It doesn’t really matter why you chose the non-traditional way of making money by freelancing. If you’re still doing it, you’ve definitely found out it’s a tough business. And one of the reasons is that employers often expect to find cheap services from people in need of money and with a lot of time on their hands – which is almost never the case.
Here are some of the reasons why you should never accept less than what your work is worth from an employer and never compromise.
Because… Your Integrity Should Come First
When you start as a freelancer, the one thing on your mind is “I need to land a job”. Which is what you should be thinking. But the one mistake most freelancers do is rush to get any job, give their all to get it done, only to end up, after a week of hard work, with enough money to get a Starbucks and the idea that freelancing is not worth it.
Even as a newbie you need to know how much your work is worth and accept nothing less. Try asking for enough to support yourself at first. And if you need to make an idea how much that means, a cost of living calculator can help.
Because… Low Fees Typically Lead to…More Low Fees
Accepting low paid jobs also affects the market as a whole. Even if you give up after the first job, the employer would have gotten what he wanted and the next time he will offer a job it will be for the same pay, or even less.
And if someone else ends up taking that job then more employers will want cheaper services and even more freelancers will end up underpaid.
Because… Offering Discounts Is Not Worth It On the Long Run
Employers will always try to haggle with you at the start of a project, wanting to spend as little money as possible on something they need done. The less you accept for this job, the less they will expect to pay for the next.
And considering a job well done for someone is usually followed by another project, you really need to be careful when making discounts to avoid ending up underpaid.
Because… Deviating from the Payment Schedule Will Only Be to Your Detriment
Some of the best paid projects take a lot of time (months even) to complete. Always set up a payment schedule with your client and do not take a missed payment lightly. If you deliver on time, so should the client.
Because… Not Following the Official Payment Methods Will Usually Lead to You Being Scammed
Worse than little pay is no pay, and the sad reality is that some employers will actively try to cheat. Be very careful how you agree to get paid and always try to use the built-in payment systems most freelancing websites have set up.
Alternative means of payment are based on informal agreements between the two parties and are always prone to scams.
Because… The Quality of Your Portfolio Always Decides Your Success
One of the best things you can do for yourself when you begin freelancing is post a portfolio of previous work on the website you chose. If, for whatever reason, you haven’t done that, employers will often ask for sample work (chances are they will do that even if you have a portfolio).
Be careful when providing it. Always present something short, that shows what you can do without providing something that can actually be used.
Because… There’s No Such Thing as “First time free”
Other employers may try to convince you to work on something small for them for free with the promise of more work for better than average pay in the future. Do not accept. The chances are you’ll never hear from that employer again and even if you do, see the above on discounts.
Because… Not Setting Up a Clear Schedule Only Leads to Frustrations
Say you’ve landed a job where you need to be available for your employer and he/she calls you outside the agreed hours. Do you answer? You should, maybe it’s an emergency. But your first question should be whether it can be postponed until next time you are available and how will you get paid if you do it now. Don’t, and you’ll end up working on Friday evening with no pay.
Because… You Know Better
Too many freelancers (especially the more techy ones) chose to advance their knowledge in their field of work, forgetting that they start and end a job by talking to someone. Read a bit on negotiation and customer care techniques to help you get a well-paid job as well as better understand what your clients want from you. You can find some tips and tricks here.
Because… This Is Your Job and Not Your Hobby
The utmost mistake a lot of new freelancers do is think of it as a hobby and not a real job. They accept lower wages, overlook unfair clients and sometimes even give up on a project out of the blue more easily. Don’t. Think hard before deciding if you want to do this or not and be serious about it.
Hopefully, these few tips will help both new and experienced freelancers have and provide better experiences in their future projects.
Amanda Wilks is a Boston University graduate and a Contributing Editor at Salary Site. She has a great interest in everything related to job-seeking, career-building, and entrepreneurship and loves helping people reach their true potential.