As a freelancer you are often on your own. Not only for recent graduates but also for those who have been in the workforce for years, it is tempting to become self-employed quickly and without any hassle. You, developer or designer are your own boss and can start to search for clients right away. There are, however, a few things that should be organized and in place before you get your career started.
1. Website, social networks
Your website is your online business card. It allows you to present your skills, references, and yourself. Nowadays, profiles on social networks such as Linkedin, Xing, Facebook, or Twitter are practically mandatory. Make use of the potential they offer. Of course, you don’t have to be active on all of them. Choose those that are best suited for your purposes.
For the gadget lovers, there is the Poken. Poken is an app or a small device, which allows you to exchange data with other people who have Pokens and bring social network connections into real life. You first save all relevant social media profiles to your Poken account, and when you want to connect to others you touch your Poken to that of the other person and thereby exchange information. On your computer at home you can then synchronize the Poken with your social media profiles, which are then cross-linked with the new contacts.
2. Identity – business card and logo
As a freelancer, you are entering into a competitive market. That is why you have to acquire a “face.” A logo is memorable. Develop a unique design that suits your field of work. If you don’t want to design the logo yourself, there are plenty of freelance designers in your area who can help. Your business card is also part of your identity. A ritual at networking events is the exchanging of business cards. Contacts are most important, and with business cards you will be able to remember new faces the next morning.
3. Time management
Before you begin working, you need to have a plan, more specifically a business plan. Even if you are already working on a project, you should always schedule time for the acquisition of new projects. Sending invoices, checking contracts, making bank transactions, maintaining your website and social networks, as well as meetings with customers are all part of your work day. You should schedule your day, week, and month accordingly. Don’t be surprised; it’s not unusual to spend half of your time acquiring new customers.
As a freelancer, you are self-employed. This means that you yourself have to take care of your insurance, savings (retirement included!) and other expenses. Health insurance is only the beginning. What are you going to live off of when you retire? You need a pension plan! How will you pay a lawyer in case of a lawsuit? Legal expenses insurance! What will you do if you are no longer able to work? Worker’s compensation insurance! The list is long. You don’t need every single type of insurance, but some are indispensable.
It is tempting to just work from home. However, you should still separate work from leisure time to allow you to relax. If your kitchen table is your office, you should not be surprised if visiting friends remind you of customers. Learn to “log off.” A fixed workplace can help you accomplish this. Try co-working spaces or set up a home office that is distinct from your personal/home life. Find out where you are most productive.
6. Computer and software
Many freelancers spend most of their time on their computers. The right technology is therefore an important tool. Make sure that all demands you have in a computer are met. Two screens work wonders. An external keyboard and mouse (for laptops) improve your ergonomics. Graphic designers, programmers, or video editors should buy a computer with sufficient output and also plan for needed software in their budgets. Don’t be cheap when it comes to your Internet connection. A slow connection is sufficient to check your emails, but when you want to listen to music on Soundcloud while downloading current customer data and talking to your partners via Skype, you will need of a fast connection because time lost is money lost.
7. Variety and retreat
Choose a neutral place of retreat. When you have spent all day in your office or a co-working space, you need a change at the end of the day. Pursue a hobby or exercise – something that allows you to relax and unplug from work.
8. Tax consultant
One of the most important tools in your repertoire is your tax consultant. He saves you time and nerves. As a freelancer you are obligated to file your taxes. A tax consultant can take this uncomfortable task off your hands and even save you a few euros. A tax consultant or account is worth it.
Second only to your computer is your smartphone. Having access to important emails on the go can be a huge time saver. Whether you are coordinating appointments, chatting with clients, or scouring the Internet for important information, smartphones can help you turn time consuming commutes or waiting periods into productive working time. There are many apps that are particularly useful for freelancers.
10. An account on twago
Every freelancer needs an account on twago to simplify the process of finding clients and new projects.
But on a more serious note: you need a marketing strategy. Consider how you want to build and maintain a customer base. Where can you advertise your services for maximum visibility for potential customers? On twago, you have access to thousands of (potential) customers and exciting projects from all over Europe. Often, one project brings with it many follow-up jobs.
Beginning the self-employed lifestyle may seem like a dream, but there are several things that need to be in place before you begin. With this list and a bit of spending on the front end, you can launch a successful career as a freelancer.