My five golden rules of freelancing

I find I come across a lot of freelancers who don’t enjoy their job as much as I enjoy mine. To help these guys in need of a morale booster I thought I would share the rules that I like to put in place whilst freelancing in order to benefit future and current freelancers experiencing problems in their day to day work.

Here’s five core points you should be baring in mind whilst freelancing.

1. Keep it interesting

Working the same job over and over is always going to get boring eventually. That’s why I tend to diversify the area of each new job I take on and introduce as many new experiences as I can. Occasionally i’ll see a job which is completely out there and send a message about it on the spot. This will either allow me to meet somebody new or just experience what it’s like to work with that area of the web.

It’s all about breaking the routine that every freelancer drops into from time to time. It shouldn’t feel like your copying and pasting what you did last week for a new site and changing the name on top – it should be that your adding something to your skill set, experiencing something new and dealing with different people on a week to week basis.

2. Don’t work with people that you don’t like

There’s nothing more aggravating than working with people you don’t like. It demoralises you, makes work a chore rather than a passion and basically makes you question why you do what you do.

Always be sure to save up your money in the background and have a backlog of pay stored away. This gives you a position where you can turn down clients you aren’t sure about and pull out of deals that are making your life hell.

The last thing you want to do as a freelancer is to break a relationship with a client by pulling out of a deal. But I feel that if it’s no longer fun or interesting to work with that client then you should be moving on and finding work somewhere else.

3. Know when to escape

Knowing when to take a break and when to stop working is a key part of freelancing. Otherwise we’d all be doing 12 hour days every day and just get burnt out all the time.

Take weekends off, read a book, get some DVDs, join the gym, walk the dog, visit the local shops to get a sandwich … all of these are things you can do to escape working.

(This is all of course outside of work hours and during breaks.. not to avoid working in the first place.)

4. Treat every job as if it’s your first

Don’t get comfortable with a long term client, your standard should be as high as it was when you first worked for them. The day you decided that if you did a good job on the first project there may be more in it for you. This should be how you treat every job – as if your out to impress in a job interview and need that job to survive. That hunger to impress the client and keep them happy is how you deliver consistently and how you keep that client wanting to use you in the first place.

Think about this – are clients going to refer you to a friend if a friend needs work? Are they more likely to refer an excellent freelancer, or one that delivers average results?

Of course there is a twist to this rule – we all know our first jobs weren’t the best and where possibly even sloppy. That is something you’ll have to refrain from doing with this rule of course.

5. Communicate beautifully

Spell checks and grammar checks are vital for the less-than-able English speakers here. I often find clients talking about how poor ex-hires were with their English and it will always be off-putting when a client wants to deal with the client in long conversations about how they want things done.

Another important part of this rule is to put communicating with the client as a priority. If they send you an e-mail it’s not ‘I’ll do it later’, it’s ‘OK I’ll respond now’. This is any time of your day your at the computer and this is what can set you apart from the rest. Having an instant reply or instant action towards the e-mail they’ve sent (if they want/need something doing) is always going to be something that a client likes – and it’s something that’ll win you over if your trying to impress them.

So there we have it, my golden rules of freelancing. I hope to have benefitted a few freelancers with this articles and I welcome any comments you wish to leave.

4 Responses

  1. Darius

    Nice new version and another great article sometimes you need someone to slap you with the obvious things you should always keep in the front of your mind :) . Gonna bookmark this one.


  2. DeanHunt

    Nice article. I am guilty of number 3. It is 1:13am here and I am nowhere near finished.


  3. seraphim

    Congrats, nice article indeed. Keep up the good work! ;)

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