Starting a new freelance project can be a great feeling. There’s excitement at the opportunity to work on a cool, new website with an organization. But oftentimes when working with a client from a large organization there are a lot of things that can go wrong.
This post contains 25 tips for freelancers and agencies that will help you stay on track and deliver great work.
1. Keep Your Profile Fresh
You never know when your next project might come along, so it’s always a good idea to keep your profile fresh. Here are some things to think about:
Make a list of your skills and expertise. Are you an expert at building apps? Do you love to write social media posts? Or do you like creating interactive presentations? Think about all the things that you’re great at and add them to your profile.
Use keywords in your job description. This will help clients find you more easily when browsing for freelancers.
Keep a portfolio of your work on Upwork so clients can see what you’re capable of.
If any of the details about yourself change, make sure to update them right away on Upwork!
2. Take A Personalized Approach
Of course, you want to get the gig. But remember that the hiring process is a two-way street. You’re in charge of your own time and skills. If you don’t think that this job is right for you, then don’t waste anyone’s time by applying for it in the first place.
Now, if there’s even the slightest chance that you might be interested in the role? Don’t apply with a single generic cover letter; send a personalized message!
In your cover letter, show them how much thought you’ve put into their job posting and how eager you are to help with their specific needs. Highlight your strengths, and explain why they will help—not just what your strengths are.
This approach takes more time than using templates or copy-pasting off of other sites (and thus may require more negotiation around rate), but it also does much more to help win clients over.
3. Will They Pay?
Check the client’s feedback. If the client has a low rating (less than 3.0 stars), this should be an automatic red flag. You can usually see a client’s rating on the freelancer platform you’re using. For instance, on Upwork, you can see their Job Success Score in their profile.
If they have only worked with one or two freelancers and have not amassed a significant number of hours billed, that would also be another red flag. This is particularly true if you are being asked to take on a large project that may require many hours of your time and expertise.
4. Get It In Writing
This point seems obvious, but it is important to hammer this home. When you have a contract in place, you are protecting yourself and your client from any disagreement or legal dispute that may arise.
Having a contract in place will ensure that your client is not surprised by what he/she owes you for the work done at the end of the project, and it will guarantee that you are protected if your client does not pay you for work completed.
If there is no written contract in place before work begins, then there could be confusion on both sides of the table as to what was part of the scope of the project and what was outside of it.
A contract should include all aspects of the project and how much each aspect would cost (either as a package or per hour), including additional fees such as rush charges, travel expenses, and changes.
If there are parts left out of a contract, then they can be added later with an amendment; but without one in place, misunderstandings can occur during the course of a project, and more often than not this leads to delays in completion.
5. Ownership Isn’t Always Everything
You’ve probably heard the phrase “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Well, what about when all you do is work or play? That’s why it’s important to take breaks. If you don’t, your mind will be too focused on what you’re working on to realize that maybe it’s time to take a break. This will likely lead to burnout: low motivation and low productivity, which is detrimental to all kinds of things in your life.
When I was starting out as a freelancer, I would often find myself only taking breaks when I felt like it was time for me to take one. This meant that sometimes I wouldn’t even get any breaks at all! It wasn’t until my mom told me how important it was for me not to do this that I started taking regular breaks throughout my day and also made sure that they were scheduled around every four hours or so (more often if needed).
Taking regular breaks can be beneficial for many reasons including increasing productivity by giving your brain time off from focusing on whatever work-related task is being done at the moment.
It can also help prevent burnout because you don’t want burnout happening due to a lack of motivation if anything happens, then try taking some time away from everything else going on in order for yourself or someone else close by who might need it more than others.
6. Stay On The Same Page
This is a huge one. You want to keep your client as happy as possible, but you also need to stay on track. Make sure that you and your client are on the same page by keeping in constant communication.
Set clear expectations upfront. It’s better for both parties if everyone understands what will be delivered, how long it will take, and when it will be complete. If the project starts to become too large or complicated, suggest breaking it into milestone payments so they don’t get cheated out of their money and you don’t end up doing more work than is reasonable for the amount of pay.
You should also always make sure that you have an open channel of communication with your client from day one (and hopefully before). It makes sense that a freelancer wants fewer emails clogging their inboxes, but a lack of communication is a major cause for agitation and frustration among clients who are not only giving you money but trusting you with something important to them:
Their business or brand! The best thing you can do is make sure there’s minimal room for miscommunication by staying in touch frequently enough that any problem can be solved amicably, without damaging anyone’s image or reputation.
7. Know The Bigger Picture
You are a freelancer, so you know that you can’t live in your own bubble. You must be aware of the bigger picture to be able to deliver the best results. As a freelancer, one of your goals is to understand your client and their business.
This is important because:
- You have to know how your work will tie into their business or product.
- You will have an idea of what their timeline and goals are.
- You will be aware of what they expect from you, which means you can set expectations for them as well.
8. A Contract Is Not A Contract Until It Is Signed And Executed
When you first think of contracts, you probably envision a couple wearing suits and ties, exchanging fancy pens, and shaking hands. However, a contract does not necessarily have to be written in legal jargon or be extremely formal.
It can just be an informal document or even an email that states the nature of your work, the scope of your project, how much your client will pay you for the work, and when they will pay you.
A contract is simply a legally binding document that both parties agree to abide by. It protects both parties from any misunderstandings regarding the terms and responsibilities of their specific project. Before hiring a freelancer or working with a client, make sure that all contracts are signed off on by both parties and adhered to accordingly.
These contracts should include clauses about intellectual property rights and confidentiality agreements (if necessary).
9. Be Aware Of Your Budgets And Deadlines
Setting budgets and deadlines for your freelance project is one of the most crucial aspects of doing any freelance job. They help you set expectations for yourself, and the client, and set standards for the completion of your work. Without having a budget or deadline in place, it’s hard to know when a project will be finished and how much money you should be charging.
It’s also essential to remember that you should be setting realistic budgets and deadlines for yourself; if you go over either of these things, it could really affect your relationship with a client as well as your reputation.
10. Ask For What You Need
It can be intimidating to ask for what you need from the people who are paying you. It’s especially hard when your needs seem unreasonable or costly. But doing so can actually save a lot of time and money in the long run.
If you need more time, it’s better to tell your client than to extend a deadline and over-promise. If you need more money, it’s better, to be honest than to take on a project that ends up costing you money.
And if something is going wrong, open communication is always the best way forward — even if that means asking to end an engagement early.
11. Use Realistic Projections
Estimate how long a project will take. While it may be tempting to promise that you can complete the project within two weeks, it would be more prudent to give yourself a buffer of several days or even weeks in case something unexpected pops up. A client would also appreciate your honesty and ability to plan ahead, which can help create a good working relationship.
12. Don’t Oversell Yourself
Don’t oversell yourself: One of the most important things to remember as a freelancer is that you don’t need to know everything. The best thing you can do for your clients is to deliver great work, and in order to do that, it is much better to admit you don’t know something and refer them on than try to do something half-assed and potentially put your client’s business at risk.
There’s also nothing wrong with asking for help from other freelancers in your network. Freelancing tends to be a very resourceful industry – we’re all looking out for each other!
13. Seldomly Lower Your Fees To Get A Gig
When you’re starting out as a freelancer, it’s always tempting to accept a project that pays less than the rate you’ve set for yourself. But it’s always best to avoid discounting your fee unless there are compelling reasons for doing so.
If you can afford it and if the client is open to working with you, try doing the first project at your regular rate just to see how things go. This will also help you build up your portfolio and give value to prospective clients who may be able to pay higher rates in the future.
14. Stay In Touch With Previous Clients
A large percentage of future work comes from previous clients. Keeping them up to date with your availability will make them more likely to hire you again.
I like to keep in contact with my clients by following their Twitter accounts, and by sending regular updates via email. When I do this, I always ask how they are doing as well, so they know that I am interested in keeping the relationship personal as well as professional. This simple technique is effective at building long-lasting relationships with my clients, which leads to more work and referrals.
15. Always Check The Quality Of Your Work Before Sending It To Your Client
You should always check the quality of your work before sending it to your client. If you are not 100% sure of something, don’t send it to the client. You need to be clear about what you are delivering and make sure that you know what the client is looking for in order to deliver a good quality service.
You can use a checklist or some other way to keep track of the things you need to do before delivering your work in case you missed something important.
16. Be Honest With Your Client If You Can’t Deliver Something
If you’re working somewhere else and trying to fit freelancing in along with it, be honest with your client. If you’re trying to cram their project in between going to the gym and taking your kids to soccer practice, let them know that.
They’ll understand that you can’t deliver something of insanely high quality if you have other commitments, and they’ll respect the fact that you put their needs first. If they don’t respect your other commitments, then they definitely aren’t a client worth working for.
17. Focus On Developing One Skill At A Time
It can be tempting to take on every project that comes your way. After all, there are plenty of skills you will only get better at by doing. However, there is a balance between developing your skills and earning money. If you’re going to tackle a new project, make sure you are confident in your ability to finish it.
Remember, your expertise is what you’re selling and that means if a client is paying for an expert’s work, they will expect someone with the experience necessary to get the job done.
There is nothing wrong with telling a prospective client that you are not the right fit for their project or even suggesting someone else who might be better suited for their needs.
In addition to helping them get the best person for their needs, this honest dialogue may lead them back to you when they have another project more suited for your skillset or could help them refer additional business your way since clients trust recommendations from other clients over strangers any day.
18. Avoid Arguing With Clients Whenever Possible
No matter how great your relationship with the client is, there are bound to be disagreements. After all, you both have different backgrounds and experiences. You’re sure to have a different opinion about something related to the project and this is where conflicts arise.
However, it doesn’t mean that you should fight with your client about it. Remember, your goal is to complete this project as quickly as possible and get paid for it without putting yourself in any danger of being sued or not getting paid.
The best way to avoid conflict is by listening to what the client has to say. Try to understand their point of view and then politely explain why you think another solution would work better for the project than what they’re suggesting. If the problem is still there after doing that, try offering a compromise so both parties can get what they want out of this situation
19. Create Milestones For The Project
Now that you know who you’re working with, here’s a tip for keeping the project on track. To avoid confusion and to make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them, it’s helpful to break down your project into parts and call each part a “milestone”.
So if it usually takes three weeks to do a large project, break it up into three milestones. Be very clear in the scope of work for each milestone so that you can hold people accountable and make sure they’re doing what they said they would do.
20. Scope Creep
During the project, there’s a chance that the client may request something not included in the original proposal (for example, an additional landing page). This is called scope creep. It’s common for clients to make small changes to their projects. But be careful—scope creep can add many extra hours of work and cost you money.
The best way to avoid this is from the very beginning: make sure everyone involved in the project understands what’s included in that project and that any changes should be made through a request for change (RFC) process. That way, both parties understand any additional costs involved.
21. Not As Much Freedom As Expected
You’ve probably heard many times that freelancing gives you freedom. But more often than not, we are controlled by our clients. Just, for instance, a client will tell you to use their own choice of fonts and colors instead of your own creative choices.
The client will always have the final say in his project, but if you try to get to know your clients better and build a great relationship with them, they would take your advice into consideration as well.
22. Work-Life Balance
The most important thing to remember about work-life balance is that it’s entirely dependent on you. Unless your client requires you to work 9-5, you get to decide what your working hours are. If you want a day off, take one! There’s no one around to tell you that you can’t. You can even stop working at 5:00 PM if that works for your schedule. It’s up to you!
23. Not Getting Paid On Time Or At All
There are a few different philosophies of getting paid. One is the 50% upfront, and 50% after the complete route. Another is to do the whole thing before getting paid. In whatever way you do it, make sure that you get your money eventually and in a timely fashion. If you need help with this, there’s always Upwork.
They have a contract system for hiring and paying freelancers that ensures that both parties stay protected throughout the process. It also gives guidelines for when an invoice needs to be sent upon completion of work, which can help keep things from falling through the cracks.
24. Communication Problems
Good communication is always a need in any type of project, but especially when working as a freelancer.
If you’re taking on freelance work, you need to make sure that your client has all the right information to contact you if they have any questions or concerns. This is one area where many freelancers tend to slip up, especially at the start of their careers.
When working with clients, it’s easy to assume that they know how and when to reach out. But don’t let that be your downfall! Make sure they have everything they need from you and clearly understand what’s expected from them.
If it helps, send them an email outlining this information so that both parties are on the same page for everything related in regards to time frames/schedules etcetera (such as when things will be completed by). If something happens unexpectedly, then set up different methods of communication such as phone calls so no one gets left out!
25. Too Many Clients To Handle At Once
It can be tempting to take on as many projects as you can. After all, the more clients, the more money! But this can quickly turn into a mess that leads to missing deadlines or not doing your best work on a project because you’re spread too thin.
Avoid burnout and missed deadlines. You may want to consider hiring an assistant or a second freelancer if you find yourself taking on more than two projects at once.
26. Know What Your Client Wants
This seems like an obvious one, but it definitely bears repeating. Your client hired you because they either liked your work or saw something in you that made them feel like you could help them achieve the goals of their project.
Regardless of why they chose you, though, make sure that your client’s needs are at the forefront of your mind and drive all of your decisions throughout the project. Keep in mind what they said they wanted from the beginning and make sure to use exactly those words (or similar wording) in your finished product, if possible.
So, as with any freelance project, there are a few things to be aware of. We’ve broken them down into sections below that should help you ensure your project runs smoothly and comes out looking great.
Mostly Asked Questions
What Is A Freelance Project?
A freelance project is what you get when you hire a freelancer to do a job for you.
How Long Does It Usually Take To Complete A Freelance Project?
It depends on the complexity of the project, but most projects take about three weeks to complete.
What I Should Avoid?
There are a few things that you should avoid when working on a freelance project. It is important that you know what they are so that you can make sure that you don’t do them.
The first thing to avoid is working with someone who is not reliable or credible. You don’t want to work with someone who has been known to cheat people before. If someone tells you that they can get you something, but it turns out not to be true, then you will probably feel bad about it because it was not true in the first place.
The second thing to avoid is working with someone who does not pay on time. This will cause problems for both of you because if the person does not pay on time then the client will not get what he needs to be done and the freelancer will have no money coming in from the job.
Will I Get Paid For My Work?
Yes! You will receive a fair payment for your work, and we pay for all related expenses. However, if you expect to be paid more than the funds are currently allocated for, please let us know as soon as possible so we can work out an agreement.
What Is A Freelance Project Manager?
Freelance project managers (FPMs) are the people who manage the interaction between you and your freelancers. They are responsible for coordinating schedules and making sure that everyone is working toward the same goals.
They also make sure that your freelancers have all of the information they need to do their jobs well, like what kind of style guide you have, or what kinds of changes you’re looking for in your website.
Why Do Companies Hire Freelancers To Do Freelance Projects?
Companies hire freelancers for these projects to save money and time. They would otherwise have employees spend hours writing this content. The company will also own all rights to the content, so they can reuse it in other places (like on other websites or in other media) without needing your permission to do so. What are some tips for doing a freelance project successfully?
Do I Need Experience?
Nope! If you’re passionate about something and have skills, we can find a way to use them in your freelance project. Just tell us what you’re into and let us know if you have any examples or samples of your work—that will help us match you up with the right client!