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Posted by on Sep 24, 2012 in General Advice, Guest Posts, Productivity, Running a Business | 0 comments

The 5 Most Important Rules To Be a Successful Freelancer

Being a freelancer is ideal in many ways: you can set your own schedule, you can work around emergencies that pop up and you can be in control of your time and the money that you make. However, freelance work can sometimes fluctuate and be undependable. People turn to freelance work for a variety of reasons. Mothers may want to make a little extra money while their children are at school. Parents may prefer to work from home to maintain a better work/life balance. A slow economy may make it difficult for someone to reenter the work force. Regardless of the reason, by following some basic rules, you can become a successful freelancer.

Rule #1: Create a Solid Plan

Becoming a successful freelancer depends largely on the plan that you create before making the transition into this different type of work and lifestyle. It is important that you transition into freelancing only when you know that you can afford to do so. If you do not have any prospects for the type of work that you do or who your clients will be, you will quickly get behind and lose focus. You must also consider whether you can afford to leave the benefits of a traditional job behind, such as insurance and sick days. Before making the leap, make a plan regarding what type of work you will do, a list of prospective clients, a typical schedule and the work that you will complete immediately upon entering the profession.

Rule #2: Diversify Your Client List

If there is only one rule for you to remember, this is it. Do not rely on only one client. You have even less protection against being fired or not being retained in the freelance world than in the traditional work environment. Have a variety of clients so that when one job ends or slows down, you have other work to rely on. Make it a continuing component of your job to seek new clients.

Rule #3: Continue to Network

One of the most difficult aspects of being a freelancer is not having a social environment that you can rely on. You may find that you miss your former colleagues. Schedule lunches with some of your old co-workers or search for other like-minded freelancers in the area. You may be able to set up a weekly or monthly meeting or join a professional organization. These connections will help you stay positive and make connections with other members of the community that may be able to clue you in to a new opportunity.

Rule #4: Create Cash Flow Solutions

One of the setbacks of freelance work is the fluctuation in income that is possible. Some jobs may be more seasonal in nature, such as photography. Other jobs may be multiple month-long projects that upon completion, your work load is dry. Some projects may not pay you until you complete them, which may take months. There are a variety of ways that you can solve these problems. You can recognize that you may have more profitable months, such as photographers who shoot weddings in the summer. You can save most of your revenue to help you during less lucrative times. You can also diversify your services so that you adapt to the needs of your clients. For example, you can start taking school pictures and family portraits to supplement your wedding photography business. You may want to work on setting up a cash reserve so that you have funds available to you when an unexpected rough patch comes along.

Rule #5: Establish Boundaries

Some traditional workers and other members of your family or community may not perceive your employment to be a “real job.” Establish boundaries early on so that this misconception does not adversely affect you. For example, make sure that your spouse knows that you will be working in your office for a certain number of specified hours each day. You may compromise and pick up a sick child from school, but you may resist being the babysitter during the majority of the workday. If neighbors or working parents ask you to do favors, say no or limit the number of requests you accept.

This is a guest post written by Iliana Spector, who writes for Assisted Living Today and Organic Baby Nook Gift Registry.  Iliana has extensive experience in writing for topics related to elderly care and organic baby products, clothing and other items.

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