5 Things Every Creative Student-Freelancer Needs to Know

By Melissa Burns

Freelance is growing in popularity among students who earn their way through college. It is not a bad way to make money; it certainly beats washing dishes in a café. However, while freelancing gives you more possibilities than dishwashing, it also offers a lot more ways to screw up. Here we’ve gathered five important things every newbie freelancer should know before starting out.

1.     If You Are Constantly Looking for New Clients, You Are Doing Something Wrong

Finding clients when you are just starting out is incredibly difficult. However, if you’ve been freelancing for a while but still receive only occasional orders and have to waste 80 percent of your time on finding clients, it means that something is amiss. If your work is any good, you should rather quickly accumulate a number of return clients who will occasionally recommend you to their acquaintances – to the point when you don’t have to advertise your services at all. If people don’t come back, something went awry.

2.     You Should Take Care of Protecting Your Work

In an ideal world it would be enough to take a client’s word for granted and be sure he/she won’t swindle you. Unfortunately, we are not living in such a reality, which means that you should think about legal ways of protecting yourself, especially if you are a graphic designer or a programmer. Read the law dealing with the subject, however excruciatingly boring it may be, use a graphic design contract template to ensure the conditions of work are clear and set in stone, in other words – don’t neglect the legalese mumbo-jumbo, and it will do you a world of good.

3.     Freelance Is not Just One-Time Projects Anymore

Traditionally, freelance was always associated with people getting hired to perform some kind of clear-cut, short-term projects. Today this is increasingly not the case – solo entrepreneurs and even entire companies integrate freelancers into business models, hiring them long-term without making them a part of their staff. It is both flexible and cost-efficient – so, if you don’t want to be constantly on the lookout for new jobs, concentrate your efforts on finding somebody who will hire you long-term.

4.     Know Yourself and Your Market

Before putting a price tag on your services, take a look at what other freelancers are offering and how much they ask. This will give you an idea if the market is oversaturated with this kind of offer, and how much you should bid to be competitive.

5.     Read Project Descriptions

All too often freelancers just plunge into the fray offering to do the job, only to discover later that they didn’t read past the first two lines of its description and haven’t the foggiest idea how to do it. Seriously – it is a far more serious and widespread problem than you can imagine. So read descriptions carefully and only apply for them if you know for sure you can deliver the results.

The hardest thing about freelance is setting out – and hopefully these tips will give you a clue on how to do it.

Author’s bio:

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays she  is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented.