All posts tagged “Freelancing”

Six Common Freelancing Myths


Just as the freelance industry is exploding with undiscovered, talented (and some not so talented) people, the myths that come with it are thriving as well. It’s funny how I even get to hear opposite views about this profession. While Nancy believes freelancers make tons of money in no time, Drew says that they are barely able to pay their bills and taxes. Jennifer claims that you have all the time on your hands, but then Ross said that the work and stress never ends. Who to believe?

Well, as an experienced freelancer, I believe I have the ability to put those myths to rest once and for all. First, imagine yourself on a stranded island with zero people. Will you die and become a tasty meatloaf for the animals in the jungle? Or, will you have that Robinson Crusoe survival instinct that will allow you to go through every thick and thin to make your way to your destination?


Image Source: The Word Freelance on Wood Stamp via Shutterstock.

You’ll Make Tons Of Money — Fast

True! You may be able to make tons of money fast in any job, but usually that’s not-so-legal (Hush!) work. Freelance won’t give you the big bucks immediately. You have to invest in a lot of your time and effort before that can be happened. Like any other profession you have to build a portfolio.

That means you’ll need plenty of experience, immense skill-set, and some negotiation skills to deal with clients before you start making the big bucks. There is no easy way to go up the ladder. How long it takes you to climb, is entirely up to your determination and the amount of effort and time you invest.

You Get To Be Your Own Boss

While it’s not advisable to have an “employee” mindset when you’re a freelancer, there will definitely be someone you will be working for (and in fact be their employee). The client, who is paying you, will get to make certain choices of his own that you’ll have to adhere to if you’re in the game. Freelancing is a two-way relationship. In order to get the reviews and feedback you want, you’ll have to listen to care for — your clients.

That doesn’t have to mean you are their boss or that they are yours. It just means that there will always be someone you are working with whose requests will have to be taken care of.


Image Source: Creative Man Dreaming via Shutterstock.

However, in the beginning I mentioned that having that “employee” mindset is not advisable. The old-fashioned autocratic style where one says “You do this!” and the other says “Ok, boss”, is the wrong approach. Think creatively and innovatively, and give yourself the freedom to present your own ideas whenever you can. Also, make sure you set limits to how much someone can ask from you. Maybe, the compensation they offer doesn’t worth your time and effort.

I Am An Introvert And I Only Get To Embrace My Loneliness

Agreed, this is a field that attracts most introverts and they love it! However, just like any other job, you have to attain a certain amount of work-social life balance to climb up the ladder. I don’t mean hanging out with your family or your significant-other (unless of course they know a lot of useful people). I mean, you have to network a little to open more windows of opportunities.

Whether you are connecting with prospective clients or just hanging out with someone having experience and expertise, being out there in the world is necessary for any kind of profession.

They’ll Be Paying You Pennies For The Work You Do

This contradicts with the first myth. Neither the first and nor this myth is true. Again, this is something that depends on your own intellect and negotiation skills.

Now, go back to the island and try to imagine where you’ll find food. The coconut tree will be a great option and an easy one. You can just keep batting the branches and a few will drop. It will certainly be a good start, but what about later on when you get bored and it eventually fails to quench your hunger for other nutrients? You’ll need to go hunting for a meatier prize that lasts longer. Sure, it will take some time to develop the hunting skills before you go bustling through the leaves for that animal. But when you’re finally ready, you can strike the bow without worrying about being eaten first.

The initial $ 2.5 is good to build a profile. However, in time when you have built your own value and reputation, you’ll be able to get clients that are willing to pay you more for what you do with bigger projects and more time before they finish.

It Is A Stress-Free Job, Unlike Others

Oh no, this one definitely isn’t true. Just because you have some flexibility doesn’t mean you’ll live a stress-free life. In fact, freelancing involves many other stressors that other job’s don’t have. For example, although you get to choose the job you want to do and get hired or fired without a worry about finding more projects, fishing through tons of JDs and applying is stressful on its own.


Image Source: Under Pressure via Shutterstock.

Or, the fact that you have flexible timings doesn’t help to reduce the stress when you have to submit a design project without an excuse about “not being at the office”. The communication gap between a client on the other side of the world can be a cause of stress too, at times, which other 9-5-ers don’t have to deal with.

Freelancing Is For Those Who Can’t Find A Job

Not true! Many freelancers are in for the gig by choice. Some of them have a passion to “write” unlike the traditional journalism style and just want to put that passion to action. Work-life balance is another major reason why freelancers jump into this field. Moreover, there are some really successful people in the field who possess a horde of talent and manage their freelance projects or consultancies along with a 9-5 job.

Concluding

So, next time you hear a Nancy, or Drew, or Jennifer, or Ross talk about freelance, be forewarned! They don’t know what they are talking about. It’s not until you become a freelancer yourself that you can make judgments and give advice on it. What you use and how you use it, to make the best of what’s on that island, is entirely up to you!


The post Six Common Freelancing Myths appeared first on Speckyboy Web Design Magazine.


Speckyboy Web Design Magazine

18 essential tips for freelancing as a student

Read more about 18 essential tips for freelancing as a student at CreativeBloq.com


Succeeding as a student freelancer requires a smart approach to managing your time and money. In part one of our essential guide to freelancing as a student, we looked at the process of setting up as a freelancer, including essential equipment, declaring your income, and key things to put in contracts and invoices.




Creative Bloq

Freelancing 101: How to Battle Obstacles to Success

freelancing 101

It took a while for me to get started, really started, as a freelancer. And I won’t lie; it was not always easy. There are so many obstacles on the path to becoming a freelancer. Whether you are writing, designing or taking photos, the key is not to let doubt sink in. If you want to be successful you have to put your mind to it.

Today, we’re going to look at some of the obstacles freelancers often face in their working life, along with various tips and suggestions for overcoming each one.

Obstacle: Home Office Distractions

freelancing 101

The home office is full of distractions – chores, knocking at the door, your spouse or children or pets. Sadly these distractions seem to get worse during work hours.

Solution: Start with dedicating a work space and time in your home. Make it off limits to the rest of the household during work time. And if that does not work, consider the co-working route and move your “office” to an offsite shared location. Try a site such as ShareDesk or Desk Surfing to find co-working locations around the world.

Obstacle: Getting Paid

freelancing 101

Getting paid is one of the more rewarding parts of working any job, but chasing down clients for payment is not. For your sanity, and budget, it is important to collect in a timely manner.

Solution: Create an invoicing system. You can do this manually or with one of the many online tools available. Make sure to send invoices in a timely manner, itemize your work and include a due date (late penalty information) and where and how to send payment. (I send invoices on the last work day of the month, every month. This way I don’t forget anyone and I know when all payments are due since it is at the same time.) If you have a client that is balking about paying, be nice but firm. In the future, if you continue to do business with them, collect at least 50 percent payment up front. Finally, if you have a client who repeatedly refuses to pay, it might be time to cut ties.

Obstacle: How to Measure Success

freelancing 101

Is success seeing your design (or other work) on a billboard or website or is it making enough money to support yourself? Measuring success in a work environment where you are the sole employee can be difficult.

Solution: Set goals early. You should have three sets of goals when it comes to freelancing success: Overall business goals (number of clients or annual income), annual goals (projects that you want accomplish this year) and project goals (what will make each piece of work successful). Outline these goals at the start of the year or project. Write out and post each goal, steps to success and “I will know success when …” somewhere where you can see it and be reminded of goals and wins every day.

Obstacle: Pitching Clients

freelancing 101

No matter what type of freelance work you do, it will involve making pitches to clients. You better learn the basics of marketing right now.

Solution: Effective marketing strategies are key in developing business and pitching new clients. Take a class or enlist the help of a marketing professional if this is not your forte. Practice good business habits: Return calls and emails promptly, get to meetings on time and look polished, attend networking events, have business cards on hand, keep your website up to date and always present yourself and your work in a professional manner. Keep your portfolio ready and have presentation materials on hand. Have confidence that what you do is good, valuable and worth every penny that you charge.

Obstacle: Business Costs

Working in an office environment often comes with the perk of tools. When you are freelancing, you are responsible for buying all the tools, equipment and software you need to get the job done. And this can add up in a hurry.

Solution: Make a list of everything you need to do your job. What software will you need? What tools are necessary? Know how frequently these items will have to be updated or replaced. Then work to get on a cycle so that you can buy a few things at a time and not replace everything at once. Look to businesses that do similar work and see if they will sell you gently used equipment. (It’s more common than you might think.)

Only invest in tools that actually help you get your work done. (Photographers, for example, can save on Adobe tools by only purchasing the Photoshop Creative Cloud membership plan rather than the full software suite.)

Obstacle: Finding Healthcare and Benefits

freelancing 101

One of the things that often stops a freelancer from going full time can be healthcare and benefits. While options vary by country and location, it is a real concern. The cost of healthcare and saving for retirement should be considered when you think about take-home pay.

Solution: Look for groups in your area that help keep costs under control with group plans for freelancers. In June 2014, the Freelancers Union started the National Benefits Platform. This program allows freelancers to find benefits – heath, dental, life insurance, 401k plans and more – with a search tool. The program is open to United States freelancers

Obstacle: Saying No

freelancing 101

As a young freelancer, I took every single project that came my way. Some of them helped me make money and build business but I actually lost money on others. But how do you say no when someone asks for your help?

Solution: Say it out loud right now: “No.” And then: “I’m sorry, but I can’t take on another project right now.” There is nothing wrong with either of these statements. A good follow-up is to also have a short list of other freelancers or companies that do similar work and make a referral to one of them for the potential client. It is perfectly fine to decline a project. And in some situations you need to.

If you do not have the right tools or skillset for a specific job, say no. If you are already overwhelmed or booked, say no. If you are planning some time off, say no. If you don’t think you can finish the project on budget, say no. If the cost outweighs what you can make on a project, say no. Create a short, simple and polite “rejection letter” that you can send clients who make inquiries that you can’t take on. Having this item in your toolkit will save you time and heartache.

Conclusion

Working as a freelancer can be rewarding and challenging. When it comes to overcoming obstacles – and there can be many – remember why you got into the business initially. For the most success be persistent in your goals, know your clients and their needs, dedicate time and space to work, be organized, stay positive and honest and these challenges won’t seem quite so challenging after all.

Freelancing 101 is a monthly series to help the increasing number of freelancers in the market. Whether you are a designer, writer, developer or wear multiple hats, we will share tips, resources and ideas to help you make the most of your small business. Is there something in particular you want to know? How do you feel about this series? Let me know at carrie@designshack.net.

Image Sources: Rocky Lubbers, Rafael JM Souza, Niels Heidenreich and Vinnie Lauria.

Design Shack

How To Cope With Lack Of Support For Your Freelancing Career

If the numbers in this Forbes article are any indication, more and more people are embracing freelancing as a source of livelihood. Although the article specifically referred to American freelancers, it’s reasonable to extrapolate that the trend is the same the world over, since the Internet has pretty much leveled the playing field for these workers.

However, this doesn’t mean that unfortunate stereotypes about freelancers have abated. According to a survey conducted by Crunch Accounting , 75 percent of freelancers claim that they aren’t taken as seriously as larger businesses, because of misconceptions like “freelancers spend all of their time in their pajamas”, “freelancing is for people who can’t find full-time work”, “freelancing is a stop-gap to a full-time career”, and “freelancers aren’t as reliable as agencies/temps”.

It’s possible that your family and friends may also hold these misconceptions, and act unsupportive towards you as a result. If that’s the case, and it’s frustrating you to the point that you’re unable to function at work, here are some ways to cope.

Understand Where They’re Coming From

If there’s one emotion that makes your loved ones reluctant to support you, it’s fear.

Maybe they’re scared that you’ll end up impoverishing yourself, since “steady income” and “freelancing” don’t go together. Maybe they don’t want your borderline-obsessive devotion to your work to turn you into a stereotypical shut-in: dirty, disheveled, and completely unaware of the outside world. Maybe they’re simply jealous that you get to tweak your schedule as it pleases you, whereas they have to slog it out in their 9-to-5 jobs.

Whatever the root of their fear is, you have to figure out what it is in order to…

Reassure Them

Once you figure out why they’re afraid, the next step is to help them dissuade that fear.

If it’s your finances they’re worried about, tell them that you have a well-thought out plan for the future. Don’t just bluff about it; be sure that you actually have a plan!

If your social life (or lack thereof) is the issue, schedule at least an hour or two every day to go out and smell the flowers, so to speak. It’s good not just for your health, but also for your loved ones’ peace of mind.

If they make snide remarks like “My, aren’t you gaining a bit of weight from your comfortable work-at-home job?”, your safest bet is to either brush those remarks aside and change the subject, or make a joke like “Well, I may have doubled my waistline, but I’ve also doubled my monthly income!”

Be warned, though: Jokes like the one above take a bit of skill to pull off, since you don’t want to appear either too self-deprecating or too arrogant. It would also help to have a natural wit, an understanding of what makes the other person tick in a social setting, and a healthy level of self-confidence.

Be Clear About Your Boundaries

Sometimes, they’ll say “Yeah, I’m cool about your freelancing”, but they’ll also do things to you that inadvertently sabotage your career – whether they intend to or not.

For example, they like to call you in the middle of work just because you say that you have a “flexible schedule”. To deal with this, tell them that yes, in fact you do have a rigid schedule, and as much as you appreciate them thinking about you during odd hours of the day, you’d rather they call you at a certain time instead.

Whatever you do, don’t allow them to violate your boundaries. If you don’t look like you’re taking your work seriously, they’re not going to take it seriously either.

Get Them On Board With You (If They’re Interested)

It’s also possible that they’ll be curious enough to ask you what freelancing is like.

In this case, talk to them about it with as much detail and as much enthusiasm as you can. When they see how passionate you are about your work, they might change their tune. They might even decide to become freelancers themselves – which is great, because you’re all going to sail the same boat together!

Accept The Reality

Then again, maybe not.

Maybe, despite all your efforts to convince them otherwise, they’ll steadfastly refuse to see freelancing as a legitimate career path.

Your best course of action, then, is to accept that they’re like that, and keep doing your work to the best of your ability. If they ever ask you about your freelance work in casual conversation, just say “I’m doing great/fine/fantastic!” and abruptly change the subject. They obviously don’t have anything good to say about it, so why bother encouraging that kind of conversation?

All in all, the best recipe to help you deal with unsupportive loved ones – in our opinion, at least – is a pinch of empathy, a dash of self-respect, and a tablespoon of compromise.

If you have any stories of your own to share on the matter, feel free to sound off in the comments section below.





hongkiat.com

Freelancing 101: Tips for Working From Home

freelancing

Working from home can be one of the greatest perks of doing freelance work. It can also lead to the most distractions and enable procrastination. (How many times have you taken the dog for a walk when a project deadline looms?)

You can create a more conducive home workspace that actually encourages you to get things done. Working from home can be an easy, and enjoyable, part of your freelance life if you set yourself up to be productive, happy and avoid home place distractions. Here are 10 ways you can help yourself when it comes to working from home.

1. Develop a Workspace and Ground Rules

freelancing

Making the most of working from home starts with the area where you work. A dedicated home office space is the best option, particularly a room with a door if you need quiet or to block out other things happening in your household.

This space should be set up and organized for your style of work and productivity. While everyone likes a different type of space, create something that works for you. Remember to make it a work space, and remove all personal stuff, such as household bills or that novel you are reading. Those things will distract you in a flash.

Stock your office space with supplies – pens, paper, tape, a stapler, books, anything you might need to work without leaving your space. Keep a list of needed items for when you do go on a supplies run.

Then set ground rules for your workspace – personally and for other people that live in your house. My rules are posted on the office door:

  • First, pretend like I am not here
  • If the door is closed, knock
  • Visits are limited to 5 minutes
  • Office space is not for other activity
  • Do not touch my desk or computer … ever

2. Create a Check Sheet

Start the week or day or project with a check sheet of tasks. Knowing that you are getting things done is a strong motivator to keep working. I use the online tool Todoist to keep track of freelance work and projects, but a paper list can be just as effective.

This sheet includes every task, no matter how big or small. Then you can tackle items one at a time until your workday ends. The status of remaining items on the list will also help you get started the next day when you get to the “office.”

This can be an important tool for freelancers that work from home because many people organize their day during the commute to and from work. A running list can be an easy way to stay organized and on-task.

3. Manage Time Well

freelancing

Just because you are sitting in front of the computer does not mean you are working. Don’t let online distractions keep you from working. Turn off Facebook, Twitter and personal email accounts. (Yes, you should use a separate email address for work.)

Not only will avoiding digital distractions help you work more efficiently, it will also help you get done faster. Remember, one of the great advantages of freelancing can be working on your own time. If a project only takes two hours, rather than four hours with distractions, you have that extra time to really spend doing something you want to.

4. Get Dressed

Stop working in your pajamas. Every freelancer I know talks about how this is one of the benefits of the job. It’s not. Get dressed for work every single day.

This is not to say you need suits for the home office, but put on clean clothes, brush your teeth and treat the home office as an office. You will feel more confident, productive and won’t have to take a shower break if you have to run out for a client meeting or take a Skype call.

5. Set ‘Regular’ Office Hours

freelancing

You don’t need to be glued to a desk chair or computer 40 hours a week, but you should have regular office hours. (This also helps with the household ground rules.)

Regular office hours should include at least some time during standard working hours (typically 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) for client meetings, returning phone calls and working with vendors. (I aim for about half of my office time to fall during these hours.)

The remainder of your regular office schedule can be during times that work for you. (My workday, for example, often begins at 5:30 a.m. and runs through 2 p.m.)

Stick to this schedule as best you can. Try not to set meetings outside of your workday. And if you do, remember to “comp your time” during another part of the day.

6. Schedule Breaks and Lunch

Treat working from home in the same manner you would if you were working for someone else. Schedule a time for breaks and lunch. Get away from your desk.

Talk a walk. Go out for food. Or work on those household chores that are calling during these times. Just remember to stay in the set time you plan and get back to work when the break is over.

7. Keep Track of Spending and Saving

freelancing

Many freelancers branch out to save time and money. By avoiding a daily commute or trip to the coffee shop, savings can add up quickly. But remember costs as well – office supplies, taxes and other expenses factor in.

Keep a detailed report of both spending and savings to make sure that working from home is working for you. Just the idea that it costs you more to work out of a traditional office can lead to decreased productivity.

You need to feel confident and productive in your workspace to make the most out of working from home. If distractions, wasted time or cost is weighing you down, it might be worth looking for an alternative space such as going back to a traditional workplace or looking for a co-working space to operate out of.

8. Stay Organized

While the look of organization is different for every person, Creative Market had three fantastic tips that work for almost anyone.

  • Keep an up-to-date calendar: Use a paper calendar or a digital calendar to keep track of upcoming tasks and events.
  • Use a to-do list: Create a daily, weekly, or hourly to-do list to help you keep track of the variety of things you need to get done.
  • Everything has a place: In your defined workspace, make sure that you keep all of your different papers and projects neat and organized, don’t complicate your space by incorporating household bills or projects.

9. Take Clients Out of Your Home Office

freelancing

Figuring out a balance for client meetings when you work from home is often a challenge. (Personally, I am not a fan of having clients in my home. Even with a workspace, it seems awkward.) Take meetings in a defined away-from-home site.

Coffee shops, co-working spaces or rented meeting rooms are acceptable places to take client meetings. Pick a spot that works for you and use it regularly. Consider taking a client out in the field. (This is common for photographers, especially when selecting the perfect location for a shoot.)

Make sure your off-site location has everything you need for a good meeting. Are the tables big enough to show work product? Is there a reliable internet connection? How loud or quiet is the space? Does the space fit the vibe of what you are working on and feel professional enough?

10. Make a Point to Network

freelancing

The biggest complaint from many people who work from home is the lack of an established network. Get out and create one.

Network online, but make sure to plan time to attend networking events in your area or annual professional conferences. Networking will help eliminate that alone feeling, and connect you with other professionals for idea sharing, client building and collaboration. Even networking events that aren’t tailored to your specific field can be beneficial. Many cities offer networking groups for workers based on generation or geography; go out and get involved.

Conclusion

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting projects finished. Almost every designer has his or her own individual checklist of things to do and processes to do them. What other things have you done to promote getting more work done at home? We’d love for you to share your tips with us in the comments.

Freelancing 101 is a monthly series to help the increasing number of freelancers in the market. Whether you are a designer, writer, developer or wear multiple hats, we will share tips, resources and ideas to help you make the most of your small business. Is there something in particular you want to know? How do you feel about this series? Let me know at carrie@designshack.net.

Image Sources: Jeremy Levine, Sean MacEntee, John Larsson, 401(K) 2012, epSos.de and Mindaugas Danys.

Design Shack

Freelancing 101: Tips for Working From Home

freelancing

Working from home can be one of the greatest perks of doing freelance work. It can also lead to the most distractions and enable procrastination. (How many times have you taken the dog for a walk when a project deadline looms?)

You can create a more conducive home workspace that actually encourages you to get things done. Working from home can be an easy, and enjoyable, part of your freelance life if you set yourself up to be productive, happy and avoid home place distractions. Here are 10 ways you can help yourself when it comes to working from home.

1. Develop a Workspace and Ground Rules

freelancing

Making the most of working from home starts with the area where you work. A dedicated home office space is the best option, particularly a room with a door if you need quiet or to block out other things happening in your household.

This space should be set up and organized for your style of work and productivity. While everyone likes a different type of space, create something that works for you. Remember to make it a work space, and remove all personal stuff, such as household bills or that novel you are reading. Those things will distract you in a flash.

Stock your office space with supplies – pens, paper, tape, a stapler, books, anything you might need to work without leaving your space. Keep a list of needed items for when you do go on a supplies run.

Then set ground rules for your workspace – personally and for other people that live in your house. My rules are posted on the office door:

  • First, pretend like I am not here
  • If the door is closed, knock
  • Visits are limited to 5 minutes
  • Office space is not for other activity
  • Do not touch my desk or computer … ever

2. Create a Check Sheet

Start the week or day or project with a check sheet of tasks. Knowing that you are getting things done is a strong motivator to keep working. I use the online tool Todoist to keep track of freelance work and projects, but a paper list can be just as effective.

This sheet includes every task, no matter how big or small. Then you can tackle items one at a time until your workday ends. The status of remaining items on the list will also help you get started the next day when you get to the “office.”

This can be an important tool for freelancers that work from home because many people organize their day during the commute to and from work. A running list can be an easy way to stay organized and on-task.

3. Manage Time Well

freelancing

Just because you are sitting in front of the computer does not mean you are working. Don’t let online distractions keep you from working. Turn off Facebook, Twitter and personal email accounts. (Yes, you should use a separate email address for work.)

Not only will avoiding digital distractions help you work more efficiently, it will also help you get done faster. Remember, one of the great advantages of freelancing can be working on your own time. If a project only takes two hours, rather than four hours with distractions, you have that extra time to really spend doing something you want to.

4. Get Dressed

Stop working in your pajamas. Every freelancer I know talks about how this is one of the benefits of the job. It’s not. Get dressed for work every single day.

This is not to say you need suits for the home office, but put on clean clothes, brush your teeth and treat the home office as an office. You will feel more confident, productive and won’t have to take a shower break if you have to run out for a client meeting or take a Skype call.

5. Set ‘Regular’ Office Hours

freelancing

You don’t need to be glued to a desk chair or computer 40 hours a week, but you should have regular office hours. (This also helps with the household ground rules.)

Regular office hours should include at least some time during standard working hours (typically 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) for client meetings, returning phone calls and working with vendors. (I aim for about half of my office time to fall during these hours.)

The remainder of your regular office schedule can be during times that work for you. (My workday, for example, often begins at 5:30 a.m. and runs through 2 p.m.)

Stick to this schedule as best you can. Try not to set meetings outside of your workday. And if you do, remember to “comp your time” during another part of the day.

6. Schedule Breaks and Lunch

Treat working from home in the same manner you would if you were working for someone else. Schedule a time for breaks and lunch. Get away from your desk.

Talk a walk. Go out for food. Or work on those household chores that are calling during these times. Just remember to stay in the set time you plan and get back to work when the break is over.

7. Keep Track of Spending and Saving

freelancing

Many freelancers branch out to save time and money. By avoiding a daily commute or trip to the coffee shop, savings can add up quickly. But remember costs as well – office supplies, taxes and other expenses factor in.

Keep a detailed report of both spending and savings to make sure that working from home is working for you. Just the idea that it costs you more to work out of a traditional office can lead to decreased productivity.

You need to feel confident and productive in your workspace to make the most out of working from home. If distractions, wasted time or cost is weighing you down, it might be worth looking for an alternative space such as going back to a traditional workplace or looking for a co-working space to operate out of.

8. Stay Organized

While the look of organization is different for every person, Creative Market had three fantastic tips that work for almost anyone.

  • Keep an up-to-date calendar: Use a paper calendar or a digital calendar to keep track of upcoming tasks and events.
  • Use a to-do list: Create a daily, weekly, or hourly to-do list to help you keep track of the variety of things you need to get done.
  • Everything has a place: In your defined workspace, make sure that you keep all of your different papers and projects neat and organized, don’t complicate your space by incorporating household bills or projects.

9. Take Clients Out of Your Home Office

freelancing

Figuring out a balance for client meetings when you work from home is often a challenge. (Personally, I am not a fan of having clients in my home. Even with a workspace, it seems awkward.) Take meetings in a defined away-from-home site.

Coffee shops, co-working spaces or rented meeting rooms are acceptable places to take client meetings. Pick a spot that works for you and use it regularly. Consider taking a client out in the field. (This is common for photographers, especially when selecting the perfect location for a shoot.)

Make sure your off-site location has everything you need for a good meeting. Are the tables big enough to show work product? Is there a reliable internet connection? How loud or quiet is the space? Does the space fit the vibe of what you are working on and feel professional enough?

10. Make a Point to Network

freelancing

The biggest complaint from many people who work from home is the lack of an established network. Get out and create one.

Network online, but make sure to plan time to attend networking events in your area or annual professional conferences. Networking will help eliminate that alone feeling, and connect you with other professionals for idea sharing, client building and collaboration. Even networking events that aren’t tailored to your specific field can be beneficial. Many cities offer networking groups for workers based on generation or geography; go out and get involved.

Conclusion

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting projects finished. Almost every designer has his or her own individual checklist of things to do and processes to do them. What other things have you done to promote getting more work done at home? We’d love for you to share your tips with us in the comments.

Freelancing 101 is a monthly series to help the increasing number of freelancers in the market. Whether you are a designer, writer, developer or wear multiple hats, we will share tips, resources and ideas to help you make the most of your small business. Is there something in particular you want to know? How do you feel about this series? Let me know at carrie@designshack.net.

Image Sources: Jeremy Levine, Sean MacEntee, John Larsson, 401(K) 2012, epSos.de and Mindaugas Danys.

Design Shack

Freelancing 101: How Do I Promote Myself Without Looking Sleazy?

freelancing 101

One of the toughest things about working is a freelancer can be getting your name out there. How do you connect with the right clients? How can you help those companies find you and your work? And how can you do it without feeling sleazy?

It can be a tough balance. But there are ways to do it. With the right mix of marketing, promotion and word of mouth – and a few design tools – you can find potential clients and feel good about it.

Look Like a Business

office

As a freelancer, it is important to “dress the part” of a business owner. You should have all the things a business would have – business cards, a phone number, professional email address, website and office hours. Looking like a business will give clients that impression that you are professional and serious about your work.

This business package should be simple, professional and branded to the type of work you do. Designers should use a simple design theme that carries across these branding components. Buy a web domain and use it. (I use my name because it is easy.) Link your professional email to that domain as well. (Hotmail email addresses do not appear professional.)

Then make sure you have a phone number or Skype for business use. That number should be easily available to clients. If you are serious about freelancing, consider a dedicated line for work. That way you know when to answer the phone as a professional and not with “what’s up?”

“Office hours” are also important. Even if your office is in your home. This tells clients when to call and when to expect correspondence from you. Office hours don’t have to be a 40-hour 9-to-5 workweek, but should offer clients a few times each week that you will be available.

Sign Your Work

It may sound simple but when working on contract projects, take credit when you can. (This may not always be possible.) Add completed projects to your portfolio or include a signature or credit line when applicable.

Web developers, for example, will often add something in the footer for a site they have built. Illustrators often embed a signature into the print or on the back of an image.

Always ask the client – or get it in the contract – as to what kind of “signature” is acceptable. And for confidential projects, get permission before posting to any type of portfolio.

Spend a Little on Advertising

freelancing 101

Sometimes you have to spend a little money to make a little money. Advertising is a good way to do that. But be smart about it.

Place some ads that will get to your target market. Consider geography, client needs and the type of work you do. Smart spends will help you reach your audience and hopefully gain brand recognition and a few new calls.

Some of the best (and least expensive) ways to get started are to create an email newsletter, send a postcard, advertise on social media. The next step is to upgrade to mediums that more people will see but will cost somewhat more such as television, newspapers or magazines.

Network Online

freelancing 101

Get active online and on social media. Talk to others in your field. Ask for feedback and advice. There are quite a few options for designers that are valuable. (Sites such as Dribbble and Behance are among the best, because you can show off work and gather feedback at the same time.)

Every freelancer should be on Facebook (as a business), Twitter, LinkedIn and one or more portfolio sites. Use your brand identity, and professional photo, to create a unified social media identity. And remember to always keep it professional and nice online.

Engaging with other designers (or writers or developers) is a good way to create a virtual office of colleagues. You can share experiences, work and even frustrations with an online community. Freelancing can at times be a lonely business and networking can be a valuable tool.

Network in Person

While it is easy to network online, some people may find it harder to get out and meet new people in person. But you should. Get involved in your community. Join a networking club, or group that encourages people to support local businesses.

Attend networking events in your area. If your budget allows, go to a work-related conference each year. And don’t sit on the sidelines, get out there and talk to people. Listen to conversations and pinpoint people who could benefit from working with you. Sell them on what you do.

Have an elevator speech. What do you do and why people should hire you in 30 seconds? I always start with something catchy and then go from there.

Reward Good Clients

Treating clients well, offering referral bonuses and other perks can help existing clients recruit new business for you.

While it may not sound like a way to promote yourself, rewarding good clients can be one of the best ways to encourage word-of-mouth promotion. If a current client tells someone else how good your work is, it can turn into more work.

Treating clients well, offering referral bonuses and other perks can help existing clients recruit new business for you.

While it is seldom a good idea to start working for free, do a little spec work for good clients if you have ideas that could help them do something different. I also do design work as gifts for friends and family. When someone gets married or is expecting a baby, my gift is often custom designed invitations or save the date magnets or birth notices. (This is also a good way to diversify your portfolio.)

Become a Resource

freelancing 101

One of the greatest ways to be recognized (and hired) is to be an expert and resource in your field. Don’t try to do a lot of little things; do one thing exceptionally well and market that and only that.

When people ask you for help, answer them. It’s ok to give a 140-character bit of free advice. Pay it forward and do things for others just because. Introduce people and help them make connections.

I recently had someone come to me for a website build. While I do some of my own sites, that is not my commercial expertise. Rather than just saying no, I connected the client to a few people that did have that knowledgebase and skillset. The mutual connection is a good one and at some point those other freelancers are likely to return the favor.

There are other ways to be a resource as well. If you have a knack for writing or video, start a blog (or write for another blog). Share ideas, tools, tips and information that potential clients would be interested in.

Conclusion

Self-promotion does not have to be sleazy. It is just a part of the freelance business. While it can be intimidating at first, it’s not that hard to get out there and begin making a name for yourself. Good luck!

Freelancing 101 is a new monthly series to help the increasing number of freelancers in the market. Whether you are a designer, writer, developer or wear multiple hats, we will share tips, resources and ideas to help you make the most of your small business. Is there something in particular you want to know? How do you feel about this series? Let me know at carrie@designshack.net.

Image Sources: faster panda kill kill, Anthony Quintano and Ed Yourdon.

Design Shack

Freelancing: what to do when it all goes quiet

Read more about Freelancing: what to do when it all goes quiet at CreativeBloq.com


Freelancing is unpredictable. Some weeks you’ll rush around working on loads of different projects. Then there are the times when you think: ‘Oh, my inbox is kind of quiet today.’ But there’s no need to panic: you need those quiet periods. During such times, it’s really a question of creating an illusion – not just for your clients, but for yourself. The illusion of ‘busyness’ is really a very vital thing, I find. Every day needs to feel like a working day.




Creative Bloq

Adam Wilson on combining study with freelancing

Read more about Adam Wilson on combining study with freelancing at CreativeBloq.com


Adam Wilson is one of 10 nominees for Emerging Talent of the Year in the 2014 net Awards. He’s currently studying Web Technologies at Huddersfield University and freelancing at the same time. We quizzed him to find out more.
    




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Geri Coady on creative freelancing and public speaking

Read more about Geri Coady on creative freelancing and public speaking at CreativeBloq.com


If you’re looking for proof of Geri Coady’s boundless enthusiasm for the business of creativity, we’d like to present the size of the Dropbox file she sent to accompany the piece you’re reading. It weighed in at 172MB, or at least 10 times the average submission. We set about uncovering how she started on the web, what motivates her and why she quit her job as an art director for the life of a freelance creative.
    




Creative Bloq