5 Freelance Lessons I Learned in 2008


Tomorrow’s the last day of 2008, and as I walked home today, I thought of the many things that happened to my career and my freelance work this year and the lessons they brought. I hope you learn something from this:

1. Learn how to say no. I’m the kind of person who finds it hard to say no, so sometimes I get shortchanged. I get relegated to the back seat. Saying no doesn’t come easily to anyone, and it’s something every freelance worker should learn. Say no when you’re being pushed to the wall. Say no when you’re shortchanged. It might be difficult at first, and you’ll probably lose sleep over it, but it’ll be good for your freelance career.

2. Work with the best people. If you’re new to freelancing, it helps to “ally” yourself, so to speak, with people who have built a good reputation in the industry. I’ve tried Elance and Guru alone in the past and found it difficult to build up my portfolio, but I was lucky to be taken in by a good friend, a freelance illustrator and designer, who has a good reputation on Elance. His experience helped us secure our first project. We’re now working on a comic book project together, with him doing the illustration and I writing the text. Freelance work can be scary at first, especially when you’re alone, so it helps to be with a solid team that will back you up.

3. Never shortchange yourself. I’ve mentioned that I often add a free service to first-time clients, and I still believe it’s a good practice. But when it comes to proposals, it’s always right to quote clients a price that you’re comfortable with. It might not be the cheapest, but prove that you’re worth every dollar.

4. Deliver the best quality on time. You want to be known as someone who gets the job done, fast, so be consistent. This will help you build a good reputation and is always good for your freelance career in the long run. On the subject of delivering on time, it’s always best to manage expectations, so if you think a deadline isn’t realistic, speak up.

5. Pay it forward. I never refuse a project if I can still accommodate it, but if I can’t, I make sure that a fellow writer/freelancer gets it. I believe there’s a lot of work for everyone, and if you’ve built a good reputation, I am sure freelance work will come in steadily. On that note, I also believe that by passing it on to someone who might also need the job more than you do, you not only strengthen a friendship but feel positive that you’ve done a good turn to someone, and that’s always good for the soul, isn’t it?

What are your freelance/career lessons for 2008?

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About Karla

I am an e-mail marketer, editor, and writer. My passions are yoga, food, and Filipino arts and culture.

2 responses to “5 Freelance Lessons I Learned in 2008”

  1. michellejbuss says :

    You cant always trust people to pay! Sorry that is a downer but I had my first experience of a non paying client today and i am still feeling a little burned.

  2. Karla says :

    You’re right, Michelle. That’s why it helps to have a contract in place and to ask for a down payment prior to starting the work.

    I’m sorry to hear about this dud client. I too have gone through some low points in my freelance work, but I know you’ll get over it. It will take some time to start trusting a client again, but it comes with freelancing. I’m hoping that, like me, you’ll take this experience as a lesson, and I hope this doesn’t happen to you again. Happy New Year and I hope 2009 brings you better (and prompt-paying) clients and more challenging projects.

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