The Journey of A Freelancer
My journey as a freelancer began back in 2007. At the time, I was the client, requiring marketing expertise with a small e-commerce site that I developed, after leaving school and whilst at college. Within a few months, I was working for the marketing expert that I had originally employed and within 6 months, I had my own list of clients; I was a freelancer on a small scale.
Freelancing has served me well. Having been at college and university for a total of 4 years, the need for cash was always intense. No job seemed to offer enough hours and even if it did, it certainly did not seem like it would pay my transport costs, let alone, leave me with enough for food, rent and everything else I’d need to indulge in, whilst enjoying student life!
This brings me to my first point; having a list!
#1 Start a list and keep it going
Believe it or not, I did not start “building” a list until around 12 months ago. If I had kept an email list of all my clients, I’d be more than overworked, that’s for sure!
Instead, I’ve just started work on a new website in order to get myself back on track, working at full capacity.
Initially, working for the marketing company mentioned early, I was earning around 30% above minimum wage, with no transport costs, in my own time and at my own pace; great!
The work became sporadic, so I searched for more. I soon realised I could be making twice as much on my own, so started posting on forums and applying through freelance job advertisement boards for projects. By doing this I obtained a few clients, some of which I still work with today.
This brings me to a point where I made two small errors.
#2 Keep rates high and payments upfront
Initially, I was happy to work first, be paid later! This soon came back to bite me as I got a few non-payers. It was not a huge sum of money, but when it equates to 3 days work; it’s a kick in the teeth at the very least. I take “staged” payments for larger projects or for regular clients, any projects that are less than one days work or are from a new client, I require payment upfront.
Another mistake I have made in the past is reducing rates to get work. At the time, it felt like a good idea, typical supply and demand price action and responding to what was going on around me. Once a freelancer reduces their rates (even as an offer), it is extremely hard to return back to the pricing structure that they once worked at.
Essentially, it is all part of the learning curve and even today I look back and realise things I could have done or shouldn’t have done.
For instance, I never did take much notice of my website. Time spent developing the site was time I could be writing and earning. Now I realise I can demand higher rates through my site and therefore, justify spending the time developing it. In fact, I seem to have a slight knack for guest blogging which:
- Pays extremely well
- Helps my site rocket up the rankings!
#3 Move with the times
Moving with the times is something that any freelancer, business owner and even employee, should do. To earn the most, to be the best, to be passionate and to understand the modern day world, moving with the times is essential. This is another place I faltered. I relied on a small group of work sources and over time, two would dry up, yet only one would be replaced.
Again, this is one of the reasons that I am focusing so much energy on my new website, simply to create a steady flow of work. Too much is certainly going to be better than not enough.
This short piece may just sound like it is highlighting the wrong doing I have done to myself. The reality is they are minor mistakes, if rectified earlier, would have seen me reap rewards sooner. The fact is, I might not be a millionaire, but I have experienced an extremely flexible life style, one that I enjoy. Some of these points will help new and existing freelancers understand some of the experience I have had so far…
The top 5 things I love about freelancing:
- There is work to be found, for those that want it
- Unbelievable flexibility regarding working hours
- The rates of pay can be extremely good, especially for someone that has passion/expertise in a specialist field
- Move 150 miles away from home and still keep your job (believe me!)
5 freelancing ‘Do’s’
- Do allocate time to build a website
- Do build an email list and regular contact previous clients
- Do make the most of the flexibility that freelancing offers
- Do ensure you remain focused and motivational
- Do think outside the box when it comes to marketing
5 freelancing ‘Don’ts’
- Don’t reduce prices to agree with current demand
- Don’t work without payment upfront (small orders & new client’s)
- Don’t waste referrals and leads
- Don’t employ too many marketing tactics
- Don’t think that the work you have this week, will be there next week
Check out our previous articles!
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- Strategies for Increasing Business Efficiency
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