7 Tips for Freelancers (Independent Contractors)

Man freelancing and working on laptop with coffee.

Freelancing certainly isn’t for everyone but for some, it can be the solution for improving work/life balance or becoming one’s own boss. Whether you’re thinking about freelancing, just getting started, or have been working on your own, here are 7 tips that every freelancer should employ:

1.  Calculate Your Rate

Your basic hourly rate = (annual salary + annual expenses + annual profit) / annual billable work hours

But, is an hourly rate going to be the best choice for your business? Research the pros and cons of charging hourly or by project fees, day rates, or pricing packages.

2.  Always Have a Contract

A contract helps freelancers solidify several things: the rate negotiated between you and the client, the parameters and scope of the project, deadlines, revisions or project cancellations, and reimbursement. Contracts also assist in protecting you from potential legal issues, disagreements, and they ensure you are paid for your work. You can find resources for contracts on websites like LegalZoom.

3.  Be Sure to Get a Deposit Upfront

It can be tough being out there on your own. So, you want to make sure you get paid for your hard work. Before beginning any work for your client, secure a deposit. You can do this any number of ways; receive ⅓ upfront, ⅓ halfway through the project, and the final ⅓ upon completion, or require a variation of an engagement fee, or pick another percentage of payment that works best for your business.

4.  Get the Low-Down on Taxes

Your tax obligations should be a part of setting your prices and since freelancers are considered self-employed, they are subject to self-employment tax. Keep in mind that you’ll have to provide yourself with necessities such as healthcare, dental, and retirement. Additionally, it’s important to think about how you can save on taxes and the best way for your business to file taxes (annually or quarterly payments).

5.  Keep a Regular Schedule

It sounds simple but most freelancers know that it’s not as easy as it seems. That’s why it’s so important to plan your schedule and stick to it. Scheduling allows you to:

  • Meet important deadlines
  • Give each client the attention they deserve
  • Create work/life balance

6.  Apply Technology and Tools

There are some great technologies and tools available to freelancers. Here are some examples of tools that can help you get your work done:

  • Invoicing: FreshBooks, Toggl, BlinkSale, Hiveage
  • Project Management: Wunderlist, BaseCamp, Project Bubble, LiquidPlanner
  • Preventing Distraction: Freedom, Cold Turkey, Focus Booster, or one of these other cool tools

7.  Be the Expert in Your Niche to Find New Clients

Wondering how to prospect new clients? You’ve got to position yourself as an expert in your space and share your knowledge with anyone who will listen. Here are some ways you can market yourself and your specialized skills for little to no cost:

  • In-person networking
  • Create a blog
  • Keep your social media profiles up-to-date
  • Speak at events
  • Post ads for your services or a personal profile on websites like TECHdotMN

Looking for more information on freelancing? Check out the Celarity Blog and use the search term, “freelance”!

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