Recently I wrote an article about how I prepared to join the world of freelancing. Now that I’m over a year into freelancing and loving life, I thought it would be beneficial to share with you what I’ve learned so far.
1. Set Your Rate
Time is money, and as a freelancer, you have to be very specific as to what exactly an hour of your time is worth. This varies depending on the type of software you write and the amount of experience you have. I suggest that you research your direct competitors in the area and find out how much they charge. Initially, you probably want to charge a bit less until you have a considerable amount of projects under your belt and numerous references from happy customers.
2. Write it Down and Sign
In the initial stages of every project, it’s very important that you outline what you’re willing to develop and for what price. Make sure that you’re as specific as you can be so when you’ve developed the software there’s no confusion as to what was expected. This also prevents the customer from taking advantage of you by asking for “one last thing.”
I worked from home for the first 8 months of freelancing and found it to be amazing. I didn’t have to commute. I didn’t have to participate in useless meetings and didn’t partake in water cooler chit-chat about the weather or my plans for the weekend. My productivity skyrocketed, that is, until a time when my personal and professional life merged into one and I didn’t have a life anymore.
Rent out a desk in your local co-working space if possible and don’t bring work home. It’s much healthier this way.
I found that networking and meeting new people were the best sources of new projects. Attend conferences where your potential customers are likely to be, and you’ll be surprised at the number of qualified leads this will generate.
5. Time off
Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, and the rest of the successful businessmen of the modern world work 26 hours a day. I tried it and I found it to be unsustainable. You must realize that life is a marathon and not a sprint and a burnout will certainly not get you closer to achieving your goals. Set your working hours. Ensure you have at least one day a week off and get at least seven hours of sleep per night.
6. Schedule Vacation
I schedule my time off ahead of time because if I don’t, the project I’m working on takes precedence and I keep postponing my holiday indefinitely. I find that if I know I’m off work between certain dates, I will work harder beforehand to close off a project and then actually enjoy my deserved time off.
7. Track Time
I found it to be very beneficial to track my time. At the end of every week I receive a report, which clearly shows me what took up the most of my time in that particular week. This also helps me with invoicing my clients as I know exactly how much time I spent on each project. There are plenty of tools which will help you with this task. Google “Free time tracking software.”
I believe that if you keep the above points in mind you’ll do okay. The most important thing is to get started and begin making your own mistakes.