So I have been working as a freelancer for a while now- part time since around 2003, and full time since 2009. During that time, I have learned quite a bit about myself, how I operate, and what my strengths and weaknesses are as a professional. I won’t go into my strengths or weaknesses as a person- that topic may be entirely too boring depending on your point of view.
One of the things that I have developed for myself as a freelancer is a list of rules to follow as a professional. They work very well for me, and I thought that it was worth sharing. Keep in mind, these ideas are nothing new- or shouldn’t be.
My Commandments of Freelancing
I shall respect my time and energy and charge accordingly.
I shall only work with a signed contract
I shall respect the time and energy of my client and plan accordingly
I shall be as clear and concise as possible when dealing with a client
I shall be cautious and skeptical in all matters of business
I shall strive for balance
I shall dictate my schedule.
I shall prevent my clients from dictating my schedule
I shall make time for self-improvement and my Work
I shall seek new opportunities
Here’s what I mean in more detail:
I shall respect my time and energy and charge accordingly. Hopefully this is pretty self-explanatory, but it took me a while to realize that the only way that I was going to get higher rates for my work, to get a competitive price was to charge it. In the beginning, I charged between $0.005 and $0.02 cents per word simply because I was taught by the various content mills and freelance websites that it was all I could get. I finally got it through my thick skull that this was a lie based on their need to make a profit on my work. Once I got out into the real world of freelancing, I found that raising my rates to something more reasonable- say a minimum of $0.15 per word was not only accepted, but it was seen as a sign of quality. Also, because I was charging more per project, I could take on fewer projects, and devote more time to each one, providing better quality.
I shall only work with a signed contract After being burned by a non-paying client one to many times, this has become a requirement for me. Does it prevent every potential loss of income? Of course not. However, I will tell you this- a legitimate client will have absolutely no problem negotiating and signing a contract for services. It protects both the client and the freelancer. The few times that I have lost potential clients because they didn’t want to sign a contract, I later hear about them leaving other freelancers who worked without a contract high and dry.
I shall respect the time and energy of my client and plan accordingly. This one took me a little bit of time to figure out, honestly. For a very long time, I was the “yes woman” always trying to do everything to please my clients, answering their every whim. However, I learned that I can’t do everything. I know- it shocked me as well. What I also learned was that I was doing a great disservice to my clients and disrespecting them as well. By promising too much, I delivered too little, leaving them in a lurch. That wasn’t what I wanted to do. So I learned to respect my client’s time and energy by only promising what I could deliver, and allowing them to find other sources when necessary.
I shall be as clear and concise as possible when dealing with a client. Let’s face it- when people are trying to communicate, there is a chance that confusion will occur. Keeping this commandment in my helps me do my best to lessen that chance.
I shall be cautious and skeptical in all matters of business. This commandment serves as a mental slap on the back of the head when I come across an opportunity that sounds very delicious, but that is ultimately a time-waster for me. Multi-level marketing and pay-per-click articles are two that come to mind.
I shall strive for balance This commandment is perhaps one of the most important, and hardest to follow. I have learned that I need a break from work. All work and no play not only makes a dull girl, it also leads to nervous breakdowns.
I shall dictate my schedule. and I shall prevent my clients from dictating my schedule. These two commandments are how I do my level-headed best to achieve the preceding commandment. While it’s fine- and encouraged- for clients to set deadlines, I will not allow a client to dictate when I work on their project.
I shall make time for self-improvement and my Work. I hope the benefit of this is easy to realize. By taking the time to improve myself, and work on my own material (my Work), I can learn, grow, and hopefully become a better person, and freelancer.
I shall seek new opportunities. As every freelancer knows, the next potential paycheck comes from the next opportunity. So it’s in my best interest to seek out the next one.
So what do you think of my commandments? Anything you would add or take away? Would love to hear your thoughts!
© 2015 – 2017, Laura Seeber. All rights reserved.