Freelance endeavors are often started either out of necessity, passion, or a drastic change in circumstances.
Not everyone sets out to be a freelancer, and so it is a lot of learning as you go. While learning as you do is one of the most potent things about freelancing, it can lead to trial and error.
Many freelancers don’t realize that they need to protect their business just as much as a multi-million dollar corporation - and sometimes more—freelancing lands pretty much everything on the shoulders of the person who does the work.
So, for example, if you are having trouble with a client paying - which can happen often - you need to chase them personally. Until you take extra steps and take legal action. In the meantime, you have to cover the financial loss.
Another example is that the client exactly specified the work you did; however, it appears to be plagiarized, or they get sued by another company. This often lands back on the shoulders of the freelancer, and you will find yourself in serious legal troubles.
As you learn and grow, it is your job to look at how you can protect your freelancing career and what makes the most sense to you.
Remember that protection for your business doesn’t just come in one form; there are many ways to protect your freelancing.
One of the scenarios above involved the freelancer potentially ending in a lawsuit. One of the most important and practical things that you can do to avoid this is to have the right insurance.
While you may still end up in legal troubles, you will have your legal costs covered and have some level of protection for your reputation and business.
A freelance business should have many different forms of insurance, and it is your job to make sure you have the right policies in place.
As a minimum, you should be looking for the following insurances:
One of the most vital insurances you can have as a freelancer is professional liability indemnity.
Insurance that covers your devices.
General liability insurance to cover you for third-party damages or customer injuries.
Cyber liability insurance
Health and disability insurance
Before you sign for any policy, make sure that it gives you the cover you think it does. It is often the case that freelancers will take out insurance policies without knowing what is in them.
If you don’t know what your insurance covers, you will find yourself in a difficult position if your claim is denied. In the case of a rejected claim, your first course of action is to contact insurance claim attorneys.
Part of the joy of freelancing is that you can have as many clients as you like. Taking on new exciting projects or taking long breaks. However, there is one truth when it comes to freelancing - a few long-term clients are one of the most profitable and stable ways to grow your freelancing career.
A long-term client will usually be locked into six months or more extended contract, giving you financial stability for at least that long. The longer you work with the same client, the less onboarding you will need to do, less admin, little to no new introductions, and more cohesive service.
Long-term clients are your safety-net, and they aren’t always easy to come by. You might need to change your business goals for a short amount of time to attract those longer-term clients.
While you might want to focus on long-term clients, it is essential to find a balance. Ideally speaking, you will be looking for an 80/20 split between long-term clients and short-term clients.
Are you offering enough services? Most likely not. Often freelancers have one powerful skill that makes most of their income - however, their skill base typically grows over time.
Freelancers who started by offering social media services will most likely learn how to create graphics from scratch; they’ll learn about branding, customer services, and more.
Expanding your services over time will mean selling more services or creating appealing bundles for your clients.
If you don’t feel like you can expand your services by learning on the job, then it is a good idea to take short courses that cover the direction you wish to expand into.
LinkedIn offers a range of short courses covering a wide range of topics; they are usually accessible with a premium membership. Hubspot also offers a range of courses that can help you expand your services.
As you grow your freelancing business, you should look to expand your brand too. Gather testimonials and further cement your reputation in the industry. Ensure that you are taking part in discussions and attending industry networking and learning opportunities.
Begin to see yourself as an expert and act accordingly.
Keep a social profile outside of your business profiles so that potential clients can get a sense of your authenticity and decide if they wish to work together.
Your brand can have a significant impact on the type of clients you can secure, and in most cases, will do a lot of the heavy lifting.
Legacy clients will usually have an issue raising your prices, but new clients will see your track record and be prepared to pay your rates.
Increasing your rates will attract a higher caliber of business - and most often the ones that are interested in long-term contracts and working relationships.
If you are yet to create contracts, ensure that you add something in that covers the fact that you may raise your prices at your discretion over the space of several years - or something else that suits you.
As you gain more experience, it is expected that you will raise your prices to reflect your track record for success.
And finally: don’t be afraid to end business relationships that aren’t good for your mental health or clients that don’t respect your boundaries.
Are you still learning the ropes to running your freelance business? Don’t worry, here are some: Easy Business Mistakes To Avoid