The first two professional liabilities I have cited have more to do with the freelancer learning to manage his time better, and acquiring excellent work ethics. The next one can be tricky, as this has proven to be a bad habit that plagues not just aspiring freelancers, but a lot of professionals as well.
Professional Liability Number Four: Being disorganized
Disorganization can be traced to a mismanagement of time, which ranks as the top commodity for an aspiring freelance worker. And while there are many advantages to having a flexible schedule and getting to call nearly all the shots by yourself, too often being disorganized stretch to keeping records and handling payments. This could kill what could potentially be a thriving career.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Have a weekly schedule ready. Set aside an hour or two on Sunday afternoon, and in your calendar, fill in the tasks that would need to be done over the course of the week.
- If you email queries to managing editors, send your queries on a Monday morning, and the next batch on Tuesday. Some editors reply within 24 to 48 hours if he finds that it's worth giving your article proposal a try.
- If you bid for projects in popular websites for freelancers, get your samples together and email your cover letter no later than Tuesday. You can expect a good number of freelancers turn up to compete for the project, and it takes around three to five days before the company can pick the best candidate. If you're fortunate and negotiations have been made, you can start working before the weekend.
- If you're comfortable with cold calling to get new clients, have a list of the people you're targeting, and spread out your calls over the course of the week. You can have two to three calls scheduled each day, or even more, if you want to increase the chances of having a project outsourced to you.
- Have several templates of your Freelancer's Contract written down in a Word document, and save them in your hard drive. And then, as soon as you land a project, all you have to do is fill in the details accordingly.
- Create a template of your invoice.
- Always ask for a flat fee and a down payment before you begin to work on anything. This isn't about being greedy or ruthless. Keep in mind that you're running a business and you deserve to be compensated for your effort and hard work.
- Give your clients a variety of payment options. A popular payment plan is getting paid in two installments after the flat fee and down payment have been made, so if you charge 40 percent of the rough estimate as a down payment, you can opt for 40-30-30. Of course, this could be adjusted, because a good number of freelancers now charge a 50-percent down payment, so the payment plan could be broken down to 50-25-25, or 50-30-20.
- If you're working on a huge project and you're charging huge rates, say, over Php30,000, you can ask to be paid on an installment basis, stretched out to up to a maximum of 90 days.
- Have several templates ready for your collection letters, to be emailed as a reminder should a client be unable to pay on the date upon which you've agreed.