Top 10 Tips For Freelancers

Home decor desk and chair with Apple Macbook

Whether you’re leaving the very safe and cosy nest that is your day job or earning a little extra cashola outside of your nine-to-five, Felicity Farncomb, our bloody brilliant Senior Designer, and all-round creative gem (seriously this girl oozes creativity!), is giving you her tried and tested advice when it comes to the world of freelance. Flick’s been there, done that and still doing it, all the while holding down a full-time gig and maintaining happy home life.

Here, Flick lays down her top ten tips for living the freelance dream.

  1. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF
    Instagram is incredible – but it’s also not real life! Don’t get demotivated by all those other amazing designers out there working from their ‘studio’ and having really ‘cool client’ meetings. Their studio is also their bedroom, and their clients are also probably their mums-friends-sisters-brother. Don’t disqualify yourself because someone else’s Instagram life looks more impressive than yours!
  2. DO THE HARD YARDS AT THE BEGINNING TO SET YOURSELF UP FOR A WIN
    It’s the boring/hard/tedious tasks that everyone procrastinates that really do come back to bite you! Invoicing, the books, taxes etc – the bane of every freelancers existence! If you set aside a day to get all these systems sorted, and up and running, it will make your day to day life (and tax time!) so much more enjoyable.
  3. PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING
    Spend some time preparing and creating your presentations and documents. Whether it be a price list, your contract, and the all-important presentation doc to showcase your concepts. If these docs are tight, it will mightily increase your clients a) likelihood to consider you a professional and b) likelihood to approve those concepts quickly!
  4. PROTECT YOUR TIME
    One of the hardest things about working for yourself is that no-one is going to be chasing you up if you’re not at your desk by 9, and on the flip side, no one is giving you an early mark on Friday. I’ve found that it’s not about chaining myself to my desk 9-5, but making sure I have a healthy work/life balance and a routine that works for me (that’s the biggest benefit of working for yourself, right?!).
  5. KNOW YOUR IDEAL CLIENT
    If you don’t know what kind of work you want to do, how are you going to be able to do it? Write a list of your dream clients and take active steps to getting there. How can you attract these kind of people? Finding your fit with clients is one of the most important parts of having a healthy and satisfying working life. When you’re working with projects and people you’re passionate about – that’s when the magic happens!
  6. KNOW THAT SOMETIMES, YOU JUST GOTTA MAKE THE MONEY, HONEY
    It’s all well and good to have the dream, but sometimes to make the dream happen, you just gotta hustle. To be honest, in my first year of freelancing, I worked on the most corporate, boring, uncreative clients. But you know what? I learnt so much. I learnt how to organise my systems, I learnt how to talk to clients, I learnt how to manage my time. And I made a lot of money. Sometimes, an ‘unideal’ job will teach you more than you think.
  7. CREATE A CONTRACT
    “You are the professional!” This is the motto I did, and still do, tell myself when I’m in the initial stages of a project and/or when there’s some conflict to resolve. I always make sure that I create a contract with as much detail as possible (think timelines, delivery dates, assets produced, assets handed over at the end of the project, anything you’ll need provided by your client etc). That way, I am always in the clear and the job doesn’t turn into a ‘you working for their each and every need even if it’s way out of scope because there wasn’t clear communication at the beginning’ situation (we’ve all been there).
  8. KNOW HOW TO CHARGE
    The Holy Grail of creative freelancing is knowing what to charge. Hey, we’re all still learning. Everyone’s convictions and thoughts on this are varied, but mine revolve around a few key ideas.

    • WHAT IS YOUR TIME WORTH
      There’s a few things that come into play here:
      – Firstly, what you feel comfy charging. Often (and it should!), this will massively increase after your first 1-2 years in the biz, once you gain your confidence and realise more often than not, people will pay you what you ask them too.– Secondly, value. Would you rather a shirt that cost you $10, or one that cost you $40? One is more cash money, but you can almost guarantee it’s better quality. Same goes for work.– Thirdly, what did you put in? I’m pretty proud to say I have an Honours Degree. I slugged it out for 4 years at a highly competitive uni and therefore, I charge accordingly. I’m not saying creatives who are self taught or not graduated cannot create awesome, amazing, better work than me, but I do know what it took for me to have the skills I have, and I reflect that in my prices.
    • WHAT’S THE MARKET DOING? Sometimes hard to gauge, but ask around! What are your peers charging? What are agencies charging? Do a bit of research and figure out where you fit.
    • NEVER CHARGE BY THE HOUR This is a death trap. You need to be charging by the deliverable (logo, website, brochure etc). If you start charging by the hour, you’ll open the door to disagreements on how long stuff should have taken you, why/how things take the time they do.
  9. KNOW HOW TO RE-CHARGE
    A creative is no help to anyone if they are dry. Figure out what works for you to re-charge those batteries. The benefit of working freelance is that you have so much control over how and when you look after yourself. Need a long weekend once a month? Want to take a day off and go to the gallery? Just do it (and don’t feel guilty about it!). Your output is only ever as good as your input.
  10. DON’T GO IT ALONE!
    It can be lonely doing all day, every day, just you and your mac. Find a co-working space, a hot-desk or another freelancer/s you can hang with. Encouragement, fresh eyes, and someone to whinge about that very annoying client is food for the soul. Get it.

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