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Is there a recipe for freelancing success? There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” approach when it comes to building a successful freelancing career. Good thing there are great principles which you can live by and guide you in doing freelancing work.

From web content writing to graphic design and photography, you can all benefit from these tips.

1. Always Use a Contract

For every project, you need a contract to set down the rules. This is a common mistake most freelancers make. They don’t use a contract and end up not being paid.

Do not worry about making a detailed contract. Stick to a simple template and make improvements along the way. Do not waste your time making the agreement as well. This time should be spent making money.

Just create an agreement which will cover all the basics:

  • Original and not plagiarized work produced by you
  • The client’s information stays confidential.
  • How much you will get paid during the process
  • Once the client accepts the completed work, they will assume full responsibility for any further operations such as printing, etc.
  • You or the client has the right to terminate services within a notice period (can be minimum of 1 month/no notice)

These terms can protect you as a freelancer from having any problem with the scope of work.

2. Get a Down Payment before You Start with Work 

This is one of the biggest mistakes every freelancer can commit. They will not be paid on time even after the work is complete.

To guarantee payment, you should always require an upfront down payment for every project. It’s OK to ask for 50% before you start your work. You also need to include this in the contract which both parties can sign.

Do not move forward with any project unless there is a down payment. Make sure that before you turn over the final result, they will also give the other half of the total amount.

3. Saying “No” Is Good

Most freelancers are afraid to say “No” especially to potential clients and existing clients. It’s okay to feel generous and want other people to be satisfied with working with you. Most freelancers don’t want to disappoint and would like to offer help to clients in any way they can.

However, if it’s beyond the scope, you can also say No. The truth is, no matter what you do, you will always disappoint someone. You must feel comfortable in saying NO to extra work if your availability doesn’t permit.

Ask yourself these questions before you agree to something?

  • Do I specialize in the work that’s needed by this client?
  • Why am I taking on this project? Is it a commitment I should be making?
  • Why am I adding that project to my plate?

When you take on everything, your plate will end up full but with all the extra commitments. It will just get you stressed and anxious and no more room to take on other opportunities.

4. Focus on Your Business

Your freelance business is also essential; this is why you need to focus on it. Most freelancers who are just starting out in the industry feel the need to be recognized easily. Try to sit down and focus on your marketing strategy.

Take note of these action items:

  • Marketing your freelance profile
  • Charging higher rates
  • Delivering the work
  • Pick two services to specialize in
  • Boost your website with the exact keywords and phrases
  • Make sure your portfolio translates to your type of work

5. Show the Kind of Work You’d Like to Take as a Project

Do not make the mistake of filling your portfolio with all the work just for the sake of it. Fill your portfolio with projects that you like to receive.

It’s like dressing for the job you want and not the job you have. You need to show them how you’d like to accept client work.

Well, when it comes to your portfolio, you want to present work that aligns with the freelance jobs you want, not necessarily the projects you currently have.

It helps build trust and confidence and can be what seals the deal in a proposed project.

6. Write as Much as You Can

Take your freelancing career to the next level by taking the time to write more about your freelancing gig. If you’re not a good writer, practice. Get your portfolio out there! From a blog post to emails to clients, you need to be a good communicator.

7. Focus on the Present

While it’s good to focus on the future, it’s also good to embrace the present and see how your daily tasks can help you achieve your goals. Most freelancers miss this trying to reach their goals. Don’t rely on a single client to make a living. Ask yourself, what are you doing today to make your goals happen?

Make small tasks and to-do lists and try to accomplish them every day. This helps you take note of your progress. Take your long-term goals one step at a time. Soon, you’ll get there.

8. Be Mindful of Your Numbers

You are not just a freelancer; you are running your own business.

As a business owner, you need to know your numbers to succeed.  Identify the following:

  • Revenue
  • Amount of time you spend on activities
  • Types of clients/projects

If you’re familiar with these numbers, you will know which ones need improvement and which ones work. Check your monthly income and see which projects require more focus. These projects generally produce the most results.

If you’re earning using one source of income, consider finding other income streams to increase your revenue.

10. Manage Your Finances

This can be the most crucial part of being a successful freelancer. You need to earn how to manage your finances properly. You need to allocate for business expenses and savings properly.

Consider spending:

  • 40% cost
  • 30% savings
  • 10% personal expenses (living)
  • 20% of other costs (taxes)

Always put a considerable amount in your savings (at least 30%) and try to keep your business expenses low as much as possible.

If you find any of these tips useful, share it with your friends!

Written By
Fazreen Razeek from Edarabia.com has served the education industry for over 5 years. He collaborates and works alongside education-marketing agencies, event organizers,  and educational Institutions ranging from nurseries, schools, and universities to develop and execute their marketing strategies. He is extremely passionate about education technology and also writes for various local and international publications. 

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