If you’re a freelancer and you’re sick and tired of hearing the same advice and tips from clients and friends all the time, what are they?
Here’s 5 tips that people always say, but they never know what it’s like being a freelancer and you wished they knew better:
1. Knowing your client’s needs
They say: American Author Sara Horowitz outlined three essentials in getting clients:
Analysing what the client needs with empathy
Matching skills to the client’s needs
Distilling this in a simple pitch
We say: Yah, easy to say! Know your client and what he needs…blah, blah, blah…
But sometimes the client also doesn’t quite know what he needs. What a freelancer needs to do is of course be open to what the client is asking, but the client must also be specific about the expected outcome.
2. Set realistic limits and goals
They say: Don’t over-promise only to under-deliver. Establish in writing what is going to be expected of you. Try to get hold of schedules and deadlines as early as possible, so that you can work out a timeline.
Organise your days in order to be productive with healthy limits. Include time-offs to eat, sleep and just relax.
We say: Yah, you set your own limits and goals. You include in time for yourself to chill and relax, but the client hounds you every single hour for a draft and on weekends only because he or she is being a pain.
A better tip would be to advice clients on a timeline so that he or she won’t call before the draft or final product is ready.
3. Maintaining a network
They say: Ask your circle of friends to recommend. Additionally, go out and meet people. According to experienced freelancers, what gets you work is friends, real friends. The last thing you want, is for to think that you’re trying to be friends just because it’s business.
We say: Go and meet people? But most of the time you would probably be busy working on a project.
Honestly, a better idea would be to harness the power of Social Media. LinkedIn is probably a good way to maintain a network and get a business going.
4. Expect some lost time
They say: Yes, you need to expect some lost time; week nights and weekends. You’ll be missing out on some of the fun when your friends are out partying.
To mitigate some of this loss of leisure time, stop watching TV and playing games and concentrate on work.
We say: Yes, you’re probably looking like a panda with the dark circles around your eyes from all the late nights at work. What partying are they talking about?
A better tip would be: Work more productively. Make a daily schedule to concentrate on work and take a step back to relax so that you can recharge yourself. Hey, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!
5. Evaluate your rates often
They say: In your first 6-12 months in business, you might need to probably make several adjustments to your prices.
Think about what sort of overhead expenses there are for a product or service, include other expenses such as vacation/sick time, software programmes and other necessary costs.
We say: How to evaluate my rates and pricing when my clients don’t pay me on time and keep demanding me to offer free services?
Make payment dates known to your clients and have them know that extra services could be chargeable based on a fixed rate.
Of course know what you’re worth. Know what your cost structure is like before making a proposal.
Yes, Singaporeans need to have a better idea of how freelancers work. With a growing proportion of freelancers and self-employed, more should be done to protect their rights.
NTUC Assistant secretary general Ang Hin Kee who champions the causes of Freelancers and Self-Employed shared in Parliament during the 2014 Budget Debate that the government should do more to help freelancers to innovate and be future-ready, as well as assisting them to be “innovative, well-skilled and do well in their respective roles.”
In 2014, Mr Ang also said during the Budget Debate that it is important for Singaporeans to adopt the right mindset towards freelance and self-employed career options and create the right work environment for them to thrive.
“Their jobs… must be considered as a viable long-term career.”