Ahhhh, the life of a freelancer. Sipping on Starbucks, while surfing the Internet, sending emails and working on projects on a park bench among the company of singing birds, trees and lots of sunshine. While freelancing does carry some appeal because of the freedom it offers to independent contractors, it’s not for everyone. It requires a firm grasp of organization in your financial and professional life. Whether you work in the editing, photography, graphic design or writing industry, having a degree of self-discipline and a strong sense of initiative are essential traits as well.
Amy Levin-Epstein of MoneyWatch on CBSNews.com wrote a recent article on how freelancers can get the most out of their tax return. If you haven’t even thought about filing your taxes yet, read on. Below you will find a few suggestions from freelancing professionals who have been around the block.
Create A Virtual Portfolio
If you are working in the graphic/web design or game-creation industry, it is possible that you already have an online portfolio or website, but if you are an editor, writer or photographer, you should have a virtual portfolio or website as well. Econsultancy.com suggests that freelancers use their own name or their company name as a domain name and use WordPress.com to create an easy to update site. If you are looking for a reliable hosting company that offers a virtual private server that will allow you to back up files and organize your contacts and other data, Windows VPS hosting at MyHosting is a possible option that is affordable and offers you the professional edge you need to stoke a client’s interest.
Build a Network
Author of “The Freelancer’s Bible” and founder of the advocacy group, Freelancer’s Union, Sara Horowitz told Marketplace that the smart freelancer will consider their network to start with family and friends and then branch out from there. Contact old colleagues on LinkedIn and get them to endorse your abilities and endorse them as well. You will find that potential clients can be sought after through the existing connections that you already have and keep in close contact with all of them, checking in regularly to see if there is any work to be had.
Contracts and Payment
Just because you freelance doesn’t mean that the work you do is free. Even if your first couple of jobs are freebies, make sure you have the client sign a contract stating the terms before you spend time on a project. FreelancersUnion.org offers sample contracts that you can download, change and use as your own. One good way to ensure that you can receive fast and easy payment for your services is to set up a PayPal account or another form of online payment. If your clients insist on paying you by check and will not do direct deposit, let them know that this will push their project down to a lower level on your list of priorities. Be strong and let them know that your time is worth money and that you will accommodate their needs if your needs are met.
To find out more useful information on health insurance for freelancers and more tips on how to get clients and referrals so you can stay in business year round, visit FreelancersMedical.org and WorkMarket.com. Remember, freelancing works best for people who love what they do and do what they love, not for slackers or the faint of heart.