There’s no denying how difficult it can be to make it as a freelancer. A lot of potential clients are out there to take advantage of you, and no one’s going to spontaneously offer you more money unless you ask for it.
If you want to succeed freelancing and earn income that make you happy, then you’ll need to toe a hard line. Here are four questions you should say no to, every time.
1. Can I pay you later?
So many freelancers, especially when they’re just starting out, end up falling victim to this trap. It doesn’t matter how friendly or genuine your new client is, don’t rely on their good word alone. Too many freelancers have ended up never being paid that way.
But new clients are hesitant about 100% upfront payment, so meet them in the middle by requiring 25% upfront payment for projects.
The other option is to go through a third-party service like Upwork.com Guru.com, or Escrow.com, which keeps project fund safely for both parties until the project or a defined milestone is completed.
2. Can you redo this for free?
This is one of the costliest mistakes I made early on in my freelancing career but all successful people make mistakes and learn from them right? Recognizing it as a mistake and learning from it has greatly helped me.
Say you’re a graphic designer commissioned to create a logo with tagline for a new company. You submit your work. Then you get an email:
This logo looks great! You designed it exactly as we asked. But after some discussion, we decided to change our tag line from X to Z. Would you mind redoing the graphic?
So you sigh, open up your design software, and get back to work.
Don’t be that naïve freelancer. Ever!
If you work at a fixed price rate, redoing work for free is money lost. Say it took you 5 hours to design a logo for $250. Then it takes another 2 hours to fix it. Suddenly your hourly rate went from $50/hour to $35.71/hour. Not cool.
Unless you failed to follow instructions and made some kind of mistake, you need to charge for the extra work, every time.
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3. Will you do this extra thing also?
A client explains clearly what they need done, then you quote them a price for the project. Later, your client remembers other elements they forgot. It’s called scope creep, and it’s a trap you don’t want to fall for.
As a writer, I get asked all the time, “Hey would you mind uploading that post you wrote to WordPress? Thanks!”
It seems easy enough, but I have to log in, paste the text, upload the images, and format everything. If I say yes, it’s an extra hour of work.
Make it clear from the beginning with each new client that you will charge for scope creep. They’ll either pay you, or opt to take care of these extra things themselves.
4. Will you teach me how to do this?
Your skills are valuable enough that someone wants to hire you, but only until someone else on their team learns how to do it instead. Then you’re out of a job.
And most of the time, whatever service you provide is a lot more difficult to learn than the client thinks. When a client asks you to teach them how to do your job, explain that it’s a quite complicated process. It would take a lot of training to reach your knowledge level. As a result, the cost of training someone else would be quite, quite high.
Hopefully, the client will back off at this point and let you do what you do best.
It might seem like toeing a hard line scares away potential clients, especially when you’re just starting out. But retraining old clients to not ask these questions is an uphill battle. Do it right from the beginning to make sure you’re always paid what you’re worth.
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