If you’re considering a freelancing success career, congratulations! Working for yourself can be highly rewarding and more importantly, a great way to grow. I’ve learned a lot working in full-time roles, but I learned a whole different set of skills working for myself. It gives you a unique perspective that you can’t find in full-time employment.
I freelanced for different startups in New York City for almost six years as a UX Designer. It was a great time to freelance; the tech scene was bubbling up and didn’t stop. I loved it. There are pros and cons to both freelancing and working full-time. What you really need to figure out is if freelancing is right for you.
Here, I’ll share some tips to help you before and after you start freelancing.
— BEFORE YOU START FREELANCING
Think about the right time to transition
Knowing when to quit your job to begin a full-time freelance career can be difficult. When I made the move, I transitioned out of a full-time job at a financial technology company. The timing worked for a few key reasons:
- I had work lined up. I had been moonlighting for a while and had a handful of clients. I lined up work before quitting my job, which gave me some stability.
- I had a cushion. I had some savings so I knew that if I weren’t making money right away or all the time, I would be OK.
- I was confident in my skillset. Even though I still had more to learn, I knew my skills were good enough; I could run my own projects.
- There was market demand. It was easy to see that my skill was in demand, which gave me confidence that I could find freelance projects.
If you’ll have no problem getting a full-time job again, giving freelance a chance is less risky as you can always go back to working full-time.
If you aren’t confident in at least three of these points, it might not be the right time for you.
Being successful at freelancing has a lot to do with the setup. I tried (and failed) once before being successful because I didn’t meet a few of these criteria.
Freelancing Success: Work out the logistics
There’s a handful of fairly mundane but super important things that you need to do when you freelance: Things like project tracking, pricing, invoicing, and contract and proposal writing, to name a few. Work out the logistics ahead of time so you’re not scrambling to do so on the spot.
Know how you will manage projects, keep track of your time and invoice. Get a basic working contract together to protect yourself and start to think about what a proposal that you write for a project might look like.
When it comes to pricing — don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth or cost based on the value you’re delivering. Clients usually have a harder time with a price before they work with you as you haven’t established trust yet. If you do great work and the client is happy, the price will be less of an issue.
If you’ve never written a contract before, that’s OK. Find examples — it’s easier than starting from scratch! Here are some services that can help:
- Bonsai: www.hellobonsai.com
- Let’s Freckle: www.letsfreckle.com
- Design briefs: www.holabrief.com
- Legalzoom legal forms: www.legalzoom.com/legalforms
- Pricing design: www.abookapart.com/products/pricing-design
- How to scope work: www.danmall.me/articles/how-to-scope-work
- Cushion: www.cushionapp.com
- And Co: https://www.and.co
- Double Your Freelancing: www.doubleyourfreelancing.com
- Freelancers Union: www.freelancersunion.org
- Jack: www.withjack.co.uk
Freelancing Success: Go deeper into the pricing
Pricing technically falls into the logistics category, but it’s worth calling it out separately as it’s a tricky topic to get right. There are different ways to price, the two main types are hourly and per project.
I always try to avoid hourly rates or billing as it’s too granular. Granular in that, it’s very easy for money and pricing to become a target when it’s broken down on an hourly level.
There is more opportunity for the client to nitpick and make comparisons about the work and the time it’s taken to create. It also opens the door to the client micromanaging the project to “save money,” all the while making it harder for you to do your job and good work!
The reality is, when you are making, there’s a lot of work that happens behind the scenes that clients don’t necessarily see. All the brainstorming and internal rounds of design you did, or the drafts of copywriting, before having work to present.