It’s not uncommon to meet freelancers these days. They’re part of what they call the gig economy, where a person gets jobs on a per project basis instead of being employed full-time by a company. Freelancing isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking to explore this route, read on for some very helpful tips to get you started.
First, jobs will not really land on your lap like magic. It’s important to build your portfolio and have a rate card for your services so you have something to present to prospective clients. Make sure to research on industry standards to assure your rates are competitive. Check out free sites like Behance.net or JournoPortfolio.com for showcasing your work. For a fee, you can of course get more features on these websites. If you’ve got a budget to spare, investing on your own website can be helpful, too. Don’t forget to keep your LinkedIn profile updated, too.
One thing you need to know about freelancing is that you won’t have a steady paycheck like if you had a full-time job. But as freelancer Chinggay Labrador says, “Don’t panic. It can be intimidating for first-time freelancers to not have a steady paycheck to rely on. And if you give in to fear, you might not pitch a ton of assignments without considering who you’re pitching it to (are you talking to two competing sites or brands?), or how many assignments you’re saying yes to.”
Some freelancers may make the mistake of either booking too many jobs (that they can’t deliver) or not getting enough to sustain their livelihood. “This may have you in over your head—unable to maximize your free time because you’re doing too much or alienating possible clients because you’re spreading yourself too thin.” Chinggay advises, “Make intelligent moves, work on a game plan first before letting panic take over. Take a breath!”
That said, it’s a great way to explore what else you can do. Though you may box yourself in a certain industry or category, it’s always a good experience to expand your skill set. Elaine Natividad-Reyes, currently managing an e-commerce beauty site, says, “Don’t be afraid to take on jobs or projects that are out of your comfort zone. Sometimes, you have to fake it till you make it!” Don’t say no right away. Study the specifics of a job and see if it’s something you can possibly excel at. “So, if someone comes to you with a job that’s not exactly within your area of expertise—but you think you can pull it off—then go for it. Aside from being a great way to expand your skill set, it also opens you up to more opportunities and prospective clients!”
And like all jobs, make sure you lay down the terms and clarify anything that’s ambiguous regarding a project. Freelance editor and writer Mimi Tiu emphasizes the importance of preparing a contract before accepting any job. She tells us, “Protect yourself by preparing a contract stating all the deliverables from your end as well as the client’s end. Don’t forget to include other important details such as the number of revisions allowed and the terms of payment.” Are you getting paid before the project or x number of days after completion? Don’t be afraid to go into detail so that you don’t end up doing more work than you signed up for. “Most importantly, don’t do any work until the client signs it,” she adds.
Freelancing may not be for everyone, but if you’re a determined and efficient worker, there’s no doubt you’ll be successful.