Freelance contracting is becoming increasingly popular, and for good reasons. With economic crises and unstable job markets worldwide, it makes sense to use your skills and talents to build a business of your own. Freelancing offers motivated individuals the opportunity to do just that, while offering a host of other perks, like being able to set your own work hours and holiday schedule. However, it’s not without risk, so it’s important to know the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Self-Marketing – Any successful freelancer will tell you that a lot of time, energy, and money go in finding quality employers in your niche, establishing rapport with them, and soliciting work for your business. With a network of over 8 million potential employers the world over, Freelancer.com provides a way to clear this first major hurdle in a freelance career.
Quality Employers – One of the biggest challenges in freelancing is overcoming the fear that an employer will refuse to pay for the work you’ve done. The truth is that there is no shortage of dodgy characters looking to take advantage of independent contractors plying their trade without the benefit of an expensive legal team behind them every step of the way. There is a real likelihood that you will cross paths with these sorts at some point.
At the same time, there are ways of weeding out the unsavory types, and Freelancer.com makes it a lot easier to do so. Check the Employer’s profile. While there’s no guarantee that the information In the profile is accurate, there are often enough details to give Freelancers a general idea of what they’re dealing with. An empty profile might mean the Employer is new to the site, or it could mean that the Employer has something to hide. Profiles with incorrectly used industry jargon, or poorly worded or incoherent summaries deserve some suspicion. They might indicate that the profile was deliberately falsified. At best, it might forewarn that the employer in question may prove difficult to communicate with.
You can also look at a user’s reputation rating and read feedback left by other Freelancers about their experiences working with that Employer. Feedback, when available, is indispensable in providing an overview of an Employer’s interactions with past contractors. Be cautious about accepting work from Employers who are new to the site and don’t have any feedback yet. It pays to know as much as possible about an Employer before entering into a contract.
Clarifying the Terms of the Project – The best time to get clarification about the project details is before you accept the work. Make sure to read the project description carefully, and contact the Employer to resolve any questions or concerns before you commit. It’s especially important to make sure you and the Employer are on the same page regarding deadlines, payment schedule and method. The last thing you want to do is accept a job with several crucial details left unknown. Not only do you risk not being paid, but failure to complete the work to the Employer’s standards – unspoken or not – could mean negative feedback in your profile.
If you find yourself in the position of having accepted a job without first nailing down all the details, well, it’s better late than never. Contact the employer as soon as possible to get the clarification you need. If you have to back out of a project or revise the delivery date, there’s a much better chance of being able to do so gracefully and without burning bridges if you take care of it before either of you has invested too much time and effort.
Making Big Projects More Manageable – Depending on the size of the project, you may want to consider breaking the work up into manageable chunks. Not only does this give you reasonable objectives to achieve instead of one large task to accomplish, but it also gives you the opportunity to establish a payment plan with your Employer so that you can be paid in installments rather than risking completing the entire project and having the Employer walk away. Freelancer.com even offers the option of using the Milestone Payments system so that Employers can reserve funds and label them according to the milestones you agree on. Since the money has been set aside for the project, you can feel good working toward each milestone, and the Employer can feel confident being able to give a stamp of approval at each stage of the process before releasing payment.
Our aim at Freelancer.com is to encourage new freelance contractors and help them build successful businesses. These tips can help you establish strong working relationships and build a solid reputation as a service provider in your field(s).
Good luck and happy freelancing!