The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
No nine-to-five schedule to respect, no need to please an unsatisfied boss or company and the ability to get paid according to your real value: this is the life of a freelancer, as well as the dream of many professionals today, but only of those who can follow the rules of the market. However, the decision to become a freelancer is not as simple as it seems.
As a matter of fact, it requires a lot of planning and sacrifices in the beginning, when the professionals are still trying to establish themselves.
From the moment you decide to become a freelancer, especially if you are a graduate fresh out of college, your daily work will be full of surprises, both positive and negative, but especially of a lot of new knowledge. Of course, there’s the good side: the freedom, the flexibility of schedules and budgets, the constant challenges, but this can also become your undoing if you’re not extremely careful. To be a great freelancer, you must have a lot of willpower and the ability to organize your time and work.
To avoid a possible mishap, you need to go through an initial cycle of workforce planning and the best way to design a perfect project is to follow the advices provided by our latest infographic. With our help, you can get all the benefits that professional autonomy can bring, such as independence and unlimited growth. With a good plan, some freelancers even stop looking at their jobs as something temporary until they get placed in a company, but rather as a future full of interesting professional goals. Most companies impose limits for the professional growth of their employees, but when you are a freelancer the limit is always imposed by yourself. This can result in higher job satisfaction and, currently, what can be more important than that?
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A Grad’s Guide to Freelancing
As a recent graduate, you could be part of the growing swell of freelancers finding work in the new economy.
You need to know that…
57% of freelancers earned more in 2012 than 2011.
1 in 5 new graduates in the UK are unemployed.
They’re earning nothing, while freelancer earnings are increasing.
That’s why deciding to be a freelancer can be a viable alternative.
But there are a few things you need to know in order to succeed.
The Five Commandments of Freelancing
#1 Thou shalt treat freelancing as a business and NOT a hobby.
#2 Thou shalt market your freelancing business every day.
#3 Thou shalt be willing to work for free in exchange for portfolio pieces.
#4 Thou shalt work to a set schedule.
#5 Thou shalt treat every client like the only client.
Create a Business Plan
“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” – Michael Porter, Harvard Business School professor
45% of service businesses fail within the first 4 years.
46% of those failures are due to incompetence.
Creating a business plan helps you find – and then fill – gaps in your knowledge.
Market Your Services
56.4% of freelancers find “income uncertainty” their biggest frustration.
You can avoid this uncertainty by marketing regularly. Here are the best marketing channels, based on the percentage of leads each earns active freelancers.
16.2% Online Portfolios
14.4% Social Networking Sites
13.2% Online Job Boards
4.1% Cold Calling
Create an Online Portfolio
“The traditional resume is dying. Talented professionals can’t do justice to their skills on a single sheet of paper, which is why many are turning to digital portfolios that go well beyond the written word.” – Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance
You can use Moonfruit to create an online portfolio, even if you’re not that technical type. With a few easy steps, you’ll have an impressive website.
Follow Up With Prospects
79% of leads never convert into clients. Most leads are lost because the freelancer just didn’t follow up.
You can turn more leads into clients by scheduling follow-up emails and “courtesy calls.” Customer relationship management (CRM) software can help with your scheduling.
Value Your Services
43.8% of freelancers are self-taught. You have an advantage because you’re a graduate, and should price yourself accordingly.
Here are three pricing strategies that many use:
- Find websites and books that discuss average freelancing fees.
- Network with other freelancers and ask them what they charge.
- Write proposals based on the value you offer, not the hours you work.
Guard Against Non-Payment
40% of freelancers have struggled to receive earned fees. Here are five techniques you can use to avoid getting stiffed.
- Research clients with Google, RipOffReport.com, and industry forums before accepting the project.
- Use a contract. Put everything in writing.
- Request partial or full prepayment from new clients.
- Levy penalties for late payment.
- Follow up on late invoices with poise and persistence.
Pay Your Taxes
16% of freelancers have failed to pay their taxes at least once.
Number of tax audits from 1996 to 2002. You can avoid problems by setting aside taxes with every invoice.
Make sure Skype is Disconnected
There are many recipes for success. Have your client watch you dance to Hit Me Baby One More Time – courtesy of the Skype Video Chat session you thought was disconnected – is not one of them.
Always check (and double check) that Skype is disconnected.
Get a (Social) Life
90% of freelancers work form home.
When you work from home you also meet fewer people, and this can lead to depression. That’s one reason roughly 10% of freelancers work outside of the house.
2% Freelancers that work from some coffee shops.
2% Freelancers that work from co-working hubs.
2% Freelancers that work from an office or similar.
And most important of all…
51.8% find that freelancing makes them happier.
71% earn more than £16,544 ($25,000) per year.
Without being chained to a desk.
Freelancers don’t have a boss… they don’t need to commute… and they get paid well. What graduate wouldn’t want to be one?
Source: A Grad’s Guide To Freelancing [Infographic] by the team at freelanceadvisor.