Tips on freelancing from Maven Image founder Desiree Gutierrez:
1. Identify work that you can be passionate about. If you are freelancing you are really selling your ability to labor or work on a project. If you don’t believe in your work you will not give it 100%, and it always shows.
2. Don’t underestimate your value. Do some research and ask around. What are people making that do similar work? How do people in your industry typically invoice and contract with clients? A client may not go with you just because you are the cheapest. In fact, a client may not think you are very good if you are below typical market rate, and you may resent a project that doesn’t pay you fairly.
3. A positive word-of-mouth reputation is the best marketing you can invest in. Start by being friendly and professional with everyone, even people that annoy you. You never know who will bring you your next paycheck.
4. Over-deliver! This is another great way to build word-of-mouth. Offer your clients realistic results and do your best to over perform. This is a great way to insure return business.
5. No excuses! Do the job you were paid to do. Some clients will be more hands on than others, but that doesn’t mean your client wants to hear about every challenge you faced. They are paying you to complete a task, no matter the hurdles. There are some exceptions to this rule, but show discretion.
6. Use hurdles as an opportunity. You will undeniably face lots of challenges while working on a project. Be creative in how you resolve these problems. After you have successfully solved a problem, this is the time to once again show your value. Explain how you used the challenge to save the client money, gain them positive exposure, etc.
7. CYA! Document everything you do for a client. Sometimes projects will not turnout as you expected. It’s important to be able to show a client that you did everything possible for them, and to let them know their investment was not a waste. Identify the silver lining for your client. Even if results were not ideal there has to be a lesson learned. Don’t let that lesson mean that you were a poor investment.
8. Don’t forget to take care of business and know the law pertaining to your work. As a self-employed person you have a lot of business responsibilities including gaining a business license, paying taxes and getting your own health benefits. Learn the requirements in your city/state and your obligations to the IRS. I used various books by Nolo when I was getting started. These books were my bible.
9. Take on projects that will challenge you to learn new skills. Always try to keep up on the latest technologies and trends. The best way to do this is while someone pays you.
10. Fake it till you make it! I love and live by this quote very often. Sometime you will find yourself in new territory and you will not be sure how to proceed. Listen to your gut instinct, call on past experiences, and try to make the most informed decisions possible.
Desiree Gutierrez is the founder of the communications consulting firm, MAVEN IMAGE. Her experience includes a hybrid of nonprofit, social action and entertainment campaigns. Prior to creating MAVEN IMAGE, Desiree was a publicist with ITVS and managed the publicity efforts of the Independent Lens series. She also supported five, KCET-PBS productions, including Tavis Smiley and California Connected. Desiree worked extensively with Artists for Amnesty, the entertainment division of Amnesty International USA, and her freelance clients have included: TNT and TBS Broadcasting, Antiques Roadshow, American Express, The Craigslist Foundation, The Ginetta Sagan Fund, Outdoor Gear, Oxfam International and The Pasadena Pops Orchestra. Desiree has produced numerous successful events including Oscar parties, television launch parties, film screenings and heritage events.