The Freelancer Starter Kit You’ve Been Looking For

When you’re planning to go indie, you need to think of a lot of things. Right from how you’re going to manage earning a stable income every month, to what you want to work on and from where, and most importantly, how you want to get paid.

Becoming a freelancer might sound like a cakewalk — leave your corporate offices and step out to be free! But that’s not it.

For a freelancer to be successful, you need to prep yourself to be stressed, find zen in the madness around you, be the most productive version of yourself and of course, get your toolkit ready — because hey, there’s no one who is going to do the spadework for you here!

Being your own boss, also means doing absolutely ‘everything’ on your own.

As a freelancer for more than 3 years, here are a few things I have struggled with and partly overcome now:

  • Getting my work in order and prioritised as per tasks
  • Keeping my productivity levels up at all times
  • Recording my thoughts, ideas and discussions for future reference
  • Keeping track of client information for billing
  • Managing my contracts and payments

For someone like me, the last two were the biggest challenges. I wouldn’t even write a cheque without my father being around, let alone manage invoices in a timely manner. Everyone’s good and bad at a few things, and I think finance was something I was REALLY BAD at.

But I’m not here to share how bad my math is, but recommend tools and softwares that have helped me overcome each of the challenges stated above. Because, if I can’t do more of what I love, what’s the point of going solo?

The Freelancer Starter Kit

1. Get your own website

Sure, a resume or a digital profile on LinkedIn definitely helps. But if you do want to get recognised as a skilled professional freelancer, you need to create your own site. This is the place where you can share more about the work you have done so far, the opportunities you’re looking for, how you work and of course, boast about your accomplishments so far.

Whether you’re a writer, marketer, developer or designer, it’s always good to have a small portfolio section on your site. This lets people know that your work is recognised and there are others who recommend it.

You could use WordPress, Wix or any other website builder that you’re comfortable with. If you have the resources, you could even choose to get it developed right from scratch based on the theme you want for it.

2. Sort your payment process

While others would like to leave this as a task to pay attention to ‘after getting your clients’, I believe it is important to work on right away. Stepping out from your full time job, you need to decide how you want to get paid while freelancing — it could be an hourly or project based model. But you’re the one who needs to decide!

You also need to decide how much would you charge for different types of projects lying under your skill set. Go ahead and make the smallest of packages a client could possibly ask for and put a price tag to it!

The next step is to look for a tool that would make getting paid as easy as possible. There will be clients who ask for your PayPal ids, and others who might choose Stripe or Payoneer. So find an easy way to sign contracts and invoice these clients with a software like Workspoke.

3. Get the paperwork in place

You might think an email from the client is enough to close a deal. But the truth is, as a freelancer, it is just not worth taking a chance. Having gone through bad experiences like clients backing off from the quoted amount for a project, to making ‘very late’ payments and more, I learnt how important paperwork is.

Now as a freelancer, you get to choose who you want to work with across the globe. This demands a little knowledge of how to make contracts — tedious, right?

You need something that lets you create, send and manage all your contracts easily on one dashboard. You should never lose track of the contracts you signed, the payments being made and the client data you might need at a later stage — for example, while filing for taxes.

Currently, for signing all my contracts, I make use of DocuSign. It is a pretty simple and quick tool to use!

PS. Workspoke, will have that handled too in no time — I am more about lessening the number of tools I need to sign up on. 🙂

4. Set up your communication

The only way for a freelancer to work as a team member on a project, is to communicate with the clients regularly. Now you couldn’t possibly be calling them up on cell phones when you work on global projects, so decide how you want to communicate and keep it straight with the client.

You could choose the good old Skype, channels like Slack, HipChat or GoToMeeting and similar platforms. The idea is to make it easy for you to have a ‘two way communication’ to understand your scope of work and coordinate with your clients seamlessly.

5. Channel the marketer (read, Beyonce!) in you

Gone are those days when you could sit at your table in the office after you’re hired, and receive all the work on emails or Monday morning meetings. The only way to consistently get work as a freelancer, is to market yourself well.

Right from your branding to the skill sets you want to highlight in a particular market, it is important to ensure there is no ‘break’ in your career. So create a strategy that will help you network with like minded people, get attention from the clients you’re angling to bag and at the same time, helps you create an authority in your niche.

For example, while my site is still a work in progress, I try and stick to sharing valuable content that would help freelancers like me earn more and work with startups.

But where do you get started? By asking yourself these questions:

6. Sign up for gigs

Apart from networking on professional and personal channels, it is time to broadcast yourself as the skilled freelancer businesses have been looking for. This means you need to identify the platforms you can find quick gigs or projects on to suit your schedule and set target income.

Some of the sites that could get you really good projects are LinkedIn, AngelList, Fiverr, People per hour or communities like Indiez, Inbound and more.

7. Stay highly organized

Freelancing is a vicious loop — or let’s say something that you get so involved in, that it become hard to come out of it. You work on your brand, you bag more clients, you work on more projects, get paid — start the cycle again, and again, and again. And that’s where you start losing out on managing your tasks well.

You’re pulled into absolutely everything across the different projects you’re working on. That’s a recipe for disaster that you don’t want to taste!

That’s why I recommend tools like Trello, Teamwork and Asana to anyone I work with. Even if it means introducing the client to a new product, I make sure the going gets at least 70% organized — because we all know we can’t control the remaining 30% ever.

For all the projects that I work on, my Trello boards look like this. I follow the same approach on Asana, if the client chooses to use that tool!

Trust me, this is a neater version of my Trello board.

Pro tip: Don’t just make lists. Spend some time to re-order them based on the priority and set yourself on at least approximate timelines to avoid procrastination.

And of course, do your best to keep your work desk as clean as Ryan Wright. I kid you not, this is an actual work desk that is used through the day.

Trust me, this is no free stock image! (Rights reserved to Ryan, of course)

8. Prepare to move

No, I’m not asking you to go join an office full time at a new location. All I want for you is to experience working from different locations — because, hey! That’s what freelancers can do — carry their work around, like a boss.

But before you pack your bags and start checking off places from your bucket list, become the mobile freelancer. Simply put, equip yourself with possibly all the gadgets and softwares that you would need to continue working as you travel.

9. Maintain your productivity

This one can be tough. Since you’re working in pyjamas all day, there can be times when you don’t feel like doing anything or stall a certain task beyond the span it should be done in. Working alone can sometimes result in feelings of isolation — no more office gossip, no more tea breaks, no one to talk to face to face and so many other times when you feel like heading back to the office you were working at.

But that’s exactly what you need to counter smartly.

From using the right tools to manage your work, set deadlines for yourself and use techniques like Podomoro to boost your productivity levels! Trust me, it might look farce, but it works really well to keep your mind trained at the tasks at hand.


10. Stay motivated!

This one might seem like a philosophical, but you need to remain motivated as a freelancer. There will be ups and downs — in the projects you get, the payments you get and of course, the kind of clients you get to work with.

Keep your mind calm and focused on helping you grow — consistently!

As a freelancer, you might need different tools to work efficiently on. In the end, it is what you do that defines what you use — and of course, the resources available to you. What I have stated above, are just a few of the tools and solutions I make use of on an everyday basis!

Got any more recommendations? Feel free to drop a comment in the box below. 🙂

If you liked the post, don’t forget to recommend ❤ it below!

Source: Medium:Remote Working
The Freelancer Starter Kit You’ve Been Looking For

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