Ah, the joys of freelancing: working when you want to, wearing your comfy clothes, setting your own schedule, being your own boss. There are myriad advantages to being the master of your domain. Alas, there are drawbacks as well — and the biggest one is fluctuating income.
When you’re juggling multiple jobs, all is well financially, but when you’re in the midst of a dry spell with an uncertain end date, it can be quite stressful. Still, with a little planning and organization, you can better your chances of weathering the thin times. Here are some ways to minimize at least this one worry in your life. Continue Reading
It’s possibly the most baffling question that faces new freelancers: What in the heck am I supposed to charge for my work?
You don’t have a sense of market rates yet. Your prospect doesn’t want to tell you their budget. Figuring out what to charge for your freelance services is intimidating.
If you’ve been freelancing for content mills, or on bidding sites, or responding to Craigslist ads, you’ve probably seen loads of offers at rates that wouldn’t support a hamster. It’s confusing to know what fees are appropriate for what type of gig.
You don’t want to bid too low and essentially rip yourself off. But you don’t want to bid too high and lose the gig, either.
Maybe you have a dim sense as a new freelancer that you should charge a bit less than experienced pros in your field. But how much less?
The way to solve this pay-rate question is simple: research. There are tools and resources out there you can use to get a good idea of what freelancers in your line of work charge. Here are seven of the best types of resources for discovering what freelancers are getting paid:
As a freelancer, there are a lot of different ways in which you can specialize.
Focusing on a particular platform — a freelancer web designer, for instance, might work exclusively on WordPress-based sites — is one of the fastest ways to establish a specialty. It can be a fairly lucrative opportunity, as well.
Learn to demonstrate your platform skills, establish your expertise, and present clients with irresistible platform-based freelance packages. Continue Reading
Most of us know that we need to ask for deposits in order to start work, particularly with a new client: a deposit guarantees that even if something goes wrong, we won’t be completely without recompense for the work we do.
But more than a few of us put off making a deposit a standard part of working with a new client, unless we’ve already been stung. Part of the problem is that it’s not really clear how much to ask in terms of a deposit.
Just like with setting your prices as a freelancer, there’s no one true way to handling the deposit process. In fact, there are plenty of freelancers who may never take a deposit in their entire careers without a major problem — despite most of us agreeing that requiring deposits is a sensible practice. Continue Reading
The concept of developing a product that goes along with the services you offer makes sense for many freelancers: the right product can help you even out those mountains and valleys in your income, as well as bring in money from people who just aren’t a good fit as clients.
But offering products requires a big investment, especially in terms of time. It’s gotten a lot easier than even just a few years ago, but whether you’re thinking of writing an ebook or developing WordPress themes, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time building your product, as well as marketing it and providing customer service. Continue Reading
As a freelancer, in any industry, we run the risk of our hard work being stolen and used without getting compensated. It’s a risk of the business, but with just a little education and planning, you can protect your intellectual property so that you have a much better chance of avoiding intellectual property theft.
But what happens when your protected intellectual property (IP) is stolen? How can you fix the problem in a way that is efficient and ethical? This is likely a problem that every freelancer will encounter and should know how to decide what, if anything, should be done. Continue Reading
Freelancers interested in earning big should always be looking for opportunities to raise rates. Luckily, if you’re reading this in the fall, you’re at one of the easiest times of year to get a raise.
I’ll explain why in a minute.
But first, let’s talk a little economic reality about why you need to get aggressive about asking for a raise.
Freelancers need to continuously raise rates, because the cost of living isn’t stable. The price of oil and corn are both going up as I write this, for instance.
You need your rates to rise a bit just to keep up with inflation — and they need to go up more if you want to get ahead.
Fortunately, the approach of a new year sets the stage for pitching clients that you deserve higher rates.
Fortunately, the approach of a new year sets the stage for pitching clients that you deserve higher rates. If like me, you have a goal to earn more money from freelancing each year, rate hikes are key.
I know what you’re thinking: Asking for money makes you feel weird.
But standing up for what we’re worth is the only way freelancers end up earning fair wages. Companies won’t necessarily volunteer to pay you premium rates — but they might give them to you if you ask them the right way.
How can you get your clients to pay you more? Here is my list of effective ways to get a raise: Continue Reading
Transparency is the buzzword that everyone conducting business online seems to be focused on. We’re all supposed to be open and share even the smallest details about how we do business and when we screw up, mostly in hopes of building better business relationships.
But while I believe strongly that we should take responsibility for our work, whether or not we’re freelancing, freelancers may not need to go to the extremes of transparency. Continue Reading
There’s a lot to learn when you’re breaking into freelancing, but the most important skills any freelancer will learn revolve around one thing: clients.
Every successful freelancer will eventually need to master the ability to find good portfolio of clients, manage your relationship with them through the project, deliver in a way that makes them repeat clients, and (very importantly) get paid promptly.
In this Tuts+ Premium video course, Wes McDowell of Deep End Design will walk you through every step of client management. Ready to turn your clients into your biggest fans? Wes explains everything you need to know about working with clients.
You’ll need to become a Tuts+ Premium member to access the full course.
Free preview lessons:
One of the things that makes would-be freelancers nervous to quit their day jobs is the whole issue of paying taxes. When we’re employees, our company handles most of our tax responsibility for us, deducting required amounts so we never miss the money.
As freelancers, this responsibility falls squarely on our shoulders. But tax-phobia shouldn’t keep you from pursuing the freelance life.
There is some paperwork you’ll need to do, but it’s not overwhelming. You can do this. With a small amount of forethought and planning, you can reduce your tax burden and make sure you get all the tax breaks allowed for freelancers.
Just a note up front — my experience is with paying U.S. taxes, and it’s U.S. tax-code issues I’m referencing below. If you’re in another country, be sure to consult your local tax authorities. Continue Reading
The phrase “business plan” probably calls to mind a lengthy formal document full of analysis and fine details. At the same time, it suggests the structured thinking process that should lead to such a document.
Unfortunately, it is way too easy to put too much effort into creating the former, at the expense of the latter.
Frankly, too many consultants start with the document and let it drive the planning. They use commonly available formats and “fill in the blanks,” which is different than “answering key questions.”
The wide availability of model business plans leads consultants to waste a lot of effort, so let’s look at the “templates problem” before we get into the core elements of a good business plan. Continue Reading
Landing a few clients who keep you on retainer, paying you a set amount each month, can do a lot to even out a freelancer’s income.
While most clients will make sure to send you as much work as you’re willing to do for your retainer, you can occasionally get an even sweeter gig where a client winds up paying just to have you available, whether or not you’re needed. You can’t count on that sort of opportunity coming along, but it’s certainly a nice idea. The reality, though, is still a great opportunity for any freelancer.
Andy Stratton, a WordPress developer who works on retainer for several clients, says “I know that I have a baseline of pre-paid hours coming in a given month; I can better allocate time for my clients, plan my month(s) and they know I’m anticipating X amount of hours of work for them in a given month. They get a lower rate and we’re both pretty happy.” Continue Reading