Top Ten Reasons To Quit Freelancing NOW!

Posted: February 6th, 2009

Look, you know it when you know it. Freelancing is not for you so time to cut your losses and move on to other opportunities… or just chill, drink beer and watch TV full time. Here’s how you know its time to quit:

10. Clients are real mean to you.

9. Couldn’t handle the flexible scheduling.

8. Need more time to freak out about bad economy.

7. Found better job cashing checks for some Nigerian company.

6. Didn’t know freelancers actually worked.

5. Out of sick days and vacation.

4. For some reason, you just don’t get those checks every two weeks like you use to.

3. Them clients just don’t understand good work when they see it.

2. Didn’t get that promotion that you were hoping for.

1. Your boss is a total loser.

My apologies for those of you who ended up here thinking this was serious. Freelancers don’t quit… we suffer on!

Three Simple Steps To Earning What You Think You Should

Posted: February 4th, 2009

One of the trickiest parts of freelancing is getting the project pricing right and earning an income that is expected for what you do. This is quite often a mystery, though. Many freelancers simply feel that if they make ends meet at the end of the month then why worry?

If this sounds familiar, you may actually be suprised by how much you could be leaving on the table. With a few steps, though, you just may see where your income stands and finally put a dollar figure to your work.

Step 1: Know your hourly rate

It’s easy to take a look at a project and say to yourself it’s worth X dollars. Then another project is worth Y dollars. In other words, freelancers have a tendecy to guess. More often than not, too, it ends up being worth more than we thought and we short-change ourselves in the process.

Since freelancers are essentially their own businesses, it’s important to target your income. Once you determine your target income, then you can break it down further into the hours you will have to work and, finally, your hourly rate. Your hourly rate will be the key for estimating a price for any project and reaching your target income.

Resources to help calculate your hourly rate (Freelance Switch):

Hourly rate calculator

Factors to consider when determining your price

Step 2: Always track your time on projects

Tracking time your time serves two primary purposes. First it is done to see if you are spending too much time on a project. The second is using that data for determining estimates in the future. The day will eventually come where you get requests for project estimates that are similar to previous projects you have completed.

Time tracking is simply using software, an excel spreadsheet or even pen and paper and recording EVERY DAY:

1. The project(s) worked on and the exact time spent on each project

2. Other non-income task(s) and exact time spent on those (includes invoicing, searching for clients, etc)

2.5 (It also helps to total the hours upon project completion)

Using time records from old projects can greatly simplify and save the guesswork from determining a fair price for your work since you now have accurate measures to go by. You can simply multiply the time by your hourly rate calculated above to get a project price.

Here are some free online time tracking services as well:

Paymo Timetracker

Slim Timer

Step 3: Always use project agreements

This is the most important part of any project. A project agreement outlines exactly what you will do in a project and exactly what you will be paid. The key to it’s effectiveness, though, is to note EVERYTHING that you will do to complete the project with specific details and no vague statements. This is done so there are no surprises or sudden additions to the work and time required for completion.

Clients have a tendency to add on more work as ideas come to them. Without a project agreement, however, they often think they are to be included as a part of the project, adding to your time. That’s why its important to draft the agreement and sign it along with your client. To handle those changes or additions, another document called a change order is used to outline those changes plus any incremental costs to the client.

Here is a sample  project agreement template and change order template from Elance.

Around the Horn: Week of January 26th

Posted: January 30th, 2009

The scoop in freelance for Super Bowl week.

Avalonstar:Distortion: Not everyone is cut out for freelancing.

A Blue Flavored Blog: Pricing a project is not always an exact science. Sometimes its a chess game of what you think a client can afford versus what they are actually willing to pay. Here is how a design agency approaches the touchy task of pricing.

Designers Mind: Freelancers are successful because they have the right habits. These good habits can be boiled down to the fact that they work hard.

Just Creative Design: The primary reason freelancers choose their profession is the freedom it provides in the direction we take with our careers. One of these freedoms is the ability to work wherever the hell we want to. It doesn’t matter whether it is at the local library or China, we shouldn’t take this for granted.

Freelance Folder: Making mistakes as a freelancer is normal. It helps to hear stories of other freelancing mistakes so you don’t have to repeat them either.

Freelance Switch: It is important for freelancers to give their very best service to their clients. You are also entitled to your own needs from your clients.

Freelance Switch: How does the sound of ultimate flexibility sound to you? Become a freelance “Web Worker” and you can work from anywhere in the world instead of nailed down to a single location. Skellie has the concise, but useful tips to be able to do this.  Here are Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4, too,  so you don’t get lost looking for them.

Freelance Switch: If you are a freelancer and work alone at home you definitely have had the “lonely freelancer syndrome” at some point or another. Here are some ways to beat it. Best tip: get a pet.

Project4Hire: An important lesson to all freelancers is do not take all jobs that come your way. Here’s how to spot those shady freelance jobs.

You The Designer: Ever bid on a project and thought you had it in the bag? Then you come to realize you never had it in the first place. Here are reasons why you didn’t get that project. This refers to graphic designers but applies to all freelancers, too.

As a added bonus, here are some funny work related jokes.

Is This A Booming Time For Freelancers… Or Not?

Posted: January 27th, 2009

It’s nothing new that news of the economy, wherever you are at, just gets worse as the year progresses. What I find interesting, though, is that I hear mixed news as far as the sutuation of freelancers in this crappy economy. If you get a hold of a report from a major player like CNN it’s easy to convince yourself that, hey, I won’t be affected.

On the flip side, I see a lot of news and advice from sites such as Freelance Switch and Freelance Folder that have tips on surviving the economic trouble. These all seem to conflict each other. I mean is this a time where freelancers should be celebrating or maybe worrying a little that they could become a casualty if they don’t act now?

Well, the answer is pretty simple. Prepare yourself but be optimistic. Does that mean we worry about the economy, too? Sure, but let’s not panic just yet.

As a freelancer, myself included, you should expect steady work from clients to slow down and possibly even stop. Even if things look peachy at the moment, everything can change in the blink of an eye. Preparations should follow suit. That means updating the resume, hitting the job boards, calling up old clients, and being prepared to find more work on a dime if need be. This doesn’t mean it’s time to scream Holy Shit! to yourself. First of all, yes, this is becoming a freelancer economy and, second, there will always be jobs available no matter how bad things get.

The bad economy is also a good time to take advantage of the slowdown, if you can afford to do so. You have to remember recessions are cyclical and a “boom” usually follows. So now is a great time to take up that project you had in mind or write that ebook you’ve always put off doing. Even a personal friend of mine is using all of this year to start up his urban clothing business in time for the expected rise in the economy next year. This is despite a looming threat of being layed off himself.

Now is a good time to be optimistic even though the good economic times seem far away.

Freelance No-No: How To Not Get Taken Advantage Of

Posted: January 24th, 2009

Every freelancer has gone through a trial period where they learn what works and what doesn’t work in order to make money in the business. The hardest lesson to learn is arguably how to keep your clients from walking all over you. I’ve experienced this myself and, unfortunately, still see this happening to some of my freelancing friends.

The result of having a client take advantage of you is obvious. You lose money, time and a bit of your pride. It’s usually not the intention of clients, however, to bilk freelancers. You have to remember, though, they tend to see the services of freelancers as costly and try to keep costs down to a minimum.

On that note, here are some ways to keep this from happening in the first place:

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Who Doesn’t Want To Hang Around Freelancers?

Posted: January 20th, 2009

I came across a blog article today by “Amy” at quietrebelwriter.com and read a funny little article. Here’s a bit I liked:

What, you think you can afford to be picky? Hallelujah and pass the ammunition, what the hell are you smoking? […] You can’t afford to be choosy! You can’t rely on your talent to pay the bills! You can’t negotiate! They’re all gonna laugh at you!!

Now, you may not see what I see what I do in this but the first thing that struck me was she (almost) used a rather famous quote that’s a personal favorite of mine. That I’ll save for some other blog though. What really struck me was that I finally realized this is the kind of community that freelancers are made up of: optimists and good humored fun people. People that could tap into your circle of friends and probably would fun to have a beer with.

I’ll admit, I’m pretty new to the freelance community. In fact I’ve really only begun to visit other freelance blogs within the past month. I can’t help, though, but to spend more and more time reading those I found and searching for new ones like Amy’s. All of them have the same thing in common, too. They provide good advice on how to succeed in freelancing and offer a little entertainment as a side dish.

I don’t think there is a better time than now to ride in the wave of freelancing. There are so many resources, stories, guides, blogs, you name it that you can already get an impression on how it will be like before even starting. The best part is that they are all overwhelmingly positive and helpful. You rarely find articles or stories of someone’s failed attempt at a freelance career.

Just surrounding yourself with optimism alone will take you far in anything you do. If your a freelancer, join in the community, read the blogs and take in the positive vibes. You’ll see what a change it makes in your outlook on freelancing.

Well, cheers to Amy and off to read more blogs…

The Monday Hangover No. 4

Posted: January 19th, 2009

History Happens

As you may of heard, the 44th president of the United States will be sworn in tomorrow. I can’t help but be proud that finally our society has made progress given the last eight years of  “What the fuck just happened” that left a trail of casualties from the States to Iraq. Coincidentally, (or not) there is finally a truce in Gaza and the damage is being tallied. Likewise, the new prez has a similar job to do tomorrow.

I can’t help but take one last parting shot at our outgoing leader.

The other historical events… the Arizona Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl.  How did that happen?

Well, here’s my theory: The Apocalypse is eminent and, in fact, will be on Super Bowl Sunday two weeks from now. In that time expect those four horsemen to be flying around your neighborhood anytime soon and Kurt Warner to be the second coming of Jesus Christ shortly after. If you haven’t asked Jesus to pardon you sins and become your savior, I’d suggest a trip to your local Protestant church between now and then.

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