What are non-bs places to learn freelancing?

I'm currently making the jump to freelancing, so that I can spend more time on my projects.
So far most of the stuff I found online about remote freelancing seem like bs to me. Lots of "buy my course to get rich easy" type stuff or the typical marketing / recruiter things.

What are the non-bs places I should know to learn the soft skills required to be a successful freelancer (negotiating, finding clients, communicating with clients, writing applications, proposals etc)?

  1. 3

    Congrats @jsco! I agree that you don't need to buy a pricey course to "unlock the secrets" of freelancing. I think the best thing I did when I was getting started was get some 1:1 time with a few people who already were freelancers - just a 30 or 45 minute coffee where I could ask them to lay out their knowledge on a particular thing I was wondering about (taxes, pricing, negotiation, etc). I'll just throw out a few of the most salient bits of wisdom I've picked up from those calls (and now 3 years of freelancing):

    • Your target hourly rate should be around your full-time salary divided by 1000 - i.e. if your salary to do similar work was about $100k, your hourly should be about $100/hour (though I often recommend starting out with a 25% discount for your first job, since you'll inevitably have to learn things and mess up a bit).

    • In full-time work we get used to thinking of a "work-week" as having 40-50 hours of work in it. It doesn't. Once the work of running a freelancing business and the downtime of context-switching and meals are accounted for, a normal work week will only have about 30 hours left in it. Personally, I've found that I can only sell about 16 hours of my time each week to have energy left to work on other projects when all is said and done.

    • In negotiations, you and the client should both be entering with an ideal price and a "red line" beyond which you cannot go. Sometimes, you'll start with your ideal price and the client will immediately say "yes of course" because it's lower than theirs. You'll feel silly when this happens, but just accept the win and the learning experience and be more aggressive next time. Sometimes, you'll start with your ideal price and the client will say "oh, we were thinking more like 1/4 of that." Again, you'll feel tempted to climb down to snag the job but that is almost always the wrong move. I've found that lowering my price past my red line always makes the project a nightmare - even if the client is wonderful, feeling underpaid makes it really hard to motivate myself to do the work.

    • Pricing "by the project" is hard because estimating time is hard. If a client will let you do an hourly, daily, or even weekly rate, prefer that (unless you think the project is going to be sneakily super easy).

    • Once you're a freelancer, your communications with companies are "business to business" rather than "employee to employer." This means you get more leeway to demand things, because you are setting a price on a product (your skills) rather than negotiating a salary. However, it also means you need to remember to do some customer service - give regular updates, acknowledge what is going poorly alongside what is going well, offer discounts if it all goes south, etc.

    1. 3

      I'd double down on "business to business" mentality.

      I'm a freelance developer and I see so many other devs jump into freelancing and keep "employee to employer" mentality.

  2. 3

    Hi, congrats for making the decision @jesco . Things I can share with you:

    1. Finding clients -> Start from your friends/family. They trust you more. I got my freelance projects because at first I helped my church community (friends). May be from 20-50 friends (yeah, I cold outreached them), there are 2-3 that may take interest to work with you.
    2. Communicating with clients -> It may depend on project basis, but my opinion, you should talk to only 1 person. Your client can be 3-5 people, or 1 company. But set straight from the beginning, you want to have 1 door only. This will limit them have "different opinions" of your work, which will make your project exceed the deadline.
    3. negotiating -> clients will usually try to negotiate the price. It is common. So before you take the call, you have to learn to speak your bottom line price. Say if it is below $50 dollar, you won't take it. Because in the call process, you build rapport, and some times you will face that "oh my price is a bit higher". Avoid that.
    4. Writing applications/proposal -> Write the clients pain points, don't write what you can do. If the client needs, say, responsive website. Write "responsive website" in your offer. Don't write "website with X,Y,Z stack".

    Open to other opinions though, I also learn this in public.

    1. 2

      This is interesting, I assume this relates to working with businesses directly as opposed to doing contract work. From what I've seen so far it looks to me as though I can make more money starting out with contract work. Most positions I find here in the EU pay around €10k / month. All the businesses I've talked with so far have nowhere near that budget, especially not during lockdown.

      1. 1

        I assume this relates to working with businesses directly as opposed to doing contract work.
        yes, some will say "collaborate with business" 😄.

        I don't really have any comment about EU landscape. What kind of contract works you have run into?

  3. 3

    @jayclouse what would you recommend? (And maybe we can stick some resources down the right hand side of the Freelancers group?)

    1. 2

      Thanks for the nudge, @rosiesherry!

      Congrats on making the leap @jsco! I think the most authentic voices out there are Brennan Dunn at DoubleYourFreelancing.com and Paul Jarvis/Kaleigh Moore at Creative Class.

      I'm trying to create a lot of free resources over at Freelancing School too, but most of it is inside the courses (where I started).

      I also think Ran Segall's YouTube Channel is great

  4. 1

    Since you are not from the US, I would strongly recommend you to get in touch with established freelancers in your area. Depending on laws, the market in your country and business practices, things might be very different from what you will find in popular (online) resources.

    Here's one resource I can recommend though:
    Get Clients Now! by C.J. Hayden

    Despite the title sounding rather bs-ish, the book basically describes a structured process to set goals for getting business and to act on those.

  5. 1

    There is a classic book on the subject: "The Business Side of Creativity" by Cameron Foote. It covers all of this and provides sample letters of agreement, etc. Well worth the money.

  6. 1

    YouTube is always a great place to start.
    Also, you could look at some sites for freelancers like https://www.freelancer.com/ and https://www.upwork.com/ and look at their highest rated freelancers and their profiles/bio to see what they include.

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