11 Things Every Full-Time Freelance Designer Should Know
To give up a steady monthly paycheck is not a comfortable option for many. There are many questions that pop to mind when one decides to convert from a â€œday job / side work designerâ€ to a â€œfull-time side work designerâ€ â€“ Will I be able to pay for my bills every month? Will I have enough clients to keep my business going? What do I need to get started? Am I ready to go full-time?Despite the loads of problems that may arise when one first converts, one cannot deny that there are perks to free-lancing on a full time basis. With proper scheduling, time can appropriately allocated for work and rest. Hey, you are your own boss now, so itâ€™s up to you to determine when you can take that day off. The lack of traveling from home to the office (especially those whose office is far away from home) allows time, money and energy to be saved more efficiently. And with the availability of the continuously advancing technology, you can have accessibility to your clients within clicks away. Conferencing from the comfort of your â€œmini-officeâ€ at home is possible even with you just wearing a smart business shirt and your shorts.
Mental, financial and technological preparations are crucial factors to ensure that the conversion process occurs as smoothly as possible. Here are some tips for those who are thinking of making that conversion, as well as for those who are already freelancing full-time:
1. Maintain frequent contact with clients. The clientâ€™s trust can only be achieved if the clients feel that they have been provided with good service. One way to tackle this challenge is to harness the usefulness of e-mail, instant messaging and even phone calls to cover up for the lack of face to face interaction. The best is in fact to make agreements over e-mails as this form of communication is provides â€˜black and whiteâ€™ proof to whatever decision that is made. Nevertheless, it is also advisable to be wary of â€˜excessively paranoidâ€™ clients who will abuse the phone and will keep making changes to things that have already been agreed on earlier.
2. Think about the future. It is important to continue to market your business even in the midst of all the deadlines. If majority of your work is derived from your website, it is strongly recommended that you set aside at least some time on a regular basis to update the content. It is also important to promote your business during this allocated time. This includes calling up potential clients, blogging or self-marketing.
3. Focus on the present. While it is important to pursue the future, it is equally important to ensure that current jobs get done well and on time. This not only ensures that revenue comes in promptly, but it also inculcates trust in the client.
4. Choose appropriate deadlines. It is always better to be realistic than to try to accomplish the impossible. If you have many projects already in hand, it is not recommended for you to agree to accept a new task which is quite impossible to be completed by the desired dateline. Always remember that working at home doesnâ€™t mean that we can be up 24/7 dong our work. It is important to maintain our health so that the work can be completed well. It is important to check and update your schedule regularly. Itâ€™s better to be realistic when first making an agreement than ending up completing the work late. In addition, it is advisable to avoid deadlines on Mondays. This would prevent one from working through to the weekends, although there may be free time available.
5. Think before replying outside business hours. Replying to clients outside business hours would only indicate to them that you are on the job 24/7. This would give them the impression that you can be contacted at anytime of the day. Although it is important to maintain frequent contacts with oneâ€™s clients, time between work and rest should be separated. This is especially true if you have international clients from different time zones (which is likely the case). It would definitely inconvenient for you to wake up in the middle of the night just to answer a phone call.
6. Realize that the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. Although at times project offers may come pouring all at once, it is important to pick the better ones. Better ones can be those that offer better pay terms or those that would help build up your reputation (for marketing purposes) or portfolio. Declining a work offer may be difficult, but it is an important step to ensure that you are not overloaded unnecessarily.
7. Proper budgeting. It is best if you could use the budget allocated to a certain project from its own source. This means that it is not recommended that you use the up-front meant for another project on a new project that you have just been offered. Agreements can be made with clients to make upfront payments that are sufficient for purchasing of raw materials or other required purposes. Freelancing on an individual basis, especially, does not provide the luxury of spending sufficient time for accounts. Thus, it is better to separate each projects on its own.
8. Financial preparation. It is a common occurrence for check payments to be delayed. This can be a problem when you just started freelancing on a full time basis and not having much savings left. Thus, it is important to be financially prepared in order to avoid such inconveniences.
9. Be wise in choosing the correct contact. It is advisable to pay attention to the behavior of the clients that you agree to take up projects from. This may used as one of the criteria when you are declining project offers. It is best for one to avoid contacts with whom you cannot get along with.
10. Educate your clients on your working style. As much as how you should meet the requirements of your clients, it is also very important for you to be clear to the client regarding your own working style. Preferences on using the e-mail or IM over using the phone and the times at which you can be reached on the phone should be clearly informed to the client.
11. BE PREPARED. Be very prepared. For those who are just starting to convert to a full-timer, it is important to asses how ready you are before you plunge into the deep sea. Financial preparation alone is insufficient. It is also important to be emotionally and mentally prepared. All the Best!
– Fifi Rouge, WhyHot Design Council