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Tips for Freelancers

Although not having a boss sounds nice, there are many things to take into account before becoming self-employed. Freelancers face more challenges than you might think. Here you have tips on how much to charge, pay taxes or how to publicize your work.

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Business is changing fast. As technology advances, how services are procured or products purchased are diversified. For many the best job option today is from home, with flexible schedules, and without a boss. That is, to be freelancers. However, this path, although it is very attractive can have its difficulties, so it is advisable to take some things into account before starting.

Finances

In the dark on broken money is a roll of dollars lit by a ray of light.

As freelancers, there are many anxieties around the financial issue. You may have a lot of doubts about whether you will earn enough or whether your customers will be able to pay you easily or how you will have to file taxes… These are all valid concerns but don’t forget that everything has a solution. Don’t dwell on this, start promoting your work and as you move forward solutions will emerge. Here is a list some of the most common problems.

How much can you charge for a product or service?

The most important point when putting a price on your work is this: never work for free. All your work, even the one you can do in a few minutes, has value. Although this is very motivating for self-esteem, it still doesn’t solve the problem.

You may be tempted at times to squander your work as long as you have customers. This is a very bad idea. Instinctively, anyone who sees your product or service will be suspicious if the cost is far below the market price.

One way to put a price on what you’re selling is to think about how much you want to earn a year. If you define this figure, you can start working towards that goal, putting a price that seems right to you.

However, please remember that the operating costs must be taken into account. Suppose you work in an office and spend on monthly rent, that expense will be deducted from what you collect. It seems obvious but sometimes it gets forgotten and it’s important to keep it in mind to know how much profit we have left.

You can use this calculator to get your bearings. It will help you define how much you need to earn per month (taking into account your expenses) to know how much you should charge.

Getting paid

Having a price is one thing, getting paid is another. When you offer your services online you can have customers from all over the world. That’s a good thing, we all want to reach more customers wherever they are. However, how do you get their payments?

An international bank transfer is a tedious and expensive bureaucratic process. It is inconvenient for both customers and you. However, there are already many other ways to move money online. The best known is PayPal. Although you must take into account the commissions charged per deposit, include it in your costs so that you receive your full payments.

Unfortunately, PayPal is not available worldwide. But there are other tools. One of them is Payoneer. This platform connects sites like Fiverr, Amazon, or Airbnb to receive payments from all over the world. It is an excellent tool to grow globally.

Taxes

The money problem doesn’t end when you get paid. Have you thought about whether you should pay taxes? Knowing the tax laws of the country in which you work is important. It could save you from large debts or even prison sentences. Consult with a professional accountant about what you should do before the tax office.

It’s not just about having a trustworthy accountant, there are things you should always have in order. Your payments, expenses, invoices, must always be organized to make the balance sheets of your company and pay the taxes that are required. It can be difficult or even confusing, so it’s always best to have a system implemented. Quick Books is a platform that can help you with this and save you a lot of time. It even has the option “self-employed” for freelancers.

Getting clients

Neon sign in the shape of a notificacion with a heart and a cero.

Money aside, let’s talk about getting clients. For someone to be encouraged to hire you, they need to know how you work, but we already said you can’t give away your work. It becomes paradoxical, you have to make yourself known but without giving anything for free, how do you do that? Well, exposing your work as much as possible.

Portfolio

This, more than a suggestion, is a requirement. Create a portfolio with all the samples you have of your work. Make a page where you collect past projects. Sometimes when we’re starting as freelancers it’s hard to have a lot to show but everything counts, from career projects to work you volunteered. This will help you have something to present to your potential customers.

Over time, you’ll have new material to update your portfolio. Continually maintain it and invite those who contact you to get to know it. Without having to give anything away, they will have a sample of your work and you will soon build trust with your customers.

Blogs and Social Networks

Once you have your portfolio, you have to make it visible. You have to make yourself visible, make noise, make sure that no one can ignore you. It’s great to have the portfolio, but if it’s a lost page on the Internet that you mail to your customers and that’s it, it’s not fulfilling its entire purpose and you’re not being the first choice for your customers either.

Have social networks where you promote your work. Keep your portfolio link visible and constantly publish content. Don’t forget to also have a LinkedIn account where you are active. That way you will find more people interested in doing business with you.

Plus, on LinkedIn, you can write articles. What good is this? It makes you look like an expert on your topic. For example, if you’re a freelance photographer and you write camera reviews or give photo tips, that will attract potential customers. In turn, those who are looking for a photographer and come across your profile may get an idea that you know what you’re talking about.

This is the same principle as having a blog. I am a web developer, I have this blog to help others but also to give my clients a taste of what I know. When someone searches: How to make a website for my business? And find my article on this blog not only do they get a guide, but they also get to know me and can consider hiring me because they already found out I’m an expert.

Just like you publish your portfolio on social media, also publish your blog, sponsor your new content. The idea is always that your clients can get to know you better so you can encourage them to hire you.

Other useful tips

vector illustration of a freelancer working on a computer

The two main areas to cover for freelancers are money and making yourself known. However, there are still some useful tips that do not fit into those headings but are worth taking into account.

Be the best example of your work

If a web developer has a slow page, would you hire them to build your website? I don’t think so. Just as you invest time in your clients’ projects, invest in your portfolio, networks, and blog. I know that if my page looks good, it’s a direct reflection of my work and that speaks very well of me. If you’re a photographer, use your photos on your page instead of stock images. Write original content and watch your spelling if you’re a writer. For developers, have a page that covers everything you can do for your customers. Freelancers need to showcase their work at every opportunity.

Learn English

If you’re reading this and got to this point it is safe to assume that you know English. That is awesome for freelancers because it is a skill that allows to connect with more people and have the opportunity to make business worldwide. But, reading English isn’t enough, you need to work on your communication skills. Invest in a course or download an app to learn languages, like Duolingo. If you only need practice, consume more content in English, tv series, videos, blogs… Or have conversations with people who speak it, you can use Tandem for this.

Don’t do more than you can

To last as a freelancer, you have to be realistic. Don’t accept more jobs than you can handle and give satisfactory results. You will not get a good reputation if you agree to everything and in the end, do not deliver the results that were expected. It’ll be frustrating for you too, and it could take you to drop out. Keep an agenda, check your delivery dates and only accept what you can do.

How did you like these tips for freelancers? Do you have any of your own? I hope they serve you and encourage you to get started.

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- About Me

I am Giovani Rodriguez, a self-taught full-stack developer currently residing in Nuevo Leon, México. I started my journey as a freelancer in this field four years ago. All these years of hard work have rewarded me with quite an expertise in developing business applications and structuring business models that are efficient and applicable.

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