I found one of my long-term clients in my area through a freelancer I know. I chose my CPA based on advice from another freelancer who lives near by. Having a solid network of connections with other freelancers in your area can make a big difference in a freelance career — even simply getting together every few weeks and talking shop can make help you make the connections you need.
Starting out as a freelancer? Having a reference manual on your bookshelf will make the process much easier. There are great resources — both books and ebooks — that will provide you with all the information you need to start freelancing in one place. From what you need to get started through how you can continue to grow your business, these books will provide any freelancer with a wealth of information.
Sometimes a project can go wrong in a big way: a website can go down at the worst possible moment, a brochure can get printed with the wrong information, or you can otherwise end up with a very unhappy client. You can do everything you can to solve the problem, but at the end of the day, if your client isn’t happy, you can be facing some major trouble. Depending on the circumstances of the project and the problem, your client may be in a position to sue you or otherwise demand compensation for the problem – a financial burden that many freelancers just aren’t equipped for.
Remember when you graduated from school or first decided to become a freelancer? You likely didn’t have much work to show and had to scramble to fill your portfolio. If you now have a few years under your belt, you’ve probably started to build up quite a collection of finished pieces.
The importance of having a professional portfolio website has been discussed on FreelanceSwitch – it is essential for the modern freelancer. But how do you decide what to include in your portfolio? If you fill your site with only your favorite work it could be focused in the wrong direction and not attract business. If you only display giant commercial projects it may feel like a sterile presentation with no heart. Somehow you need to show that as a freelancer you are both capable in your skills and able to produce high quality, creative results.
Photo by racatumba.
While many of us go into business with nothing more than our names, there are others who prefer to use a company name. There are many good reasons for doing this, but it’s not for everyone. You need to know what sort of name will suit you best, and this article provides you with a checklist to see if you have good reason to ditch the given name in favor of something more impersonal.
1. Your own name is hard to pronounce.
Yes, it’s true that Barack Obama overcame this problem and was elected President of the United States, but take it from someone who also has an unusual name. It can create barriers that can present problems at the worst possible moment. Like when you’re trying to sell your services.
The last thing you want to do as a freelancer is get out of the loop. You want to stay up to date with your skills and the best way to run your business as a freelancer. And that’s why you’re here at FreelanceSwitch.
Reading is a great way to stay in touch, and that’s the purpose of most of the articles here. I often get great ideas as I read them, and the comments from readers help me feel part of a supportive community.
Podcasts are another way I stay in touch. I find opportunities every day when I can’t read, but I can listen – and podcasts help me to reclaim those times and make them fruitful. The time I spend driving, exercising and washing up are all good times to listen to podcasts.
Do you listen to podcasts? Why not try it? Listen to the experiences and tips of other freelancers, and from experts in your trade. Here is a list that should get you started. Let us know which ones you found helpful in the comments.
You know you want to tackle that new standard for CSS you’ve been hearing about. Or, you know that you should understand how overrides enhance Joomla! extensions and templates. You’ve heard the term “MVC” or maybe “SDK” but you have no clue what they mean. Maybe you want to learn a new style of writing so you can build that personal blog. But excuses pile up, for instance: you don’t have the resources, or your current work load doesn’t give you the time, or the best excuse — you lack the brain power. And really, if a client isn’t paying for it how can you legitimize the time?
Yet, to stay current and competitive in our cutthroat freelance environment, you must keep learning the “bleeding edge” of your chosen profession, be it design, web development, programming, or writing, or something else. The challenge is to continually keep learning while working. Otherwise, with the tools of our trades changing so rapidly we can quickly get outmoded. So, how can we at least stay on “speaking terms” with new techniques and technology?
The search engine ranking game is full of pirates and marauders; sort of like the high seas of the 18th century. In order to navigate through these treacherous waters (and protect the good name of links to and from your clients’ and your websites), it pays to understand your enemy.
This article provides a short overview of the downside of search engine optimization as well as offers tricks and tips of how to ensure that your websites legally reach the page rank they deserve so you can attract clients.
I took a vacation not too long ago, though it wasn’t much like a typical vacation — and not just because I packed my laptop. I worked (although not quite as much as I do most days) on a trip that was supposed to be more about relaxation than anything else. I know I’m not alone on this one. Many of my fellow freelancers can’t quite disconnect, a situation made worse by the mindset that we can work from anywhere.
There are a few benefits, of course. We don’t have to tell our clients we’re going on vacation, and risk them turning to another freelancer. We can make sure that we keep income coming in, making it easier to actually take a vacation. But there are also some drawbacks: How relaxing is a vacation where you’re still on call, after all?
I’ve got another trip coming up later this year and I’m set on making it a true vacation. With a little planning in advance, I think I can pull off actually leaving the laptop at home. My plan has several steps, which should let me take a real vacation.
Change is on my mind. This week has been my first week as a full-time web worker. I feel like I have been initiated into a club, and have a new sense of freedom. My home is my office, my work hours are flexible, and I can wear what I want. I like those changes!
I also find myself thinking about the changes I need to make for my new work situation to be as effective as possible. This week I am away from home, and I have been thinking about major and minor adjustments I will need to make in my work space and lifestyle. My home office has been quite effective on a part-time basis, but will it cut it when I will be there all day (or all night), when I need to concentrate when the kids get home from school, and when I am under pressure to get a task finished?
Here are five issues I need to deal with when I am working from home next week:
There are certain types of clients I just flat out won’t work with. For these categories of projects, it’s not a question of whether the client will be easy to work with or whether they’ll pay on time. Instead, it’s a question of what I feel comfortable working on — which projects seem ethical to me. If something feels wrong to me, I’m willing to walk away from the money.
Deciding which projects are ethical to take on, though, can be very subjective. What seems perfectly okay to one freelancer is a big problem for another. Most freelancers don’t have a list of projects they consider unethical, or anything like that. I used to fall into that category, but after an uncomfortable situation where I wound up working for a client who used some pretty unethical techniques (by my standards), I’ve come to believe that it’s very important for freelancers to have an idea of what they will and won’t work on going in.
There’s a telling scene in the TV show Scrubs where deranged Janitor shares his business cards—a ridiculous stew of ridiculous occupations he claims to do outside his real job.
Freelancers can relate. Despite all efforts and a scary attachment to color coding, your to-do list is eating your life. When the day’s actual make-money work is finished, your other 50 jobs await: internet marketer, bookkeeper, invoice-chaser, SEO, R&D, publicist, researcher…all-out superman?
It’s a frenetic, demanding lifestyle. Where our real work fills normal (normal-ish) working hours, running our businesses can become a panicked, haphazard afterthought at the end of a long day.