Being a freelancer is great. You get to set your own hours, choose what to work on, and help people directly. It’s also a lot of hard work, and you have to hustle in order to get consistent work and earn a living.
If you’re new to freelancing, or considering taking the leap into the freelance world, here are three tips to help you get started.
1. Celebrate your wins.
Give yourself small milestones to reach, whether that means setting up a simple website, reaching out to your first potential client, or getting your portfolio together. When you’ve accomplished your goal, give yourself a treat. Spend some time with friends, have a glass of wine, or just do a little happy dance. All these small steps will add up to big wins, and it’s important to stay positive and focused along the way.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to jump into this freelancing thing full time, Cathryn Lavery shares on Medium 22 books to read before quitting your job. Rizwan Aseem on Quora also recommends that if you’re trying to turn your hobby into a career, you should take at least six months to work on it consistently and learn the ins and outs.
2. Keep track of your progress.
Have big picture goals, and then break them down into manageable tasks. One way to do this is to set up Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) every quarter. OKRs can be things like grow your email list by x% or reach out to three new potential clients. Then break down these OKRs into weekly or daily tasks. Use a tool such as Todoist, where you make a list of daily tasks and earn karma points for each task you mark as complete. As a great bonus, once you finish your list you can be done for the day and feel good about it, and enjoy time with family and friends.
3. Have clear payment policies.
Let your clients know upfront what to expect. Do you only accept all payment upfront or will you accept down payments? When do you send the client the final work—before or after the final payment? Are there penalties for paying late? Do you accept cash, credit, or other forms of payment, like Paypal? You should also include any fees, such as Paypal fees, and send clients clear invoices. One affordable service for creating and sending invoices is Invoice2go (costs $50 per year for up to 50 invoices).
Not sure how much to charge? Jory MacKay on Medium recommends charging by value, not hourly rate. And Erin Flynn gives a breakdown on how to figure out how much money you need to make to earn a livable income.
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared July 2016.