How to thrive as a freelancer
Last week, as part of our month-long freelancing series, we hosted a webinar with Hnry’s CEO, James Fuller on ‘How to Thrive as a Freelancer’. During the hour-long session, James covered the best practices for your freelancing businesses and our audience had a chance to ask James some of their own sticky freelancing questions.
Today’s article covers a quick summary from our webinar. However, if you registered for the event but didn’t get a chance to attend live, definitely rewatch the video as James gave away heaps of great tips. (Check your email for the link to the video)
Proudly sponsored by Hnry.
How to go about getting freelance work
Start by cultivating your brand. As a freelancer, your personal brand is everything.
It’s how you represent yourself to your potential clients and what platforms you use to do so. Growing your brand starts by putting yourself out there and that means getting comfortable talking about what you do with people you don’t know.
Use the right channels to promote yourself ie. forums, agencies, linkedin, facebook, etc and have a plan about how you’ll use them.
For example, Linkedin is a hot bed of potential work. Corporate clients and private sector organisations are always on the lookout for good freelancers, often talking about and sharing those opportunities across their Linkedin profiles. So, having a presence on linkedin and being actively engaged is an important part of getting work.
Think back to your previous jobs, what channels have you acquired clients from in the past?
Grow and leverage your network. Who are the people around you that might be able to help you get access to new work or opportunities? You’re only as good as your network says you are. So, if you finish a great piece of work for a client, leverage that and ask them for an official testimonial.
Build great relationships with your clients. You can do that by under-promising and over-delivering, delivering on time, being structured, and being adaptable to different working environments. Spend time maintaining your relationships by checking in on your clients outside of projects, go out for a coffee and ask how they’re doing.
By building proper, lasting relationships with our clients, we move out of a transactional relationship and, instead, sit top of our client’s mind when opportunities arise.
Try reaching out to recruiters and agencies as they’re clued into larger and medium public and private sector clients. Not only are they people who can amplify your networks and get you into different bits of freelance work, but they are also highly regarded and trusted as a talent pool with vetted and strong talent.
Remember, work isn’t going to find you. Be deliberate about actively showcasing your work and building strong client relationships.
There’s nothing worse than underpricing your work and not making any money or losing money on it.
Start your pricing journey by working out your minimums, this means calculating your total costs of doing business. You can use the C.O.B. equation we’ve shared in our previous article, ‘How to Price Yourself as a Freelancer’.
*Hot tip: if you’re giving something away for free, it has no value. Know your minimums and be clear with your clients on what it will cost before you begin the work.
Pricing is something we should be thinking about on a regular basis. What is the market telling you about pricing based on your experience, inflation, and the more complex work you’ll begin to do as time goes by? Check in and don’t be afraid to adjust your prices regularly.
Bringing the right tools
Devote time to finding tools that will aid your productivity with weekly tasks. The proper tools will not only save you time but also help with coming off professional and well organised to your clients.
If you’re working with a client and you can see they’re struggling in a particular area, share with them the appropriate tools you use in your toolkit. This brings additional value to your relationship, going over and above the work they’ve asked you to do.
Master your calendar. As freelancers, it can be easy to let our work bleed into our evenings and weekends. That’s ok sometimes. But, from a mental health perspective, it’s important to separate our work time from our down time. Have conversations with your clients so they know when you are and are not available.
Use a financial admin tool like Hnry, to outsource your invoicing and tax filing, saving you hours every month.
Getting paid and managing unpaid invoices
Invoicing promptly and correctly is important. It shows your professionalism and also makes it easier to get paid on time.
Keep in mind your client might be dealing with many invoices from different people. So, to help ensure your invoices get paid quickly, make sure they arrive to your clients on time and with a granular level of detail. The right level of detail on your invoices will help prevent confusion and provide clarity around the work you’ve done.
If you find yourself with an unpaid invoice to chase up, try to be understanding with your client. Having a conversation about money can be awkward at the best of times and it might be the case that they have simply forgotten to pay. So, opt for sending a gentle follow up reminder or hop on the phone and have an open conversation.
Don’t stick your head in the sand and let the unpaid invoices lapse, be quick to follow up and ideally get your payment terms in writing before you start any work.
If you’d prefer not to have awkward conversations on the phone about unpaid invoices, the Hnry platform allows you to outsource your entire invoicing process – yes, it will even automatically follow up on your unpaid invoices too.
We have a new article coming out next week, where we dive much deeper into getting paid on time as a freelancer, so make sure to check back for that.
Managing the financial side
Start by claiming your expenses throughout the year. Make sure you know which expenses you can claim as doing so will reduce your taxable income, meaning you’ll pay less tax.
Next, place a percentage of your earnings in savings and investments. Set up a routine with regular payments going towards your kiwisaver or other savings accounts so that you can grow your wealth overtime.
Don’t get caught out by unexpected tax payments or filings. This is another important reason to be setting aside a percentage of your income each time you get paid. Or, using Hnry, they automatically pay and file all of your taxes whenever you get paid – so you’re always up to date on your tax obligations and never have to worry about an unexpected tax bill.
The key to financial success is building good financial habits, so work on putting a routine in place that’s easy to follow and stick to. As your business grows, so too should your personal wealth.
We hope you found this article helpful. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the additional resources we’ve put together here with our friends Hnry as part of the March freelancing series.