Common Freelancing Questions
I get freelancing questions from people all the time that are starting out in the freelancing field. Some of these things are common sense to veterans, but the freelancing world can be incredibly scary, and even seem overwhelming to those that are just starting out. You are responsible for yourself, and your entire business. You don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder, reminding you of impending tasks. You have to handle all of the responsibility on your own. Below are 4 common freelancing questions that most designers have when going on their own.
1. Why aren’t I bringing in any business?
This is simple, really, and one of the most common freelancing questions. You can’t sit at home or in your office and expect the work to come flowing in to you. Starting a new business means that you will need to get your name out there. You have to network with other designers, join organizations, become a member of the chamber of commerce in your area, and much more. You could place an ad in the business section of your local newspaper, but results may vary. The best way to build your business is through word of mouth and referrals. You also need to join social networks, and post your information on as many free portfolio places as possible. That way, people looking for designers for projects can easily find you. You can post your portfolio on places such as Dribbble, Behance, and Cloroflot, among others. You definitely need business cards and a web site of your own. Think about your clients…..what would you suggest to them? You need to pass out business cards to everyone that you know and anyone that you meet, so that you can create a buzz about yourself.
2. I can’t afford an accountant to do my books… what should I do?
Here is the part that you are not going to like. Unfortunately, the idea of financial freedom and working for yourself means that you typically get to do everything….yourself! No one can afford an accountant or book keeper to start out with. You aren’t going to be able to afford anything to start out with. It may be years before you build your business up to where you can afford an accountant or book keeper. I still don’t have one. You are going to be doing a lot of things solo from now on. You are going to be the book keeper, the receptionist, the presenter, writer, editor, bill collector, senior designer, errand boy/girl, and even the janitor. The newest challenge for you is going to be balancing all of your new responsibilities without having a meltdown. You are going to have to budget time for everything, because in order for your business to succeed, you are going to have to keep up with everything. There are several programs out there, online and offline, that can help you keep track of your expenses. Just to name a few, there is Freshbooks, Quicken, Quickbooks, LessAccounting, FreeAgent, Xero, etc. Just choose the one that works best for you.
3. Why are my clients refusing to pay?
This one is a personal pet peeve and is probably one of the most asked freelancing questions.. There may be several reasons that your client is refusing to pay. One may be that your client is a complete jerk and is trying to swindle a design for free. Another reason is that you didn’t do something to their liking, or you have left a portion of the project undone. The most common reason for someone who is just starting out is that you simply didn’t make them sign a work agreement/contract. In this case, you are going to have a tough battle. A contract always holds up in court and it is hard for any client to be able to deny their own signature. In reality you need to protect yourself at all times and lay out everything in writing that is expected of both parties and stick to it. Don’t bend, or if you do, only do it with a trusted client (but it’s still better to have a contract). If you’re new, you don’t have anyone that you can trust yet.
4.What do I do if I absolutely hate my client?
As much as we would like the scene from the image above to come to life, we have to take the good with the bad. We aren’t getting paid to love our clients, we are getting paid to create solutions and solve problems for their business. I know that the way we would like things to work is that we only design for clients that we like, but when we are starting out, beggars can’t be choosers. It can be a little difficult to get started in the business, so it is important to simply grin and bear it sometimes. This is life and a harsh reality, but you are never going to totally avoid people that are extremely annoying or bothersome. You are going to have to buck up and be an adult, and handle the situation in the best way possible. Some people charge per consultation, so that their clients don’t constantly hound them over every little detail and with 2 million changes. It forces them to make up their mind, and makes them take value in your time.
How Much Do I Charge?
The answer is simple, but not so simple. In general terms, you have to charge enough to pay for business expenses, living expenses, and enough to make a profit. Essentially, you need to break down all of your costs, including business and personal bills, and give yourself enough room for savings, slow months, and more. You have to make enough to live on and be comfortable.
Setting your prices is based on how much you can do in a month, minus time for billing and administration time. Less work time means that your rates will need to be higher to cover the time for when you aren’t working on projects.
Hopefully this will answer some of the freelancing questions that you have when starting a freelance business. Do you have any questions about freelancing? Ask them in the comments section below.