Tips On Becoming A Freelancer


It’s been a goal of mine to one day become a freelancer. I want to create my own schedule, work from anywhere, decide which clients I want to work with and all of that millennial shit.

Today, entrepreneurship seems like the best case scenario for someone (and it can be!) but let’s not kid ourselves and think that it’s a breeze and everything will fall into your lap. Entrepreneurship is hard and it’s not for everyone. I don’t write this to discourage anyone as my goal to become one is still as strong as ever but I want to be realistic to not give someone else a false idea of what it entails.

I was approached recently to do some freelance work and I was excited. I thought that the money would start coming in and I’d have other income to start saving. When I came back down to earth, I told myself that I wanted to do things the right way to make this transition as smooth as possible for myself and future clients.

I recently came across the site Clients From Hell that shares people’s horror stories from working with clients. It ranges across all industries but it’s heavily based from graphic designers, web developers and photographers. As I fell down the rabbit hole of face palming with every post, it taught me many valuable lessons on how to protect myself from any future headaches.

Always Have A Contract

To me, this is Rule #1. A contract lays out all rules and responsibilities for you and your client. It’ll give a breakdown of the project, payment details, cancellation policies etc. I’ve seen so many people get fucked over because things weren’t laid out in a clear way. Contracts are also legally binding so if a client decides to get out of pocket, you can refer to the contract and even get a lawyer involved if needed.

Always Require A Deposit

Another trend I saw was people not being paid for their services. This is bullshit. Unfortunately, a lot of people have no knowledge of what our services entail so they think it can be done quickly and at little to no pay. It’s up to us to educate them on why they hired us versus doing it themselves. To avoid being totally stiffed, always ask for a percentage before you start doing work. Whether it’s 15 or 50%, it’ll give you something if they back out at the end or keep them as a client since they already paid. If a client refuses to give a deposit, refer them to your portfolio to see past work as proof. If they still don’t want to, see it as a red flag and refuse them as a client if possible. Avoid any future headaches.

Always Have A Revision Amount

This tip is for any industry that requires rounds of feedback before a final project is submitted. Once your client has decided on a direction to go in, they will eventually have tweaks for you to edit until they’re happy. By sharing a number of revisions (IN YOUR CONTRACT), it will tell your client that they need to get all of their thoughts and edits together before telling you so there aren’t 934397 rounds of edits. On one CFH submission, a client told a designer that because she didn’t say how many revisions she could have, she “owned her” and had to do anything she said. Needless to say, the client was fired. But, she was right so protect yourself from people like this.

I hope these few tips can help you sort out any awful clients from good ones. I’m still learning of course but I’m so thankful for CFH for showing me what not to do.

If you have any freelancer tips, let me know!