12 Most Helpful Hints for Freelancers

12 Most Helpful Hints for Freelancers

 

Most of the freelance talent I draw upon to support my business is comprised of production support (e-pros), photographers and illustrators. I’ve noticed, especially when I hire someone new and recently out of school, many are clueless about how to behave professionally.

Here are 12 suggestions to help new (and even experienced) freelancers:

1. Show up on time for meetings

There is nothing worse than having your prospective client wait for you to appear. Unless there are mitigating circumstances, to me it says, “I am a flake and undependable.”

2. Do not “disappear,” making yourself impossible to contact

If you are going to be away during a crucial time, let people know when you’ll be out and when you’ll be reachable. I think some people “hide” when deadline pressure freaks them out. It’s not helpful, and actually causes anxiety to others.

3. Charge a realistic rate for your services

Your rate should be based on the amount of experience you have and your level of expertise. It seems an equal number of people overvalue their work as those who undervalue it, so look to identify what is considered the norm in your location.

4. When something isn’t clear, ask

Unless you are truly clairvoyant, mind-reading is not advisable. It’s better to ask for clarification when you’re in doubt.

5. Meet deadlines

Beside exceptional quality, meeting deadlines and budgets are near and dear to the hearts of your clients. Strive to establish a reputation as dependable and you will become a “go-to” resource.

6. If you feel you are in over your head, say so

The earlier the better. You won’t be the first person to ever do this. It gives your client the opportunity to find other ways of solving their problem. Unfortunately, it may not cultivate more work with them, but bowing out is preferable to leaving your client in an untenable situation.

7. When a client asks for changes that don’t make sense, say something

Maybe they assume you have a broader base of knowledge than you possess. Or maybe they missed a grammatical mistake. By contributing to a better outcome, you show you are paying attention and not just going through the motions.

8. Do you have a better idea? Share it

If you are on the ball and contribute to making your client look good, you become indispensable.

9. Package your deliverables neatly

If the deliverable is a file, make sure it’s in pristine shape. Check alignments, remove extraneous content, make sure links are intact and that assets have the proper resolutions. If you are a photographer or illustrator and are delivering a digital file or CD, make sure the file type is appropriate, employ an agreed-upon system of nomenclature, label it neatly and enclose it in a case or CD envelope.

10. Save 20 percent of your income

And put it in an account that has no credit, debit cards or checks connected to it. It is not emergency money. It does not exist. It is there for the sole purpose of keeping you on good terms with the IRS, or city or state departments of revenue. You’ll avoid the mad scramble of coming up with your tax payments. And you’ll be glad you did.

11. Cultivate a relationship with your clients

Whether it is strictly professional, or grows into a friendship, people like to work with people they enjoy. Given the choice between two freelancers of equal talent, cost and expertise, I will always choose the person I like working with the most. I think this is true for most clients.

12. When the project is done, say thank you

Whether you send an email, jot a note to accompany an invoice, or write a thank you note and send it snail mail, showing your appreciation will set yourself apart from your competition. Most people don’t bother to say thanks.

Each time you are hired by someone, you have an opportunity to establish a new ongoing client. Whether you are a writer, designer, photographer, web designer or other type of creative, it’s also a chance for you to add something to your portfolio as well as gain a professional reference to help your business flourish.

Twelve tips only scratch the surface. Can you offer more suggestions? Please add your contributions below.

Featured image courtesy of Ghetu Daniel licensed via Creative Commons.


Terri Nakamura

http://seattledesigner.blogspot.com

Graphic designer and fun person; likes humor, Apple/Mac, cool, interesting, design, art, business, technology, weird, pop culture and breaking news. You can find Terri on Empire Avenie or on Pinterest.

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220 comments
biancafarrow
biancafarrow

 I'm so elated reading your blog Terri! Coming on time is the very first thing I always remind my self every time I have to meet my client because I know that they will find someone else to work with if you keep them waiting. And keeping in touch with your client will make your work easy because if they want something to add or change they can always connect with you. 

Terri Nakamura
Terri Nakamura

@biancafarrow Bianca, thanks for the feedback! I think punctuality demonstrates two things: Reliability on one hand, and respect on the other. You sound like a positive person, and I suspect you will be successful in whatever you choose to do.

biancafarrow
biancafarrow

@Terri Nakamura Indeed! Even if we face many obstacle in our live, we have to be strong and take it in a positive way that we can make it through in the end. Thanks Terri! Wish you all the best in life. And hope your words will come true :)

terrinakamura
terrinakamura

@24k Thanks so much for the RT! Chris, would it be too personal to ask...what does "24K" mean? Is it like...gold?

rjfrasca
rjfrasca

@Coachforyou Thanks for the RT. Have an awesome weekend!

dbvickery
dbvickery

#1 is always a pet peeve...with #5 not far behind. I do tend to see a lot of consultants who over-value their worth, and I keep waiting for that bubble to burst. It is doubly difficult when star employees get wind of how much those consultants are charging to do the same work...with less competency. That doesn't mean that the star employees should run off and become consultants - it means the market is in a bubble, and the correction is going to hurt!

 

And we should all remember to "say so" if we feel we are in over our head. Otherwise, it can only end badly...

jenniferannegood
jenniferannegood

You are such a pro and continue to amaze. Do you remember when I first started my freelance business and you wrote out a list of things for me to do to get started? I may still have it somewhere. You make all very good points. Some of them may seem like common sense but I'm always surprised when people do not show up on time. Thank you for your excellent and very well thought out advice to the young freelancers out there. And.....CONGRATULATIONS!!!

wchingya
wchingya

@terrinakamura You're welcome, it's great to connect with you on Twitter. Thanks for the freelancing tips :)

terrinakamura
terrinakamura

@nomoreslaves Thanks for the RT. I'm wondering, what does 1001001 mean?

newdaynewlesson
newdaynewlesson

I think that the last tip -the thank you-applies to people searching out other peoples' work as well. Many times people will ask for a quote and then decide not to do the project or use someone else and way too often they won't even be courteous enough to tell the person, thank you for the quote but it's not relevant right now.

WayneHurlbert
WayneHurlbert

Thanks Terri. These are very helpful tips that many freelancers overlook. They are all important, especially the thank you. :The obvious are all too often forgotten.

terrinakamura
terrinakamura

@WayneHurlbert Hi, Wayne. Thanks for being such a good guy. I really value your integrity. Wishing you a great day tomorrow!

Jean Blalock
Jean Blalock

Terri that is great information to share, even for someone (like myself) who wants to be successful in what they do. Getting that down to earth information from a person that has been there and done that, is very, very helpful. Thanks

 

 

David Horsfall
David Horsfall

Good advice from a pro. Some people are the steak. Some are the sizzle. Terri is the master of both.

gravyontherice
gravyontherice

Good afternoon Terri, thanks for sharing your suggestions. Great stuff! Also, I just want to thank you for all the support you've given me as I crawl through this vast world of Social Media. It's always nice to know that I have someone there that I can go to for help :-) aloha, toku :-)

greatpoetrymhf
greatpoetrymhf

Thanks kindly for the reminders.....I completeled this  yesterday with glowing accolades........

ryanmercer
ryanmercer

All good common sense suggestions, funny too considering I've been thinking about offering some of my skills freelance style outside of my 'real' job.

Wale Adeagbo
Wale Adeagbo

@osasemovon1 @esanemma, this is a must read for you guys. It's a nice one.

cmbsweden
cmbsweden

Concise, but not too formal. Excellent.

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