I was reading one of the mailing lists I am a member of the other day, and some questions came up about Freelancing. Some were interested in knowing the best way to get business as a freelancer, and since Zenful Creations came from years of freelancing, I thought I would share my experiences in freelancing. I posted a list of seven items to the message list, and received numerous comments and a few more questions, so I decided to add a bit more to the list, and post here.
1. First and foremost, have a GOOD website. Make sure it has at least six original designs, the service you provided (a before and after shot is always good), and a little detail on your process helps too. Make sure your site is easy to use, and preferably compliant with standards. Make sure there are no typos in your content.
2. Get signed up on sites such as Guru.com, RentACoder.com, GetAFreelancer.com, and many many more… Over the years I found great success at Guru.com, and also acquired several projects from DesignCrowd. I would also suggest checking 37signals Job Board, and CSS Beauty Job Board for new listings as often as possible.
3. Participate. Find listservs, message boards and blogs about freelancing, and participate in discussions. Affiliate with other freelancers – if they are too busy to take on a project they may pass it on to you, or they may partner with you on larger projects.
4. Post a free ad on Craigslist in your area. Craigslist allows you to post an ad for your services every 45 days. With the usership of this site, you will at least get a hit or two each 45 days. While you are on Craigslist, make sure you check out the ‘Barter’ section, and ‘Creative Jobs & Gigs’.
5. 3rd Party Endorsements. Always get testimonials from the clients you work for. Since the launch of this online reputation manager, I have had all clients that I worked with give me a review on iKarma.com – it is a place that you can send current clients (or have a link from your site) to find out more about working with you.
6. Network. Join professional organizations such as your local BNI, or attend other networking events in your area to build your synergistic relationships, and meet people that will refer you to people they know. You can find events local to you on Meetup.com, on Craigslist in the events or community section and also in your local newspaper.
7. Blog. This will increase traffic to your site – I suggest blogging about each design you do or whatever niche it is you have; blog the before, process and after. Blog about open spots in your schedule… Blog when you are full and can take no clients at that time (which shows you are busy) – clients tend to like busy designers as that usually indicates they are good at what they do, and in demand.
8. As funny as this one may sound, it works. Get yourself a myspace account – for your business – there is so much traffic on myspace and it is a great place to network. Customize your design if you can. I have been approached by many clients over the past year (mostly musicians and artistry) who desire to have a customized myspace page. Upload design proofs in the pics section. Keep clients or partners in your friends list, and keep your comments well moderated. Keep it professional.
9. Use a contract. Always. Everytime. A contract is important in any project you do. The contract not only protects a you and your client legally, but it also clearly details deadlines and payments. If you do not already have a contract, you are welcome to copy mine and edit it to suit your needs.
10. Keep up with your records. As a freelancer, you are an independent contractor, and therefore, are expected to keep up with and file your own taxes. You can either pay them throughout the year (file quarterly), or put the money aside to pay later. Get a good program such as QuickBooks, or Quicken, and keep it updated. Also, keep a record of the business expenses you can write off at the end of the year – books, travel, lunch meetings etc.