17 Vital Tips and Tricks for New Freelancers

Mon, Aug 10, 2009

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17 Vital Tips and Tricks for New Freelancers

It’s pretty tough for new freelancers, especially in a slow economy. They don’t have that foundation of client relationships they’ve built up that they can rely on for work, and need to do a lot of promotion and marketing work on their business in the beginning. This is why we’ve decided to publish ’17 Tips for New Freelancers’.

  1. Have a portfolio.
    Clients may need to see a sample of your work before they hire you and you can choose your best work to upload and show on your portfolio.
  2. Talk about your services in your portfolio.
    This may make the client more interested. Here you have the opportunity of convincing the client to chose you above everyone else.

    Have contact details on your portfolio – obvious, but one can forget. I have seen a portfolio in which you can’t contact the freelancer! Phail!

  3. Turn schizophrenic!
    What I mean here is if you are finding it difficult to find work and your portfolio is empty, imagine a project and do some work for it in order for you to fill up your portfolio.
    Free work can also help an empty portfolio and I would recommend you do this for non-profit organisations.
  4. Develop your personal brand.
    This will help define you and help you stand out. Make your personal brand visually memorable, and one that portrays a positive message about your business.
  5. Use Job Boards
    Job boards always have freelance related jobs posted that need doing, mind you though, they are becoming extremely more competitive. A few to check out would be Krop, 37signals Job Board, and Freelance Switch Job Board.
  6. Have a terms and conditions.
    You may get into a legal pickle with a non-paying client. You could possibly upset a client without one. When writing T&C, use a solicitor as they will be able to cover all the relevant loop-holes.
    Try to include full details pertaining to the payment plan including the issue of deposits etc. This will help when a dispute arises. Another advantage of  a T&C section on your website, or section on your contract is that the client will feel less inclined to ask for a discount or reduction of  the deposit if it is outlined in the T&C.
  7. Outline other potential disputes.
    Ownership, responsibilities, rights and copyright should all be made clear to the client and shown in the T&C. One example of such disputes is re-billing.
  8. Re-billing.
    Make this clear to the client and explain why this is necessary. Clients will become offended if the initial quote changes. One potential solution is to put the client in touch with the supplier. This will show the client that it is a necessary and honest step.
  9. Pricing.
    Work out what you want to make and divide by the relevant hours. This will give you your hourly rate. Have a minimum and maximum in mind when talking to your client.
    You may be under or overcharging so take a look at other freelancers and what they charge.
  10. Invoice.
    Use the relevant tax deductions or legal information. Be sure to outline what is due and how to pay it clearly giving a ‘pay by’ date. Have this at a sensible time. If the client does not pay, send a reminder.
  11. Late payments.
    You may reach a common ground with the client. If not, get in touch with a solicitor and ask them what the law of your country allows you to do.
  12. Have a business card.
    It should have your logo and contact details on it, along with the same feel as your website. Go to local business and chamber of commerce events and hand out your business cards.
  13. Write.
    This can be in the form of ebooks, guest blogging, contributing to relevant forums or even publishing something in the press.
  14. Socially network.
    Use twitter and all the other social sites like LinkedIn.
  15. Work place.
    Your office should be a comfortable place where you can easily work. Make sure it is tidy, inspiring, organised and colourful.
  16. Do not be afraid to step out of what is “normal”.
    By trying new things you will learn and may succeed. Do not be afraid.
  17. Be honest.
    If you master this, you will succeed. It may seem like a silly point, but as people if we pick up honesty from another person, we reward it naturally.

If you feel I’ve missed out on some detail, please let us know in the comments section below.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 54 posts on Freelance Apple.

Shoaib Hussain is an web entrepreneur who was formerly a freelancer. He is the main writer and owner on FreelanceSchool.com and aims to enlighten young freelancers with his vast experience and deep knowledge. Shoaib Hussain also spends his time giving advice to budding freelancers and helping web businesses.

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10 Responses to “17 Vital Tips and Tricks for New Freelancers”

  1. Daquan Wright Says:

    1) Having a professional e-mail address certainly helps with professionalism. Just thought I’d bring that up, even though it should be obvious.

    These are some very bright tips, I like them very much. The job boards are probably the only thing I wouldn’t advise a newcomer to go to. They have a lot of competition and with people “selecting” designers or developers, they are likely to want to see samples of past work before hiring anyone. At least I didn’t even want to go through that. It might be better to simply build your brand, create a card and advertise your business. Doing free work for organizations is nice, because you are gaining real world experience and in the long run it will be an asset.

    Speaking of brand, that’s something I need to spend a lot of time on. From my website’s favicon to my logo, I suppose it’ll be something expressive but still very minimal in design. Even adding something like a recognizable favicon to a website can be a nice touch.

  2. Ferdinand Urban Says:

    @Daquan
    Can you explain me what do you mean “professional e-mail address”? Is it about domain name, or what?
    Thanks.

  3. RJ McCollam Says:

    This is great stuff! I am just starting out really focusing on being a freelancer and this past weekend of articles has been really helpful. I like the terms and conditions suggestion. I think having a solid contract not only saves your butt in case you need it, but makes you look more professional and is appreciated by the client. I bet there are a lot of resources for drafting one up yourself out there. Anyone know any?

  4. The Golem Says:

    You are right. Personally I use a solicitor if it’s big or serious. I have written them myself in the past, you just need to right down using your common sense and in clear English, and then get a solicitor to check it over. Even then I have a client right now who refuses to pay because “he doesn’t have the money” despite driving a Bentley! Grr. Remember nothing is watertight, even the best contract, and you may need to take it to a small claims court.

  5. RJ McCollam Says:

    @The Golem that’s true nothing is iron clad. Maybe if your current client doesn’t pay you could get his Bentley as payment…

  6. The Golem Says:

    He has it in the company name, which is about to wrap up. His multi million pound mansion is in his wife’s name…so I have some plans…unless he has the morality to pay!

  7. Daquan Wright Says:

    @Ferdinand, what I mean isn’t really about the domain, more about the front part of an e-mail address. The only way the address might look silly on the domain side is if your site has a silly domain name, but I’d put more emphasis on the front page.

    I’ll give you an example. Originally I had “coolelemental@yahoo.com” After being advised from my uncle as he was helping me look for work and whatnot, I just used an e-mail account from my host. My professional e-mail is now “daquanwright@visual-blade.com”

    I certainly think daquanwright@visual-blade.com is superior to coolelemental@yahoo.com in terms of being professional. Besides that, having your name in your e-mail helps people to address you properly, as opposed to something like blueshocker97@whatever.com.

    You could also look at any professional portfolio or blog and get an idea of what a decent e-mail address should look like.

  8. mcdonalds Says:

    Thank you much for this wonderful entry.

  9. farbige kontaktlinsen Says:

    After reading this usefull article how to use twitter. I even see some sens in twittering. Thx a lot.


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