Freelancing – how to do it right!

So, you’re a freelancer like me? Well done, or should I say “my condolences”?

It’s tough to be a freelancer.

Some people say that freelancers work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week. I personally believe that we love the freedom of being able to choose which job to accept, the ability to fire a client if we don’t like them and the flexibility of the work…but we still need some guidance in order to be good freelancers. So here’s my story.

I started working as a freelancer when I decided to quit my job as an account manager. To me, the tipping point was a client who was so rude and condescending, that instead of tolerating his behaviour because he was the best customer the business had, I chose my health. I chose me and I quit the job.

To be fair, when an account manager says that they quit a job because a client was hard, some people may say ”Well, that’s what you are paid to do, handling all types of personalities” , but it wasn’t just that. I’m an evening person, I work best when my children are tucked in their beds, I am extremely productive this way and can often finish a job in half the time it would take me in the morning. I also get paid by the hour and I earn more money this way. But there are some things you need to make sure you do if you want to be a freelancer.

Here are my rules:

Under promise and over deliver

This is really important when you’re freelancing. The opposite may be a bit dangerous as you risk  word of mouth not being in your favor. So assess what the client asks you to do, see what results you can give them and then slightly under promise. They will love it, and they will be a returning customer.

Always maintain a relationship

I’m stressing this as most businesses have  automated all that they can automate, but people are not machines. An automated e-mail is always noticeable, it is cold and sometimes it is better not to send an e-mail at all. It takes up way  too much of your time to find new clients instead of keeping the old ones, and you will keep your clients if you look at them as people, rather than a business.

Be pleasant

A simple smile can get you a long way

Always make sure that you are proud to stand behind your work

Whether it is cleaning houses or designing a website, always do your best. Ask yourself: “Is this something I would stand behind personally and say that this is my work?” If yes, than you’re done. If not – there is room for improvement.

Make sure you get paid

People, especially relatives, think that they’re entitled to your work for free. The golden rule for that is that you either don’t charge them, or you charge them as you would anyone else. No discounts. For everyone else, be sure to put things in paper, or get paid in advance.

Organise

When a client hires you, and you give them a quote assess how much time you will need to complete them and create a timeline of the required tasks.

Incorporate your work into your daily schedule

When I wake up, I always make a list of the things I need to do that day, prioritise them and create a timeline. I am mostly efficient in the evening as in the morning I like to relax. When I organise my tasks, I also take family time into consideration and some daily household duties.

If you’re married, don’t forget that the husband also knows how to dust 🙂

What are your rules?