Finding work as a freelancer

freelancers

So you have purchased all of the equipment that you require to work your new job with professional ease, and you are mentally rearing to get started on your new freelance project. You have set up an online portfolio, maybe even a website or some social networking profiles linked to your new freelance work, but there is one thing missing between you and achieving your goal - the work itself. Unlike most jobs with conventional hours worked in an office, freelance work doesn't just come to you, and it doesn't grow on trees, and so you have to really proactively go out and search for it.

Before you start approaching potential clients, it is important to be fully prepared and confident in your own abilities so that the client trusts in your pitch and picks you above all the other freelancers looking for work. Ensure that you have a strong portfolio, and also some good and clear examples of work that you can send to them upon request that are specialised in the field that you would be working for if they accept you. Be prepared with a cover strong cover letter that describes some of your experience, your ambitions and goals, why you would be suited to the project and also what will set you apart from everybody else applying for the role. While a lot of freelance work agreements can seem casual, it is important to take everything as professionally as a conventional job interview, because that is essentially what the client is doing when you offer your services to them.

Once you are ready to approach clients, the difficult task is locating them. You may have some people enquiring about your services if, for example, you have set up some social media profiles, and maybe some friends will recommend you to their friends and so on, but really, for the majority of your work, you will have to find it yourself, and until you build yourself a reputation and a brand for yourself, people are not so likely to come to you.

Some companies you can approach directly. They may be advertising on their websites for freelance work and will provide an email address or application form. You can target specific companies that you are interested in working for, and even if they are not advertising about vacancies, it may be worth asking anyway, even if just to leave your contact details with them for any upcoming projects you may be of use for. You have to push aside the idea that you are annoying as persistence is the only thing that pays off - you must go all out with passion and enthusiasm just to get your foot in the door. For freelancers working in a local setting instead of exclusively on the internet, this is often a better option, and for those jobs which require your physical presence, it often pays to visit the companies you wish to target in person so that they can get to know you.

Another method to obtain work is through freelancing websites. There are a number of different platforms where you can create yourself a profile page which reflects the work you are interested in, your experience, your skills and your personality, and then use this to apply to advertised jobs within the website with covering letters and possibilities to provide samples of your work to potential clients. A few examples are peopleperhour.com, freelancer.com and upwork.com which all operate in similar patterns. Most websites like this will take a small compensation out of the payment package to compensate for their services, and a few will ask for a membership fee as well. For those with little experience in freelancing, this is certainly an excellent way to start to gain experience and to start to build up a portfolio. Clients who are happy with the work you produce will often ask you to continue producing for them and so you can start to build a professional network of contacts that you enjoy working with and start to refine you work, which will likely start as quite generic, to something which is more tailored to your interests and the direction you wish to travel in professionally.

How to stay motivated

motivated

Depending very much upon your business and your profession, but if you are somebody who works from home, or somebody who is in charge of their own schedule, there will always be times when work is the last thing you want to focus on. One of the key factors to having a successful business is to stay motivated, and in some cases, a lack of motivation can have serious consequences on your monthly income. Sometimes we even start looking for distractions that we can use as an excuse to get out of progressing further, and we always hate ourselves later for wasting the time in retrospect, especially when we are forced to catch up during a time when we should be enjoying some time off. Here are a few tips for creating and maintaining motivation, that can also help you to manage your time.

Manage your time off - Time out of production may seem like a waste when you are driving to create a new business, but if you don't take time out to relax and to rejuvenate it will have a larger negative impact on your productivity and time. Make sure you build some time into your schedule to sit back and to relax and to do whatever it is you enjoy doing. When you do go back to work, you will return with a fresh mind and spirit and feel more motivated to push forwards with what needs to be done.

Do the hard thing first - Is there a big problem that is intimidating you and making you dread going back to work? Is it looming over you every minute of every day, following you around like a little rain cloud? Get it done! The quicker you can get that problem out of your way and out of your life, the better you will feel about working and the easier it will be to progress on with everything else. If you leave this until later and keep putting it off, not only will it bring your mood down, but it could hinder the rest of your work and productivity.

Work in the morning - Get up, have breakfast and go! Much like procrastinating larger problems, procrastinating your productive time means you are more likely to let it slip away and to just not bother in the end. If you start early and keep pushing through, you will feel a more positive vibe and feel more motivated to finish.

Avoid the impossible - Some things just can't be done, but if we hang onto these and convince ourselves that they are possible, we will just continue to hit brick walls. It seems obvious, but it's amazing how many people persistently insist that some things can be fixed. Focus on what you can achieve right now and get that done. This can all be done while keeping a larger and more difficult goal in mind, but the only way you will attack the bigger problems is by using small steps.

Stay healthy - Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in terms of regular exercise and food helps you maintain a positive mood. If you have a positive mood, you will feel better about attacking problems and large workloads. This goes hand in hand with ensuring you spend some time on yourself and doing what you love - a happy worker is a better worker. Staying healthy also ensures you minimise the chance of sickness and unscheduled time out, which can be a real killer when you are running your own business.

Make your bed - This is a bit of a strange one, but if you can visually represent to your subconscious that you are starting the day and leaving behind your sleep and the idea of being counter-productive (lying horizontally and sleeping being the opposite of getting work done) it can have a very positive effect on the mind. Generally speaking, being neat and tidy helps us keep a clean and tidy mind which helps when trying to organise thoughts.

Make a schedule - And most of all, stick to it! Manage your time in hourly blocks, but do remember to be reasonable and not to put too much pressure on yourself that you reject everything. Also make sure you schedule in time for scheduling time, which sounds ridiculous, but otherwise you will be behind before you've even started.

Reward yourself - You've completed some tasks. You've been productive. Give yourself a pat on the back! Self rewarding is a way to motivate yourself, and depriving yourself of little joys until you have finished what has to be done (providing you have the willpower to resist) should help you through big tasks.

Common Freelancing Mistakes

Freelancing

Freelancing is becoming more and more popular in almost every industry sector. Companies are seeing benefits by charging per project instead of hiring people on the traditional 9-5 daily grind, but as a newbie to the world of freelancing, there are many traps you can fall into that can have very negative effects on your pay, your sanity, your reputation and in fact on your social life, which is probably one of the reasons you decided to move away working standard hours. Here are a few things to look out for when you are starting out to help you establish yourself well economically and professionally.

Taking on too much work

- when you start out, it's very easy just to keep saying yes, but it is very important to know your limitations. It is a good idea to start off by taking only one or two smaller projects until you are confident with taking on more work to tackle simultaneously, as this way, although you will most likely find yourself underworking at the start of your freelancing career, you will not find yourself drowning under your own ambitiousness. Taking on a little bit of work to begin with will also help you to establish just how long each piece of work can potentially take and will help you to plan out your schedule a lot more accurately. If you do take on too much, you can find yourself stressed and overworking which can have a very negative effect on the quality and the quantity of your output.

Lack of planning

- working as a freelancer is similar to running a small self employed business. It is a good idea to have dedicated hours to work. It is a good idea to create a legal entity, to file your taxes, and to maintain thorough and accurate bookkeeping. It is important to recognise this as time for working as well, and sometimes it is worth considering this time when you are charging a client for your services. Stay professional, even when the contracts seem casual, and people will treat you more professionally. In another interpretation, planning will help you utilise your day and minimise your procrastination.

Becoming established

- working as a freelancer often requires very short term contracts, and you can't depend on your clients to provide long term work unless they offer a long term contract. In today's market, new companies are constantly being set up and old companies are often fading out and the market is quickly changing, for better or for worse. Make sure you don't put all your eggs in one basket, that there is a backup plan for those difficult months when the income isn't coming in as solidly as other months, and that you keep an eye on what is happening in your desired industry sector for new and improved opportunities. Sometimes it helps to make your clients people rather than businesses, as even if a person changes industry or company, he or she will have a good connection with you and will seek you out for your services.

Online presence

- these days, almost everything is done online. Make sure you are promoting yourself on freelancing websites. Make sure you have a Facebook page for your business. Make sure you are savvy with all the social networking platforms that will benefit your business. Utilise your personal profiles to advertise for your business, as you never know which old contacts of yours may be looking for your services or who may know people who are. Make a profile on Linked In, so that other professionals can find you. And most of all, maintain all of these and keep them clean, professional, and well updated. Online presence is an excellent form of self advertising, and your name and reputation become like a business that you have to promote.

Undercharging

- everybody needs money to survive, and freelancers are no different. It is easy for companies to pay freelancers too little, but you need to ensure that, while working competitively against other freelancers, that you are not undercharging for your services. Likewise, you don't want to dissuade potential employers by charging too much, so finding the balance is essential for successful continuation of your business.

Charging for what you love

pay

One of the most difficult thing about Freelance work is getting paid. To begin with, quite often companies will offer work in exchange for exposure or experience, and this is quite commonly seen amongst people who are studying creative subjects at university going into voluntary apprenticeship programmes, but some studies have shown that this has very little effect on whether future employers will actually employ you, and in some cases, it actually has a negative effect, suggesting that knowing your worth before you start working portrays you as a confident and reliable person.

It is difficult to know where to start. There are no regulations, there are no rules, and everything feel likes a random guess. It is difficult to establish the balance between overcharging, which is likely to scare away potential employers, and undercharging, which undersells your abilities and can create financial problems and also problems with trying to earn more later as you may be pigeon-holed as a "cheap employee. It is important to remember that your skills are valuable, otherwise there would be no market for them, but it is also important to stay competitive.

Before quoting your price, there are a few things you should consider. It helps to do some research and to find out how much other freelancers working in the same industry and in the same field are charging for their services. It is also difficult when you are paid by the project instead of paid an hourly wage. Sometimes it helps to tally up how long you feel each piece of work will take and to figure out if the total wages you are receiving are reflective of the time you have put into it, but don't forget to include the time it takes for planning and all the other downtime included in producing the final product, because even if it is not productive time it still has to be accounted for. If you are working on a long project, maybe it is a good idea to add on an extra day or two on the end when you are making initial estimations as you never know what could happen to delay your finish, and this will leave you with slightly more flexibility and breathing space.

A good way to calculate a rate is to figure out how much a week you would expect to earn and how many hours you would expect to work to obtain that figure including all your downtime relating to the business. If you do some simple maths you can come up with an hourly rate which might start to point you in the right direction.

Sometimes you have to be flexible with how much you charge, but it is a good idea to start off charging high on the off chance that they accept that price, but be prepared to bring this price down, keeping in mind a reasonable absolute minimum that you are not prepared to work below. It is very easy for the company to push down your hourly rate, but very difficult for you to ask for more and to push this up, hence why it is a good idea to start at the top.

Another difficulty is sometimes getting paid. Once you have provided the finished product, the company has less motivation to send you the money, so sometimes it is a good idea to either charge before you start working, or, as is quite commonly seen these days, to charge for half or a proportion of it to work as a guarantee. Obviously if your client pays you up front, you are under more pressure to adhere to any strict deadlines to keep them happy and returning for more work.

It always pays to have a Paypal account set up, as many companies, particularly when you are working remotely, will opt to pay your wages this way instead of as a transaction to your bank account.

It is often frustrating trying to obtain your money, and it sometimes feels very rude to ask, but without wages you can't afford to pay your bills or put food on the table, and while it is often difficult, it'