Face it. You are at your most productive age at 20 to 45, but what do you plan to do when you're already past your prime?
Are you working smart to secure your future or have you gotten too comfortable in your cocoon?
The second batch of tips yesterday focused on developing a healthy working relationship with your boss. Today's final batch is all about making your freelancing career work for your long-term goals.
Here they are... your final 10!
- Have multiple income streams. Do not think that you will be working for the same bosses forever or that you will get all of your clients from the same bidding site. Your best bet would be to diversify. Many full-time freelancers have ventured into online selling, while others have integrated some sense of normalcy into their lives by putting up their own business or taking on a regular part-time job.
- Know when to say, "No" with a smile. Overbooking yourself at the expense of your sanity and physical health is simply not worth the big bucks. The greater your work load, the higher your chances of compromising the quality or missing the deadlines. You might want to refer the interested client to a friend instead.
- Keep on learning and make it a habit to improve your skill set. Theory and application do not always jibe, so think of your freelancing work as a gigantic classroom where you will be taking nothing else but hands-on examinations. Respond to mistakes proactively. If a job requires SEO skills and some HTML coding, go take advantage of online resources to teach yourself.
- Set a work flow and a clear schedule for your projects. You might want to avoid jobs that have very tight deadlines or no definite timeline at all. Do not try to mix freelancing work with household chores. Set aside some time of the day when you can really focus on the job. Sending personal e-mails and checking out your friends' wall posts at Facebook can wait.
- Think like a businessman. Sure, you can charge full price for the first project. Why? This gives you some financial leeway in the event that your favorite client asks you nicely for a discount on repeat business. One common mistake of newbies is starting with very low rates in exchange for more referrals and more work down the line. Sadly, most never get to enjoy a raise.
- Make sure that you do get paid and that you won't have to chase people for money owed. It is common practice for established freelancers to receive 30 to 50 percent of the total project cost before starting and to collect the balance once the work has been completed. For newbies who do not have the confidence to request for an initial deposit, check out the next tip.
- Secure your work. Beware of individuals who promise to pay only after you have submitted 100 "test" articles or 10 logo designs that "meet the standards." Tell your boss that you will publish the completed work on your online portfolio and that you are ready to remove them once payment reaches your end. You may have to put this special arrangement into writing in the non-disclosure agreement.
- Build an impressive online portfolio. If you don't have one yet, create one and make sure to update it. It is essential to showcase your best works if you are to convince potential clients that you can do the job. Business will never hire you on the merit of promises, unfounded claims and lack of experience. Chances are you might not be asked to create a customized sample by the client if you have an online portfolio to show.
- Establish yourself as an authority in a niche or industry that you are passionate about. By doing so, you are not only beefing up your reputation but also helping yourself to transition smoothly to possibly higher roles such as being a consultant.
- Track your finances. Of the funds that you receive, how much exactly do you save and invest? What portion goes to taxes and monthly bills? Are you actually setting aside funds to protect your financial security? Nothing can be more distracting than the pressure to make both ends meet. If you do not have a 6-month buffer to sustain you while you freelance full time, it might not be wise to quit your day job just yet.*