Archive for Freelancing Tips

Struggling Freelancer? Follow the 10 Commandments!

Struggling Freelancer? Follow the 10 Commandments!

The Ten Commandments which according to the Hebrew Bible is a list of religious and moral imperatives that were given by God to the people of Israel to give them a clear direction as to how to achieve religious success by avoiding some cardinal sins! Without a doubt success in any domain can only come if we avoid “sins” related to that domain and freelancing is no exception. To make the best out of our freelancing job we have to avoid these sins and follow what I call the 10 Commandments of Freelancing.

1. Thou shall not Work without a contract: Pinch yourself hard! Does it pains? Yes it must have, sadly this is real world! We are not living in a world only to be heard of in fantasy stories where everyone is loyal and you can trust every potential client and can’t believe that they can stab us in the back. The biggest mistake many freelancers do is that they just trust the client too much! Protect all your bases before starting the work with a fully documented contract including things such as payment terms and scope of work to be delivered.

 

2. Thou shall not undercharge: Are you working 18+ hours a day on your freelance projects and still managing a diet which includes beans and bread most of the time? Surely is one of many signs that you might be charging too little! Most freelancers don’t even know what they are worth! Or are happy with an amount with which they can meet there minimum expenses. Always keep yourself up to date with the latest hourly or fixed time rates for the domain you work in.

 

3. Thou shall not overcharge: Having said that you should know what’s your worth is and not undercharge you should always understand that clients are always looking for a quality yet cost effective solution. Keep up to date with market prices of similar services and always bid around it to gain attention. Anything way above or way down and alarm bells start ringing in the customers mind.

 

4. Thou shall not overload your plates: you should know your limits. I agree that the feel of earning more and more dollars is simply irresistible but “reputation” that’s something on which your business would grow in the future. Avoid working like the greedy algorithms searching for a local optimum and in turn spoiling the global optimum! Don’t overload yourself with work, be within your limits and build a reputation with quality work.

 

5. Thou shall not miss deadlines: I can’t insist on this more! This may be one of the worst forms of sins in freelancing. Clients hate deviations in commitments and this would ruin all your reputation until and unless you have a very genuine excuse.

 

6. Thou shall not work with simply every client: Remember it’s a real world! There are all types of clients in the world, some clients want the whole word but simply don’t want to spend anything. Some clients are just simply too hard to please! No matter what you do. Excuse such clients in a polite manner so you can focus more on clients who are happy to pay you up to par and bring you more success.

 

7. Thou shall NOT rely on just a single client: That’s a major mistake many freelancers do when they initiate a startup. You might find an angelic client who would suffice your need for the time being for success you need to diversify yourself work with different people which not only improves your confidence but also you establish growing relationships and business links.

 

8. Thou shall not become static: Technology never stays the same! If you want to achieve success in the freelancing domain and keep up with the pace of changing technology.

 

9. Thou shall not stop marketing your services: Have a lot of work? Well let’s be honest it’s not going to last forever. Keep advertising or marketing your services socialize with people go on business events or conferences that’s where you make relationships and out of any such relationship you get a solid lead or a reference.

 

10. Thou shall always follow up with your clients: Have a bunch of happy clients? Always follow up with them introduce new services and keep in touch. They can be your biggest source of new work both by giving you work themselves or referring other potential clients.

 

The list is exhaustive however if you follow these 10 golden rules you are guaranteed to have success in freelancing domain.

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How to Apply for a Freelance Project

I started freelancing back in 2006 when I was going through the final phases of my Bachelors degree in Computer science and like any other graduate student I wanted to make some extra cash apart from my pocket money to meet my every growing list of expensesJ.

The toughest part of being a freelancer is hunting for leads and then stands out amongst a huge pool of potential candidates to catch the employers/clients attention. While popular job boards such as vworker.com, odesk.com, guru.com, freelancer.com and elance.com have made the job of searching for suitable projects/jobs easier, the later is still a difficult job on hand.

Over the years I have grown a complete company out of my initial one man freelance startup with some simple methodologies that make you have employer’s attention instantly. Once you have his attention. Well done! Now you simply have to build on this to secure the lead.  In this blog post I wanted to share some of those insights that I learnt over the years.

  • Read the Entire Job Description: I know sometimes project postings can become really lengthy and boring and you just want to skim over the description and simply apply/bid on the position. I can’t stress that enough! Employers spend hours and hours nailing down the requirements and they expect the same from all the potential candidates as well! It’s their first criteria of filtering out a good candidate from a rejected candidate. For them it’s simple if you are not focused enough to even go through the entire description once than in the long run you won’t be staying focused on the actual job on hand.

 

  • Avoid Generic Bids: If I am the employer I would hate this the most! if you don’t even have the courtesy to go over my project requirements and reply back with project specific questions/relevant experiences or portfolios/suggestions etc. than it would be better off that I ignore your bid altogether. So as a rule of thumb attract the client always by asking him questions about the project and try to involve him in a conversation. This gives the employer an impression that you are serious about the project and give some thought about his requirements. Give him a feeling that you gave special personalized attention to his project!

 

  • Remain within your limits: Since this won’t be the last post on which you would be bidding or commenting neither it would be the last project the employer would be posting its always a great idea to leave a good impression. So assuming the client project requirements state “I am looking for a C# programmer with over 10 years of professional experience” ask yourself am I entitled for this position/project? Considering the requirement would I be putting on stake client’s time and resources as well as mine? And of course in the long run would it spoil my freelance image in front of a client who has potentially a lot more of work coming up? Be honest with your self! It will really pay off in the long run. I have numerous clients who come over sometimes offering thousands of dollars for doing a development in language/domain I am totally alien in, at first it’s tempting but remember one failure means your whole image goes down.

 

  • Portfolio: Once you are done with everything in a structured manner and client is interested in talking further with you, he would be asking for your relevant experience. Always keep you portfolio up to date. Categorize your portfolio and make it very easy for the client to locate relevant experience. Remember the client is not interested in how fancy your portfolio page looks rather what’s the quality of work you have done until now.

 

  • Communication: I can’t insist it more but constant communication is the key to build a long lasting relationship. Clients are investing time and money in the project and most of the time they are under time pressures too. So if you can’t keep in touch at all times or give timely project status reports its more than likely that after an initial project the client won’t ever approach you again. Make your clients feel that their projects are in safe hands!

 

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