Tips to Become a Better, More Successful Freelancer
As a freelancer you’re your own boss, and that entails a lot of mundane tasks that require good judgement on how you go about doing things.
Some of these tips are going to appear as common sense, but they may be the reminder you need to refine your work process. I hope you’re able to pick some value in these tips, no matter where you’re at with your freelance career.
1. Use a contract on every project
Should you always have a client sign a contract, even if it’s a small job? How do you put together or find the right contract for each job? Too many freelancers get caught up in the details of contracts, and it’s ultimately wasting a lot of time that should be spent making money.
All you need for the time being is a general agreement that covers some basic, yet important terms that both you and the client need to agree upon. In its simplest form, your contract terms should cover:
- the work that you produce is original and not plagiarized.
- the client’s proprietary information stays confidential.
- your payments terms. (How much you’ll get paid and when during the process.)
- that once the client accepts the completed work, they accept full responsibility for any further processes in which the work is used (e.g. printing, putting logo to use, etc.)
- you and the client has the right to terminate the services, and what that entails for you both.
Having some basic terms in place for every project will help protect you, but more importantly, will help inform the client of how you work.
I’ve put together a general freelance contract for you to work off of. It’s not intended to cover every type of situation, but it can help get you started.
Once you have your contract, your client can then physically print, sign, and return, or digitally sign.
I’m not a legal professional nor does the sample above cover every situation. If things are starting to take off and you’re making large amounts of money from a single project, then you might want to get a legal professional involved to craft a specific contract for the job.
2. Always get a down payment
One of the biggest issues you hear about freelancing is not getting paid on time or getting stiffed by the client. I’ve luckily never experienced this, but that’s because I follow a simple process when starting a project.
To guarantee payment 100% of the time, you must require a down payment. For all projects I take on, I require 50% upfront before I start any official design work, and I make this clear to the client in our preliminary discussions and in my contracts. If the client has an issue with this, then that should raise a red flag. Also, by requiring a down payment, the project doesn’t progress without it, so you’ll never risk a late payment again.
Once I’ve received the contract signed and down payment, I’m good to go on starting the work. Then before I deliver any workable files, I require the final 50% payment. I do this so the client doesn’t take what I’ve created, cancel the project, and run. So before you’ve fully been paid, don’t send any master files or designs in full resolution.
By putting these simple practices into your process, you can guarantee that you’ll never be ripped off.