As a freelancer, it’s sometimes easy to do a deal on a virtual handshake and feel confident that you know exactly what your client wants. Usually, this is because they told you exactly what they “think” they want – but that’s a post for another day. For the most part, doing business this way is just fine.
CYA (Cover Your, er, Butt) is a common term in business, and freelancing shouldn’t be any different. Misunderstandings about the work expectations can be costly in either your time or your money, or both. Many people think contracts and NDA (Non Disclosure Agreements) are only there to protect the client, but if you set them up properly, they can cover your butt when you need it most.
What kind of legal agreements should freelancers consider?
- Confidentiality Clause – Contract stating that no confidential information will be shared about you or your clients business.
- Statement of Work – What the project consists of. A very specific document to outline exactly what the client is paying you for.
- Terms of Payment – information that should be on each invoice as to how and when you should be paid. And from a previous post, here are eight things that you should include in your Terms of Service agreement.
- Change Order Agreement – a document that covers the specifics of a change outside of the original scope.
It’s not fun to formalize everything, but it’s a lot less fun to not get paid for the work you’ve done, or lose a client over a misunderstanding.
If you sign up with elance.com, you are allowed to use these sample contracts if they fit your needs.
There are some freelancers who have already learned the hard way the value of some of these contracts, and I’d love to know any tips or tricks you use to ensure you cover your butt while communicating your needs to your clients. Continue Reading
When I was a practicing corporate lawyer and dreamed of getting into freelance writing, I didn’t think that the two worlds had much in common. Sure, I knew that both jobs required a good deal of reading, researching and writing. But apart from that fundamental skill set, I imagined that with the ditching of my high heels, dark suits, and litigation bag, I would be leaving behind many of professional rules and practices that shaped my life.
Wrong. After I got over the I’ll-write-all-day-in-my-PJs fantasy, and realized that a successful freelance career involves much more than writing, I saw that my legal experience taught me extremely valuable lessons about running a freelance business (not to mention that it financed my start-up). Here are 5 key lessons that I learned: Continue Reading
I think I experienced a new first for me in my life of freelancing. I responded to a tweet looking for a copywriter to do some basic web copy.
I responded, and chatted with the client for a little bit, discussing his needs and my offerings. Things were moving in the right direction. He seemed to be happy with the price I quoted, and I felt like I had a decent handle on what his expectations were.
Towards the end of the discussion, the conversation that had started out fairly professional had become almost casual. He asked me a question about a marketing concept, and I shared my thoughts about it. I understood the concept, but I told him it was tired and probably wasn’t a good fit for his product. And then the call got very quiet. He was still very polite, and said he would be in touch with me to get the project started, but I haven’t heard from him in a week now.
I’m pretty sure I successfully managed to talk my way out of a new project. Yay. But at least I learned when to stop talking. Continue Reading
Technology is great…but I sure do like pen and paper – as I mentioned to one of our readers who asked me what I use to keep track of things. For one thing, I remember things better when I write them down by hand; it’s as if my hand keeps memories of each of its motions and my mind is better able to recall these motions later as the words sink deeper in my brain.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to making your website easily accessible to search engines, and helping them understand and read the content so that they can rank it high up in their index.
SEO is a huge topic and I won’t go deep into it. This article is primarily targeted to people who own and operate a WordPress blog. Some of the tips mentioned are of course general SEO methods used on all kinds of sites. Other tips and tools focus on WordPress, which has become the preferred blogging tool in the past few years. Continue Reading
There’s a very exciting online event happening in a few weeks. It’s the first-ever International Freelancers Day, to be held on September 24 and 25.
This two-day virtual event is the biggest-ever FREE online-video conference exclusively for solo professionals. It’s part of a global initiative to celebrate independent workers everywhere and the tremendous impact they have on the economy.
The conference will feature an all-star cast of 25 high-profile speakers, including bestselling authors and industry thought leaders such as David Meerman Scott, Brian Clark, Anne Handley, Mari Smith, Liz Strauss, Scott Stratten, Jonathan Fields, Dan Schawbel and many others! Continue Reading
Most of us who jump the corporate ship to be our own boss are looking for some kind of meaningful work and balance in our lives. We want to share our lives with our families, find our passions, and do what we love doing without all of the endless meetings, bureaucratic hoop jumping, and coworkers who grate every last nerve. It all sounds so perfect while plan our sojourn into solo bliss while we are walking along the endless line of cubicles.
What happens often though is not unlike Liz Glibert’s experience in Eat, Pray, Love, we may be doing what we love, but we certainly aren’t experiencing the passion that we crave and we don’t have the balance in our lives that we were searching for. Most of us can’t chuck it all and travel for a year exploring our inner guru, but we can take some steps to finding the peace of mind we are searching for in our work and personal lives. Continue Reading
A few posts back, I mentioned a handful of ideas that you can use to ensure you are able to line up work for the future. I didn’t mention anything about the ways that you can find new business offline, in your local community.
Here are a few ways to find new customers:
- Pick an area – Choose an area of your town that you want to work within. It might be a suburb, a neighbourhood, or a district, but take a look at the businesses in that area and choose your next customer. Start with the businesses that you frequent or have more knowledge about. Not only can you benefit from word of mouth within this community, but you can visit all of your clients with minimal driving. Become the big fish in the little pool for now; look at expanding later.
- Provide value – Once you’ve selected a new business, find a way to demonstrate how your services will help them. You are a business owner a well, so don’t be intimidated by someone else. If you’re a writer, show how you can provide articles or blog posts that can increase their SEO results. If you’re a web designer, review their webpage with them, and show them how you can make it better. If you’re a biz consultant, show them how to save money, and how to spend wisely. Communicate how what you do will increase their bottom line without increasing the time they need to spend working at it. Ideally, show them how you can save them time and money.
- Be persistent – Note – this doesn’t mean “be irritating.” I can guarantee you will not get the new business on your first visit, but if you do – fantastic! This doesn’t mean the business owner doesn’t like what you are doing, or doesn’t think it’s important. It usually means they are busy. And you want to have business owners who are busy. Show that you are interested in their business by watching for events that might be useful for them. Do you have another client that might benefit from meeting this new prospect? If your prospect sees that you are actively looking for new ways to promote your existing or previous clients, chances are they are going to think about your business in a positive light. Keep in touch with this prospect until they become a client, or until they tell you to go away. Be persistent, not pushy.
There are many ways for your to find new business wherever you are. Pretty much any business is going to be on the lookout for good talent, and when you show them that their business is your priority, you’ll be that much further ahead of the folks that are only thinking of their own business.
To paraphrase Dennis Miller – Nothing is more interesting than MY business, and nothing is less interesting than YOUR business. Start talking about their business, and you’ll probably end up talking about your business.
You began with a glorious hallucination of what social media was going to do for your business, social life, and even writing ability. You tweeted, facebooked, and smothered Linked-in contacts with glowing recommendations. You commented on all the top blogs in your niche and dutifully updated your own blog on-schedule. You may have even dropped a few hundred dollars to listen to others tell you how to tweet, facebook, and smother.
Then you woke up. You may have read about a freelance writer moving to a tropical island, seen Dell Outlet’s sales report, or heard a podcast from some kids paying for college by selling iPhone apps. No matter the trigger, it suddenly hits you that you seem to be the only one not making big money from this social media “thing.” All the happy conversations, serendipitous connections, and lessons learned seem tarnished and heavy in your hand. You’re exhausted and have so little to show for all your labor! Continue Reading
During our recent review of The Money Book, we asked for your very best money-saving tips. The huge number of comments and savvy advice we received shows that our readership definitely knows a thing or two about saving pennies!
After careful consideration, Joseph and Denise, the authors of The Money Book, helped us pick the top money-saving tips from our readers. Each winner will receive a copy of The Money Book, directly from the authors.
Check out the winning money tips after the jump! Continue Reading
Now if you really want to blow your client away with an awesome design, you have to find a font that works. I mean sure, you could always just play it safe and use a font like Arial or Helvetica, but where’s the creativity in that? There are literally thousands upon thousands of fonts and typefaces out there just waiting for you to download. You just have to find them!
Use these tools and resources below to help you find the perfect font for your next project. Get ready to enter the world of beautiful typography! Continue Reading
Over the weekend I was taking a quick look at my expenses. Being a freelancer has made me hyperaware of where money is coming in, and where it’s going out.
On my Mastercard statement, I found that I am paying for two different hosting plans, for two different websites. Since I don’t own the domain to one of them anymore, it was an unnecessary expense. Sure, it was only $5 per month, but that’s $60 a year that could go towards my most important expense–me! Continue Reading