8 Things You Must Do Before You Even Start Looking for Clients

home-office-569359_640So you have decided to give freelancing, one of the most popular money making ideas, a shot.

Great!

What now?

Where do you get started?

Well, considering that the three most important words in the world of freelancing are – clients, clients and clients, we may as well get started there.

Freelancers work based on the demands of their clients, and without clients, a freelancer would be just another couch potato.

Finding clients is the ultimate goal for freelancers, but before you even you start looking for clients, there are 8 things you must do.

Let’s take a look at them here, and in the next article, we will cover the basics of how to find the clients. Here we go –

#1 Create a Portfolio

One of the first things potential clients will ask is, “Have you ever…?” or “Do you have references?” or “Do you have links to some work that I can see?” These are all very good and necessary questions that clients have the right to ask and you should be prepared to answer them.

If you’re just starting out in your particular niche and don’t have anything you can show for it, provide the client with a portfolio of work that you’ve done in another niche. If you’ve been in the game a while, you should compile a list of links to work that you’ve done before, and choose to showcase the best ones that you want other people to see.

#2 Create a Website

If you really want to impress and bring in the big game, you should consider purchasing a domain name and create a website. A website that contains your portfolio, a list of your services, a list of what you charge (we’ll cover this in a bit), testimonials, a link to your blog, links to your networking sites (also covered in a bit), and a way to contact you can make you look professional and get some instant credibility. That could be a big edge over a chunk of your competition.

If you have never set up a site before, this may seem intimidating. But believe me, it is a lot easier than it sounds. Websites are really cheap. Domain name from a site like 1and1.com costs less than $10 a year and purchasing them is a breeze. Your domain name can be as simple as your actual name, or it can be something catchy that also focuses on your professional services, for instance: drawntoexcellence.com for an illustrator, or writerperfect.com for a freelance writer, or designed2rock.com for a web designer or graphic designer.

You can set up the site yourself on a free platform likeWordPress or have someone do it for you. If you do it yourself, your only cost to worry about will be in the range of $30 – $50 per year for web hosting fees. If you have someone else design the site for you, it may cost you an additional $500 – $2000. If you choose to go with someone else to design the site for you, remember to insist that the site be on wordpress and ask your designer to help you pick a premium template. The advantage of using WordPress is that, you can easily learn how to use it and handle the administrative aspects yourself.WordPress is the most popular platform out there with a thriving community which will help you come up to speed quickly. And it offers the best balance in terms of cost, flexibility and ease of use.

#3 Create and Maintain a Blog

While this is not a “must”, it would definitely be beneficial to create and maintain a blog. If you’re the best at what you do, you need to show that to other people. A blog that focuses on your chosen industry will show people that you’re staying on top of the things that matter to them, and it shows what you are capable of. This is especially important if you’re a freelance writer.

Also, a blog with constantly changing content can help you immensely in getting your site to show up in search engine results, thereby creating a new channel of visitors and potential clients.

If you are looking to create a blog of your own, Making Sense of Cents has a very easy to follow tutorial.

#4 Register on Freelance Sites

Okay, this is a no brainer, but there are actually people who overlook this step. Before you go looking for clients, register on several freelance websites. Here is a list of some of the popular ones –

Many of these sites are free to sign up, but they all require a fee for any work done through the website. Often times, freelancers will find clients through these websites and take the work ‘offsite’ in order to bypass the fees.

#5 Create a Client Contract

Even freelance workers deserve the protection of written contracts. Before looking for clients, you need to sit down and create a contract that covers the service you are offering, the price agreed upon, the client’s details, the project details, and any actions you will take if the contract is broken.

No, you don’t have a client yet, but you can create a contract template that you will fill in with all the pertinent information later. When you get a client, if you aren’t under contract through one of the websites above, you must email the client the contract, request their signature, and have it sent back to you, either through the fax machine, or an online faxing service. In the event that you do not have a contract, at the very minimum ensure that all the terms of the project are in written format in an email.

#6 Set Your Pricing

We finally come to the most enjoyable part of all money making ideas (or the most dreaded one, depending on who you ask) – figuring out how much to charge. The best way to create a fair list of fees is to figure out what other people in your niche are charging. It’s best to look at people on the same skill and experience level as you. You probably won’t get the $120 an hour on your first project like a seasoned professional could get, but you can set that as your goal over the next 3 years.

Using what others are charging their clients as a base, you can either choose to charge by the hour, or charge a fixed rate per project. Freelance writers often charge per word, or per page on larger projects. If you take 2 hours to do a simple task, you might want to consider a per project price just because clients don’t want to pay you for slacking off or incompetence. If you can crank out 3 articles an hour, you need to charge a per word rate so you can get maximum returns for your skills.

#7 Register with an Online Payment Site

That brings us to the next important task – register with an online payment system where you’ll receive payments. Though there are several different payment systems, the most common one is www.PayPal.com. The advantages of using paypal are that it has come to become one of the universally accepted payment systems and your future clients will likely feel comfortable using it. Another advantage is that paypal keep records of payments sent and received, which comes in handy around tax time.

#8 Determine Your Hours

The beauty of working freelance is that you can choose to work whenever you want. If you wish, you could set up regular work hours per day, and take your weekends off like any other “regular” job. Or, you can choose to work just 3 hours a day if you have other obligations. If you have time to spare, you could also go10 hours a day and establish yourself. While this may be flexible, you should still think about it before you take on clients, so you will be in a position to provide accurate estimates to the client of when a project can be completed. Delivering a project within a predetermined time schedule is one of the key aspects of having the client come back to you for their next project.

These 8 simple things are all necessary to creating a persona that will snag clients and keep them happy in the long run. Now that you’ve completed these steps, you’re ready to move from ‘getting started’ to ‘getting clients”.

200 Ways To Make Money Online

200-Ways-To-Make-Money-Online

Make Money By Selling Your Photos Online

Do you enjoy taking photos? Are you good at taking photos? If you can say yes to both of these questions, then you may be interested in selling the photos that you take online. It may not make you rich, but it may be a way to make some extra money by doing something that you actually enjoy doing.

Also, pictures that you took awhile ago may continue to make you money into the future, which can set you up for some possible passive income. Who doesn’t want that?

You may be wondering who buys photos online. Trust me, there are a lot of people who do this! Photos are bought online for many reasons: for magazine articles, for websites (such as in their logo or in a blog post), for someone’s home (to be hung on a wall), for a pamphlet, and more.

There are many different websites online that allow you to sell your photography online. These include:

  • Fotolia
  • Etsy. You can sell your prints on this website. You might be able to sell them fully ready to go with the prints in a frame as well.
  • Shutterstock.
  • Dreamstime.
  • iStockphoto.
  • Smugmug.

 

Make Money By Selling Your Photos Online

Here are my tips to sell your photography.

You need to be able to market yourself well.

One way to sell your photography would be using a website such as Etsy. You can sell prints, photos and so on, but if you cannot market yourself then it would be hard to make money through this website. If you have a following, then you can pitch your photos to those that follow you.

Most of the people who buy on Etsy are probably people who are looking for photos for their home, so keep this in mind.

You need to describe your photos well.

Once you actually take the photos that you plan on selling, you need to put these photos online and describe them. If you don’t have a good description of your photos, then no one may be able to find it.

You should make sure that you are using good keywords so that the photos will pop up in search engines.

Know the terms of the website that you are selling on.

Different websites have different terms. Some only want photos of certain things (such as pictures that are commercial-related), whereas other websites don’t really care.

If you want to be successful, then you should know the terms so that you are not wasting your time on a website that is not correctly fitted for the type of photography that you take.

Have you ever sold your photography? What tips do you have?

 

How To Effectively Promote Your Business

When starting a new business (or an old one), networking and promoting it are very important. Nearly all businesses will need to be promoted in some way. It would be very difficult to start a business without any networking or promoting and the business still being successful.

Depending on your business, there are many different things that you could do to effectively promote your website. Each business may do things a little differently, but this article may help your business start out with a bang.

 

Ask for testimonials.

Asking for testimonials from past clients is very important. When future clients decide if they want to use your services, then a testimonial may be the final push that they need. Also, if they have heard of the person who gave the testimonial, then that can be even more important.

How To Effectively Promote Your Business

Photo Credit

Have a website.

When you are providing services, a good-looking website is very important. When most people look for the services that they need done, they will most likely look at your website. If you don’t have a website, then you may look less reputable and less professional.

If you don’t know how to create your own website, then you can hire someone. You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for a professional looking website. Shop around and see what will bring you the most value.

Guest blogging.

Guest blogging can be very beneficial if you are trying to let your services be known. Guest blog on websites in which you know that potential clients may be reading. Make sure to have a good title and provide quality content, as you never know who may find your article.

Advertising.

There are many ways that you can effectively advertise your business. If you are a clothing boutique, then you might want to try advertising on bloggers in the market that you sell clothing to. You might ask bloggers to place an ad for you in their sidebar, or you might ask them to do a review of your product.

Another way to advertise would be to use Facebook advertising. You can narrow it down closely to your market (age and gender, and so on).

Social media. 

Engaging in social media can be a great way to effectively promote your business. Follow potential customers and engage with them. You never know what may happen! I firmly believe that people will use services from people who they know.

What have you done to effectively promote your website?

 

Positives and Negatives of Searching for Jobs Online

Online jobs and working from home is one of the primary topics of Grad Money Matters. Today, we will be talking about the positives and negatives of searching for jobs online. Searching for jobs online is similar to searching for jobs in the offline world, but it is also very different.

Searching for online jobs – The first step.

Working online is great, and I can honestly say that because I work online. As a freelancer, you can create the best schedule for you, and work with your talents directly. Working online is also a great way to save money, because in many instances you can entirely cut out transportation costs, and hopefully save money on food and clothing as well.

Positives and Negatives of Searching for a Job online.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/5730523107/

Where to find online jobs.

There are many places to find online jobs. You can search on the ProBlogger Job Boards, search on Elance oDesk, and so on. You can also network like crazy and have people asking you if they can use your services. This is the point that most freelancers want to get to.

Negatives on working and searching for jobs online.

Since there are so many positives of finding jobs online, there are of course some disadvantages, such as the very fierce competition. There are many people all over the world who want to work online, which means that some people across the world are willing to work for a very low amount of pay.

The average gross monthly wage in the U.S. is around $3,000, compared to around $300 in India and $275 in the Philippines. Many online job searchers are from the U.S., India and the Philippines.

Another negative of working online is that you might forget about all of the expenses of working for yourself. When you work for someone else, a lot of things are paid for. This includes social security tax, overhead and so on. As a freelancer, you need to pay for your own taxes, health insurance, retirement, and so on. You have to do everything yourself.

What positives and negatives have you found for looking for an online job?

Handling Payment Issues as a Freelancer

As a freelancer, most of the services that you provide require some sort of payment, or at least I hope they do. However, what if your client does not pay you?

Clients not paying occasionally happens. This is why you should protect yourself. As for payment or at least a deposit up front. Also, try not to rely and count on a payment until it is actually received. Businesses do this all the time. Counting money in your life when it is not received is not a good thing. You need to earn and receive your payment first.

Sometimes freelancers receive no payment at all. You might provide quality work for clients, and the clients don’t pay for the product, or they pay and take the money back after a certain amount of time has passed. This happens. It’s not the greatest thing to happen, but as a freelancer you should be prepared.

These are problems that have been reported repeatedly, especially against online payment systems like PayPal, which don’t offer protections for people offering services instead of products.

 

Related posts: 

Freelancing Options

Building your Reputation as a Freelancer

Finding Private Health Insurance When You’re Self-Employed

Advantages of Becoming a Virtual Assistant

 

Not being paid by your client:

If you provide a client with a finished product or services and they do not pay, the only thing you can really do is keep trying to contact them until they do pay. Working in the online world makes it very hard to make sure that you receive payment, and this is why working with repeat customers is always nice.

Unfortunately, there are so many scammers out there looking for free stuff and don’t care that they are ripping you off since it is the online world, you just might run into a ‘client’ who is willing to pay top dollar for work, but when it actually comes time to pay, they disappear off the face of the earth.

This happens, and as a freelancer it is a huge nightmare to have to deal with. This is when having a contract comes in handy, but it isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if the information in the contract is falsified. Always check and make sure that your client is who they say they are. This is why it can be a little scary to be a brand new freelancer and not know any of your clients.

One scary thing to think about: There are also many cases in which a client will pay for work in advance, or pay for work over a period of a few months using online checks via PayPal, and once a certain amount of time has passed, they request a chargeback for the e-checks and effectively pull the coin out of the soda machine after getting their Coke. This has left many a freelancer owing PayPal money on top of being out the money for their bills. Unfortunately, PayPal has no way to protect freelancers who offer services, unless you’ve sent product through the mail.

 

How to Deal with non-payment from a client:

You can request that clients pay you using the normal immediate payment methods on PayPal which do not allow for charge backs. Receiving an e-check via PayPal can be a risky move.

Also, as a freelancer, you can request money orders sent through registered mail rather than checks, which can easily be forged or have stop payments issued on them.

Finally, always insist on half the payment upfront until you establish a good working relationship with the client. I almost always do this with a brand new client that I don’t really know. It protects me. However, some freelancers hesitate to do this because they are worried that it may give the client a bad impression. But it is as much your right to expect the client to take on risk for the first half of the project, as you will for the second half of it.

Have you ever had to deal with non-payment from a client? How do you protect yourself?

 

Dealing with Breach of Contract as a Freelancer

As a freelancer, you will most likely come across at least some problems. Being a freelancer is not a walk in the park with no problems ever happening. As a business owner, sometimes issues arise. Knowing the best way to approach any freelancing issues is great, because it is always best to be prepared.

Breach of contract is very difficult problem to deal with for a freelancer. Sometimes a client does not pay, or they claim that something is wrong with the services that they paid for. First step is to always have some sort of contract. Make sure to contact an attorney if you do not know how contracts and business legalities work.

When you and your client sign the contract, you are both entering into agreement with the terms of the contract and the penalties that come when one side or the other doesn’t comply. But what happens if the client breaches on this contract?

 

 

Related posts: 

Building your Reputation as a Freelancer

Finding Private Health Insurance When You’re Self-Employed

Freelancing Options

Advantages of Becoming a Virtual Assistant

 

Contracts
A problem that you may encounter as a freelancer:

Freelancers get a kind of bad deal with clients because so many, especially those abroad think that since you are a freelancer that you aren’t protected by big corporations and their corporate lawyers.

When a client deliberately breaches a contract, it can be difficult to seek legal action against them, especially if they are in a foreign country. The problem with money-making ideas that work strictly online is that there are fewer lawyers that take on intellectual property and ecommerce cases.

Many of your clients are probably very far away, and probably not even in the same country as you are. This makes it difficult for contracts and business law, and business legalities differ from state to state, and country to country.

 

How to Deal with breach of contract as a freelancer:

No matter what, always make sure to have a written contract signed and dated by your clients for any services that you provide for a client. This is a very important step as it is what can help protect you if anything goes sour with your service between you and the client.

This is an ironclad form that you can use if, for unfortunate reasons, you must file suit against your client for breach of contract.

Also, do some research and find a lawyer locally that have experience working with online breach of contract cases, or even a lawyer willing to take on such a case. It always helps to know in advance that you have legal help to fall back, if things end up turning for the worse.

You could send a cease-and-desist letter to your client. Even though anyone can send this letter, most people have a lawyer draft one for them for a nominal fee. In most cases this action alone may be sufficient to scare a client into action.

 

Do you always make sure to have a contract? Why or why not?

 

How to Save Money With Your Business Costs

Businesses are expensive to run. I don’t know of many who can say that their business is cheap and there are no costs associated with it. If you want to run your business more “lean,” then there are certain areas in which you can look at and cut back in.

Ask for testimonials.

Testimonials are a great way to get a free advertisement. They are also great because they are something that other potential clients can read and rely on.

Ask those that you know for help.

If you are an Etsy owner, do you have any blog friends who you can advertise on for cheap? I’m sure some friends would love a free item in return for a free review. If you are looking for other ways to get your name out there, you can also guest post on other websites. Some websites may charge for this, but if you are already a known blogger in the blogging world, you can use this to your advantage.

How to Save Money With Your Business Costs

http://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/7408506410

Look for used or refurbished.

Do you need a new laptop? What about a new printer? If you do, try to see if the item you are looking for can be bought used or refurbished. You may be able to save a decent amount of money!

Figure out how to save on taxes.

Are you bad with taxes and currently don’t have an accountant? An accountant can really save you money by finding different ways to lower your taxes. Don’t worry, all of this is legal. You might not know about certain deductions or credits that you are able to get because you are not as knowledgable in the taxation world.

An accountant may also help you by determining which legal entity is best for you and your business. The wrong legal entity may mean that you are paying much more in taxes than you should be.

Ask for discounts.

If you buy products from others, see if you qualify for a discount. If you bulk order or wholesale items as well, also see if you can get lower pricing since you are buying more than one product. Being a loyal customer can really pay off!

How do you save money with your business?

 

How to become a full-time writer

Writing in the online world seems to be a hot topic right now. Many bloggers seem to be writing for other websites, and if you like to write then it can be a fun and relatively easy way to make money.

So, what if you want to become a full-time writer? Is that possible?

Yes, becoming a full-time writer is possible. It may take time to reach a level to where to can rely on your writing to pay all of your bill sand still save for retirement, but it is possible. Having a good plan can really help with this.

 

Related posts: 

 

Can you even write?

To become a full-time writer, this is of course very important. Yes, some people have very poor grammar but are still great writers. If you can have someone edit your work and still be profitable, that is great. However, if your grammar is perfect and you can create interesting content, this all makes full-time writing even more possible.

 

 

Have you written before?

To get a realistic feel for how full-time writing will be like, I would definitely try to write for different websites or even your own website first. Get as many writing gigs as you possibly can so that you can get the best feel for freelance writing.

 

How to become a full-time writer

http://www.flickr.com/photos/42931449@N07/5263541791/

Who would you write for?

Are you looking to only write on your own website? How will you make money on your own website? You need to think about what kind of website you will run and how you could realistically live off of it.

Or would you write for others primarily? What niches would you be writing for? Some writers produce content for many different niches such as finance, personal finance, investing, family, education and so on.

 

How many articles would you realistically have to write each month to pay your bills?

Depending on your experience and niche, the price for your freelance writing can vary by a good amount. Some new writers charge anywhere from $10 to $20. Some might receive $35 for their writing. If you have degrees or certifications, you might be able to receive $300. Payment varies.

If you are only paid $20 an article, really think about how many you would have to write in order to pay your bills. If you need $2,000 a month, then you would have to write 100 articles a month, or a little over 3 each day. And this is of course before taxes, so that will have to be thought about as well.

Three articles each day may seem very possible. That is most likely not going to be a very tough day, but would you be able to find enough clients to produce 100 articles each month? Would you run out of topic ideas?

Would you want to become a full-time writer? Why or why not?

 

Private Health Insurance For the Self-Employed

Grad Money Matters is primarily about branching out and finding different ways to make money. So, what if self-employment is for you? One major thing to think about is private health insurance.

A big reason for why many freelancers don’t make the complete switch to self-employment is because they think finding private health insurance may be impossible. Health insurance as a self-employed person can be an expensive line item in a budget.

However, finding private health insurance does not have to be such a scary thing. It is highly likely that you will find the perfect plan for your needs.

Health insurance is important.

As a self-employed person, you might think about trying to get by without health insurance. However, don’t do that! Health insurance is so important. You never know if something may happen. Life doesn’t always follow your exact plan, and you never know when something medical may come up in your life.

What would you do if you needed a $20,000 surgery? Could you afford it without health insurance? Or would you have to go deep into medical debt? Health insurance can take a lot of the stress out of medical issues.

Find the perfect plan for your budget.

There are many different plans out there for you. Premiums can vary by a good amount. Are you looking for a low monthly payment in return for less coverage? Or are you wanting more coverage, which comes with a higher monthly payment?

Different insurance options.

Below are some examples of different health insurance options:

  • HBF Hospital and Essentials coverage pays benefits on things such as accommodation in a private hospital.
  • HBF Hospital coverage pays benefits for things such as accommodation in a private hospital, theatre and specialist fees, as well as allowing individuals to choose their own doctor and avoid long waiting lists.
  • HBF Essentials coverage pays benefits on up to 22 day-to-day services including dental, optical, podiatry, occupational therapy, and so on.
  • Ultimate coverage is the most comprehensive combined Hospital and Essentials product available in Australia. It fully covers most hospital visits and patients receive between 90% to 100% back on 36 essentials services such dental, optical and remedial massages.

How did you find private health insurance when you switched to self-employment?