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13 essential things to do in order to succeed as a freelancer.

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1. Before you start freelancing full-time, make sure you have enough money for the first several months when you will be searching for your first clients and just trying to spread the word about who you are and what you do. Or make sure you have a source of financing so that you do not go broke while you are just starting out. More information about freelancing and finances here.
2. Being a freelancer, it is very easy and tempting to just stay in front of your computer all day long and eat junk food or sandwiches all the time. But staying healthy is important. So make sure you eat healthy food and leave time for exercising.
3. Remember that you need a balance between your work and the rest of your life. So do leave time for your family. Freelancing most often means working more than people who have "normal" jobs. So it can be pretty exhausting no matter how much you love what you do. That's why balance is necessary.
4. Is there anything that you won't do, no matter how well you are paid for it? Personal and professional integrity is important, so define and stick to your priorities. Otherwise you might end up hating your own work.
5. You may meet clients who will refuse to pay you. In order to avoid these situations
  • make sure you don't charge low rates, because scammers are naturally attracted to people with low self-esteem
  • search for the information about each new client
  • listen to your intuition
6. Set fair rates. I know if you are just starting out you want to win that client no matter what and you think that lowering your rate to a minimum will help. I understand you very well because I used to do it. But you know what? If you win a client only because of the low rate he or she will not stay with you anyway. The moment they see somebody cheaper than you they will leave. So work like crazy on the quality of your work and let your rates show that you are a pro.
7. Choose your specialty field (or fields). Don't be afraid to limit yourself. Specialisation will help you stay focused and become a real pro in your niche. If you don't know how to choose your specialty field, see what your colleagues are saying about it:
8. Back up your files. Always. This post will help you choose the tools.
9. Remember that there will be periods when you have more work than you can handle, but there will also be so called "famine" times when there will be hardly any projects flowing into your inbox. So be prepared for it. Here's a post with some ideas what you can do during your famine periods. And make sure you set aside some money all the time just for periods like that.
10. Market your business at all times.
11. It takes time to earn your reputation and to establish a relationship with your clients. Work on it consistently and don't give up.
12. Always learn. Learn from well-known professionals and from your peers. Freelancing is all about constant learning and improving. And I am not only speaking about your field of work. I also mean learning how to best market your business, learning to be a better networker, learning to manage your finances better etc.
13. Accept your mistakes and learn from them.

I am deeply convinced that lazy people can never be freelancers. Freelancers are hard working, motivated and smart. What do you think? What points would you add to the list?


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