Pretty much every designer knows what freelancing is and may have contemplated it. Before I considered freelancing I spent countless hours reading up on the pros and cons to see whether it really is worth it compared to a steady 8-5 job. For the many of you out there that also freelance know it’s no easy task. Trying to find clients, getting clients to agree to the rates and chasing down clients to pay is something no one likes to deal with. I think with proper thought and consideration it can be a great career choice.
However don’t just jump into it, it should be a gradual lifestyle change. Start off when ever you have free time then maybe try it part-time and eventually get into it. Well I’m no expert so I hit the interweb and found some great tips and advice for freelancers and those considering it, Enjoy
Working from home is great, but it also makes it more difficult to separate your working time and space from your personal time and space. In fact, most full-time freelancers work longer hours than they would if they were an employee somewhere. Be sure that you are prepared for the difficulties that can. arise with finding an adequate work/life balance.
One of the biggest reasons to choose to be an employee over freelancing is the lack of benefits for freelancers. If you have a spouse that works, you will probably be able to have health insurance through their employer. Otherwise, this can be a huge expense. Other benefits like paid time off and leave are non-existent for freelancers
There is a big comfort for most people in knowing that they will be getting a paycheck every month and knowing exactly how much it will be. Most freelancers have very little consistency in terms of income . Some months will be good and other months won’t be so good. If you have trouble dealing with inconsistencies in your income, be sure that you have given this sufficient thought before jumping into freelancing full-time.
Working in an office as an employee will give you the opportunity to interact with co-workers, as well as customers/clients. Even if you are not the type of person that cherishes your daily interaction with others, working from home as a freelancer will take some adjustment.
Set Your Working Hours
As mentioned before, separating work from the rest of your life becomes a challenge when you are freelancing and working from home. Because of this, you may find that you are working considerably more hours than you had intended, and you may struggle to break away from your work for some personal time. It helps to set a schedule that will let you know when you should be working and when it is ok to relax. You can either have a set schedule that you work every week or you can have more flexibility and set your schedule each week or each day. Whatever the case may be, it’s a good practice to start every workday knowing how long you plan to work and when you will be wrapping it up for the day.
Set Up an Effective Portfolio Site
One of the biggest assets for a freelance designer is the online portfolio. For many successful freelancers, their portfolio site is responsible for generating most of the leads that convert into clients . A quality portfolio site that draws a lot of interest and links can help a new freelancer to get established pretty quickly, so be sure to give plenty of time and attention to your portfolio site.
Find a To-Do List System that Works for You
One of the challenges you will face as a freelancer is that you will have to manage yourself and decide how to spend your time. You will most likely have some type of deadlines with most of your projects, so keeping track of them and setting up some milestones that you need to achieve in order to meet those deadlines will keep your clients happy and keep yourself from facing unnecessary stress.
Its a big help to have a list of things that you need to get done each week and each day. That way whenever you finish working on something you don’t have to waste time trying to figure out what to work on next, and you can get more efficiency out of my time.
If you prefer, you can simply keep a list on paper and cross things off as you get them done, or you can use an online to-do list.
Have an Established System for Tracking Time and Invoicing Clients
Dealing with the business aspects of freelancing is dreaded work for most freelancers. As a result, keeping things as streamlined as possible will help you to stay organized, on top of things, and avoid mistakes. There are plenty of great resources for helping with these aspects, some are paid and some are free. Some popular options include Fanurio , FreshBooks , and Zoho.
Consider Starting a Blog
There are a number of different ways to market your services as a freelancer and one of them is to start a blog , preferably on your portfolio site. Designers generally don’t use their blogs to directly promote their services, but it is an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise, to build some name recognition, and to gain exposure for your portfolio.
Blogging is not for everyone, but most freelance designers can greatly benefit from it. Starting a blog on your portfolio site doesn’t mean that you’ll have to write blog posts everyday, but it will involve some work. However, if you enjoy writing and getting to interact with other designers, blogging can be an excellent tool for networking
Have Some Go-To Sources for Finding Work
Most likely, your clients will come from a variety of different sources. Some will probably hear about you through word-of-mouth. Others will come across your portfolio site and contact you. But sometimes you may be looking for work and not getting much interest from some of these types of sources. In these cases it is helpful to have some places you can go to look for work when you need to. Online sources like the DesignM.ag job board and the Freelance Switch job board can be great ways to quickly look for opportunities.
Focus on Gaining Experience and Learning More Than Making Money
If you plan to make a career as a designer, whether it be as a freelancer or if you want to be an employee somewhere, it is more important to work on developing your skillsthan it is to make as much money as you can. Of course, we all have expenses and bills that need to be paid, but maximizing your income may force you to pass up valuable opportunities to improve on your abilities or gain valuable experience. Planning your schedule to allow time for learning and growth is a good practice if you can afford to do so.
Build a strong client relationship
The best way to build a strong client relationship is to be in almost constant communication with them.
Update them on what you’re doing and howthings are going. Get them to feel part of the project. This also ensures that you both have a thorough understanding of the work being done.
And, that way when it comes time to invoicing them, there won’t be any surprises.
Letters and legal
Going to small claims court is always an option when things are going really bad, but it’s likely not worth your time and expense to collect on small amounts. It’s best to try as hard as you can with formal letters. If this fails, consult a lawyer to firstget advice, and then have them send out a letter on your behalf.
The letter should state that you have exhausted all other avenues and that if youdo not receive payment within a set amount of time, you will have no other recourse but to take the matter to court. This is often enough to secure your payment, and is a much more cost effective method than taking the client to court.
But let’s hope you’ve developed a strong client relationship through constant communication and by offering a great service, so that you never get to this point.
These strategies will help you get paid faster, spend less time chasing customers and give you more resources to continually grow your freelance design business.
I hope that helped a few of you but if you’re like me and feel that you can never know enough about anything then check out these 60 unmissable articles to help you become a better freelancer.
So whether you’re an experienced freelancer with a list of clients as long as your arm or a recently graduated designer setting out in the big wide world, I’m sure you’ll find something to interest you in this list compiled by Computer Arts.