Hello all – I am an experienced freelancer myself who now runs eLearning.net, which employs a full time staff of regular W2 employees and supports them with a pool of hundreds of freelance contractors. I am happy to share my thoughts on being a contractor, getting hired, what clients are looking for, etc. from both the freelancer and client perspectives.
Top of mind advice:
- Show Up: When you take on a new project, say what you’ll do and do what you say. If you stand by your word and follow-through, you’ll be in the to 90% of freelancers right there.
- Don’t Over promise: Show examples of your capabilities and ensure the client signs-off on what you propose to create, then deliver to that expectation. Avoid getting yourself in over your head. Should you find yourself faced with an issue for which you don’t have the skill or knowledge to address, raise the flag immediately and be totally honest with your client. Work to find a solution together, including bringing in another freelancer to help.
- Billing: Make your bills easy to read and ask the client how they want things broken down Â by day, by item, by project, etc. Many clients subcontract to freelancers and need to bill their clients, so they need specific details from all freelancers to ensure accurate accounting. Also, bill on time. It’s difficult to reconcile bills that come in 45 days from when the work was completed. Also Â funny as it may sound Â I’ve had more than one vendor not bill me at all and for amounts in the thousands. I have no idea why this happens. All I can say is Â don’t let that happen to you!
- Get a federal EIN: It takes 5 minutes to obtain a federal employee ID number. It also inspires confidence in your client when they see you took the time to set up your business to this minimum level of effort. Clients like to know they are dealing with not only a professional artist.
- Run your business like a business: Be sure that you obtain local and state licensing if applicable. For example, if you are a contractor in the state of Washington you MUST register for a state issued UBI number. If you don’t have one, the company that hires you can get in trouble with the Labor and Industry board (unemployment and workman’s comp). There at least 7 different “tests” to determine whether or not you really are a freelance contractor. If you fail one of these tests, you and the folks who hire you can get into a bit of hot water. So do yourself and your potential clients a favor – run your business like a business.