Pay-what-you-can sales have been popping up on the websites of freelancers and consultants I follow lately, almost as if there is a trend pushing this sort of promotion.
The sales follow a fairly set format: there’s a specific product, rather than an open-ended service. Depending on the freelancer in question, the product might be an hour-long consultation or it might be an ebook that helps a client with a related task. The important thing, though, is that the price isn’t set. The buyer sets the price and gets the product.
There are variations on this theme, of course. Some of the sales require a buyer to submit an offer that can then be accepted or rejected. Others upsell from that basic product so that clients always wind up with more purchases. But, at the end of the day, the buyer gets to tell the freelancer what he thinks the product is worth. Continue Reading
As a freelancer yourself, working with other freelancers is a great way to support the freelancing community. Plus, we freelancers better understand each other, the difficulties we face in dealing with clients, and balancing life with work.
While hiring freelancers can be a cost-effective way to boost your personal business, you will want to make sure to work collaboratively in the right way, especially since it is you and your client that will suffer if things go wrong.
Finding the right way to hire a freelancer or even finding a good subcontractor can prove a difficult task without understanding a few major points about working collaboratively with freelancers.
To ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible when you join forces with other freelancers the following is a complete guide to help you along this path. Follow the advice below, and with a bit of maneuvering you will gain new, amazing relationships with fellow freelancers. These collaborative working relationships can take your freelancing business to new heights. Continue Reading
I’m a little addicted to those reality television shows where a group of people with a particular skillset compete to prove who is the best. I’m particularly enthralled by any challenge where a creative professional has to deal with a client — they’re the most likely to end horribly. That’s because most creatives err on the side of giving their clients everything they want. But that rarely results in the best possible wedding cake or dress or alien makeup.
The response from judges on such episodes might as well be on a loop, no matter what profession is being showcased: “You’re the expert! You have to tell the client what she needs!” That’s the advice that always comes from creative professionals at the top of their game — the people who have turned a skill into a brand name.
To build a lucrative freelancing career, it isn’t enough to have the best skills out there, despite what these reality television shows may indicate. But you do absolutely have to be an expert: you need to be the person that advises your client so that they get the result they want, not the project they asked for. Continue Reading
I’ve been hard at work over the past months penning my upcoming book, When Talent Isn’t Enough: Business Basics for the Creatively Inclined. Writing is every bit as educational as being taught–I’ve learned so many strategies and heard so many lesson-holding stories. Armed with all of this information, my next few posts will relate to what I cover in the book due out in early 2013.
A lot of the creative professionals featured in the book spoke about the usual hardships: organizing and understanding accounting, generating leads and forging positive client relations.
When it came time to discuss networking, opinions were mixed. Some creatives say that networking is key because it drives referrals for their business. Others contend that it’s a waste of time and money and they use other methods to get the word out.
Funny, the exact same thing happened when we honed in on legal matters–some use lawyers and some go it on their own. Cold calling? Some love it and others loathe it. (Same went for taxes, but I don’t think anyone reported enjoying that process!) Continue Reading
If you’re renting an apartment or buying a new home, you’ll probably be asked to provide proof of your income. In some cases, the same goes when starting a new service or opening a line of credit. Before I had health insurance, I even had to provide proof of my income every time I needed to get a doctor to sign for a renewed prescription.
Freelancers can’t exactly present a pay stub, though, making what should be routine paperwork much harder. The fact that the situation isn’t all that common for most of the people you’ll be dealing with just complicates matters more. When you tell an apartment manager that you don’t receive a pay stub, it’s very possible that he or she won’t even know what sort of paperwork can substitute for it.
But you can prepare yourself for these sorts of situations, providing the necessary information. While a customer service rep or a manager may not be able to figure out what to do with you, just by having some sort of paperwork in hand, you can often resolve the issue and move past it. Continue Reading
There are a lot of numbers about your freelance business you can probably tell me right now. You can definitely tell me your hourly rate. You can also probably tell me a rate somewhat below that hourly rate that’s the lowest you can afford to work for and still pay your bills. But you may not be able to tell me much about the numbers that businesses run on. And make no mistake, freelancing is the same exact thing as running a business — knowing these numbers make it a lot easier to grow your freelance business.
In particular, you need to have a few numbers easily to hand so that you can make decisions about how hard you need to be working on bringing in new clients and whether there’s some fat you could trim. Having the right variables on hand means that you can recognize problems or opportunities as they appear. Continue Reading
If you are new to freelancing or your idea of bookkeeping is a pile of paper scraps that you keep jammed in the back of your desk, then Rockable Press’s latest book, Finance for Freelancers, will make for valuable reading.
The truth of the matter is, most of us could care less when it comes to the questions of finance in our freelance business. Isn’t bookkeeping just something to put off until that sick feeling in your stomach forces you to do a marathon session of filling, itemizing, balancing, and…I think I’m going to be sick.
I mean even look at the word “bookkeeping”. It’s just begging for a hyphen and there it is just sitting there looking stupid with its double k’s. It’s just so smug.
Well, there’s good news on the horizon! You no longer have to be a bookkeeping bigot like myself. Author Martha Retallick is here to save your bacon with a little Finance 101 in her book: Finance for Freelancers. This book is designed to help introduce new freelancers to the wide world of managing your business’ money. And for those dragging their heels, the book will deliver a swift kick in the freelance derrière.
Truth be told, a lot of creative freelancers don’t like to deal with the financial side of their businesses. This aversion to accounting can lead to bills stacking up, checking accounts going unbalanced, invoices not being sent, and clients not paying.
Martha goes step by step through the basics on setting up your business with a solid accounting foundation. From bookkeeping to picking out an accountant, the book will give you a great introduction to some of the things you should be thinking about, and the areas you’re going to want to address so that you don’t find yourself buried under a mountain of paperwork, or even worse, a mountain of debt. Continue Reading
I have worked with plenty of freelance consultants over the last couple decades, and it is fair to say that perhaps the majority of them started out working for someone else.
For example, most of the training consultants I work with (my target market) served as training staff in medium to larger companies before going out on their own. They drew on the skills they developed and the knowledge they acquired working for someone else to develop products and services for their own freelance businesses.
That often meant that their consulting work was more or less a reincarnation of their previous work. Oh, certainly, running their own business was very different in many ways, but they tended to work with the same kinds of people or businesses, to do the same kinds of work, as they did before going solo.
Often, after a few years in business, they became dissatisfied with their new lives. Consulting just wasn’t as much fun as they expected. The smartest of these figured out what was wrong, and made adjustments, and now they are reaping the full benefit of having the courage and ability to set up their own consulting businesses. (Others, unfortunately, either grind along and live an unsatisfying business life, or give up on running their own businesses.)
What was wrong, usually, was that they took the easy path, doing what they knew in environments they were familiar with, and then measured their success only by their income. But even if you are making a good income, it is hard to keep doing work that doesn’t make you feel good.
And it doesn’t make you feel good because:
- you are working with people you don’t like,
- performing tasks you don’t enjoy,
- or under conditions that make you grumpy.
Looking explicitly at these factors and their contribution to your satisfaction with the consulting life is the first step in going after the kinds of projects and clients that you will enjoy. Continue Reading
PDF (Portable Document Format) is a pretty standard means of passing information along. As freelancers, we have many opportunities to send and receive PDFs, but as a traditionally read-only medium, it can be a bit difficult to manage edits.
This tutorial will walk you through a few of the core features of PDFpen from Smile Software that many freelancers might find most useful, including how to make changes to the text of a PDF and how to add a signature.
Part 1: Working With Text
Since invoices are such a big part of freelancing, let’s begin by make some changes to a recent invoice that I drew up.
Editing and Correcting Text
The first thing I notice after creating my invoice is that some of the wording in my greeting at the bottom is not quite the way I want it. We traditionally think of PDFs as read-only files. But it is possible to make edits to a PDF, and PDFpen makes that easy to do. In order to change the greeting at the bottom, chose the text-select tool from the toolbar and highlight the text in the PDF as you would in any other document.
As a freelancer, one of the biggest constraints is that you have to do everything yourself. Partnering with someone else can help you get another set of hands on a project, if not directly improve your bottom line.
There are many different types of partnerships that a freelancer can build, depending on her own strengths and weaknesses. Before you start hunting for a partner, it’s worth considering what areas for improvement you see in your freelancing career — if there’s something that you know your clients would love if you offered or if there’s a particular opportunity that you need help taking on. Those considerations should be what you use to focus your search for a partner.
Unless there’s a specific reason to move faster, don’t push too fast to land a partner: do some due diligence and make sure you know exactly who you’re working with. You can build something that will be beneficial to both yourself and your partner for a long time if you move a little slower and do everything right. Continue Reading
There are plenty of online solutions in today’s project management and collaboration tools segment aiming to ease freelance and distant work. The search for the one that is most suitable to you can be no less exhausting than the pursuit of your significant other.
The majority of teamwork apps have a specific focus: Do.com only for task assignment, SugarCRM for sales management, Intuit for accounting. Some well-established project management market players like 37 Signals or Zoho have a whole bunch of tools, but each of their services is intended for separate deployment.
Nevertheless, in the dynamic online world with tons of information to process daily “all in one” solutions seem to be more and more tempting. When saving time and resources is a priority, either dictated by your client or freelance needs, you will definitely address apps where most of the tasks can be fulfilled centrally in one service or portal.
To help you make up your mind on what is the online project collaboration tool for your freelance business, this post will cover the most versatile and well-reputed services, while taking into account a series of important factors including:
- Intuitive Interface – speaking about “all in one” solutions, it’s of vital importance to grasp how everything works from the first minutes and without reading a heap of guides.
- Comprehensive feature-set – for a freelancer to get hold of the maximum functionality, a virtual office can provide, it should combine tools on task management, forum or instant messaging, file sharing, calendar, CRM and invoicing.
- Accessibility – cutting edge technologies have given way to cloud apps easily reached from any location in the world with only an internet connection needed.
- Data Synching and Integration – no matter how many features a service boasts, it’s always handy when it can be easily integrated with other useful or popular apps to provide more opportunities for working in one and the same workspace without additional installs or tab switching.
- Customization – any collaboration or project management service should be ready to serve the needs of a variety of professional spheres and the more customization options it can provide the better for users.
- Affordability – cost effectiveness is everything. Some apps stick to the freemium model, giving away a part of functionality for free, meanwhile the majority will allow you only a free trial, with the flexible pricing options offered according to the number of users and amount of storage space used.