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What You Need to Know About Freelancing | Freelance Sprout | Find, Start, and Grow Your Dream Freelance Business
Read the six part series on creating a freelance business plan
 

What You Need to Know About Freelancing

Date October 18, 2008


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As the economy continues to be a source of concern, an increasing number of people are turning to freelancing as a way to increase their income. It doesn’t matter what kind of work you decide to do, there are several things you should know about freelancing before you start (or at least before you find out the hard way!) in order to be successful with your freelance business.

Create a Budget

Yes, I know. I said the dreaded “B” word. Without a real budget though, you won’t have any idea how much money you need to make as a freelancer – or any other way to measure your degree of success.

If you’re working another job and freelancing on the side for additional income, you may know already that your “day job” covers your living expenses and debt repayments. For people who fall into this category, you can pick any income goal for your freelance work – maybe you hope to buy a car in the near future, and want to save $300 per month towards that purchase, or you hope to take the kids to Disneyland in 2009, and need to save $200 per month for 9 months before you can go. Just work out your income goals from your freelancing work based on your personal situation.

If you’re someone who either isn’t making enough money from your current job, or are planning to freelance as your only source of income, you’ll need to get more detailed with the creation of your budget to determine how much per day, per week or per month your freelance business must bring in.

Become a Master of Organization and Scheduling

Your mind will work better in an uncluttered environment. If your desk constantly has piles of papers on it, your brain is reserving a piece of it’s operating power for that “stuff” - and the result is less power for whatever it is you’re actually working on at the moment. If you no longer need a piece of paper – recycle it. Don’t let things pile up and clutter your space, because even if you don’t realize it, the clutter will affect your work.

You’ll also need to take control over your to-do list. Whether you’re working on a single task or a big project, prioritizing your tasks becomes essential to succeeding. The only way to prioritize everything that needs to be done is to know what each of your tasks are! There are a number of software and web based software programs online that can assist you with scheduling and prioritizing. Find one that works for you, and make it a habit to schedule and prioritize your tasks.

Setting and Keeping Deadlines

Meeting established deadlines as a freelancer is one of the most important aspects of running a freelance business; whether you are a part-timer or making a career out of it. You could even go as far as to say it’s better to turn something in that’s just “ok” on time, than it is to miss the deadline in order to make something “perfect”. With that being said, many freelancers require information from their clients in order to complete an assignment, so just be sure that your contract specifies that the work will be completed “X” number of days after information is supplied by your client (as opposed to specifying a date on the calendar).

Collect a Portion of Your Payment Upfront

In order to split the risk between you and the client, you should require a portion of each project’s payment upfront, and the remainder due by a specific date upon successful completion of the finished project/assignment.

Lead Generation / Marketing Must Be a Daily Task

Most freelancers experience “high” times and “low” times in terms of their businesses. During the low times, when there isn’t much work and the income isn’t coming in, freelancers spend a lot of time looking for new clients, marketing their services, and trying to attract new business.

During the “high” times, a freelancer is happily working on projects and collecting money – and most people hold off on the lead generating and marketing tasks. This is a mistake! Even when you’re so busy you couldn’t possibly take on another assignment, you must keep looking for new work and marketing your services.

Having more client leads gives you choices and helps you increase your income over time. You’ll stop accepting lower paid assignments in place of the higher paid assignments you’re being offered. Schedule lead generation and marketing tasks daily – even if it’s only an hour of concentrated time each work day.

* * * Debbie Dragon is a freelance writer and founder of the Make Money From Writing program, where she teaches people how to start successful freelance writing businesses.

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Related posts:

  1. How to Live with Freelance Success
  2. Be a Freelance Programmer
  3. Disorganization Costs the Freelancer Money

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