ECGC: A Freelancer’s Guide to Hustling Online

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Freelancer’s Guide to Hustling Online, Professional development at the East Coast Gaming Convention (ECGC), 3/24/14

You can freelance in multiple genres, but the materials discuss here are primarily for writers. However, I stress that this can be applied to any freelancer. Freelancing is a trial by fire. If you want to be successful, research clients, research fleelance websites, and other freelancers. You should hustle online because sooo many clients are online, looking online, and you have Sooo many options to choose from online.

A freelancer:

  • Is a self-employed contractor
  • Can fire any client
  • Can establish their work style and work schedule
  • Can choose your projects
  • Is allowed to set your own wages

Keep excellent records of your earnings and expenses. You are legally responsible for your own taxes 4 times a year. Consider if you need to open a sole proprietor business or llc.

Research work-for-hire agreements. Read up on the law. Make sure you transfer rights to the client in the contract. You do have a contract prepared, right?

Experience lets you know how to manage your time. It will let you know what each job should entail, cost, etc. It will also give you confidence. Again, get records to know this, and review your records during down-time to establish a baseline for times and fees. If you’re inexperienced, build your portfolio. If you have completed work done under an NDA, just ask the owner of the rights if you can use it. Your samples are like free advertising for them and their products. Look for smaller jobs that you know you can do quickly (not cheaply!) to gain experience,

professional rates vs. Semiprofessional rates.
Sometimes its okay to earn semi-professional rates. Semi pro rates are less (1-4 cents per word). When choosing to take semiprofessional rates, understand and hold fast to the idea that these rates cannot be for something that takes little time, not full time, or even part time.

Passion is great and keeps you going, it lets you be better at what you do. However, many people will try to take advantage of that… They think: “you have passion- so what.”

“Passion” to clients means:

  • no experience.
  • I might lose my passion…
  • Don’t pay me much, I’m passionate.
  • Passion is an emotion, could be drama

Don’t ever use: Aspiring,  Student,  Amateur,  Looking for experience. Say what you are, and OWN IT. be confident. People are spending money. You are a writer, a game writer, a designer, a developer. Say it.

 

Things to consider while freelancing

Be professional.
Have a website where people an find you. It doesn’t have to be best ever, just show you can be professional looking. Make your online material is FANTASTIC! watermark your portfolio samples and convert them to PDF if you can. Specify what kind of work you do and have a veriety of samples that illustrate your range. Connect social media accounts, and destroy or distance yourself from accounts that might make you look unhinged. Promote your business where its appropriate, but do not spam sites or forum comments with your links

Profiles.
Explain what your value is, avoid problematic buzzwords. Talk about your experience. Proofread everything twice. Then do it again. Then get someone else to check it.

Rates.
People lowball because”

  • They need experience
  • They are trying to establish themselves
  • They don’t know what to charge
  • They can always raise it later.

Don’t lowball. Clients will equate your skill with the price you request. Lowballing makes it difficult to raise prices. Lowballers have rates online, and new clients will expect the old rate. repeat clients may not be able to meet the new rate. Lowballers ruin everyone’s cash flow- And clients end up having poor expectations.

So how do you set your rates?
Your rate can be based on education , previous work history, the current market rate, your work in field
Consider your living expenses: rent groceries, car payment, loans, debt
allindiewriters.com/freelance-hourly-rate-calculator

Thrive, not survive: Consider the following pricing sets
Writers guild of great britain 70-95 hour
Editorial freelancers copywriting 40-50 hour / 20-25/word
Search for: “How much should I charge pdf” online

Contracts and clauses
Have a work-for-hire contract. Specify the number of revisions. You can get templates online or hire a lawyer/ Note what the work entails, how to pay you and how much , how you will be credited, breakdown of milestones-dates of sending work, getting paid, when to receive feedback- a full description of deliverables, feedback options and payment. What you will be payed when work goes beyond the scope. Attach payment received to milestones because you need money in the process. Getting paid after first draft and each revision, for example.

Work-for-hire must assign the rights to someone else, so include “all rights will transfer to client upon final payment.” In your contract. This notes that any lack of payment will have you keeping the rights for the work produced.

Jobs longer than 1 week should have a retainer for your services- This retains time on your scheduling calendar. It identifies a serious client and protects you for non-payment. The client bleeds a little bit, sacrificing something to get the work.

Where to look online for work?

  • craigslist and similar sites
  • forums
  • freelance sites.

Freelance sites
Read the Terms of service (TOS), read the contract agreements, find out if you can you use your own contract? Know how to add your own agreements so they’re legally binding, know how jobs are awarded, find out how freelancers are paid through the platform, review the types of jobs posted. People will get away with things!! Send in your Bid with a proposal. Read everything about how the site works.

Finding jobs
People are looking to scam freelancers, and great clients too. Don’t try to compete on price. Get the price that’s right for you. They expect YOU to know the right rate and educate them. TRUST YOUR INTUITION. Don’t dismiss postings with a lack of information. Ignore clients who seem too demanding in their communications- if they seem like jerks in writing, they’re probably jerks. Determining amount of work needed and the budget. If the amount i laughable, dont bother. Review feedback client has given and received on freelance websites- are comments nasty or complementary? Do they show jobs uncompleted and what were the freelancer responses.

Contacting a client
Focus on: Your expertise as its relevant to the client job, thoughtful questions to engage client, give fee for job. Talk qualifications only if they relate to the job. Don’t go into detail, just give a taste. Send query letters if you want. show your interest in the project, your ability to identify the client/project need, encourage the client to respond/start a conversation.

Always include a preliminary fee. Give a breakdown of costs, talk about miletones, mention all rights will transfer upon final payment. Always be professional. Always send smaples. give them something to look at. Send relevant samples if you do have it. Write the proposal, send it, and then forget it. If you wait for responses, you’ll miss other opportunities.

Establish professional relationships.
Set boundaries. Set hours and meeting times, come to an agreement. Always be professional in communication and feedback. Don’t get blackmailed into good feedback on a job for less/no payment. Help clients understand what they need. Give advice, and don’t take over the project. If anything goes sour, you want the client to look like a chump, rather than you or equal faults. Ultimately, you are not the client, and its not about YOU. Its about them and their needs.

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