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The 10 Commandments For Freelancers

So you want to be a freelancer. It doesn’t matter what you do, there are certain rules that all freelancers need to live by. It is worth thinking of them as commandments, as straying from them will make your business life and gaining profits much harder than if you follow them. Here are the 10 commandments for freelancers to live by:

#1 Thou Shalt Not Stick With One Client

Unlike God’s first commandment of only following and worshipping him, as a freelancer, you don’t want to limit yourself. It is essential to have multiple clients and places to work.

Your one client may offer you plenty of work right now and pay well but he could also decide that he no longer need the work done at any moment. What will you do once that contract comes to an end? If you have multiple clients, you will have other sources of revenue to fall back on while you substitute that individual client.

#2 Thou Shalt Fall In Love With Marketing

Okay, so it is a little strong to fall in love with it, but you need to respect it. Marketing is your most powerful tool as a freelancer. It gets your name out there and tells people all about your offers and services. There are many different forms of marketing which you can do, including social media, blog post, or even word of mouth.

As you become successful, you will find word of mouth effective. Keep in mind that it is still worth continuing any marketing effort to get exposure and build up your client base.

#3 Thou Shalt Opt For Ethical Marketing

When it comes to online marketing, you need to avoid black hat techniques. While they may offer some short-term benefits, your business will be severely hit with penalties and you will start to struggle more than you currently do. Ethical, white hat techniques are the way to go. These usually take more time, but you will get greater rewards in the long run.

What does all this mean? Avoid buying fb likes or links, and don’t stuff your content with keywords. Build your following responsibly and get a mentor if you believe that will help.

#4 Thou Shalt Learn To Say No

Now, you already know not to stick with one client but it is possible to take on too many clients at a time. You will end up overworking, burn yourself out and not offer the quality each client deserves. It is important to learn to say no now and then. That doesn’t mean burning bridges. Just apologize and explain that you are engaged with existing projects.

If you worried about saying no, increase your price. This will usually help as it could take your services out of the budget for some potential clients. Those who really want to work with you are willing to stretch to pay for that extra amount, though.

#5 Thou Shalt Not Offer Too Many Options

It is common to add more packages. Depends on what your service does, it could be a really good idea. However, as a freelancer, you want to avoid too many options. Not only this will make it harder for you to stay on track, it will also confuse your potential clients.

And a confused mind doesn’t buy! You should minimize the number of options available.

#6 Thou Shalt Make Thy Call-To-Action Clear

Calls-to-action are tremendously important in the world of freelancing. It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to get people to buy your service or get them sign up to your pre-order mailing list. The call to action is the thing that gets people to do it. The problem is many freelancers make it obscure. People want to be told what to do. In fact, they need that. It is crucial to make it as clear as possible in order to get the outcome you desire.

#7 Thou Shalt Not Let Rejection Stop You

Rejection happens; it really doesn’t matter how long you have been in the game. Some clients will not like your style, or they may not like the design you have just created. You may have had a bad day with your camera and not quite gotten the best shot your client is looking for. Stop worrying about rejection and don’t let it stop you once it does happen.

For every client that doesn’t want to work with you, there is at least one that really does. Focus on those that do. Of course, make sure you take any criticism you get positively.

#8 Thou Shalt Interact With Others In Person

In-person networking is an important part of freelancing. This isn’t just for your business but also for your mental health. Being a freelancer is extremely isolating. You could end up stuck in doors for days on end, especially if you are working on a large project with a short deadline. It is important to get yourself out there as much as possible. Interact and socialize with friends regularly, attend seminars or workshops to network and socialize.

#9 Thou Shalt Set Reasonable Rate

Setting the hourly rate is one of the hardest parts of freelancing for many. It can be so difficult to find a balance between too little and too much. By reasonable, it is not about offering the lowest rate in your market. You also need to make sure you don’t set them too low that you sell yourself short. In fact, rates that are too low can scare clients away as they presume your work or service isn’t quite up to standard.

Set a rate you think you are worth, then consider the market rates and your experience.

#10 Thou Shalt Not Procrastinate

Procrastination is a problem. In fact, for many freelancers, it is a common roadblock that affects their business. There are lots of distractions in our everyday lives, there is also all the paperwork waiting on the desk and stuff you need to work on.

Procrastination is killing your hourly rate. It is also killing your reputation. As the deadline nears, you end up rushing them and that will certainly affect the work quality. You want clients to be impressed, not decide never to work with you again!

It is time to focus on building your business. The 10 commandments above are ones that all freelancers need to abide by. It doesn’t matter whether you offer writing services, web design and development, or even software development services, all the commandments will help you build your business successfully. Put the commandments up on your wall as a daily reminder. The next time you find yourself struggling, procrastinating or drowning under a sea of difficult clients, look at them to remind what you should be doing instead.

So what do you think of the 10 commandments? Let me know in the comments below.

by KM Lee

KM Lee has been a self-employed geek since 2008. Currently he's working full-time from home online. You can also connect with him: