until you have been paid
The client is always excited to get the final product but as soon as you hand it over, their need to pay you flies out the door. Pay first then you get the product.
It's okay to say no
If the brief is ridiculous, impossible, and dangerous, it's okay to say no, in fact, it's imperative.
All of the points above, seem like common sense but keep them in mind when a client tries to pressure you. Strive to deliver but not at the expense of the business. Nothing is as scary, nor exhilarating as starting ones own business. Be open, learn and have fun.