Freelancer Tips and Tricks to Get Your Career Off The Ground

Last Updated on 2 months by Christopher Jan Benitez

Freelancing isn’t for everyone, but you never know if it’s a good fit for you until you give it a shot.

Being your boss can give you a better work/life balance, allowing you to work at times you feel most productive and spend the rest of your time doing what you want. 

If you’re looking to jumpstart your freelancing career, have already started your job, or want to determine whether working as a full-time freelancer is the right path, there are a few things you need to know.

Here are the best freelancing tips and tricks to start your freelance career.

Determine Your Rate

Freelancers can get paid by prospective clients in several ways, depending on their duties.

For example, a freelance writer who gets paid to write articles online can be paid per word, per article, per project, and even per hour. On the other hand, marketing consultants typically charge per hour. 

There’s no right way to determine which way is right for you. However, it would help if you considered the expertise and value of your freelance services, plus the time it takes to complete a project.

For example, a graphic designer who designs a logo typically won’t charge per hour because they have honed their skills for years and learned how to create quickly. Instead, they’ll typically charge per project by giving their client an estimate. 

Similarly, while freelance writers can be paid hourly, they typically prefer to be paid per word or project, so they won’t be penalized for being able to do their work efficiently. 

After you determine whether you’d like to be paid per hour, project, or any other way, you’ll need to calculate the rate of your freelance jobs.

Calculating your rate for being paid per project can be tricky, but you should consider how long you think the project will take you, including times to make edits based on client feedback, and come up with a price you think is fair.

Hourly rates are typically the easiest to calculate with a simple formula:

  1. Add the annual salary you want and your projected annual expenses.
  2. Then, divide that number by the yearly billable hours you’ll work. The answer you get will be your basic hourly rate.

For example, let’s say you want to make $60,000 per year and only want to work 30 hours per week.

For this example, your expenses are relatively low at $10,000 per year, and you only want to work 50 weeks out of the year, giving yourself a two-week vacation.

Your equation would look something like this:

Hourly rate = [ [60,000 + 10,000) ] / [ (30 x 50) ] 

In this example, your hourly rate would be slightly over 46 dollars per hour. Instead of giving someone an hourly rate that’s difficult to calculate, you could tell them your hourly rate is 50 dollars so you can ensure all of your expenses are covered. 

Unfortunately, hourly rates might be the easiest payment method to calculate, but they might not be the best way for you to make money as a freelancer.

Determining how much you should charge will take trial and error, but after a few initial projects, you’ll have a better idea about what you should charge based on the amount of time you put into a project and your expenses.  

Have a Contract

A contract is a necessity for any freelance business. Not only does it ensure you’ll be paid on time and correctly, but it also helps you communicate with the client, so everyone is on the same page.

A contract should detail what you and the client are responsible for in your freelance work.

For example, a freelance graphic designer might outline they’ll work on a logo and provide three rounds of edits, after which the client will be charged hourly. You should be this specific because clients will take advantage of you if you let them. 

If the client wants edits on top of edits, then you’ll be spending even more of your time on a project that you’re not being paid hourly for, which means you could be losing money by working with a needy client. 

Your contract should be as detailed as possible and include payment terms, including when you expect to be paid and your rate. 

Get a Deposit

The best way to ensure freelance clients will pay you is to get a deposit from them.

When starting your freelance career, a rule of thumb is never whole-heartedly to trust your clients,

And while you want to believe that everyone is as honest as you are, some clients will disappear on you without paying, and sometimes enforcing your contract will cost you more than what you’d make from the client. 

Let’s face it: the freelance world can be dangerous if you don’t do your due diligence.

This goes both ways—just as much as there are bad clients, there are also irresponsible freelancers who will take the money and run without doing any work.

Obviously, you don’t want to be the latter. So, the next step is to find clients who are willing to pay the deposit before you start work,

By getting a deposit, you can scare off potential clients trying to take advantage of you and keep the clients willing to pay for your expertise.

Most clients understand why you request a deposit, and honest clients will be willing to pay for it if you remain communicative with them. 

Learn How Taxes Work

When you start freelancing, you must learn how to pay your taxes.

Taxes for freelancers work differently than taxes for regular employees. As a freelancer, you’re your small business owner, so you’ll be expected to pay quarterly and annual taxes. Self-employment tax is 15.3%, so make sure you save enough of your earnings to cover that every quarter. 

It would help if you also tracked your income and expenses to accurately do your taxes. You can use professional tax software to handle your business finances so you pay the correct amount on your taxes and won’t have to pay any fees later in the year. 

Find New Clients

Last but not least, among the freelance tips for beginners, you must learn how to attract clients that recognize your talents and will pay accordingly for them.

As a self-employed individual, you’ll need to learn how to promote yourself to get new clients. Some clients want to work with you long-term, while others will hire you for one project. Therefore, it would be best if you were constantly prepared to look for quality potential clients.

Finding clients works differently for freelancers, depending on their work and who they know.

Many freelancers get referrals from their clients and never actively seek out new clients, while others send cold emails to businesses they want to work with.

Others search for freelancing jobs on freelancing platforms like Upwork, Legiit, and others. To do this, however, they must create a profile promoting their own business to attract good clients. Job boards are also a great place to look for freelance projects to apply for.

Finding clients takes time, and you don’t get paid for the time you spend on it, so make sure you set aside time every week to find clients if you don’t have enough work to earn a living.

Aside from constantly applying for jobs from freelance sites, you need to build a high-quality portfolio that will help you generate clients who pay well and are easy to work with.

As writers, you can do this by creating great content on your blog, writing guest posts, and using tools to help you get the most out of your writing. This way, you’ll be able to publish lots of content that showcases your freelancing services more effectively.

From your freelancing websites, you can place a link to your published works there so a prospective client can browse and see if your writing style fits their needs.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a freelancer can be rewarding, stressful, exciting, and draining all at the same time.

As long as you have a passion for your craft and you dread the thought of going back to an office or working from 9 am to 5 pm every Monday through Friday, you can be successful. 

And to do that, you must follow the freelancing tips for beginners above.

About the author:

Matt Casadona has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Psychology. Matt is passionate about marketing and business strategy and enjoys San Diego life, traveling, and music.

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