Ask questions about the project before beginning. Make sure the project is actually something you are interested in and want to do.
Evaluate the clients quirks and expectations. You deserve to enjoy the project! Don’t let desperation for work or $$ now create problems for you in the long run.
Read Client reviews. Consider how long they have been in business. Look at how much they have paid freelancers on other projects.
NEVER start working until you have an OFFER. If doing a fixed rate project, be sure funds are paid 25% or 50% upfront and that funds are in escrow.
Make sure the clients payments are methods has been verified and NEVER give out your social security number or fill out any kinds of payment info that a client claims they need.
How to grow your business through relationship management
Always respond to initiatives and invites within 24 hours. Always respond to emails from clients and potential clients ASAP. Being responsive and attentive makes you look professional.
Similarly, if a potential client doesn’t respond for several days, be weary. After years of freelancing I have discovered this to be a red flag.
Take projects with clients looking for a long term relationship.
Be upfront with clients about all your skills and let them know you pride yourself on establishing and keeping a long term relationship.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback at the end of the contract. Let your clients know you’ll provide feedback for them too. Tell them you look forward to working for them again soon.
Managing your projects and schedule
Write down all deadlines and due dates. Keep them in a calendar on your phone and/or desk calendar.
Be realistic about time frames before beginning a project. If you tell a potential client on Tuesday that you can have it to them on Friday but they don’t send an offer until Thursday afternoon, that could be a problem.
Check in with clients throughout the project. Give them a small sample of what you have done before completing the entire project.
Always give long-term clients precedence. When possible, drop everything to assist a long-term client who may need something immediately.
Setting rates – hourly vs. fixed
Take each project into account. Some projects may take you longer than others so evaluate what makes sense for you and the client.
If doing a fixed rate project, be upfront with the client about how many edits you will do for them.
For hourly, set expectations. Let the client know how many hours you expect the project to take. You may charge a higher hourly rare, but it may take you far less to do the project than someone else. You will meet the deadline sooner and the client may end up paying less than a freelancer who charges less per hour.
Try to negotiate your hourly rate. If you are unsure about how much to charge look glassdoor.com and other similar sites to determine a fair rate. Clients may ask you to go lower, but stay firm on why you charge on what you do. Mention all your 5-star reviews.
Managing the ebbs and flows of your freelancing career
During busy times keep bidding on jobs and responding to invitations but be realistic about timeframes.
During downtime, work on your own personal brand. Buy your domain name if you haven’t already. Stay relevant on social media. Don’t be afraid to let people know what you do (brag a little bit!)