12 Things Every Freelancer Should Know

Here are few things every freelancer should know. Unfortunately, I learned these lessons the hard way in nearly 20 years of freelancing.

In fact, I wish I had known a few of these things before I started freelancing. However, I can will and pass them onto others trying to make a living as a freelancer.

Here are some of the things every freelancer should know.

  • One – Do the math. In particular, do the math about pay and time spent before you start the job.
  • For example, $100 for 10,000 words sounds great until you realize that you are being paid one cent a word. Unfortunately, there are lots of clients out there that will try to pay such rates. Hence, get a calculator and do the math before you take freelance jobs.
  • There are also benefits to focusing on clients who are looking to build a long term relationship with someone who has your particular skills. Even if the overall pay is slightly lower, take into consideration the time that will not have to be spent looking for new clients. To discover more about increasing your freelancing income click here!
  • Two – Have fun. Generally, whenever, I do a freelance job that is boring, frustrating, tedious, etc. I do a terrible job.
  • For example, I make more mistakes and often do hack jobs on work I hate. On the other hand, I do good work when I am having fun. Thus, try to find freelance jobs you will enjoy so you will do good work and make more money. It also helps to focus on finding jobs doing things that you enjoy doing. For example, if you are good at graphic arts but hate writing, focus on business branding and other areas where you can hone your skills and do something you enjoy all at the same time.
  • Three- Be honest. I have found the worst conflicts and miscommunication occur when unrealistic promises are made. Therefore, be honest, and tell clients what you can and cannot do.
  • For every disappointed client, it is estimated that ten clients will be lost merely by word of mouth. On the internet, a reputation can easily be tarnished, even when the freelancer has done nothing wrong. Missing deadlines or providing shoddy work however, is guaranteed to ruin a career, often even before it begins. The nose of Pinocchio may have been figurative in nature, but expresses the fact that people will always discover if you have been lying, and it is not going to be pretty when it is time to face up to the truth.
  • Four – Never stop searching for work. I make it a rule to try and search for jobs and apply to at least one new freelance job every day.
  • I do this because I have found no freelance job is reliable and I must usually apply to 50 to 100 jobs before I get hired. Hence, the more applications the greater likelihood of work. Again, if you can find clients that are looking to build long term relationships with their freelancers, you will be much better off. Also, as you continue and your client list grows, you can begin to gradually increase your prices, not having to worry if the next person coming along will not pay those higher prices, as you already have steady and regular work with the existing clients.  

Five – No client is reliable. My experience is that even the best clients can suddenly drop off the face of the Earth. Therefore, you need others to fall back upon. Think about how many people agree to make monthly payments on a house or on a car but after a while, either can no longer afford the payments or have some other reason for breaking the contract. Sometimes the clients will walk away because they can find someone more inexpensive, sometimes it is just a matter of “things happen”. You should always recognize that you may lose clients from time to time and it is just part of the way things are in the world of freelancing for a living.

Six – Learn to say no to clients. Trying to meet unreasonable, unrealistic, or stupid demands from clients will lead to disaster.

If you cannot meet the client’s demand or deadline tell them so. In addition, if the client asks for something you cannot do, say no to them. Generally, I have found that good clients will listen and accommodate you if you are honest with them. See number seven for how to deal with clients that cannot take no for an answer.

Seven – Learn how to fire clients. As a freelancer you will encounter clients that are abusive, irrational, unresponsive, stupid, rude, arrogant etc. One of the most common problems will be clients who are incapable of giving concise directions and then getting upset because they could not tell you what they wanted and are mad because you could not provide what they could not explain.

Working with such clients is a waste of time. Hence, you should learn how to fire such clients by telling them will not fill their order.

Eight – Learn how to be patient. The world of freelancing is full of delays. In particular, clients will respond to you and pay you when they feel like it. Thus, learn to wait for them.

Nine – Do the highest paying work first. Remember, as a freelancer you are working for the money.

Thus, you should concentrate on the highest paying work and put lower-paying work on the backburner. If clients complain, explain they will have to increase your pay to get faster service.

Ten – Concentrate on one job at a time. I have found that multitasking leans to mistakes. Hence, completing job A and moving onto Job B is the best way to get work done.

Eleven – Learn to take breaks and shut down for the day. If you start feeling, sick, tired, angry, frustrated, etc. take a break.

Moreover, if you feel bad or tired quit and start again tomorrow. Remember, being tired or sick leads to bad work which will cost you clients and money.

Twelve – be prepared for boredom, frustration, and slack periods. In particular, have something to do such as writing your novel, lower paying work, or blogging during downtime. In addition, try to have some extra sources of income such as a side hustle or part-time job to fill your time.

These are just a few of the things every freelancer should now. In fact, you will learn more every day if work at it.

I have found that freelancing is a very rewarding career path, but it will be frustrating. However, you can avoid a lot of the frustration if you keep what I reveal above in mind.