After so long of working for someone else, there’s a good chance that you’ve gotten the itch to either be your own boss, or start a side gig to make some extra money. Freelancing has the power not just to put cash in your pocket, but to also help you feel professionally satisfied. While taking charge and going off on your own is exhilarating, it’s also challenging, especially for beginners. You can use this guide to help you avoid some of the common mistakes that first-time freelancers come across, so your business runs as seamlessly as possible.
Regardless of the services you’re offering, you need to understand what’s involved in a project entirely. Following all of the details, or “scoping,” means that you are considering the aspects from every angle before making solid decisions, presenting an offer, or developing a contract. It also helps you to know what you can charge for a rate. If you’re a beginner freelancer, consider the following questions:
- What does the project involve?
- Is there a possibility for extra work such as logo design, copywriting, creating marketing materials?
- What does the client provide to the worker to complete the project?
- What is the expected completion date?
Sticking to your terms as a freelancer is imperative. It helps to ensure that you don’t end up doing additional work for free.
Always Get it in Writing
Things don’t always go your way, that’s just life. As an entrepreneur or freelancer, understanding contracts and written agreements is crucial. These agreements are there to help protect all parties involved in the project, especially when things don’t go according to plan. Contracts don’t need to be difficult. You can keep them clear, simple, and easy to reference during the work.
If you aren’t sure where you should start, there are plenty of resources available on the internet. You can find templates of contracts that could suit your needs. However, if you require something specific, it might be best to hire a lawyer to write your contract, so you have peace of mind.
How much do you feel your time and skills are worth? Identifying the right pricing can be a tricky part of freelancing, and a down-fall for beginner freelancers who don’t know the value of their time. There are tricks you can use to help you with your baseline.
The first thing you should do is appropriately investigate the standard rate for the type of work you do by looking on Google, asking other contacts in your industry, and looking in online groups. From there, you can get a lot of insight from freelancing placement agencies who often include the rates in their job postings. The internet has more information than you think, you just need to look for it.
Set Your Business Up Right
Regardless of if you’re planning on freelancing for a side job to make extra money, or you have a long-term goal of making it your full-time job, you need to set it up correctly. How you set up your business plays a huge part in the success of it, not to mention the responsibility that you need to take on and the taxes that have to get paid. Are you going to work as an independent contractor? If you are, ensure that you do a suitable amount of research of the implications. You need to make sure that you’re aware of what is going to happen to you, your work, and your business should a client take legal action against you. When working as an independent contractor, it also means that you’re responsible for any burdens and debt that come with it. Choosing to set your business up with actual structure through the form of a limited liability corporation enables you to claim extra tax deductions, and helps with some of the personal responsibility weighing on your shoulders as an owner.
If you still aren’t sure, consider meeting with a business lawyer who can break things down and lead you along the right path. As soon as you have yourself set up and you’ve decided, make certain that you open a business account at the bank, so you aren’t making withdrawals from your personal account, and you can easily keep track of expenses; which leads to the next tip.
As soon as you begin earning money, you’re going to think about taxes, and then it’s time to track all the money that you have and are currently spending to complete all freelancing tasks. The type of funds that you should be tracking include transportation, services, programs and software used for work, client meetings and dinners, and even trips to pick up office supplies. If you spend a lot of your time on the internet to do your work from home, track that expense, as well as your cell phone and other details. Also, double check with your business accountant if you aren’t sure something is deductible. You might not question a $20 bundle of supplies while you’re purchasing it, but business expenses add up, and when they are tracked appropriately, can save you a lot of money during tax season.
All freelancers and entrepreneurs have their ways of doing things. What works for someone else might not work for you. Regardless, the above basic tips are there to help you get the ball rolling, or to at least open your mind to things you might not have considered. Freelancing isn’t as simple as getting paid to do small projects, even if it is a side job. All income that you earn has taxes that have to be paid on it. Ensure that you keep track of invoices, and claim everything that needs to be claimed, so you don’t find yourself in a bind, or worse; in trouble.