Milton Friedman, the American economist famously once said, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” If you’re venturing into the freelance world, you need to have this outlook for any new clients that come your way.
When you start freelancing, you will naturally inform family and friends of your new adventure. No doubt, you will pass around your freshly printed business cards, direct people to your brand new website and also encourage them to head over to your new business Facebook page, and give it a like. As the days pass by, you will start to get friends of a friend contacting you, asking about your services.
When starting out, this will seem wonderful! However tread carefully, do not become a FREElancer to your family and friends. Don’t feel obliged to give friends discounted rates on your services, steer clear of this slippery slope!
Treat all new potential clients the same, no matter who they are or who has sent them over to you. This is your business, have a rate that applies to everyone. Giving your services away for cheap or in some cases free to friends, will only apply pressure to your workload and bring in very little financial gain.
Becoming a freelancer takes a few well-placed steps. Maybe you’re moving from a permanent position into operating as a ‘full time’ freelancer and have been working both roles side by side. You could have possibly sought investment to start up as a freelancer and are now ready to jump in feet first. Whatever your situation – don’t panic!
At the beginning, it’s natural to start gathering as much business as possible, new clients means more money right? Not always. In fact when working as a new freelancer, lots of different clients coming in all at once can be a bad thing, yes a bad thing! It’s important to keep in control of your workload, not being forced to cut corners, let standards drop on your work. Word of mouth in the freelance world is fundamental to success. Grow your portfolio at a pace you can handle.
Know when to say no to work, or at least give realistic times scales for completion of work, “I would love to be involved in this project, but I couldn’t complete it within that deadline – is there any flexibility?” Be honest with clients, they expect you to be busy, you’re good and that’s why they want your services.
But if I do this freelance project for free, I may get some paid work from them?
Once you set the bar, you’ve set the bar. The moment you give your services for free or really cut your rate to win a project, you have no future rate leverage with that client. If a client budget does not suit your budget, walk away. If you’re confident in your abilities, clients will pay your rate, it’s just finding those clients. Don’t gather any new clients just to create a portfolio, to try and create a financial safety net, it won’t happen. What will happen is that you will have lots of different clients who are offering you projects that pay very little or constantly trying to hammer down your rate, because they know it’s negotiable.
If you’re not confident talking about your daily or hourly rate with clients, find a way around it. Being clear from the start on exactly what your rate is and also your payment terms is key. Also, back up your rate with a portfolio of previous work and more importantly a reference from a previous client. There is no other better project winner than a genuine reference from somebody who has used your services in the past, and is happy to recommend you.
Keep to your deadlines, keep your word and don’t promise something that is impossible to deliver. Above all don’t become a FREElancer!