The opportunities for freelancing careers have never been better. The internet makes it easy to market your skills and search for new clients, and even though there's a lot of competition in most areas, there's still room for growth. The bottom line is that if you have skills that are in need, someone is looking to hire you. So here's a short beginner's guide to freelancing. This article assumes you already have an education or work experience, and you're ready to take your skills from the workplace to your home office.
Marketing Your Skills to Potential Clients
This doesn't have to include a massive budget when you're starting out. You can get a website up and running for relatively low cost. If you don't have the skills to do this, you could outsource to another freelancer to do it for you.
You'll need a supply of business cards. There are companies online that supply free business cards on nice templates; all you have to pay for is shipping fees. Make sure the cards have all your contact info on them, including phone, fax, email, and website address.
Finally, network, network, network. You can have a great website up and running, but it takes time to build up traffic and clients through that. Pound the pavement, and get your name out there. Pass out business cards, meet new people every day, and ask friends and family to refer work to you.
Understanding Service Contracts
If you're going into freelancing, you're going to need to familiarize yourself with service contracts. You need to have all the terms spelled out clearly in the contract. There's a lot more to it than just the work you're providing and how much the client agrees to pay. Make sure the contract contains:
- a deadline for delivery
- the exact work which will be performed
- how the payment will be made
- any guarantees from both parties
Clients often try to pile more work on a freelancer after a job has been accepted. Make sure the terms are spelled out clearly, so you don't end up having to do additional work for free.
Sending the Bills Out
You'll need to learn about invoicing if you haven't already. Quickbooks, and other money software programs, will have sample invoices that you can use or adjust to your own liking. Make sure the bill includes:
- the service or items provided
- a short description of the item
- hours worked (unless it's a flat fee job)
- the price of each item
- the total
Include the balance due and the date by which payment is expected. If you accept checks for your business, make sure the invoice contains a line stating, "Make checks payable to (your business name)." You'll want to use the same software program to send your clients a receipt as soon as you've received the payment.
That's a short guide to some tools you'll need if you're going to launch a freelancing career. It might involve more paperwork than you're used to, but once you've got a few contracts, invoices, and receipts under your belt, it'll become a quick and easy process for you.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.