Self-employment is an increasingly popular way to achieve your dream lifestyle without a traditional day job, and freelancing is often the first step into self-employment. Here are some practical tips to help you get started in the freelancing world.
What Is Freelancing?
Freelancers use their skills and expertise to provide a product or service directly to a business. Writers, photographers, web designers, app developers, and a long list of other professionals commonly work as freelancers. As a freelancer, you find clients, negotiate a per-hour or per-project rate, and get started.
Qualities of a Good Freelance Job
Knowing the difference between a profitable opportunity and a waste of time is very important for your success. Suitable freelance positions have all or most of the following qualities:
- Reliable income and prompt payment: Good freelance jobs provide you with reliable work for reliable pay. The best clients offer a short turnaround between when the work is complete and when they pay you.
- Consistent, regular work: Consistency allows you to settle into a routine with each customer and provide the best work. It’s also a financial load off your shoulders.
- A well-defined contract: Job contracts spell out every aspect of your job. They detail the specific nature of the work you’re expected to perform, the deadlines for each phase of the job, and the number of revisions the client is entitled to after the work is complete.
How Do I Find Freelancing Opportunities?
Your most important job is to find (and keep) clients. To accomplish this, you have to market yourself and your skills. Five ways to do this are the following:
- LinkedIn: This is the best way to show off your digital resume. After filling out the standard fields, find tips on building a profile that will get you noticed even more.
- Portfolio: A portfolio is a must-have if you are in fields such as copywriting, graphic design, videography, or any other creative art.
- Personal site/social media: Here is where you can have fun and show off your skills and expertise to potential customers.
- Get connected: Platforms like Upwork connects freelancers with businesses and individuals across multiple industries.
- Local recruiting agencies: Recruiting agencies are always searching for freelance and on-demand labor to fill gaps.
Ways to Stand Out
One of the easiest and most overlooked ways to distance yourself from the competition is to write high-quality proposals. Research your potential client’s business along with their requested task, and wow them with an engaging and detailed proposal.
Cold email and telephone outreach is still highly relevant in the modern economy. If your pitches are confident, professional, and targeted, there is no reason to shy away from cold outreach. Remember, freelancers are often there to perform tasks that traditional companies are either unable or ill-equipped to handle flexibly. Let your potential clients see your work product and that you can perform excellent work for their exact needs.
How Much Do I Charge for My Freelance Work?
This is a big question for a lot of new freelancers. If you bid too low, you may accept jobs that pay less than you would’ve gotten elsewhere. Charge too much and you may find opportunities dry up pretty quickly.
Your job is to determine:
- What other freelancers in my field charge?
- How much money do I need to cover my expenses?
Answer those questions, set a rate, and use the natural feedback of the market to determine if you can charge more or cut your rates.
Negotiating With Clients
Once you find a potential client, you need to negotiate your fee. First, ask your potential client about the scope of the work, the amount of time you have to complete the work, and the deliverables needed along the way. Be sure you understand exactly what the client wants from you and when. This information is crucial in setting your fee.
Now you can propose an hourly rate or a per-project fee. Be sure to consider your overhead costs, such as travel, equipment, materials, software, or other items you may need to get started. Set a fee you can live with for the next year or two. Propose your hourly rate or your per-project fee in writing, and be open to negotiation. When you have agreed on an hourly rate or per-project fee, put everything into a contract and make sure the client signs it. Include a description of the project, the due dates of each deliverable, the payment terms you’ve agreed upon, and anything else you believe is important.
Managing Your Newly Earned Finances
As a freelancer, you’re considered a self-employed individual in the eyes of the government. This means you’ll need to separate your business finances from your personal finances for tax purposes. As a freelancer, you must track your income, monitor your expenses, keep up with invoicing, manage your taxes, and much more. But never fear. There are a variety of tools to help:
- QuickBooks Self-Employed: It’s important to know exactly how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out of your freelancing business in order to be successful. QuickBooks Self-Employed helps you keep track of your finances, which is especially important at tax time. Taxes are different for self-employed freelancers compared to employed individuals. QuickBooks Self-Employed allows you to track your income and expenses. Plus, you’ll be ready at the end of the year when you file taxes.
- HoursTracker: If you’ve taken on an hours-based freelance project, you need to accurately track your hours. HoursTracker is a handy app that lets you clock in and out of jobs and calculates your earnings once you assign a pay rate to each.
- PayPal: Getting paid is the best part of being a freelancer. If your clients are open to paying you online, PayPal is an easy way to accept payments. Be sure to set up a PayPal account for your freelancing business that is separate from your personal PayPal account. You can add your PayPal details to your invoices to get paid quickly online.
Many freelancers don’t need much more than a computer and an internet connection to thrive. With the right preparation and mindful actions, you can enjoy the flexibility of working without a traditional “boss” at the hours you choose. QuickBooks Self-Employed app helps freelancers, contractors, and sole proprietors track manage your business on the go. Download the app.