Is Freelancing for Everyone?


Many people like the idea of being their own boss, whether it is owning their own business or being a freelancer.  But not everyone is able to do this kind of job.  Knowing if freelancing is for you is important to consider.

There are many things to consider:

  • Are you able to work on your own?
  • Do you need the regular office to help you get work done?
  • Does working at home scare you or excite you?
  • How well do you deal with distractions?
  • Do you know your limits?  Can you set limits so your family knows to leave you alone and get work done?
  • If you work from home, can you step away when necessary to do other things?  Can you step away from home things to take care of work?

I work as a freelancer so I can work around our schedule and what we have going on.  I can work when the kids are napping, when they go to bed at night or when they are playing outside.  If my husband is home and not working, he can help me with the kids so I can get work done.  I decide if I want to work on that expects me to work set hours or if I want to work as long as I meet the deadlines.

I also have to know when to when to let go of clients and when I can take on more clients.  I have the flexibility of knowing when I can rearrange my schedule and when I can’t.  I have found different ways to help me stay focused and organized on what I need to get done.  I also have to know what I am not willing to do or what I am not willing to use.  Technology can be helpful, but also knowing when you pay for services and when you don’t pay for services.

Understanding if you are ready or able to do freelancing can make all the difference in making it happen.

Advertising


I have looked at ways to try to advertise my freelancing business.  I found a site where I could set up a website for free for one year and then would have to pay a monthly fee.  I have decided that I would cancel that as I wasn’t making enough money from freelancing to make it worth the time and money.  I learned some good skills I am thankful for because of setting it up.  I have decided to use WordPress as my website and blog.  I have added pages to my blog to include services I offer, testimonials and then my blog as a sample of my writing skills.

I have also put up some flyers in the area to try to get me some business.  Many times places like the library, the bank, laundry mats, local gas stations, etc will allow you to hang flyers up.  I used PowerPoint and then the bottom part has something they can tear off with my name and contact information.  If you use the banks and gas stations, you may find you get people who wouldn’t know about your services and may actually take one.  If you check it regular, you may find you need to replace it.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask friends, family and neighbors to hang up the flyers where they work, stores they visit regularly as well.

Use various social media tools as well.  This can be a great tool to help get your business out there.  If you use WordPress, you can publicize your post on different social media sites you have, then your friends and others who are connected to you will see when you post something new, if they comment, like or share, others will see it as well.  What about starting a page on Facebook or Twitter with your business?

You may not have a lot of money to spend on advertising, but make a few of these things help you out – you never know what it might do for you.

Trying to Get Your Business Out There


There are many ways to get your business out so people will know you are ready for business.  If you don’t get your name and/or business out there, you won’t get any business, which means your business won’t grow.  There are many ways to get this done, but don’t feel you have to do all of them at one time.

The many ways to get your business out there:

  • Use freelancing sites like oDesk, Elance, Freelancer, Guru, etc.  This can be a great way to get some experience under your belt. 
  • Social Media – Start a social media page on things like Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn to share about what you are doing.
  • Flyers – Put these at sites that will allow you to hang them.  Places can include the local library, laundry mat, banks and stores.
  • Blogs – If you have a special niche you will be providing services for you might want to consider using a blog.  If you use a free one, it will also help you with the cost as well.  Also, until you are able to pay for a website, this would be a great way to sell the services you will be providing.  For example, if you look at my blog and the pages I have, I have included quotes from clients and will be adding to it.  I will be adding a page about the services I offer and how to contact me for services.  I use WordPress  if you have LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, you can have your blog post show up on those pages as you write them.

There are many ways to get your business out for others to see.  It is about how you use it.  It is about using the resources you have wisely to be able to grow your business.

How to Get them to Hire You!!!


We all want to be hired, but we also want the right job.  Your job is to get the client to hire you to do work for them.  You want to make sure the job is a good match for you and you are a good match for the client.  There may be times you think you are right for a job with a client, but they don’t see it that way.  But in the process, they may feel you are a good match for another project they have going on.  If so, you still get a job.

I recently applied for a job and was invited to interview for the job.  During the interview process we found out I wasn’t the right person for the job I applied for, but ended up getting another job because of the contact.  The result of any contact you have is to get a job, whether it is the job you applied for, a better job for you, or even a referral.

If a contact doesn’t have a job for you, then try to get a referral so you can still work on getting work.  Also, once you have started working for a client you want to see if they have work for you, especially if they are happy with the work you have provided for them.  I was communicating with one of my clients today about a project I had worked on for him.  He needed to change what I was working on.  During the conversation I asked he let others know about what I was able to do when he ran into people who talked about needing a writer, proofreader and/or editor.  I one time did get a job through oDesk because someone was happy with the work I did.  This is one of the best ways to build your business.

I have also had clients continue to give me work because they liked what I did.  Whether I did the complete job or they were in a pinch and needed help.  They may also have me help them when other things come up.

You also need to keep applying for jobs.  There may be times you won’t work as hard as other days to keep getting new work.  The first example I shared with you in this article was because I was still applying for work.  I was looking for more work to add to my workload.  Come to find out, for the work I ended up getting, I can add to what I am able to do.  If they like the batch I end up doing for them, there will be more work for me.

But most important when doing this, make sure you know your skills and are willing to do what they need.  You don’t want to do something and then not be able to do to because you don’t have the skills, the time or the want to do it.

So keep going after work, it will make all the difference in your workload.  Don’t wait until you don’t have any work to start looking.

 

The Notebook – If You Lead a Freelancing Team or Agency


If you lead a team or agency you the notebook can be a great way to keep track of what is going on with your team members.  You may one to have one notebook just for your team members and one notebook for all the projects you have going on, even if team members are doing it.

The Team Notebook:

  • File folder for each team member
  • The folder will include a copy of their rates, samples, contact information.
  • The folder should also have a copy of the instructions and other information about the job.  All these should either be paper clipped or stapled together.
  • You may even want to include a copy of any and all invoices they send and write when you paid them.

The Project Notebook:

  • This should include the instructions and job information in the folder.  
  • Include a list of all the team members working on this project.
  • List the contact information of the client, how they want to be invoice, etc.
  • Include copies of invoices requesting payments for the project.

Of course, with either of these, you can tweak it to make it work for you.  The idea of them is to make sure you know what is going on, by whom and when it is due.  You may choose to only use one idea, but as a Team Leader, using at least one of these options is going to help you keep organized, manage projects successful and feel like you can see what is going on at any point during the project.  You don’t want to add extra to what you are doing, but you need to make sure you have everything at your fingertips.

Using the notebook idea can help you for the following reasons:

  • If you will be working at a coffee shop, going to a meeting, etc you will have the basic information to keep working.
  • You have a back up for when something ever happens to your computer.
  • It is a great way to check something if you ever get a question and are in the middle of something else and don’t want to check your computer, etc.

I would love to hear about other ideas and suggestions you may have for using the notebook idea.

My Notebook…Organization


I was telling one of my clients about my notebook/binder I have to help me with organizing my freelancing business.  She liked the idea and I am going to share it with you.  I hope to share more besides this post about organization and even the notebook.

The binder I have allows me to get important information about all my projects, and what I am doing so I have it in one place.  This can come in handy for many reasons, including:

  • If you work from many places, you have everything you need to work, no matter where it is.  
  • It allows you to be able to go to one place to look about the different projects you have going on without having to worry about opening more programs on your computer or relying on your mind.
  • It is a great way to use, no matter how many projects, clients or team members you may have.
  • Many other reasons based on what you do and how you use the binder.

Things to consider for your binder:

  • File folders with holes put in them.
  • Note paper to use for notes, to do list, etc.
  • Labels
  • Anything else you may need to keep you organized.

My binder is set up:

  • File folders for each of my clients.  I staple or paper clip notes I have printed off, instructions, etc I need to have handy about each project I have for each client.  This will allow me to keep everything I may need for any of the projects dealing with the project in one spot.  Each folder may have how often I invoice or bill the client, how I may bill them etc.  I also include a piece of note paper so I can make any necessary notes dealing with a client.  For example, I have a client who wants the articles I write to be increased as far as number of words and wants to revisit if we will stay there or not at the end of the month.  This is a great way to make those notes.  It is a way to also put deadlines in plain site.   
  • File folders for things like: Resources, Blog ideas, Business Craft ideas, blanks for future clients and projects.
  • I also keep extra paper in the binder as well.  This allows me the ability to add more to the different folders based on what I need to do, whether it is to track my time, mark where I stopped, etc.
  • I have labels in the pocket so I keep using the file folders.  This allows me to get rid of any clients info or projects that have ended for whatever reason.  Why keep buying more folders, etc.
  • Resource folder – This allows me to put articles I see that are helpful, maybe there are other things to help me with the work I do.  Since I proofread and edit, I have shortcuts and editing articles there, which can come in handy.
  • I have a sheet that has my to do list on it as well.  This allows me to look at what I have going on in my folders and make my list so.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them and I will be happy to answer them.

Tracking


Tracking your work is important.  This means, what you need to be paid for, invoices sent out, etc.  It could be you use something like oDesk, they may track your time, but you still want to have something where you keep track of the money from these particular projects, etc.  You also need to have a tracking sheet of all the invoices you send out.  If you have clients you have gotten that does not pay you through something like oDesk, you need to know what invoice you sent them, how much it was for and when you sent the invoice to them.    Also knowing when you got paid is important.  This will help you know if you need to follow-up on payments, etc.

You need to find what works for you.  What I have used has evolved over time.  I seem to tweak it the longer I freelance.  The idea is to make sure it captures what you need it to so you know what is going out and what is coming in.  If you don’t you won’t be able to do taxes correctly nor will you really know what you are making, spending and if it is worth your time to do it or not.

There are many different types of templates out there, so find what works for you.  The reason for so many templates is because what works for one person may not work for another. It is always a good idea to make sure you know how it works for you.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how it was set up, etc.

Tax Time…


This is the time we are thinking about getting taxes done.  It is important to make sure you have everything ready when it comes to getting them done.

If you work for a company you will more than likely get a form of some sort saying how much you have made with them.  But it is also important to keep track of what you have made with all of your clients.  Depending on what country you live you in, it will determine how much you make on what you are supposed to claim.  But in reality you have to claim everything you make, so tracking what you make will come in quite handy for this.

If you work with oDesk, they are recommending you print what you have made for the year and turn that in.  That is a great idea and a good way to go about it.  It is also a great way to compare what you had and what make sure things match up.

If you don’t work for a company like oDesk, keeping track of your work will be important to do.  If you receive payments with PayPal, this is a great way to track your income as well.  You can print off the statements for each month and have it to use to compare what you make along with using to help complete the taxes.

It is important to make sure you complete your taxes on time and properly.  This means if you don’t know what to do, you get professional help.  Make sure you keep a copy of the taxes, regardless if you do them or have someone else do them for you.  This will help if you have problems later on down the road with your taxes.  Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help.  This is a great way to make sure you don’t do something wrong and the taxes are completed correctly.

Don’t forget to keep track of your expenses.  This includes anything from part of your internet, your rent/mortgage payments, computer, maintenance of vehicles, buying supplies for your computer or for what you do, etc.  But it is important to remember you need to start making a profit after a couple of years or it is going to be seen more as a hobby instead of work.

Asking questions and seeing what others do can really help make sure you have what you need when it comes to your taxes.