You love editing. You love your freelance work and your freelance life. That’s all lovely, but let’s face it: until you get paid, it’s a hobby, not a business.
So let’s talk turkey about dollars—and how to make them.
One of the most difficult aspects of freelancing is the money issue. Most of us went into this because we love the work and the freedom—not because we love being businesspeople. But when you freelance, you’re the whole show: management, invoicing, collections—everything.
And the reality is that you’ll lose money on some projects; we all do. That’s okay—you’ll probably make it back on others. But here are some tips to hopefully reduce the
Tip #1: Spend a lot of time on your pitches/proposals: I had to learn this one the hard way. I used to have a boilerplate that I used for 90% of my pitches … and wondered why I wasn’t getting all the clients I felt that I should be getting. Once I slowed down and started really spending time on the pitches, tailoring them to the individual prospect, I started actually landing more clients. Find out everything that you can about the client; do your homework and research them as much as you can; include case studies and something about your approach; and success will be yours.
Tip #2: Some clients are looking for the lowest cost. Forget them. There will always be someone willing to do the same work for less money. That’s not the competition in which you want to engage. You are a talented, experienced professional: that is what you need to sell to the client. Avoid cattle-call sites like elance.com and similar venues; use your professional networks instead, and craft your pitch to distinguish yourself from others on the basis of more than price.
Tip #3: Be in control of the payments. No matter what your payment scheme (by the project, by the hour, etc.), collect an upfront retainer. Spell out the payments in your contract and when possible, connect them to project milestones: this helps both you and the client feel good about the project’s progress. Send gentle reminders a few days before a payment is due, and if payment isn’t received, don’t send the agreed-upon material.
All of this may seem obvious, but incorporating it into your business for every single client, every single time, is the key to success.