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October 31, 2014
 

Avoid Common Freelancing Hurdles

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Follow These Smart Methods to Stay on Track in the Freelance World
It may look easy, but freelance work actually comes with its own set of challenges. Some common problems that beginners usually encounter include managing their time well and balancing their new responsibilities. When working alone, it would be especially vital to concentrate at all times and to complete projects in a timely manner. It would also be vital to maintain your workload with existing clients and secure new work, so that your business can keep growing. Here are several tips that can help you stay on the right track in the freelance world.

Make Sure You Have a Special Space Set Up for Work
Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that you should rent out an expensive office space downtown or anything. In fact, the majority of freelancers love working from home. Unfortunately, "home" can come with a lot of distractions, too, and because of this, you need to have a special space in your home to work in. This space of yours has to provide you with the utmost privacy (most of all if you have roommates or little children in the house) and lots of room to work in; be in an undisturbed area, in general, so you can talk to your clients and focus on work; and include everything you might need for work - a phone, a fax machine, a computer, file storage and a work desk, among other things. If your type of freelance work requires you to meet clients at home, you should also make sure that your space is always clean and appropriate for these visits.

Figure Out What Your Fee Structure Should Be Like
This might seem obvious, but you will be surprised to hear how many freelancers actually refuse to do this. Ideally, you should create a service price list that you can give to any potential client and which you can refer to whenever you have to submit a work proposal. Most freelancers have fixed rates per hour, but you can set flat fees for certain projects or services, too, if you prefer. One PR agent, for instance, might charge $125 an hour, but you can choose to charge $350 for every two-page press release. On that same note, you should also decide on what kind of discounts you want to provide upfront and add it to your fee structure. A lot of freelancers give discounts to certain kinds of customers, like non-profit companies, for example.

Establish Your Working Hours
Even though you are your own boss now, you still need to maintain a proper work schedule. You can choose to work in the morning or at night or every other hour - it is up to you. The important thing is that you set a certain time for business hours, so you have a routine that will keep you focused every day. Naturally, you can change your work schedule every now and then, but it would be best to stick to the same set of working hours as much as possible. After all, keeping a fixed schedule can help you create a consistent work habit for both you and your clients since they will which days and what time you are free during the week.

Create a Portfolio
Depending on your kind of freelance work, it would be advisable for you to create a portfolio based on it to show your potential clients. You may be a writer, a landscaper, a photographer or an artist; but you have to put all of your best examples of work into an organized book or binder, so that you can show potential clients your work samples if they ask for them. This will help improve your credibility and showcase your different capabilities at the same time. You can also include testimonials from previous customers for even more credibility, if you want.

Get Professional Business Cards Made
Think about it: have you ever been at a social or professional function and met somebody you could have done business with, only to realize you didn't actually have a business card to give out? As common as the following scenario may be, writing your contact information down on a napkin doesn't exactly scream "professional" and won't market yourself the right way, either. It may be tempting to avoid the costs that come with making business cards and just rely on other ways to give your information to clients, but it would still be best to have business cards ready since they are still the best tools to use to trade contact information with other people. Plus, it will show how professional you are and that you do not see your freelance work as a mere hobby, but as a real job.

Create a Personal Website
The majority of professionals nowadays tend to run to the World Wide Web to get information on certain businesses, and the same goes for freelancers. Because of this, your potential customers will want to see a basic website from you at the very least. Fortunately, creating a simple website is very cost-effective in today's day and age and it will even include several pages with service overviews, contact information, case studies and customer testimonials.

Set Time Aside for Proper Marketing
You may get so caught up in a project every once in a while that you might forget your responsibilities to other projects. This might cause you to have too much downtime between each project. To stop this from happening, make sure you schedule enough time each week for various marketing activities, such as cold calls, client meetings, networking, and creating and giving out marketing materials.

Summarize Your Business Plan
The last vital thing you have to look into to ensure that your freelance job stays on track is a business plan. If you aren't pursuing outer business finances, then you can just write a summary of this plan to save time. The basics that you have to include, however, are a basic overview of your services; your business's financial goals or projections; an overview of the general competition and your differences; and your plans for promotion and marketing. It is important to write this business plan, so that your business goals stay clear, and so that you have references that will help you remember your goals at all times.

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Discuss this and other freelance topics in the Freelance Forums.
 
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Comments
 
Lizabeth
June 8, 2011 - 12:46 pm
That's way the bestest asnewr so far!
 
 
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