Working as a freelancer is invigorating and exciting. You are your own boss, and often, thanks to the Internet, you can work from anywhere. You’re very skilled at what you do, and so you go out to find clients. You’ve gotten a nibble and someone is interested in having you do work for them. Congratulations! But don’t sign on the dotted line just yet. Take a minute and make sure these five things are completely organized before you accept a contract.
1. Your Independent Contractor Agreement
Freelancers, and businesses that work with freelancers should always be working under a written agreement or contract. These contracts can be extremely simple or more complex – as long as what is expected of each party is presented and agreed upon in writing, you should be fine. There are plenty of free online contract templates to use, and there are even many focused around freelance projects. If your operation is larger or you think it wisest, you can also get the freelance contractor contract drafted by your attorney to further negate the possibility of later legal issues.
2. Your Website
Your website should be up to snuff and completely organized in an eye-catching and easy-to-use manner before you connect with clients at all, much less sign a contract. Information on your website should not be out of date, and if you showcase a portfolio on your website, it should have your latest and greatest work included as well. Don’t neglect to include important information either to avoid turning off clients. Even a client you have already agreed to work for might go to your website looking for additional information after the fact.
3. Your Portfolio
Your portfolio should also always be kept up to date and showcase your most recent and relevant work to clients. Clients want to take a look at the kind of work you do to see if you are well-suited for completing their projects. For example, if you have shifted away from doing a certain kind of work into a niche you are more skilled at and enjoy more, removing that old work from your portfolio is something you should do because your new client might be wanting you to do more of the same.
4. Your Invoicing System
Your invoicing system should be up and function correctly before you agree to do any work for a client. You should have dedicated invoicing software that has all of your information and financials already uploaded. Don’t wait until after you’ve completed work to set up a payment system – technical difficulties might confuse and irritate your client. You also might want to include payment terms on your invoice templates you didn’t think of when first signing the contract, for example.
5. Your Policies
Your policies as a freelancer or organization should be completely organized and put in place before a contract is signed. They can be included in the contract, or stated clearly on your website, but you must have them. If you do not, your client could take advantage of you for additional revisions, ask for work outside the realm of what you usually do or demand different payment terms.
As a freelancer, it’s important to stay organized at all times. When one project finishes, implement any pertinent changes to your online presence. It’s all a learning process – so long as you continue to learn and make changes to your business model, you’ll find freelancing success in no time.