Freelancing is challenging and it’s easy to make mistakes in getting hired. These mistakes can harm not only your income, but freelancer reputation as well. I hope the following advice will help you avoid some of the bumps along your road to success.
Freelancing Lessons I’ve Learned the Hard Way
Research Your Client – Many sites that post freelance jobs, like Elance and Freelancer, will display information about the employer, such as feedback from other freelancers, number of paid jobs, total amount paid, etc. This can provide valuable clues about their integrity and potential for future work with this client. It can also raise red flags, such as when they have no payment history, the payment method isn’t verified, or they have a number of unpaid jobs.
Don’t Communicate Off-Site About Freelancer Terms – If the site has a method for describing job terms, make sure to include all the details regarding the tasks involved, deadlines, and payment terms in the form provided on the site. Even if you’ve discussed terms through messages on the site, repeat them in the main page that evidences acceptance of the job proposal.
Always Nail Down the Price – Some job postings are vague about payment terms. Always get a written agreement that defines precisely how you will be paid, including:
- Amount – This might be fixed price or hourly. If it’s hourly, make sure to agree on the number of hours authorized. If it’s an incremental or piecework rate, define the rate and amount of work to be performed. For example, a blog post assignment might be paid on a per word basis, so define the amount per word and the number or range of words to be written.
- Payment method – Specify whether a credit card, Paypal, etc. will be used if the payment method isn’t already defined. If there are associated fees, be clear about who will be responsible to incur the fees or additional charges.
- Time of payment – Will you be paid in a lump sum, incremental amounts as milestones are achieved, and on what exact date(s)?
- Never work on spec – The client should have an opportunity to see your work portfolio prior to hiring you for the job. If they’re satisfied with the examples, they shouldn’t have a problem with paying you to get a job done. Escrow arrangements can resolve any doubts about delivery, and Paypal protection may also apply.
- Don’t Give Your Work Away – Some employers will try to get you to submit an initial project at a greatly reduced rate or even free, with the promise of future work. This is usually a scam, and simply a bad business practice that you shouldn’t agree to. It may be tempting when you’re having dry spell, but don’t set yourself up to get used by an unscrupulous employer this way. Look for employers who have integrity and the financial backing to pay a fair price.
Written by Dana Altman