Freelancing notes

This page is about freelance work related to web projects (design, user experience, development, counseling).

The types of freelancers

There are two types of freelancers that I know about in this field:

Mercenaries
They execute the work, do it fast and for various clients. Since they are just implementing and not leading the project, their rates is lower than experts.
Experts
They lead a project and sometimes implement it at the same time. They have less clients, for a longer period and a higher rate.

Both types are legitimate and needed in the field. Both have pros and cons:

What is sure is that both types need to build a network of clients.

Build a network

It's always better to search for clients when you are not in need right away. One of the best ways of doing it is sending spontaneous applications to agencies you would want to work with. If they refuse your candidacy or don't answer it's not a problem, they may remember you when they have a specific need.

Freelancing platforms can also be a good way of finding clients but there is a lot of competition that may pull rates down. Sometimes it may be better to have no deal than a bad one.

It's important to have a commercial relationships with clients. Sending emails to contacts to let them know you are available and trigger word of mouth is key. Making people remember you by sending them some news (for example a happy new year card) or thanking them when they refer you to another person is probably a good idea.

Cash management

It's extremely important to have six months to one year of cash flow. And to build it, it's important to get paid in time and at a correct price. Most clients pay in the following sixty days after receiving the bill. But some can take months (agencies) to years (government or public missions) before paying. There are even cases where companies don't pay in the hope that the freelancer go bankrupt so the debt is cancelled.

Depending on the country, clients may want to negotiate the price (it's always the case in France where I live, way less common in the United States for example). It can be hard to maintain you value and increase it afterward so try to not lower your prices to get a deal.

When deciding of your daily rate, it's important to take these arguments into consideration:

Taking all these factors into consideration substantially lowers the money you earn as a freelancer. Overall, only around 50% of the price payed by the client is the real salary.

As a freelancer you can only count on yourself and thus you need to create your own insurances. They are some period in the year (like summer, Christmas) where freelancers are not needed and even if it frees time to find new clients, it means you have to pay your bills with your cash flow.

Pricing

About pricing:

If you are a developer never do a package pricing and favor daily or monthly rates, except if you are super sure about the scope of the project and protected by the quote. In other type of works (design, user experience) package pricing is often the norm and requires to be very careful when writing quotes.

Quotes

Good quotes are the ultimate protection for freelancers and can help building a more professional relationship with the client. Quotes should always list what is in the scope of the project and what is not in. This way you can refuse a sudden change or propose a new quote for a project change.

Here's a list of basic things to think about when making a quote.

Design

Text

Graphics and photographs

Development:

Browser testing

Tech support

SEO

Contract

When the quote is accepted, provide a contract to the client. It's the last moment you can set rules with him about how things are going to work out.

Be sure the client knows that:

Working with clients

When clients hire a freelancer they basically want a facilitator, so everything should be done to keep the client reassured.

To avoid problems and facilitate the work:

Transparency and communication are keys to a good working relationship.

When something is going bad, for example budget is exploding or demands are increasing, impose your way of working by saying no but provide options. Never come with empty hands as the goal is to simplify the process and save time.

Type of company

Each country has its own rules about freelancing. However european freelancers can have a company in Estonia with an e-residency certificate. It costs around 100 euros a month and provides services for everything like invoices and payment. You may still have to pay your residency country charges.