Dreaming of leaving the corporate world behind to become a freelancer? You’re not alone! By the year 2028, freelancers will make up over half of the total workforce in the United States. While many who choose the freelance life will be successful — some will lose their shirts. How about you? Will you be successful?
- Network and keep your finger on the pulse of your industry. Speaking with people in your industry and watching out for trends/job opportunities are the best ways to expand your knowledge and get new clients.
- Create a stellar portfolio and update it regularly with pieces that represent the type of work you would like to do. If you don’t have any examples from your work experience, create them from scratch using fictional information. Whatever you do, never underestimate the importance of your portfolio.
- Get organized and flex your self-discipline muscles. Without anyone to monitor you or track your work, you may find yourself procrastinating. Don’t do it! Establish an organized schedule and follow it, even on days you don’t feel like it. Consistency is key!
- Land new clients. It may be tempting to stop looking for work once you have a project. However, you should have another project in the works before your current one ends. Looking and booking ahead is what keeps projects and cash rolling in steadily.
- Demand a contract. Never begin work without a signed contract. It protects you and your client. If you don’t have a contract template, you can find some basic, simple ones online.
- Get paid up front. Do not begin working with a new client unless they give you a down payment. There are many people online scheming for ways to get free work. Demanding a down payment is a great way to weed out the no-pay clients.
- Fire some clients! If you don’t like the way a client is treating you, or if they’re demanding more than what they’re paying for, fire them. You’re the boss. This is your business, and you don’t have to put up with nonsense.
- Learn to say no. You will be much happier if you learn to turn down projects that don’t interest you or don’t pay well enough for the aggravation involved.
- Communicate. Keep the lines of communication open with your clients. Answer emails promptly and professionally. This doesn’t mean that you have to be at your clients’ beck and call. Just don’t leave them wondering what’s going on.
- Meet deadlines. You don’t have to be the best in your field to be successful, but you must be reliable.
- Be competitive. Know that there will always be someone out there who will do the job cheaper than you will. Don’t let that knowledge dictate what you charge. Charge your clients a rate that makes sense to you, and don’t go below that rate. Each year or so, give yourself a raise.
- Keep learning. Attend workshops to learn new technology and skills. You can also use these opportunities to network.
- Stay on top of it. Pay attention to the financial aspects of your business. As a freelancer, you will need to track your income and pay quarterly taxes. If you don’t want an expensive surprise, be sure to set aside enough money from each payment to cover taxes.
- Hire a tax professional. The right tax pro can help save you loads of money at tax time and keep you from getting into trouble.
- Don’t burn yourself out. Have a set time to stop work everyday and stick to it. Turn off the alerts on your phone; take a break from work. Also, be sure to schedule personal days and vacation time.
It doesn’t take insane skill or luck to be a successful freelancer. But it does take dedication, consistency and a few great habits. If you adopt the habits listed above, you’ll be well on your way to success as a freelancer.