Full-Time Freelancing: 10 More Things provides a useful list of things Cameron Moll learned in his first year of freelancing full-time as a Web designer. Though it focuses on Web design, much of the advice is useful for other business. Here’s my commentary from a freelance writer’s perspective.
Speed: I try to work fast when doing freelance writing assignments, but it also leads to making mistakes. Of course, Web design work and writing aren’t equals.
Late payments: Definitely include in your signed contract or document somewhere that the client will be penalized for late payments. This shows you’re serious about your business and that you don’t tolerate late fees. Most of the time when they see this, they pay on time.
Email: I am SOOO bad about checking email. I’m organized, but I just can’t stop clicking GET MAIL especially now that I work on stories with a few hours’ turnaround time.
Time: I read somewhere that it’s OK to take a little more than you can handle because things get delayed. This is true. Once your cup runneth over, then put in a temp stop gap.
Play nice: I’ve worked with a few folks that touched almost every nerve in my body. I do all I can to keep things amicable. When one company decided to do the bridge burning, I bit my tongue as lashing out would do no one any good.
Self-motivation: When you’re on your own, you MUST have the ability to accomplish work without pushing from anyone. Though clients will push you to get things done now, now… there isn’t a boss behind you making sure you do so. Another way to look at it – if you can’t complete an online course, then you most likely can’t be in business for yourself.
Taxes: Not all of my clients require W9s. I pay quarterly taxes (1040-ES estimated tax for individuals PDF file) through EFTPS. The form looks more complicated than it is. I mainly linked to it so you see the four payment vouchers. When it’s time for a quarterly tax payment, add up what you’ve earned and multiply that by .15, .25, or whatever you need to take out based on how much in taxes you paid last year. Of course, please consult with a professional accountant on this – this is just FYI.
Promises: Consistency is right. However, I do make an effort to “surprise and delight” the client where possible.