5Popular Freelancing Advice You Should Ignore
No matter what your freelance niche is, there’s tons of advice out there that’s considered gospel. Just as there’s popular blogging advice that doesn’t always work, there’s popular freelancing advice that doesn’t always work either.
New freelancers begin their career (if they don’t, they should) with research. They perform Google searches, scour tons of popular freelancing blogs to find out what the best freelancing practices are and have lots of conversations with established freelancers about how to start their own freelancing business.
They will probably the same advice from all these sources. Unfortunately, not all of it works, no matter how sound the advice is. Below are some of the popular freelancing advice you’ll come across that makes great sense, but don’t always work.
1. Don’t make your bedroom your office
This is the first advice I heard when I started freelancing. No matter what you do, don’t have your office in your bedroom. Forget an office, I didn’t even have a desk when I started freelancing. I’d work in bed or on the dining table. When I did get a table a month later, it was placed in my bedroom.
The reasoning behind the advice is sound. Working in bed is bad for your posture, and it doesn’t make for a healthy work environment. After a couple of hours of working from your bed, you just feel like lazing about – absolutely not productive.
But when they are starting out, many freelancers don’t have the funds or the room to have a separate home office So the advice is actually redundant. It’s impossible to follow the advice you can’t afford.
2. Don’t work for free
New freelancers don’t always have a portfolio. To have one, they need clients who’ll give them work and to get work, they need to find clients. It’s a vicious chicken-and-egg thing. The only way out of it seems to be to work for free in the beginning – at least for the first couple of clients!
But popular freelancing advice says that you should never work for free as it undervalues your talent and sets a precedent for future compensation. What’s a freelancer to do? How are you going to build your portfolio?
3. Always take a deposit
How many of you took deposits from clients when you started out? Me neither. In fact, this is something I still don’t do unless the project is a substantial one.
Yes, I got stiffed once and yes, I should ideally take a deposit before starting work. But clients don’t always agree to that and it also really depends on how you do business. Granted, chances of you not being paid are high if you don’t take a deposit but it’s not always feasible to pass over a client just because they don’t pay an initial deposit.
For me, this advice only works with big projects. I simply explain to the client why it’s a big risk for me to start work when a big amount is involved. They usually understand and send over a 20% deposit (at least) or whichever amount we’ve agreed upon.
4. Have a freelancing contract
Every freelancer, freelance blog and business book out there says the same thing: Working without a contract is inviting disaster to dinner. Yet there are countless freelancers who work without a contract. I know because I was one too. Legal mumbo jumbo scares the best of us.
As new freelancers, we’re eager to get started. “What’s the point of a contract until I have clients?” you think. And then suddenly, you have a client and you’re so excited you forget all about the contract.
Or maybe you’re scared to bring up the topic of a contract. You’re uncomfortable bringing it up when everything seems to be going smoothly. Just because this advice is popular doesn’t mean it’s not right. It just doesn’t work with a big percentage of freelancers.
5. Charge what you’re worth
Freelancers either charge what they’re worth or they don’t. Most often, they don’t.
The internet is riddled with advice on charging what you’re worth. We’re told that the kind of clients we attract is directly related to our rates – and it’s true.
Unfortunately it’s very rare for new freelancers to even know what the going rate is in his niche, let alone, his worth. This knowledge comes with time and confidence in your work.
The beautiful thing about being a freelancer is that we’re adaptable folks. If something doesn’t work we either work around it or find a way to make the best of the situation, without being taken advantage of. Have you ever been given advice about freelancing that didn’t work for you?