The 9-Step Process to Freelancing Your Talent into Success

by on October 1, 2014

If you do it right, it can be the most fun you can have and still be sober.


So – you want to be a Freelancer. Great.

Freelancing is one of the best jobs around: you are your own boss, you choose the assignments you want, and you get to do what you love. Or, at least, you get paid for doing something that you’re good at doing.

It’s a pretty darn good gig In fact, according to a 2013 study, 40% of Americans will be Freelancers by 2020.

But there are a few things you should know about Freelancing before embarking on this journey.  If not, it can be frustrating and disappointing.

I hope these Freelancing pointers will help make your trip into this exciting world as fun for you as it has been for me.

Step 1: Be sure to read the terms of use before you sign up for services.

This is a must do, if you use a website, like Freelancer, oDesk, Elance, Smashing jobs, even Craigslist (yes- Craigslist). I didn’t and did not realize that one of the sites was charging a huge monthly fee for services I did not even use. I did not pay attention to the automatic billing, and, a year (and $350) later, I finally noticed the fees on my credit card. I canceled the service, but I was out the $350.

If you get a month‘s use of the site for free, make sure you cancel before that month is up if you don’t like the service or cannot get any work. Otherwise, like me, you will be paying for a year or more of service that you don’t need or use.

Step 2: Fill out your profile thoroughly.

Let the client know about all your Freelancing accomplishments, awards, and talents. It might not seem important to you that you edited the company training manual, but to someone who is looking for a technical writer, that fact is very important.

List all your skills. When a client needs a Lotus Foxfire Developer with C+ and SQL, you’ll be one chosen for the job. And, even though it may be second nature to you to Photoshop your pictures, a lot of people will pay good money (literally) for your skills.

Step 3: Set up a PayPal account.

It’s just easier. Most people are happy to deal with payments that way, and, as long as you change your password often, it’s secure and universal.

Step 4: Be sure to read and understand the proposal.

If the proposal asks for a native Spanish speaker, for example, and you are not, don’t apply for the job. If the contract calls for 100,000 words in four hours, you should probably give it a pass. (With Craigslist, make sure it is not a scam of some sort. They can have legitimate jobs, but, on the other hand….) If you don’t understand the scope of work, ask for clarification.

Step 5: Make sure that you agree with the terms of the project.

You may not want to undertake a project that says “If there is one typo or one punctuation error, you will not be paid.”

“Unambiguous, to be sure, but I should not like to do a week’s worth of work and have someone refuse to pay me over a disputed semi-colon”.

Step 6: Don’t be discouraged if you have to send out a lot of bids before you get a job.

If you don’t have a reputation or a track record, it might take a while to establish yourself. But once you have one or two good projects, with good feedback, you will be on your way. And don’t worry about the high and low bids you see.

“Work is awarded to people who can do the job, not to people who do not have the skills but write good proposals”.

Step 7: Don’t ask for payment up front.

Some contracts offer to pay up front, which is nice, but most clients want to see and approve the end product before they pay. It’s only logical, and you will be unprofessional if you demand payment first.

For a long-term project (designing a website, editing or ghost-writing a manuscript) negotiating milestone payments are fine.

(BTW: a non-published book is always a “manuscript”. Anyone who asks you to edit their “novel” is new to the world of publishing).

Step 8: Finish on time. Be dependable.

This will assure that you have a good reputation in this field. Clients talk to each other, and, if they like you, they will pass your name along. Often times, the client has a deadline and are desperately seeking someone to help them out of a jam. If you do what your contract needs to do, they will remember you the next time they need help. Who knows…it may even lead to a permanent job.

Step 9: Be sure to give feedback about your “client” and ask them to do the same (unless the job went bad).

Good feedback is your currency, and it will get you more work. A recent article from Guerilla Freelancing stated that a client feedback is essential to a successful freelancing business. Bad feedback can be disputed, but it can be an arduous task.

You want good feedback – don’t be afraid to ask for it. If your client forgets, send a gentle reminder.

I hope this helps all those who wish to embark on this thrilling ride. I know I’ve enjoyed every moment of the trip so far.

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