12 things I learned from 12 years of freelance work

Original author: Christopher Hawkins
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It turns out that the Cogeian Systems project this month will be 12 years old. So I decided to share my experience accumulated during this time. I hope he helps someone.

1) Sometimes it’s useful to give up work


I believe that freelance and consulting is like sunlight . Enough for everyone. But sometimes this is not obvious. Sometimes the mortgage is running out, but there are no incomes. At such moments, a "hellish client" always appears, sensing your weakness and despair, luring you with a large check - if only you can cope with his arrogance, idiocy and a penchant for micromanagement.

I would not advise skipping mortgage payments, but I will advise the following: if you didn’t like the client very much, ask yourself how much you really need this job? Sometimes she is not so critical to suffer because of her. Of course, it’s easy to say that if you have a large customer base - and I hope that you will have it.

2) Sometimes it’s useful to part with a client


Rejection of profit? Yeah. Some customers are not worth the profit. If your client fails you, you need to listen to yourself, take a closer look at the business and decide what it costs to you.

Are you losing sleep? Constantly tense? Do you experience constant arrivals from the client? Pays bad? Constantly digging into the details? Ask yourself - what could be productive instead of delving into this rubbish? Every minute you spend on a bad or unprofitable customer will never return to you.

Do not waste time on terrible customers. Gather and break with it.

3) Sleep more no matter how much you sleep


This is more advice not on freelance, but on maintaining the health needed to freelance. So many body systems depend on a good night's rest .

If you are 25 years old and after a sleepless night you are awake - do not flatter yourself. At 25, anyone can. But after each such night, you add a “run” to the brain, which will respond to you at the age of 40. Develop the habit of working well and sleeping well.

4) Stay on topic


This advice contradicts "hand out work to deputies and go sip cocktails to the beach."

Consultation is a difficult thing in the sense of working with all sorts of new and interesting toys. Companies spend time and money on employee training. If you are a busy freelancer or consultant, you are not doing this. But you need to plan time to learn new technologies in the same way as you plan working hours.

You train your brain by learning new things. You maintain a good professional level. If you are a programmer - learning new things, you do not lose interest. Of course, do not forget about the other skills that are required for your work - just do not forget to improve technically.

5) Get help as early as possible


The fact that you maintain your technical level does not mean that you should be the only one who works on projects for clients. Get help as early as possible and as much as possible. If you wait too long, then alone you can dig in so much that you don’t have time to train assistants in the future. But if you start hiring assistants too soon, you may not have enough funds for this.

There is a middle ground, for each its own. If I knew all this before, I would seek help much earlier than I did in my work. Usually everyone waits too long. Do not wait - go to oDesk, eLance, other sites, and look for helpers there. Work with personal networks on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

6) Run to income instead of running away from expenses


In business, it’s good to save (but not be cheap). At some point, you will feel your necessary level of expenses, falling below which will be pointless and ineffective.

With the choice between saving costs and finding income, look for income. The essence of the process is to generate income. You can go broke introducing savings, but you can hardly go bankrupt after receiving too many large payments.

7) Ask for more


Many freelancers are reluctant to ask for a normal price for their work. Partly due to the fact that it is believed that it is necessary to compete with others in price. Partly due to disbelief in oneself, a typical geek problem. Partly - because of the feeling that our work is easy enough to ask for a lot of money.

It's buulshit.

This is for you it is light or not very valuable - but you are not hiring people. Simple things like SquareSpace, Twitter, or FTP don't scare you. Do not you suffer from the implementation of projects due to lack of technical skills.

On the contrary, it calls you to solve these problems. Your client receives income from investments in your work, receives psychological satisfaction from the fact that the work is done by you, and saves your time. And all this is worth something for the client. Recognize this value and request it.

8) Do not be too affordable


Yes Yes. Do not jump from every phone call and email, do not drop everything if the client requires you to do something DIRECTLY! Does your workflow improve from constant interruptions?

Try not to be too accessible, this will help you focus on the workflow and strengthen the boundaries of your professionalism (see No. 10).

Professionals sometimes say no. Therefore, the client hired you because you know more than he does.

9) Be polite


There are a lot of goats in the world of freelancers. They all hate - customers, manufacturers, the press, other freelancers.

Try to work politely in all situations. Do not lose your calm. The relationships that you build build the business for you - those that you break, break it. Kindness costs you free, and rudeness may cost you the opportunity.

10) But keep to professional boundaries


Polite does not mean helpful. No need to succumb to pressure from customers, employees, partners.

Respect the boundaries - for example, always take money to increase the volume of work, or never work on weekends, or do not tolerate unacceptable customer behavior. This forms a respectful attitude towards you.

11) Be patient, but do not slow down


Contradiction? Here is what I mean:
- your actions are determined by the need to rush
- the results of the work must be expected patiently

You can rush by completing daily business tasks, but even if you do everything correctly, there are no guarantees that you will get the result as fast as you want.

The universe is laughing at your plans. Run a business - but remember that in this business you need to pump the pump for a very long time before the “oil” goes.

12) Do not forget to play


“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” (a saying that recommends not only work, but also relaxation). Do not forget to relax from work. Do not clog all your time in work with work. This kind of work is hard and brings a lot of stress, forcing you to ride on an emotional roller coaster.

Keep your peace of mind and make sure you live a full life, not a life full of work.

Bonus tip:

13) Get out of the office and meet with customers


Call it marketing or introducing yourself to the community, or making friends. No matter what you call it, it's important to do it.

Ceteris paribus, people will hire a person they know, someone they like, someone they trust. You must know, you must like and inspire confidence.

You can go to visit customers just to keep in touch. You can try to conduct seminars, appear at charity events, engage in charity. Invite a client for lunch and ask him to call a friend with him. Post articles in different publications.

All this formalizes you as a member of the business community and gives you advantages over other competitors. And it helps you too.

* * *

This is not all that I learned in 12 years. But if you discard the ego, pride, fear and other emotions - these are the things that stand out from the rest.

5 years ago I would write nonsense like “the largest order always wins”, “I did not win if you did not lose” and “the best way to work is to get ahead of the other”. Bue.

For 12 years, it is completely possible to get rid of all this garbage surrounding the work of a freelancer / consultant. Some things that I considered vital were no longer such, and some that I did not think about came to the fore (dream).

You will never know how it feels until you try. I sincerely hope that my 12 years of experience will somehow help you.

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