Web Development

Some advice for freelancers

I’ve been freelancing full time for about 6 months now and finally feel that I’ve streamlined my process. I’d like to share a few things that made a huge difference for me:

Find a co-working space.

I rent a desk at CatapultPGH, and have no idea what I would do without it. The community is invaluable, and the coffee fantastic. It’s amazing how your self respect and productivity sky rocket when you stop working in your PJs.

Read more at the co-working wiki, and if you can’t find a space in your community, start one.

Take an improv class.

The retired Harold team Field Trip, from Steel City Improv Theater
This is easily the best decision I’ve ever made. Confidence and decisiveness are a huge part of freelancing, and I promise improv will provide you those skills and many more.

Learn to love networking.

But do it to meet new people and to make new friends, not to get projects. If you are a genuine person and develop a good reputation, the work will come. And if you really want to hone your networking skills, take the improv class.

Design your contracts and proposals.

Having well designed documents makes a huge difference. Incorporating your logo and design sense into any paperwork you send to a client shows that you take what you do very seriously.

Use accounting software.

I’m very happy with Freshbooks, but there are many others.

Update 12/2013: Harvest FTW

Become an LLC.

If you plan to freelance long term and have a few projects under your belt, do it. It’s only $125 (at least in PA) and gives you a ton of cred, plus it makes tracking expenses and the like much easier.


Email is evil.

Well, a necessary evil. I’d say it’s the source for ~75% of misunderstandings. Use email to coordinate other modes of communication, and meet in person whenever possible. Don’t check your email on the weekends if there is any chance it will be stressful.

Misc resources:

2011/03 Mike Monteiro | F*ck You. Pay Me. from San Francisco Creative Mornings.

In Closing

It’s great to read freelancing advice, and very helpful. But understand that to really learn what’s up, you’ll have to make all of the mistakes yourself, in one form or another. It’s stressful, but very worth it when you develop great relationships and can be hungover on a Tuesday because you don’t have a “real job”. Not that I condone that, and it usually means you’ll be working on Saturday.