Keeping costs down is so important when you freelance. I wanted a dedicated phonu number for business so I looked into options and went with straight talk for $30 a month and no contract. I get 1000 minutes and 1000 texts (believe it or not a lot of clients love that I have texting) and I can carry my "business line" with me to meetings, errands, etc. Having things separate and mobile have really helped me sreamline things, plus keep the costs down.
For many people, working from home is merely a dream. First of all, their employers wouldn’t allow it and besides, even if they did, many people aren’t organized enough to get anything done without constant supervision. A lifestyle filled with traffic jams, claustrophobic cubicles, and day old bagels suits them just fine and they may not even know it.
For those of you with a different type of agenda, being able to set your own hours, work in your pajamas, and choose projects based on your own personal beliefs and interests is revolutionary. There simply is no better work arrangement than being your own boss and you are more than happy to tell the world this any day of the week. Besides, what’s better than being able to make money online while anywhere in the world?
Freelancing Is Not For Everyone
Let’s get this out of the way right from the start. Freelancing is not for everyone. Freelancing is hard work but you usually enjoy every minute of it if you’re doing something you love. You like the challenges that go with finding new clients, meeting tight deadlines, and balancing your own books. You take the liberty of accepting new projects and scheduling your vacations when you see fit. You do not, however, claim that the life of a freelancer is perfect. Although being self-employed or telecommuting is ideal in principle, it does require an immense amount of self-discipline and determination to pull off. Without these characteristics you can find yourself sinking fast.
Writers, photographers, graphic designers, and programmers can attest that freelancing isn’t for sissies. You’ve either got it or you don’t. Men and women that know how to follow leads, manage their time well, and draw up a contract stand a better chance of being financially successful. If you’re easily distracted or don’t thrive under immense pressure you may find out that freelancing is even more stressful and difficult than your old job.
What Sets Good Freelancers Apart From the Crowd
Prosperous freelancers have a few tricks up their sleeves. In fact, they employ time saving strategies that help them capitalize on every minute that is made available to them. That is how they are able to accomplish so much in a day. Between juggling a full schedule and raising a family, they still manage to keep their financial affairs in order. Here is how your average freelancer stays on top of his or her game:
1. They run a tight ship by making sure that everything is in order. When you’re wearing a bunch of different hats, organization is key. Calendars, software, and addresses books are up-to-date and ready to use at any given moment. These items can be accessed from a number of applications including a phone and a notebook computer and are backed-up in an electronic server or storage device for safekeeping. Invoices are properly filed and accounted for. Project specifications are scrutinized, noted, and discussed. Tasks are completed according to their level of importance. There are a number of free online applications to help you get organized.
2. They keep overhead costs down by doing it themselves where possible. Why spend money on things that you know you can do yourself? Freelancers often avoid expenses by finding inexpensive ways of doing things on their own. They build their own websites, provide services out of their own living rooms, and do their own marketing in an attempt to keep costs down and profits high. A lot of people love the hands-on approach of running all aspects of their business, but it’s also important to know your limitations. When you can’t do something right or it will take too much time away from another core area of your business it may be best to outsource it. A good example is doing taxes. If things get a little more complicated as a freelancer it might pay to hire a CPA or accountant to file your taxes. The savings may be well worth it.
3. They have their own space to work in. According to Michelle Goodman, author of My So-Called Freelance Life, not everyone has the luxury of their own home office. That is why co-working is so ideal. You have the option of renting a space for a day, a week or a month at a time and get to work alongside other independent professionals. “In many cases, the price of admission includes coffee, wireless internet, landlines, photocopying privileges, and use of a conference room (no more trying to impress a potential client in Starbucks as the espresso machine roars in the background!).”
4. They don’t wait for clients to come to them because they take charge of their situation. Without a steady source of income at their disposal, it is up to the freelancer to be in control of his or her own finances. This often requires them to follow new leads and advertise their services without the assistance of others. A good freelancer receives referrals from their current clients and use social media networking as a place to locate and make contact with potential customers. Sitting around and waiting for things to happen is a quick way to go broke. Go out there and create new business.
5. They know how to say “No” to unreasonable requests. Nightmare clients can be the death of a freelancer. Projects that start out okay and eventually go south can be avoided. A successful Independent Contractor speaks his or her mind and makes sure that a contract is in place before devoting any time to a client. He or she also knows when to draw the line and stop responding to unreasonable requests. When starting out it’s easy to think that any business is better than no business, but you need to know how to spot bad projects and say no to requests you know you can’t or don’t want to handle.
The life of a freelancer can be an exciting one. With free reign over projects, you can express yourself in ways that are frowned upon in a traditional office setting. In fact, if you have already escaped the cubicle and ventured into the world of freelancing, you know how big of role creativity plays in your success. In order to make the kind of money that you need to survive, you have got to be determined and have a clearly written plan of attack.
Without knowing the types of obstacles you will encounter, you risk the chance of losing clients and in return, never making the type of money you know you deserve.
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About the Author: Charissa Arsaoui is a freelance writer with a love for thrift. She contributes to many different personal finance blogs.