There are a number of things I wish I could’ve know when I was starting out my career as a freelancer. I’m going to write a few short blog entries here to try and pass on some tips and encouragement to anyone who may be early on in their self employment adventure so that hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.
Charge for your time!
It sounds pretty obvious really, but in my first few years of self employment I felt so appreciative of anyone who wanted to work with me that if they asked for extras or post-sign-off changes that I would just do them for free. I did this for years, and it seriously hindered how much money I could earn and it put a huge strain on my time as I struggled to juggle completing new projects with making endless free changes on old projects. That’s not to say you have to be mean and cold-hearted, you will still need to make judgement calls from time to time as to whether the request is something you should’ve done in the first place or if it’s a new consideration.
Charging for these little bits and pieces will make the client appreciate your time, and you can always suggest that it may be more cost effective if they queue up a few more bits of work / extras so you can tackle them in one go.
Keep your books tidy!
It’s vital to keep a good record of all of your income and expenses. Don’t forget that as a self employed person you may be entitled to some business expenses that you actually enjoy! For example I keep a record of the comic books that I buy as I consider them to be research for my line of work as an illustrator & comic book artist.
Finish the damn project!
Sometimes a projects’ length will be the same length as a piece of string. Meaning, you could work on it forever, but you probably shouldn’t. Get good at making decisions and be confident in your opinions, and finish those damn projects! Remember, a project has no life until it’s released to the wild.
Be kind to yourself!
Do whatever you have to do to not go mad. Working alone can be isolating; exhausting; stressful; and tough to stay motivated, but it can also be exciting and hugely rewarding. Just be sure to take a walk every now and then, go for a coffee, talk to your friends. Do whatever you need to stop yourself going stir-crazy. Over the years I’ve had many different techniques in place to keep my brain working, lately I will talk a walk every day, and we have a cat, so it’s pretty good here really.
I’ve recently been told about a free online tool to generate invoices, so if that’s something you’ll be needing as you start your business have a look here for sure!