In 2016, more and more people will be branching out into freelancing. This is a big step, one that may cause some anxiety in the first year. After several years of freelancing, most contingent workers can reflect upon their first days critically, seeing some mistakes they could have avoided. Taking the leap into freelancing means letting go of the protections and structure of being part of a corporate entity. It takes quite a bit of tenacity, personal accountability and faith to move forward alone, particularly since income is involved. Although becoming a freelancer may be the best decision ever made, it is usually not a path without some wrong turns. Learning early lessons will help new independent contractors perform better, in those first years of self-employment. We’ve provided just some of those lessons, below.
Interview Potential Clients
Many people starting out as freelancers underestimate the value of screening clients for the right fit, just as much as the company screens the contractor. Just because an opportunity presents itself, it does not mean it is the right opportunity. Taking on an unreasonable client can make life miserable. Contain your excitement and really look at things objectively before jumping in, including making sure the company can afford to compensate as promised.
While it is correct to appear self-confident, do not enter discussions with potential clients with too much confidence. While past work quality may be excellent, freelancing can be as much, if not more, about the relationship with the client’s business. Also remember that for each client the work performed will likely need to be adjusted to suit their needs, brand image, tone and language. Excellence can be subjective and new freelancers must learn to be excellent in a wide variety of environments.
Get It in Writing
Never underestimate the value of a contract. Many new independent contractors neglect the paperwork and live to regret it. Ensure contracts define the scope of work, expectations for both parties and compensation. Without a contract, clients will not believe the freelancer values his or her work. For image and self-protection, put the deal in writing.
Do Not Undervalue Self-Worth
By undercutting the rates of competition or being afraid to charge what one’s talents are worth, an independent contractor is only selling him or herself short. Clients know they must pay for quality. Set pricing according to position within the local market. Then exceed expectations to help establish a solid reputation as an exceptional independent contractor.
Do Not Forget That Time Management Counts
Without a boss standing over one’s shoulder ensuring completion of work, a freelancer must hold him or herself accountable for project completion. Being a contractor provides flexibility, but freedom can be a newbie’s worst enemy. It is up to the individual to determine a schedule that works for them, then stick to it.