10 Must Read Tips for Newbie Freelancers

New freelancers often have set their sights on ambitious goals: how well your life goes now depends solely on you. Among your new challenges are project management, bookkeeping, time management and relationship building. So while freelancing can be perceived somewhat romantically, the reality is often quite far removed from the original dream.

To avoid the pitfalls of the freelance life, apply these 8 must read tips to your business and start off in the right direction!

  1. Start an Emergency Fund – New freelancers will soon learn that work comes and goes, and when it goes, it might be gone for a while. Prepare yourselves for those times when the fridge breaks, the car goes on the fritz or you have to travel to a funeral by stowing away some cash. Begin with a $1,000 emergency fund and build it up every year. When you use some of it, make it a priority to put it back as soon as possible.
  2. Build a Portfolio РAssemble some of your best work in an attractive format to distribute to potential clients. It’s hard to convince someone to hire you without showing them the kind of work you can do. Depending on what you have to show, figure on a couple hundred dollars or more to get this done right.
  3. Get an Address – Freelancers often start out working from their own home, perhaps an understandable necessity, but something that signifies instability to clients. Make it a priority to rent some office space or an address with a street address you can use for your business.
  4. Don’t Take Every Job РWhen starting out, the temptation is to take every single job you can find. This could leave you spread too thin, way too busy, and vulnerable to abusive clients. Stay within your selected niche and turn down work if it doesn’t feel right.
  5. Emphasize Quality РFreelancers of all types may buckle under the pressure of deadlines and volume. Don’t lower the quality of your work in order to meet a certain word or piece count. Fluff and filler might help you meet the criteria for a job, but it won’t help you build a portfolio of outstanding work.
  6. Freelance Writers Should Focus on Readability – This means that you should keep words simple, paragraphs short, and thoughts organized. Especially when online, readers want content that they can easily scan while retaining essential information.
  7. Work for Free Sometimes – A good way to get your name out there in your market is to do free work for charities or for shoestring publications. The exposure you get can open the door to new opportunities that will more than compensate for the time you spent doing the work.
  8. Hold Off on Quoting Your Rates РNewbies get excited whenever they have a chance to get work and often name their price too early in the game only to get burned by details they didn’t notice at first. Get all the information and tell the client you’ll get back to them so you have time to understand all the requirements and implication of a potential job.
  9. Manage Your Information and Relationships – Small business management software can be free or for a small monthly fee. Web-based applications are accessible from anywhere, an essential feature for a freelance worker. Check out solutions such as HighRise with solutions starting at $24 a month that can help you manage your contacts and other business information.
  10. Keep Up With Office Work РNew freelancers often get so busy that they let important things go. Be careful to schedule time to do accounting, bill paying, filing, cleaning, and other tasks that don’t directly generate revenue, but are still essential.

Use these 10 must read tips for newbie freelancers as you get your freelance career started and you will allow yourself to focus on your work while paving the way to a fulfilling life.

James writes about design and reviews products like the Q6000A for an online supplier of toner cartridges based in the United Kingdom.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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