In this guest post, senior content strategy manager at 99designs, Kelly Morr (pictured below), offers her tips for anyone contemplating the big, scary world of freelance…
Some 4.1 million Australians are now reported to be freelancers, and this number is growing by the day. The flexibility to work your own hours from anywhere in the world is enticing more and more of us to become our own employers.
At 99designs, we connect thousands of freelancers with businesses every day. Here are our top seven tips to help start-up freelancers get ahead of the game.
- Find your happy space
Everyone wants to feel comfortable in their workspace, so make yours a happy space for productivity. If you plan to work from home, set up a simple IKEA desk and chair in a home office, or an egg chair with some colourful cushions in a spare section of your living area, to help you feel calm and comfortable as you work. Do make sure you designate an area exclusively for work, so you actively keep your work and leisure spaces separate. (Tip: buy yourself a specific scented candle for your work space, and light it whilst you’re working. Smell is one of our strongest senses, and can help with conceptualising and association effects.)
If creating a space at home isn’t an option for you, try working in productive public spaces like coffee shops or libraries. If a cafe is more your scene, have a few go-to locals up your sleeve so you aren’t overstaying your welcome at any one place.
- Save, save and save some more
Finding work can be a challenge, and is often the most difficult part of the job for many freelancers. Work isn’t always guaranteed to be steady, so when it is, double-down, work hard and often, so you can make enough money to save for the rainy-day that may be ahead.
Budgeting and saving your money in a ‘rainy day’ account is a great strategy to prep yourself for times that you might find yourself light on work.
- More is more
As a freelancer, you should always be on the look-out for new clients. Business isn’t always steady for freelancers, so having a large pool of clients can help you maintain business flow.
Online marketplaces like 99designs and Airtasker great places to seek new work. Networking events are another good way to meet new clients and build new relationships, as are Facebook groups where you can spruik your skills.
The more your name is out there, the more people will see it. More is more!
- Schedule your time
Allocating time for work is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself on track. Nobody is there to crack the whip and tell you when to start, so you need to be responsible for taking charge.
Set yourself allocated work times, business hours and break times, and create deadlines for your projects. Try not to give into procrastination temptation, because when you procrastinate your work, you might just be delaying your next paycheck.
- Know your offering
Figuring out your niche early on is critical to your success as a freelancer. Fine-tune your offering to attract the right clients and projects for your business.
Succinctly describing your offering means your client will know exactly what they’re getting. You will be able to meet their expectations, and they are more likely to be satisfied with the results.
- Stand your ground
The business world can be rough, and at times you might find yourself in a tricky situation with a client.
If you’re feeling mistreated or misunderstood, don’t be afraid to stand your ground. More often than not, a client may just misunderstand the service you’re providing and needs a little coaxing. Sometimes though, a client might be unreasonable, intentionally taking advantage of your work. These are the types of clients you probably don’t want to be working for, so don’t be afraid to part ways if things turn south.
Writing contracts for each of your clients are a good way to outline the terms of your service, so all parties are clear from the get-go.
- Hire an accountant
This may not come across as an obvious necessity for a start-up freelancer, but you’ll definitely want one for your business. You can’t do everything yourself, so some help with the more complicated side of a business is often welcome.
Think of an accountant as an investment. They’ll be handling the numbers and helping you claim business expenses that you might not know about. A good accountant will pay for itself at tax time!
As cliche as it sounds, the one trait critical to freelance success is hard work. Hard work, determination and persistence will allow you drive these tips successfully and enjoy all the perks of a successful freelance career.