Industry15 Tips for Freelancers Starting Their Own Business

Ed Raynham
writes on January 28, 2009

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So you’re a skilled developer or design freelancer who has established a handful of customers who pay your bills and provide you with an income. That’s great. You may wish to keep things just the way they are or you might want to build on this and build up your own small business. If you’re opting for the later then here are a few tips to help you ride the bumpy road from freelancer to fully-fledged small business.

1) Move Out of Your Back Bedroom
If you are moving from freelancing to running a company then you need to show your potential customers that you are 100 per cent committed to the business, thus allaying their fears that you won’t be around in a few months time. If you can, move from your home workspace to a dedicated office. This doesn’t necessarily mean huge expense but it can instill a great deal of confidence in you from potential clients. Depending on where you are, office space can cost from as little as £130/month ($190) and should also help with your work-life balance. An additional benefit is that it will give you a postal address that you can publish on your stationery and website without revealing your home location.

2) Dress for Business
Now that you’re running a business (for better or worse) you will need to take a look at your appearance. Many may disagree, but personally I think nothing says business more than smart dress. Of course, it’s up to you how you dress but think about it this way. If you want the conversation to centre around your professional skills, don’t wear anything that will steal the conversation away from this. A T-shirt with a witty slogan on it may be just the thing for a night out with your mates, but a lunch with a potential client? Maybe not. Why do anything to stack the odds against your company winning the project?

I am happy to accept that this is a controversial subject and would be very interested to hear your thoughts about this. What works for you? Do customers react to you differently when you are wearing smart dress as opposed to casual?

3) Centralize your Data
When you are a freelancer working on your own it’s fine to store information about your work processes in your own head, or contact e-mail addresses in your personal AddressBook. But the moment someone else is involved in your business then this isn’t good enough anymore. You may start to find that you spend a lot of time imparting knowledge to others. You will need to move that knowledge somewhere where it can be easily shared. For example, Highrise (www.highrisehq.com) is great for keeping a database of your customers and tracking conversations/activity with them.

As much non-skill related information should be documented as possible, this will assist you in building business processes to ease any future expansion that you may have planned. You should encourage others working with you to do the same and attempt to cultivate a culture of ‘centralised knowledge.’

4) Be the Person Your Customers Like
Building good relationships is key to running a successful business. There are thousands of web development/design studios in the country and there’s nothing to stop your customers moving to your competition if they feel they are not getting value from you. People rarely choose based entirely on price. They buy from people they like and whom they think will support them in the best way. It’s this support that will win you a customer for life (even if your services are more expensive than your competitor’s). As a general rule you should try the following:

5) Reply to Emails Promptly.
Even if you cannot compile a meaningful response/resolution immediately then acknowledging the message with a reply will let the customer know that you are on the case.

6) Always Return Voicemail Messages.
This is really important. If a customer knows that based on your history that you always call them back after leaving a voicemail then they will not feel the need to keep calling you or bombarding you with email. This can help alleviate stress in busy periods when you deem answering the telephone of secondary importance.

7) Maintain a Verbal/Email Relationship.
You should contact the customer on a regular basis (every 3 months if the job is over) to inquire how things are going. This will help to make the customer feel important and that you are still interested in their business even though the project is finished. It will also help to keep you in their mind for future projects. Try to avoid a sales push with every contact else this goodwill will be broken and they will dread your calls.

8) Express Interest in your Client’s Business Sector.
Keeping up with trends in your customer’s industry can be invaluable in generating recurring revenue from existing streams. Tracking changes in their business will allow you to suggest improvements or additions to their application or website. This can be as simple as following their RSS feed and needn’t take up much of your time.

9) Welcome Customer Complaints.
Complaints are great! Complaints allow you to fine-tune your business so that future customers don’t suffer from the same irritations. You must handle every complaint about your business seriously and be prepared to make good on any deal that a customer doesn’t feel you’ve delivered on.

10) Don’t be Afraid to Pass
Many people believe that you should never turn down work. I disagree. If a potential customer is looking for services that you know in, your heart, are not your speciality then don’t be afraid to pass the work on to another trusted freelancer or business. Although not earning you revenue immediately it will benefit you in two ways:

Firstly, you will earn the customer’s respect for passing them on to a
3rd party. This will show them that you are looking after their needs rather than taking the money and delivering a poor job. You will be surprised how quickly you become a ‘trusted advisor’. And Always send a follow-up email to the customer a few weeks into the project inquiring about how things are progressing with the 3rd party and ask them to keep in touch.

Secondly, forging strong relationships with other companies and freelancers can pay dividends in the long run. Approaching a 3rd party with a business lead will buy you a great deal of goodwill and allow you to introduce yourself and services to that person with a view to working together in the future. Networking is the way that you might get your next big job.

11) Work on your Sales Technique
Working on improving your sales technique with prospective clients should be something that continually evolves throughout your career. There are no strict rules for selling; you just need to be better than your competition! You can be the best programmer in the world but unless your potential customer likes you and is confident that you can do a great job then your skills and experience will count for zero. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

12) Build ‘stock’ proposals.
Especially, for common projects such as content management and ecommerce. This will save you time when pitching for a job and allow you to reply to an enquiry within a day or two of your meeting with them. The longer it is left silent between you and the customer the smaller your chance of winning the project.

13) Always be On Time.
But be aware that arriving early can be as disruptive as arriving late.

14) Learn About Personality Types.
Learn how to spot them and how to deal with different people and groups.

15) Use a Notepad to Take Notes.
If a customer sees you taking notes then they are much more likely to tell you more information about what they need.

If sales is an area that worries you then there is a wealth of great information on how to sell effectively by Warren Greshes (www.greshes.net).

Good luck with your new venture!

Thanks to www.flickr.com/photos/tanfacedprairieboy for use of the main image

257 Responses to “15 Tips for Freelancers Starting Their Own Business”

  1. organic coffee lover on October 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm said:

    Great insights here that come in handy especially in today’s financial situation. Thanks for sharing. These tips can help any freelancer get started on his business. Tip No. 8 helped http://virtuescoffeeroasters.com when it was new in the business. Now 30 years later, the company’s still keeping their customers happy.

  2. Ed, your 10 points definitely are basic things to build a self-employment income on. It is the first foundation to build, and many commenters added more related points to that. I especially want to reinforce the idea that you should not take every job that comes along. If you think you need to do that for the money, then do something at the side for the money and build your business with integrity.

    There is also a place in business for giving back to the community, or even paying it forward. It is for that reason that I invest a certain number of hours per month tutoring less fortunate students who still need a tutor’s help, but cannot afford it. This makes an enormous difference in their lives.
    http://www.beatutornow.com/blog

    @JonathanStark, I agree with your 10 points and I think they add an important second layer to the business foundation; however, not all of them are applicable to all small business. For example #6 Never bill by the hour. Some business is conducted only by the hour, for example tutoring. Also #8 Never commit to a timeline. Same thing; tutoring has a timeline because school and tests have a timeline. Therefore, there is a built-in timeline.

    Small business which focus more on design and creativity may be able to fit in with your rule #6 and rule #8.

    http://onlinemarketingplanner.net People working in sales also have their unique business platform on which to work. Sales can be very seasonally-dependent, and so hourly rates and time restrictions apply there, too. Especially if your business involves paying someone else for work they do in your behalf.

    Peggy

  3. Thanx for this article! It helps me a lot! Thanx!

  4. These are great tips. I really think #7 is good advice. I recently contacted a few of my past clients and got great responses. It’s important to show how dedicated you are to serving them. Customer service is a large percentage of our business and we must acknowledge it! Great post.

  5. I’m all for 10) and 13). I’ve turned lots of jobs down, and it’s been giving me more good than harm, i have been able to concentrate on doing what i do best.

    Also, i think i have disrupted my clients for being 10-15mins early without even knowing it, good point on 13).

  6. Great tips. Still relevant as then. Having the right tools is also a part of it. I use HyperOffice to collaborate with my clients. I set up a “shared workspace” for every new client, which not only helps streamline file sharing, coordination of schedules, shared info etc, but also creates an impression of professionalism.

  7. As a developer, we sometimes lack of sales training.

  8. I like tips 11. Freelances need to be a salesman first

  9. With current Global Financial Crisis where most employer can’t offer job security anymore. It’s time to explore other income source and freelancing is a good option as it doesn’t take much capital to start ( mostly only your time ) and the potential is quite huge. Internet also offer a major advantage to allow freelancers work without any boundries. Your article offer a great advice.

    Totally agree with Point No 10. We only good on certain thing and try to do all task by ourselves is not possible and waste our time. Build your business network with other freelancers and companies will expand your target market as your business network will most likely to refer their customer back to you !

  10. Awesome post guys. it is for sure really informative and it helped me out a lot.
    I will keep in mind the advice when I am starting my own business.

    Keep pumping the good contents dudes

  11. Try HyperOffice collaboration software. Its a real simple and comprehensive collaboration suite which brings all the tools a freelancer needs in one place.

  12. Great advice for anyone starting their own business! One comment for your readers on tip 11 – Work on your Sales Technique. A few years back I was handed a copy of Joe Girard’s “How to Close Every Sale”. I’ve read dozens of sales books and this guy taught me more than all the others combined in a just a few hundred pages of EASY reading. There is a reason he has the Guinness Book of Worlds for most cars sold…. No joke!

  13. Great tips! I’ve just started a business myself and the two things that have been focusing in that have helped improve my businesss is 1) Organization and 2) Hunt down every sale. 1) Organization is important once customers begin to really pile up. I noticed that sales leads if received, even those i was really exited about, would get pushed aside and forgotten about the second the phone rang again. Now I keep an excel spreadsheet open at all time sto keep track of my leads. 2) I read a book call “How to Close Every Sale” by Joe Jirards

  14. Thanks for the article ED. It is very informative.

  15. Excelent article, well done.Thank you for sharing them

  16. These are some really awsome tips! Though, I have to agree with Johnathan Stark. A person who is already should be familiar with these matters. None the less, still great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  17. I have been pretty much aware of having started your business as a freelance like earn from home and internet business opportunities. And I have been doing it ever since. I like the way you have control over your time and resources, of course the risk is greater but the rewards are greater too! It has been great.
    Lose Fat Build Muscle

  18. Excellent Article. I had planned to do freelance work after all, who doesn’t need to improve their income nowadays in this recession. Your tips will be very helpful I am sure.

  19. These are great tips. I really think #7 is good advice. I recently contacted a few of my past clients and got great responses. It’s important to show how dedicated you are to serving them. Customer service is a large percentage of our business and we must acknowledge it! Great post.

  20. Thank for this valuables tips.

  21. Excellent Article. I had planned to do freelance work; after all, I could do with the extra income in these troubled times. I am having some difficulties working it out but soon I should get myself up and running. Your tips will be very helpful I am sure.

    TY

  22. I agree to your Always Return Voicemail Messages. I am one that is guilty of not returning them in a timely manner and have tried so hard to be prompt.. it makes a huge difference

  23. I would say my biggest weakness is not replying back to email immediately. I usually procastinate till it is late

  24. In my opinion an ofice is not essential just a good place for work to commence. However, you have very good points here.

  25. I agree with BD. Working in an agency for a few years it was always the suits vs. the creatives. Now when I meet with a client I almost feel like they expect me to have blue hair or thick rimmed glasses, ha.

  26. Great article, yes, you have to start from somewhere.

  27. I love this article. One thing that truly speaks to me is the tip on dressing for success. It is amazing to me how many people dress so casual and sloppy when conducting business. Flip flops, shorts, and a faded t-shirt are not the types of clothing one should ware for business. There's an expression that says you shouldn't dress for the job you have, but rather the job you would like to have. Don't get me wrong, you don't need to be wearing a suit and tie to meet with your clients if they tend to wear flannels and work boots. Would I suggest wearing the clothes you work in the back yard in? No!!! I would say that even if you want to mirror the attire of your potential clients, your clothing from head to toe needs to be clean, neat, and pressed if appropriate. This gives the appearance that you are put together. A client may like the fact that they seem similarities in you but also wants to rest assured that you will handle business. A wrinkled t-shirt and some trendy jeans with holes in them just won't cut it.

  28. I love this article. One thing that truly speaks to me is the tip on dressing for success. It is amazing to me how many people dress so casual and sloppy when conducting business. Flip flops, shorts, and a faded t-shirt are not the types of clothing one should ware for business. There's an expression that says you shouldn't dress for the job you have, but rather the job you would like to have. Don't get me wrong, you don't need to be wearing a suit and tie to meet with your clients if they tend to wear flannels and work boots. Would I suggest wearing the clothes you work in the back yard in? No!!! I would say that even if you want to mirror the attire of your potential clients, your clothing from head to toe needs to be clean, neat, and pressed if appropriate. This gives the appearance that you are put together. A client may like the fact that they seem similarities in you but also wants to rest assured that you will handle business. A wrinkled t-shirt and some trendy jeans with holes in them just won't cut it.

  29. I like your point about not being able to pass. People take on some jobs that are headaches or pay too low and then each day of that project is filled with dread. It is good to avoid those situations if possible.

  30. Ed, here's a tip that you didn't mention: research! I've learned so much since I began my endeavors — and still continue to learn today. And I mean that absolutely literally. My advice then is to continue researching your field and not presume that you know all there is to be known. So how does one go about conducting this research? You know, I really don't think a person can look at research as an obligation and hope to be productive with it. I believe you'll hit the wall quite fast with this outlook. My knowledge comes from genuine interest: I begin poking around just because I'm honestly curious and I get pleasure from picking up on the things I learn. Perhaps there's another bit of advice to be learned here as well. How about, do what you really like to do? Often easier said than done, I know.

  31. Ed, here's a tip that you didn't mention: research! I've learned so much since I began my endeavors — and still continue to learn today. And I mean that absolutely literally. My advice then is to continue researching your field and not presume that you know all there is to be known. So how does one go about conducting this research? You know, I really don't think a person can look at research as an obligation and hope to be productive with it. I believe you'll hit the wall quite fast with this outlook. My knowledge comes from genuine interest: I begin poking around just because I'm honestly curious and I get pleasure from picking up on the things I learn. Perhaps there's another bit of advice to be learned here as well. How about, do what you really like to do? Often easier said than done, I know.

  32. Great info for people starting out as a freelancer. I worked for years as a freelance writer, and I wish I'd had this kind of advice available to me back then. I especially like the idea of knowing when to turn work away. I made the mistake of taking on too much work and too much inappropriate work on many occassions.

    Advice like this would have saved me a lot of hassle!

  33. Great info for people starting out as a freelancer. I worked for years as a freelance writer, and I wish I'd had this kind of advice available to me back then. I especially like the idea of knowing when to turn work away. I made the mistake of taking on too much work and too much inappropriate work on many occassions.Advice like this would have saved me a lot of hassle!

  34. Strongly agree with #10! Too often newer freelancers take on all the work they can possibly handle, (or possibly can't!) and end up producing less than stellar work, thus hurting future chances at gigs with the client. Sometimes, REAL scarcity is a good thing, and if you're not available just yet, your client may perceive you are worth waiting for!

  35. Strongly agree with #10! Too often newer freelancers take on all the work they can possibly handle, (or possibly can't!) and end up producing less than stellar work, thus hurting future chances at gigs with the client. Sometimes, REAL scarcity is a good thing, and if you're not available just yet, your client may perceive you are worth waiting for!

  36. Great tips. This is certainly is helpful to many now especially with people trying to make ways to earn a living in this troubled times.

  37. There is more people that have to go out on there own in this economy.

  38. Very interesting article. I am just starting out at being a freelancer. Article helped alot.

  39. Great tips. I like them and will certainly be looking at using this for some of my sites.
    Thank you

  40. Great tips. I like them and will certainly be looking at using this for some of my sites.Thank you

  41. Listen well…customers will tell you what they want…they do not always want to be told what they need.

  42. Nice tips, although sometimes there's some modification per job. But mostly it's standard.

  43. Nice tips, although sometimes there's some modification per job. But mostly it's standard.

  44. Some really great Steps to take to get your Business going strong. I think one of the hardest things for technical people to do is get the Sales end of it down when starting a new business. It really takes both technical and communicative skills to have success, which this article so aptly describes !!

  45. Abulafio on March 11, 2009 at 5:16 am said:

    very nice tips, thanks!

  46. Great advice. Another thing to consider is getting the support of your spouse/partner. When I took the time to go over with my spouse exactly what it is that I do, it changed her perspective and she became much more understanding and supportive.

  47. dentalconsultant on March 9, 2009 at 3:28 pm said:

    This is a very useful post. I have been meaning to have my own office, but having second thoughts about it. Now I really think i should scout around for a good place where people can get good advice for a dental insurance

  48. dentalconsultant on March 9, 2009 at 8:28 pm said:

    This is a very useful post. I have been meaning to have my own office, but having second thoughts about it. Now I really think i should scout around for a good place where people can get good advice for a dental insurance

  49. bunkbedgirl81 on March 9, 2009 at 1:14 pm said:

    Some really great pointers, it helps put things in perspecitve.
    A lot depends on the initiative and the rest will folow suit. This was an amazing and inspiring read.

    bunk beds

  50. bunkbedgirl81 on March 9, 2009 at 6:14 pm said:

    Some really great pointers, it helps put things in perspecitve. A lot depends on the initiative and the rest will folow suit. This was an amazing and inspiring read. bunk beds

  51. We've been following this kind of formula for some time now and it's really good. IT Support Liverpool

  52. We've been following this kind of formula for some time now and it's really good. IT Support Liverpool

  53. This a great article

  54. Great advice… I've been freelancing for 8 years and the hardest thing in the beginning was having the self discipline to stick with a schedule. Treat your freelance business like a BIG business and it will pay you like a big business. Treat it like a hobby and it will pay you like a hobby.

  55. Great advice… I've been freelancing for 8 years and the hardest thing in the beginning was having the self discipline to stick with a schedule. Treat your freelance business like a BIG business and it will pay you like a big business. Treat it like a hobby and it will pay you like a hobby.

  56. Wow! This article is very good, thank you for sharing your experience with us 🙂 I'll try to apply some tips, it is important to remember what makes a business profitable and you pretty much summarize all that here.

  57. Wow! This article is very good, thank you for sharing your experience with us 🙂 I'll try to apply some tips, it is important to remember what makes a business profitable and you pretty much summarize all that here.

  58. #10) Don’t be Afraid to Pass – This was my bug bear for a long time. It took me a lot of courage to be able to say NO and feel good about it.

    Good tips.

  59. #10) Don’t be Afraid to Pass – This was my bug bear for a long time. It took me a lot of courage to be able to say NO and feel good about it.Good tips.

  60. Thanks for the tips they are going to help so much thanks again

  61. Thanks for the list.. I'll try following them.. I'll definitely credit your article once I get my business started..

  62. Thanks for the list.. I'll try following them.. I'll definitely credit your article once I get my business started..

  63. great tips now that i'm planning to do freelance tasks..

    ~by coffee barista

  64. great tips now that i'm planning to do freelance tasks..~by coffee barista

  65. Jake Coventry on March 2, 2009 at 11:26 am said:

    Where is .. chase your invoices? Cash flow is one of the key issues when it comes to this type of business. If you can negotiate fast payment terms (say 15 days) you'll have a much better business. Also do not be afraid to chase for payment, or ask for some payment upfront.

  66. Jake Coventry on March 2, 2009 at 4:26 pm said:

    Where is .. chase your invoices? Cash flow is one of the key issues when it comes to this type of business. If you can negotiate fast payment terms (say 15 days) you'll have a much better business. Also do not be afraid to chase for payment, or ask for some payment upfront.

  67. I want to start as a Freelance Web Designer but I am not sure where to start from. Some people recommended Elance and other Odesk. Which one is the best?

  68. Very nice article, and I do agree, you have to start from somewhere.

  69. the last tip is a gem – yes, using a notepad to take notes adds credibility

  70. Maintain a Verbal/Email Relationship. – this is one great tip that is often ignored by many

  71. Some fantastic tips, They can pretty much be used throughout any business online or off.
    But i think the main tip should be to anyone stating a business. Think really carefully about “Is this the type of business you really want to do”.
    As you will be married too it for a long time. So you should always have your mind set on the fact its exactly what you want too do. Otherwise it can get monotomous really fast.

  72. Some fantastic tips, They can pretty much be used throughout any business online or off. But i think the main tip should be to anyone stating a business. Think really carefully about “Is this the type of business you really want to do”. As you will be married too it for a long time. So you should always have your mind set on the fact its exactly what you want too do. Otherwise it can get monotomous really fast.

  73. This advice is absolutely spot on! I have a guitar tuition business. late last year I got a little sidetracked with other projects and ended up forgetting to return calls, and emails. The amount of custom I lost was scary! Needless to say the moment I made a decision to get back on track and reply immediately my customer base grew again and I'm now back up to near full capacity! I can't recommend Ed's advice enough!

  74. This advice is absolutely spot on! I have a guitar tuition business. late last year I got a little sidetracked with other projects and ended up forgetting to return calls, and emails. The amount of custom I lost was scary! Needless to say the moment I made a decision to get back on track and reply immediately my customer base grew again and I'm now back up to near full capacity! I can't recommend Ed's advice enough!

  75. I would say being what your customers likes from you and taking their complaints/support is probably the most important aspect for me. After all, your clients are your bloodline. Give them what they want, and keeping them happy.

  76. Thanks Ed this is a great article. I will try to apply some of it 🙂

  77. Education article. Especially the #10.You should always be ready to take risks and sometimes fail.Thats the only way you'll learn:)

  78. Education article. Especially the #10.You should always be ready to take risks and sometimes fail.Thats the only way you'll learn:)

  79. What really is important when starting a business is having customers. Without enough customers there's no selling. So in order to get known to potential customers make a habit of meeting a new person everyday.
    Good Luck!

    Jim.

  80. What really is important when starting a business is having customers. Without enough customers there's no selling. So in order to get known to potential customers make a habit of meeting a new person everyday.Good Luck!Jim.

  81. I wish finding a freelancer was this reliable
    the hunting dog

  82. I wish finding a freelancer was this reliable the hunting dog

  83. It's not always financially possible to move to an officeso number 16 should be:

    16. If you have kids it is terribly important to sit them down and explain to them that mummy / daddy is at work! When I first started my kids demanded all of my attention and I found it hard to juggle my time.

    I also found the guilt hard too, just because I wasn't physically leaving the house it didn't mean I wasn't working but Istill felt the guilt.

    Anabelle

  84. It's not always financially possible to move to an officeso number 16 should be:16. If you have kids it is terribly important to sit them down and explain to them that mummy / daddy is at work! When I first started my kids demanded all of my attention and I found it hard to juggle my time.I also found the guilt hard too, just because I wasn't physically leaving the house it didn't mean I wasn't working but Istill felt the guilt.Anabelle

  85. I agree to your Always Return Voicemail Messages. I am one that is guilty of not returning them in a timely manner and have tried so hard to be prompt.. it makes a huge difference

  86. Everything is good specially number 3. which talks about centralizing data. Most freelancers usually have a hard time adjusting on this part of the transition because they tend to lean more on privacy when they were freelancers.

  87. This was a great article for beginners. Having all of the basic routines of your daily work makes it much simpler to organize and grow your business. Thanks for the added incentive!

  88. #1- very important. the moment you treat your business as a business, and not a side gig, you will put more effort into it.

  89. i've got to move out of my bedroom now. i find that having my bed beside me is more of a deterrent to being effective at work. it is too tempting to lie down when things get boring. but when you are in an office environment, you don't have that option.

    thanks for the helpful pointers.

  90. i've got to move out of my bedroom now. i find that having my bed beside me is more of a deterrent to being effective at work. it is too tempting to lie down when things get boring. but when you are in an office environment, you don't have that option.thanks for the helpful pointers.

  91. Nice tips.I agree with the first two point although I found it a bit difficult to do both. Separeting business and household matter is not easy when you work from your house, especially from your bedroom.

  92. These are some really good solid reminders of what should be done. Thanks!

    As I still transition from my window cleaning business window cleaning Minnesota

  93. These are some really good solid reminders of what should be done. Thanks!As I still transition from my window cleaning business window cleaning Minnesota

  94. Great tips! thank you.

  95. Listen ans ask questions. It's a good idea to take the proposal them rather than send it in the post. this way you can go through it there and then and iron out any concerns they may have. If everone is happy you can close the deal there and then. <a href=”http://www.tele-prospectuk.com/”>Claudine

  96. Listen ans ask questions. It's a good idea to take the proposal them rather than send it in the post. this way you can go through it there and then and iron out any concerns they may have. If everone is happy you can close the deal there and then. <a
    href=”http://www.tele-prospectuk.com/
    “>Claudine

  97. There is a great demand for free lance writers, especially in the Internet Marketing field. I highly recommend entering this market if you wanna make money. Quality articles are the key to success if you are planning to become a free lance writer.

  98. Great content, an excellent read for those who need tips for freelancing.

  99. I completely agree with you on getting your own workspace. When i got an office i managed to get a lot more work dun.

  100. I'm working on #3 right now and that website looks like a valuable resource, thanks!

  101. I'm working on #3 right now and that website looks like a valuable resource, thanks!

  102. Everyone always forgets: save money for your self employment tax

  103. If you would like a tool to manage your small business activities and Projects, you can use this web aplication:

    http://www.Gtdagenda.com

    You can use it to manage and prioritize your Goals (for business but also in other areas of your life), Projects and Tasks. It has a Checklists section, for the routines and repetitive activities that any business has to do. Also, it features a Schedules section and a Calendar, for scheduling you time and activities.

    Features from GTD are also present, like Contexts and Next Actions.

    And it's available on the mobile phone too, so you can access it from anywhere.

  104. If you would like a tool to manage your small business activities and Projects, you can use this web aplication:http://www.Gtdagenda.comYou can use it to manage and prioritize your Goals (for business but also in other areas of your life), Projects and Tasks. It has a Checklists section, for the routines and repetitive activities that any business has to do. Also, it features a Schedules section and a Calendar, for scheduling you time and activities.Features from GTD are also present, like Contexts and Next Actions.And it's available on the mobile phone too, so you can access it from anywhere.

  105. Suzy Naschansky on February 19, 2009 at 1:55 am said:

    Not everyone is cut out to run a small business, even if they're good at their freelance profession of choice. Having an office (a workspace completely separate from your living space where you conduct your business) is essential. Where that office is located (in-home or in a rented building) is irrelevant. You can always meet clients at a coffee shop, or rent an office by the hour if it's that important, but a great many meetings can be virtual (most of my clients don't even live in the same US state that I do – one is not even in the same country). Granted, this is industry-specific, but a web developer or designer should be able to work from anywhere there is an Internet connection. If your work satisfies your customers, you will get new customers. If it doesn't, the best office space (or the best suit) in the world will not help you. I think Jonathan Stark's list is a lot more pragmatic for people actually trying to start their own business. This article does have some good points for being a decent person, though. Thanks!

  106. Suzy Naschansky on February 19, 2009 at 6:55 am said:

    Not everyone is cut out to run a small business, even if they're good at their freelance profession of choice. Having an office (a workspace completely separate from your living space where you conduct your business) is essential. Where that office is located (in-home or in a rented building) is irrelevant. You can always meet clients at a coffee shop, or rent an office by the hour if it's that important, but a great many meetings can be virtual (most of my clients don't even live in the same US state that I do – one is not even in the same country). Granted, this is industry-specific, but a web developer or designer should be able to work from anywhere there is an Internet connection. If your work satisfies your customers, you will get new customers. If it doesn't, the best office space (or the best suit) in the world will not help you. I think Jonathan Stark's list is a lot more pragmatic for people actually trying to start their own business. This article does have some good points for being a decent person, though. Thanks!

  107. Think this article would be of great help to those who wanted to have their own business. Just following the above 15 tips might be a big boom to your business. Good luck!

  108. Another great list. I never even thought of the distraction factor of wearing a cool graphic tee 'till now. Thanks!

  109. Another great list. I never even thought of the distraction factor of wearing a cool graphic tee 'till now. Thanks!

  110. Jonathan, thanks! This was the type of info I was looking for when I clicked on the link to the article, and you have definitely delivered. I'm glad I persevered in reading through the comments!

    As a freelancer looking to become more of a business than a pen-for-hire, I agree with a lot of what Ed identifies. For me however, I already do all the things in Ed's list and was looking for more of the “infrastructure” aspect of what it takes to grow a business. Jonathan has hit it on the head in that respect. The financial and legal underpinnings of your business make all the difference when you want to move beyond contract work!

    Ryan/Think Vitamin, may I suggest you have Jonathan make this an article in and of itself!!

  111. Jonathan, thanks! This was the type of info I was looking for when I clicked on the link to the article, and you have definitely delivered. I'm glad I persevered in reading through the comments!As a freelancer looking to become more of a business than a pen-for-hire, I agree with a lot of what Ed identifies. For me however, I already do all the things in Ed's list and was looking for more of the “infrastructure” aspect of what it takes to grow a business. Jonathan has hit it on the head in that respect. The financial and legal underpinnings of your business make all the difference when you want to move beyond contract work!Ryan/Think Vitamin, may I suggest you have Jonathan make this an article in and of itself!!

  112. Also … look for coupons or vouchers when you buy things. Give them away to sell your own services!

  113. Just wanted to comment on some of the people that say the information in the article is obvious. Sometimes the obvious can be overlooked so it's always good to see all the simple things written in one article. Also articles are meant to get you thinking in the right direction and come up with your own spin on things and your own ideas, they are not meant to be taken as gospel.

  114. Just wanted to comment on some of the people that say the information in the article is obvious. Sometimes the obvious can be overlooked so it's always good to see all the simple things written in one article. Also articles are meant to get you thinking in the right direction and come up with your own spin on things and your own ideas, they are not meant to be taken as gospel.

  115. Great article, thanks for sharing. I think the tips related to Customer support and customer satisfaction are the most important, especially with the current economic climate

  116. Great list Jonathan – thanks for sharing.

  117. Very interesting post. I work as a concultant for entreprenuers in Copenhagen, Denmark, and I can use some of this advice in my work. We often encounter promising freelancers, and try our best to derss them for the ongoing crisis.Thanks!

  118. Very interesting post. I work as a concultant for entreprenuers in Copenhagen, Denmark, and I can use some of this advice in my work. We often encounter promising freelancers, and try our best to derss them for the ongoing crisis.

    Thanks!

  119. Welcome Customer Complaints — Many complaints can be very constructive for a business… I see them as a way to improve a business, although it can be tough for the ego sometimes :'(

    I myself started a small business on the side… It can be so disappointing at times, but also so much fun !

  120. Welcome Customer Complaints — Many complaints can be very constructive for a business… I see them as a way to improve a business, although it can be tough for the ego sometimes :'(I myself started a small business on the side… It can be so disappointing at times, but also so much fun !

  121. jackgreen on February 15, 2009 at 3:27 pm said:

    What a fantastic post Ed, great work keep it up

  122. Thanks for the tips.

  123. I completely agree, even if you are making a nice living from doing work for clients, spend some time on your own residual enterprises, its not smart to put all the eggs in a single basket and what happens if the gravy train starts to run low?

  124. Thank you for the tips.
    I learned something new.

  125. Thank you for the tips.I learned something new.

  126. Hi,

    These are interesting tips for newbies to start with. Thanks a lot for sharing these wonderful information… Keep up the good work 🙂

  127. Hi,These are interesting tips for newbies to start with. Thanks a lot for sharing these wonderful information… Keep up the good work 🙂

  128. Tons of useful tips for freelancer! I have just started as an accounting freelancer, some of the tips are applicable as well.

    Gary from Typing For Kids

  129. Tons of useful tips for freelancer! I have just started as an accounting freelancer, some of the tips are applicable as well.Gary from Typing For Kids

  130. Great article, thanks for the tips. More good stuff to keep in mind every day.

  131. Hi Ed –

    Great post topic, but I have to say I was surprised by the content. Be on time? Take notes? Based on the number of positive comments, I guess I'm out of touch with your reader demographic. It just seems to me that these points would be obvious to anyone who was already a successful freelancer. I was expecting a list more like this:

    1) Get the best financial planner you can afford.

    Ask everyone you know for recommendations. Make sure that the person that you choose is someone that you like and respect. They should be the principle individual in their firm. Do not select a junior person, and do not select your cousin Louie.

    2) Establish a relationship with a lawyer.

    You can start off by having them incorporate your new business. As with the financial planner, get a senior person, and not your cousin Louie. If you don't have an established go-to person for legal questions, you will probably let important issues go unanswered when they crop up down the road because you'll be in a hurry it'll seem like too much work to find someone.

    3) Stay on top of your finances.

    I use QuickBooks, but there are plenty of options out there. Get a package that is appropriate to your business and stay on top of your accounts religiously. Your financial planner can help you set up your books to make it easy for you. You don't want tax time to roll around and discover that you owe $15,000 to Uncle Sam.

    4) Become a recognized expert in your niche.

    It is tough to overspecialize these days. Selecting a tight slice of the market will allow you to more easily become the “go to” person. Your website will naturally float to the top of search results made potential clients in need of your specialty. It will be easier for you to get quoted in related media. Soon – say, 3 to 6 months – you'll find that you don't have to do any sales because customers are coming to you organically.

    5) Stay small.

    Adding head count for the sake of saying that you are “growing” is just plain silly. Grow your business by increasing profits, not bodies. This will allow you to be very choosy about who you work with. Of course, this means turning away a lot of work, but that's okay. It's better than scrambling to keep a bunch of employees busy when a big project concludes.

    6) Never bill by the hour.

    How much time it takes you to do the work is irrelevant to the client. In fact, they probably want it done yesterday, so the quicker the better. Quote the client a fixed price for the project based on their perceived value of the outcome. Stick to your price no matter what and keep working until they are happy. Request 100% payment up front and if they balk, offer to accept 50% in advance and 50% in 30 days, regardless of whether or not you are done.

    Obviously, you have to set your fee very high in order to make up for all the risk you are taking on, but you'll find that customers are willing to pay a premium for a fixed price because it allows them to make an ROI decision *before* the project starts, instead of being nickel and dimed for six months and going over budget anyway.

    7) Check your ego at the door.

    You are not selling your knowledge and you are not selling your expertise. You are selling customer satisfaction, pure and simple. I don't care how mind-blowingly awesome your design is, if it doesn't meet the clients goals, you've failed.

    8) Do not commit to a timeline.

    A design project is a collaboration between you and the client. If the client takes three weeks to approve a layout, the schedule is going to slide. If your project contact goes on vacation, the schedule is going to slide. You can commit to being responsive and timely, but you are not in control of the schedule. Best to set expectations appropriately at the outset.

    I hope this list helps someone who's just starting out!
    jonathanstark.com

  132. Hi Ed – Great post topic, but I have to say I was surprised by the content. Be on time? Take notes? Based on the number of positive comments, I guess I'm out of touch with your reader demographic. It just seems to me that these points would be obvious to anyone who was already a successful freelancer. I was expecting a list more like this:1) Get the best financial planner you can afford. Ask everyone you know for recommendations. Make sure that the person that you choose is someone that you like and respect. They should be the principle individual in their firm. Do not select a junior person, and do not select your cousin Louie. 2) Establish a relationship with a lawyer. You can start off by having them incorporate your new business. As with the financial planner, get a senior person, and not your cousin Louie. If you don't have an established go-to person for legal questions, you will probably let important issues go unanswered when they crop up down the road because you'll be in a hurry it'll seem like too much work to find someone.3) Stay on top of your finances. I use QuickBooks, but there are plenty of options out there. Get a package that is appropriate to your business and stay on top of your accounts religiously. Your financial planner can help you set up your books to make it easy for you. You don't want tax time to roll around and discover that you owe $15,000 to Uncle Sam.4) Become a recognized expert in your niche. It is tough to overspecialize these days. Selecting a tight slice of the market will allow you to more easily become the “go to” person. Your website will naturally float to the top of search results made potential clients in need of your specialty. It will be easier for you to get quoted in related media. Soon – say, 3 to 6 months – you'll find that you don't have to do any sales because customers are coming to you organically. 5) Stay small. Adding head count for the sake of saying that you are “growing” is just plain silly. Grow your business by increasing profits, not bodies. This will allow you to be very choosy about who you work with. Of course, this means turning away a lot of work, but that's okay. It's better than scrambling to keep a bunch of employees busy when a big project concludes. 6) Never bill by the hour. How much time it takes you to do the work is irrelevant to the client. In fact, they probably want it done yesterday, so the quicker the better. Quote the client a fixed price for the project based on their perceived value of the outcome. Stick to your price no matter what and keep working until they are happy. Request 100% payment up front and if they balk, offer to accept 50% in advance and 50% in 30 days, regardless of whether or not you are done. Obviously, you have to set your fee very high in order to make up for all the risk you are taking on, but you'll find that customers are willing to pay a premium for a fixed price because it allows them to make an ROI decision *before* the project starts, instead of being nickel and dimed for six months and going over budget anyway. 7) Check your ego at the door. You are not selling your knowledge and you are not selling your expertise. You are selling customer satisfaction, pure and simple. I don't care how mind-blowingly awesome your design is, if it doesn't meet the clients goals, you've failed. 8) Do not commit to a timeline.A design project is a collaboration between you and the client. If the client takes three weeks to approve a layout, the schedule is going to slide. If your project contact goes on vacation, the schedule is going to slide. You can commit to being responsive and timely, but you are not in control of the schedule. Best to set expectations appropriately at the outset. I hope this list helps someone who's just starting out!jonathanstark.com

  133. excellent article on the dos and don'ts . Thanks for sharing.

  134. excellent article on the dos and don'ts . Thanks for sharing.

  135. J'aime le plein-air à Charlevoix et au Québec en Général.
    C'est vraiment génial tout l'hébergement, la vue à perte de vue, le fleuve, la nature,
    les montagnes, le hockey et les centres de ski qu'il y a là bas. J'adore ça!

    Plein-Air Tourisme Charlevoix Québec Vélo Vacances Hébergement

  136. J'aime le plein-air à Charlevoix et au Québec en Général.C'est vraiment génial tout l'hébergement, la vue à perte de vue, le fleuve, la nature, les montagnes, le hockey et les centres de ski qu'il y a là bas. J'adore ça!Plein-Air Tourisme Charlevoix Québec Vélo Vacances Hébergement

  137. I definitely agree with you on how important is to welcome customer complaints! Great article!

  138. Extremely useful post. My favorite is “Maintain Verbal/Emal relationship” .This is extremely important.

  139. This is such a great article! I will definitely tell my friend, who wants to be a freelancer, about this article!

  140. I used to work for a development company, and you've stressed almost 90% of their philosophy. The extra 10% you've come up with (Learn about personality types, welcoming customer complaints, etc.) would be a huge boon to anyone trying to start a business, particularly a business that entails web sites, video or graphics — all very popular things right now.

  141. I used to work for a development company, and you've stressed almost 90% of their philosophy. The extra 10% you've come up with (Learn about personality types, welcoming customer complaints, etc.) would be a huge boon to anyone trying to start a business, particularly a business that entails web sites, video or graphics — all very popular things right now.

  142. For example… Like using a notepad to take notes isnt the smartest idea for a chef or tailor.. you know?

  143. Well, I am a freelance tailor… Some of these are good advice… but others are a bit wishy washy and I wouldnt suggest them to some businesses…

  144. Thank you for this informative article. I will put your ideas to work right now.

  145. Nice post! There are good pointers and a great deal of info here. I can personally relate to increasing my income because I got more serious about my work and got an office outside my house.

  146. Great post Ed.

    However, I don't think renting an office is a prerequisite for freelance success. In fact, it may lead to financial pressures many people aren't ready for. I've never had an office, and am quite comfortable doing business from San Francisco or Ho Chi Minh.

    Of course, this wouldn't work for everyone. Obviously a CPA would need more “face time” with their clients than a web developer.

  147. Great post Ed. However, I don't think renting an office is a prerequisite for freelance success. In fact, it may lead to financial pressures many people aren't ready for. I've never had an office, and am quite comfortable doing business from San Francisco or Ho Chi Minh. Of course, this wouldn't work for everyone. Obviously a CPA would need more “face time” with their clients than a web developer.

  148. Thanks for the awesome information on freelancing. With many people losing their jobs everyday, freelancing skills comes really handy.

  149. Great article, as a small business owner its good to have some of these points succinctly detailed. Is an office space that important though? Is it's sole existence to impress potential clients?

  150. Great article, as a small business owner its good to have some of these points succinctly detailed. Is an office space that important though? Is it's sole existence to impress potential clients?

  151. nice informative article. simple and easy to do
    I will keep that in mind when I am starting my own business.
    Keep up the good work

  152. nice informative article. simple and easy to do I will keep that in mind when I am starting my own business.Keep up the good work

  153. The article was great and nicely laid out. Thanks for sharing such great info too. I too have a small business and what you laid out is so true. I agree that having an office is a nice plus even when you don't need one, but about the dress code…we still are in the era where we dress for success. I agree too that you need to look professional. I particularly took note of the part where you discussed complaints. I didn't really worry about that but what you wrote makes perfect sense and above all gives me a little extra perspective on how to handle them. Thanks again.

    Lynda from Prior Lake

  154. The article was great and nicely laid out. Thanks for sharing such great info too. I too have a small business and what you laid out is so true. I agree that having an office is a nice plus even when you don't need one, but about the dress code…we still are in the era where we dress for success. I agree too that you need to look professional. I particularly took note of the part where you discussed complaints. I didn't really worry about that but what you wrote makes perfect sense and above all gives me a little extra perspective on how to handle them. Thanks again.Lynda from Prior Lake

  155. I would like to add “keeping your word and meeting deadlines” to you list. I've used freelancers in the past where I literally had to hound them to find out when they would complete my project. It's important to inform your clients if you cannot meet the stipulated deadline or there is going to be some sort of delay in completing their project.

  156. I would like to add “keeping your word and meeting deadlines” to you list. I've used freelancers in the past where I literally had to hound them to find out when they would complete my project. It's important to inform your clients if you cannot meet the stipulated deadline or there is going to be some sort of delay in completing their project.

  157. I think “Don’t be Afraid to Pass” it is important but not many people Can really Do That

  158. good tips I will incorporate some and throw away the others! LOL

  159. Having an office is definately a good thing to do! It gets me in the mood to work and I feel that I am more productive.

  160. This is rather interesting. I built my own business at http://www.novelconceptstudio.com and to this day, run it from my home office. Though plans are by the end of the year to have an office space in a commercialized area, as well as 3 additional employees. I don't think having your own office space needs to be your top priority though, is my point.

  161. This is rather interesting. I built my own business at http://www.novelconceptstudio.com and to this day, run it from my home office. Though plans are by the end of the year to have an office space in a commercialized area, as well as 3 additional employees. I don't think having your own office space needs to be your top priority though, is my point.

  162. I've always wondered about these kinds of questions. Thanks for the answers!

  163. I've always wondered about these kinds of questions. Thanks for the answers!

  164. Excellent!
    Great article which will help me doing my daily work.
    Not only as a freelancer – a lot of nice tips for every employee!
    Keep on writing such good stuff!

  165. Excellent!Great article which will help me doing my daily work.Not only as a freelancer – a lot of nice tips for every employee!Keep on writing such good stuff!

  166. More importantly, work ON your business rather than IN it. Since most freelancers are used to doing stuff on their own, running a business means delegating, managing a team, cashflow etc. A book called E-Myth by Michael Gerber is something that every freelancer who wants to get into business should read. Its amazing!

    Good luck!

  167. More importantly, work ON your business rather than IN it. Since most freelancers are used to doing stuff on their own, running a business means delegating, managing a team, cashflow etc. A book called E-Myth by Michael Gerber is something that every freelancer who wants to get into business should read. Its amazing!Good luck!

  168. thank you. you inspired me and provided a few ideas that I did not think of…

  169. Personally, I freelance and have my own business at home. While, I would love to have an office to rent (because my two dogs can be very distracting), my office is an office and not a bedroom. It was designed to be strictly work. I think the whole home office vs. work office depends on the space. If you have a 5 ft computer desk and that is your only space, then yes…get a real office.

  170. I like number 14 – that's a real easy one to miss on this list but its important and can help run a smooth project or win that project you wanted to work on. I am fortunate enough to have some clients that work in empathy profiles and training people to recognize their own personality type and the effect it will have on others who differ from them. Google 'empathy profiles' its a really eye opening subject that can be applied to anything – I learned a lot about my family and friends by understanding this concept. Also – heads up to the site – its great.

  171. I like number 14 – that's a real easy one to miss on this list but its important and can help run a smooth project or win that project you wanted to work on. I am fortunate enough to have some clients that work in empathy profiles and training people to recognize their own personality type and the effect it will have on others who differ from them. Google 'empathy profiles' its a really eye opening subject that can be applied to anything – I learned a lot about my family and friends by understanding this concept. Also – heads up to the site – its great.

  172. Awesome info! Yea the US economy is sinking hard. A lot of people are otu of work, I wonder how many will become marketers when they can't find jobs 🙁

  173. Awesome info! Yea the US economy is sinking hard. A lot of people are otu of work, I wonder how many will become marketers when they can't find jobs 🙁

  174. The recession is getting worse, everyone will need a new start and this article raise more hope and understanding for whoever wants to relief from worsen financial situation.

  175. First of all, thank you for encouraging post above. I also think to be one of the success freelancer. I am thinking to post some jobs in few forums around the net, and I see some former freelancer get blatant success there. Can't wait to start though.

  176. First of all, thank you for encouraging post above. I also think to be one of the success freelancer. I am thinking to post some jobs in few forums around the net, and I see some former freelancer get blatant success there. Can't wait to start though.

  177. Great Article. I have been planning to do some freelance work as I could do with the extra income in this day and age. I am having trouble working it out but hopefully soon I will be up and running. Your tips will help me tremendously

  178. Excellent post! I would say take extra note of #10. I once worked for a man who insisted we take every call with a “no problem you got it!” attitiude. This backfired horribly and that man is now out of business. Thanks for the info!

  179. I'm thinking about becoming one

  180. I'm thinking about becoming one

  181. I agree with pretty much all of these.. except number 1 ! As someone just starting to set up their business why would you advise a one-man-band (in most cases) to add another £150-£200's worth of overheads to their finances? Clients don't NEED to visit you, you can go to their offices with a laptop!
    Getting an office at the very beginning isn't practical – if you can't manage a work life balance in a home office, then you have bigger problems to face.

  182. I agree with pretty much all of these.. except number 1 ! As someone just starting to set up their business why would you advise a one-man-band (in most cases) to add another £150-£200's worth of overheads to their finances? Clients don't NEED to visit you, you can go to their offices with a laptop!Getting an office at the very beginning isn't practical – if you can't manage a work life balance in a home office, then you have bigger problems to face.

  183. Good point to answer emails and voicemails many people don't do this.

  184. Good point to answer emails and voicemails many people don't do this.

  185. I think dress is incredibly important, as it gives the client the initial impression that not only do you take your business seriously, but you take them seriously as well. There's nothing more offputting than hiring someone who doesn't take the time to look at least half decent.

  186. I think dress is incredibly important, as it gives the client the initial impression that not only do you take your business seriously, but you take them seriously as well. There's nothing more offputting than hiring someone who doesn't take the time to look at least half decent.

  187. Paul Rika (Stone4) on February 2, 2009 at 7:30 am said:

    Agreed, this is a good article Edd. All the tips should be second nature for a business professional but there are many freelancers/wanabes in the industry that seem to ignore the idea of doing business properly. Interesting about tip #5. I have found that the sooner I reply to a customers initial enquiry email then my chances of getting the work are increased. In my opinion there is a very large gap between a freelancer who is getting a few side projects and a person running their own business, and you can spot them a mile off! It's usually their approach to dealing with customers. If you turn up to a new enquiry meeting in jeans and a t-shirt then my chequebook remains firmly shut! Paul

  188. Paul Rika (Stone4) on February 2, 2009 at 12:30 pm said:

    Agreed, this is a good article Edd. All the tips should be second nature for a business professional but there are many freelancers/wanabes in the industry that seem to ignore the idea of doing business properly. Interesting about tip #5. I have found that the sooner I reply to a customers initial enquiry email then my chances of getting the work are increased. In my opinion there is a very large gap between a freelancer who is getting a few side projects and a person running their own business, and you can spot them a mile off! It's usually their approach to dealing with customers. If you turn up to a new enquiry meeting in jeans and a t-shirt then my chequebook remains firmly shut! Paul

  189. “Dress for Business” – Never expected that. Was looking at the online side of things when I read the title. Nice article. Thanks!

  190. Rob Stun on January 30, 2009 at 7:22 pm said:

    Jen, how can you disagree with many of these items?! A dedicated office makes all the difference, clients are prepared to spend more money when they see someone who takes a professional approach to business, and having an office demonstrates that you are serious about what you are doing. I've done business with people who 'work from home' and almost without exception those people have always stopped freelancing after a few months and acceptable full-time jobs, leaving me high and dry. Also, if you can't cover the $25 that Highrise costs each month then maybe you need to rethink things! This article is not about staying 'thin'. It's about building up confidence and professionalism, something that many freelancers lack. Good article, especially “4) Be the Person Your Customers Like”. Thanks for the write up Ed.

  191. Jen, how can you disagree with many of these items?! A dedicated office makes all the difference, clients are prepared to spend more money when they see someone who takes a professional approach to business, and having an office demonstrates that you are serious about what you are doing. I've done business with people who 'work from home' and almost without exception those people have always stopped freelancing after a few months and acceptable full-time jobs, leaving me high and dry. Also, if you can't cover the $25 that Highrise costs each month then maybe you need to rethink things! This article is not about staying 'thin'. It's about building up confidence and professionalism, something that many freelancers lack. Good article, especially “4) Be the Person Your Customers Like”. Thanks for the write up Ed.

  192. I think this list is more useful as thinking points, if you're considering starting your own business. They are things to think about when you're developing your business plan. I disagree with many of the items, and, instead, prefer Jeffrey Zeldman's article at 24ways: http://24ways.org/2008/recession-tips-for-web-d

    Especially the part about getting an office. Of course, as with everything web-related, it all depends. There are meeting rooms that may be rented by the hour these days! That's the kind of world we're living in now.

    Dress is dependent on the client you're meeting with. Corporate will desire a respect for their environment, but a touch of creativity. Tech will expect that you can relate to them. Just like dating — dress for the specific occasion.

    Good organization skills and ingenuity of your own can save on expenses like Highrise, if you're trying to stay “thin.”

    And so on…

  193. I think this list is more useful as thinking points, if you're considering starting your own business. They are things to think about when you're developing your business plan. I disagree with many of the items, and, instead, prefer Jeffrey Zeldman's article at 24ways: http://24ways.org/2008/recession-tips-for-web-d…Especially the part about getting an office. Of course, as with everything web-related, it all depends. There are meeting rooms that may be rented by the hour these days! That's the kind of world we're living in now.Dress is dependent on the client you're meeting with. Corporate will desire a respect for their environment, but a touch of creativity. Tech will expect that you can relate to them. Just like dating — dress for the specific occasion. Good organization skills and ingenuity of your own can save on expenses like Highrise, if you're trying to stay “thin.”And so on…

  194. Hi Lee. Thanks for the comment, i really appreciate your input and you're correct, these are pretty standard suggestions, but you would be suprised about how many freelancers/small businesses i've met that get these very wrong! It *is* important to start small and work up but an office does not need to be a large expense. Since writing this article, i've actually seen a serviced office which is £110 a month! Add broadband for £20 and this is very reasonable. Anyway, i'm sorry you did not get much from the article and I wish you every success in everything you do 🙂 Take care. Ed

  195. Hi Lee. Thanks for the comment, i really appreciate your input and you're correct, these are pretty standard suggestions, but you would be suprised about how many freelancers/small businesses i've met that get these very wrong! It *is* important to start small and work up but an office does not need to be a large expense. Since writing this article, i've actually seen a serviced office which is £110 a month! Add broadband for £20 and this is very reasonable. Anyway, i'm sorry you did not get much from the article and I wish you every success in everything you do 🙂 Take care. Ed

  196. Surely most of these tips are pretty standard whether you're a freelancer or a small business? If I had locked most of these down in the first 3 months of being a freelancer I doubt I'd be here now and I assum that I'll need alot more than these skills in my tool box to take things to the next level.

    I'm not saying you're wrong on these points but I think these are 101 for freelancers not things you should be thinking once you decide to start running a small business.

    As for point 1. This goes again everything I've ever been told. The number one key in business is start small and work up. If I'm moving from freelancing to business how can I afford to run a premesis? There is nothing wrong with working from home and given the current economical situation I think personaly clients wouldn't see the problem. Afterall I'm sure that money could be better spent.

  197. Surely most of these tips are pretty standard whether you're a freelancer or a small business? If I had locked most of these down in the first 3 months of being a freelancer I doubt I'd be here now and I assum that I'll need alot more than these skills in my tool box to take things to the next level.I'm not saying you're wrong on these points but I think these are 101 for freelancers not things you should be thinking once you decide to start running a small business.As for point 1. This goes again everything I've ever been told. The number one key in business is start small and work up. If I'm moving from freelancing to business how can I afford to run a premesis? There is nothing wrong with working from home and given the current economical situation I think personaly clients wouldn't see the problem. Afterall I'm sure that money could be better spent.

  198. I think it's definitely a mix of the two. You can look creative, without looking trashy. I think the big loose slogan shirt is going too far on the unprofessional side *as a freelancers starting their own business* — Having said that, it's definitely important to emphasize on the 'business – casual' sort of look, keeping it halfway trendy but still expressive making yourself somewhat unique. If you are a designer, and can't present YOURSELF in a respective attracting manner… why should the client think your work will get any more of your care??

  199. I think it's definitely a mix of the two. You can look creative, without looking trashy. I think the big loose slogan shirt is going too far on the unprofessional side *as a freelancers starting their own business* — Having said that, it's definitely important to emphasize on the 'business – casual' sort of look, keeping it halfway trendy but still expressive making yourself somewhat unique. If you are a designer, and can't present YOURSELF in a respective attracting manner… why should the client think your work will get any more of your care??

  200. I'm just starting up my own web design agency. There were a few points which I found interesting. As for looking smart, I think it's a must. (whether it's a smart t-shirt or a smart suit, I think that's a case by case judgement). Also, I think it's really important to respond to emails and calls ASAP, even though it's just to say I'm a little busy at the moment.

  201. I'm just starting up my own web design agency. There were a few points which I found interesting. As for looking smart, I think it's a must. (whether it's a smart t-shirt or a smart suit, I think that's a case by case judgement). Also, I think it's really important to respond to emails and calls ASAP, even though it's just to say I'm a little busy at the moment.

  202. Great article, especially for the fact that a lot of these can also be used, not just for those freelancers looking to transition to a business, but also to those looking just to project a more professional feel. Thumbs up!

  203. I agree 100% with the part about not being afraid to pass on work that's not right or doesn't fit. Not all money is good money if it comes with strings or painfully unreliable clients.

  204. I agree 100% with the part about not being afraid to pass on work that's not right or doesn't fit. Not all money is good money if it comes with strings or painfully unreliable clients.

  205. In my opinion, getting an office is not always essential. You could start with a serviced office – that's how I started my company. It's cheap and gives you a business address in the area you want to work in. Use it to your strategic advantage and get an office in a location with a good local business economy. You can also have meetings at the serviced office (with companies like Regus).

  206. In my opinion, getting an office is not always essential. You could start with a serviced office – that's how I started my company. It's cheap and gives you a business address in the area you want to work in. Use it to your strategic advantage and get an office in a location with a good local business economy. You can also have meetings at the serviced office (with companies like Regus).

  207. Good article. Without trying to sound rude though, I found it a little basic. Surely all of these points are pretty obvious, no?

    With regards to dress sense, I'd like to mix up the argument a little if that's ok. I work as a senior designer, and as pointed out already, a lot of clients expect designers to look “cool”.

    I make a point of dressing a certain way for whichever type of client I'm meeting, and before anyone accuses me of being dishonest, in my day to day life I switch styles a lot too. It's always done me well in business, but to add another point to this, I've worn a suit once in my entire creative career, and it led me into a chain of events, and a business relationship which almost made me leave the industry.

    David Hughes is completely spot on here, from the point of view of a client, although “never trust a designer in a suit” is a step too far. Very corporate clients don't, for one, want to get a break in their day, or spend the afternoon chatting with creatives, they want to get details ironed out and make money. That's why you get them to talk to an account manager, who probably dresses extremely smartly. If you don't have one, you pretend to be one.

    It's a fine balance.

  208. Good article. Without trying to sound rude though, I found it a little basic. Surely all of these points are pretty obvious, no? With regards to dress sense, I'd like to mix up the argument a little if that's ok. I work as a senior designer, and as pointed out already, a lot of clients expect designers to look “cool”. I make a point of dressing a certain way for whichever type of client I'm meeting, and before anyone accuses me of being dishonest, in my day to day life I switch styles a lot too. It's always done me well in business, but to add another point to this, I've worn a suit once in my entire creative career, and it led me into a chain of events, and a business relationship which almost made me leave the industry.David Hughes is completely spot on here, from the point of view of a client, although “never trust a designer in a suit” is a step too far. Very corporate clients don't, for one, want to get a break in their day, or spend the afternoon chatting with creatives, they want to get details ironed out and make money. That's why you get them to talk to an account manager, who probably dresses extremely smartly. If you don't have one, you pretend to be one. It's a fine balance.

  209. The emphasis in this article seems to be that you need to 'graduate' from freelancer to small business, but what's wrong with considering yourself a freelancer and a small business at the same time?

  210. The emphasis in this article seems to be that you need to 'graduate' from freelancer to small business, but what's wrong with considering yourself a freelancer and a small business at the same time?

  211. I won't lie. I only read the headings of each section, but I don't see why these are just for freeelancers? I try to do the same things at my company every day. Good post though.

  212. I won't lie. I only read the headings of each section, but I don't see why these are just for freeelancers? I try to do the same things at my company every day. Good post though.

  213. Thanks Ralph! Good luck with college. Continuing your freelance activities whilst attending college can really give you that competitive edge when applying for jobs (if that's your goal), as it shows you've had real-world experience in addition to the academic side of things.

  214. Thanks Ralph! Good luck with college. Continuing your freelance activities whilst attending college can really give you that competitive edge when applying for jobs (if that's your goal), as it shows you've had real-world experience in addition to the academic side of things.

  215. Awesome post Ed. Really informative and it helped me out alot. About to enter college, I've always had the idea of staying a freelance web designer, so this post was real interesting for me. Thanks.

  216. Awesome post Ed. Really informative and it helped me out alot. About to enter college, I've always had the idea of staying a freelance web designer, so this post was real interesting for me. Thanks.

  217. John you are wrong and Brendan is right sorry. he specifically said he's talking about designers.

    I'm heading into London tomorrow for meetings with creative teams at two agencies. If they are wearing formal clothes let alone a suit I will assume they have wheeled out some ghastly “account director” and not be happy.

    Sadly Brendan is right – visiting a creative team is a wonderful break from cube hell.

    I expect at least one to be wearing agency glasses (TM me) all are likely to be wearing t-shirts and we will have two creative, rewarding and fun meetings.

    Never trust a designer in a suit.

  218. John you are wrong and Brendan is right sorry. he specifically said he's talking about designers.I'm heading into London tomorrow for meetings with creative teams at two agencies. If they are wearing formal clothes let alone a suit I will assume they have wheeled out some ghastly “account director” and not be happy.Sadly Brendan is right – visiting a creative team is a wonderful break from cube hell.I expect at least one to be wearing agency glasses (TM me) all are likely to be wearing t-shirts and we will have two creative, rewarding and fun meetings.Never trust a designer in a suit.

  219. Thank you, Уеб дизайнер for sharing the article. We both have what to learn from our foreign colleagues from all over the world.

    “9) Welcome Customer Complaints”
    That`s really important don`t you think

  220. Thank you, Уеб дизайнер for sharing the article. We both have what to learn from our foreign colleagues from all over the world.”9) Welcome Customer Complaints”That`s really important don`t you think

  221. Great post! I agree with everything that u said. I think it's time for me to move large and this post was helpfull for my future plans 🙂

  222. Great post! I agree with everything that u said. I think it's time for me to move large and this post was helpfull for my future plans 🙂

  223. I'm all for 10) and 13). I've turned lots of jobs down, and it's been giving me more good than harm, i have been able to concentrate on doing what i do best.

    Also, i think i have disrupted my clients for being 10-15mins early without even knowing it, good point on 13).

  224. I'm all for 10) and 13). I've turned lots of jobs down, and it's been giving me more good than harm, i have been able to concentrate on doing what i do best.Also, i think i have disrupted my clients for being 10-15mins early without even knowing it, good point on 13).

  225. I agree with BD. Working in an agency for a few years it was always the suits vs. the creatives. Now when I meet with a client I almost feel like they expect me to have blue hair or thick rimmed glasses, ha.

  226. Great article, thanks for the tips. More good stuff to keep in mind every day.

  227. I've been freelance / contracting for two years now, and this still applies. There's always lotsa room for improvement. Good read.

    Now where's my bow tie?

  228. Great article, thanks for the tips. More good stuff to keep in mind every day.

  229. I've been freelance / contracting for two years now, and this still applies. There's always lotsa room for improvement. Good read. Now where's my bow tie?

  230. Thanks for your thoughts Kat. Completely agree, you should have a website which portrays a 'kick ass' image for your business. This is where i fail somewhat. My website is very blocking for customers who are looking for information, I have however, hired a designer to help with this area of my business. I feel it is important to get help from specialists who excel in their field. A can develop 'kick ass' web apps for my customers, but i'm no graphic designer. Know your limits! 🙂 Thanks again, Ed.

  231. Thanks for your thoughts Kat. Completely agree, you should have a website which portrays a 'kick ass' image for your business. This is where i fail somewhat. My website is very blocking for customers who are looking for information, I have however, hired a designer to help with this area of my business. I feel it is important to get help from specialists who excel in their field. A can develop 'kick ass' web apps for my customers, but i'm no graphic designer. Know your limits! 🙂 Thanks again, Ed.

  232. Hi John, I do agree that having an office may not be for everyone. But i think it's worth it for that one time that a client says “Can we meet at your place?”. Regarding your comments on business dress, i couldn't agree more. (Fowey is such a lovely place to work. Love the chinese restaurant there! 😉

  233. Hi John, I do agree that having an office may not be for everyone. But i think it's worth it for that one time that a client says “Can we meet at your place?”. Regarding your comments on business dress, i couldn't agree more. (Fowey is such a lovely place to work. Love the chinese restaurant there! 😉

  234. Brendan Dawes on January 28, 2009 at 7:26 am said:

    John,

    then we have vastly different client meetings…

  235. Brendan Dawes on January 28, 2009 at 12:26 pm said:

    John,then we have vastly different client meetings…

  236. All the above points are good except possibly the idea that you need office space. I would say many businesses really do not need an office in the conventional sense. I think this is more the case now than it was 5 years ago. An office space does give all the right signals, I would agree, but in reality it adds to your costs and it also makes work more like “a job” – that may not be a bad thing, but for some people who are moving on to run their own business, what they are looking for is something which is less restrictive than the 9 to 5 of a job working for someone else (I will contradict myself in a minute – but please bear with me). I ran our business from home for a while and felt desperate for an office space to appear more professional. Now we have one, and it has given a sense of being more professional I am thinking that maybe moving back to the home office will be better for the business.

    Of course you have to weigh everything up and for us the office is great about 10% of the time. The rest of the time we could do and do do business from anywhere. There are loads of places to hold meetings now; client's premises, the IoD, Business Centres etc. Be aware that premises = higher costs.

    Now as to what you wear, and here's the contradiction as you might end up feeling like it's the old job mentality coming back in, but really you do have to look the part and for client meetings that pretty much means smart. So, Brendan, I disagree with you. I've never been to a client meeting where T-shirts would have been appropriate. Some are going to be less formal than others, I agree. But even so, there is still a level of dress code which I think makes a huge difference. You are not going to the pub for drink with mates, you are going to conduct business. If you look like you don't care how you look, or you look as though you don't care what other people think of how you look, ultimately you will look like “you don't care”. I'm not saying ties and suits – although again in some situations you will look a fool if you don't wear a suit no matter what you think. But smart, business like is vital.

  237. All the above points are good except possibly the idea that you need office space. I would say many businesses really do not need an office in the conventional sense. I think this is more the case now than it was 5 years ago. An office space does give all the right signals, I would agree, but in reality it adds to your costs and it also makes work more like “a job” – that may not be a bad thing, but for some people who are moving on to run their own business, what they are looking for is something which is less restrictive than the 9 to 5 of a job working for someone else (I will contradict myself in a minute – but please bear with me). I ran our business from home for a while and felt desperate for an office space to appear more professional. Now we have one, and it has given a sense of being more professional I am thinking that maybe moving back to the home office will be better for the business.Of course you have to weigh everything up and for us the office is great about 10% of the time. The rest of the time we could do and do do business from anywhere. There are loads of places to hold meetings now; client's premises, the IoD, Business Centres etc. Be aware that premises = higher costs.Now as to what you wear, and here's the contradiction as you might end up feeling like it's the old job mentality coming back in, but really you do have to look the part and for client meetings that pretty much means smart. So, Brendan, I disagree with you. I've never been to a client meeting where T-shirts would have been appropriate. Some are going to be less formal than others, I agree. But even so, there is still a level of dress code which I think makes a huge difference. You are not going to the pub for drink with mates, you are going to conduct business. If you look like you don't care how you look, or you look as though you don't care what other people think of how you look, ultimately you will look like “you don't care”. I'm not saying ties and suits – although again in some situations you will look a fool if you don't wear a suit no matter what you think. But smart, business like is vital.

  238. Hi Brendan, The “Especially don't smell” comment is absolutely priceless. This is probably as important as looking the part. Good Call 🙂

  239. Hi Brendan, The “Especially don't smell” comment is absolutely priceless. This is probably as important as looking the part. Good Call 🙂

  240. Brendan Dawes on January 28, 2009 at 7:07 am said:

    Yeah sorry I was coming at it from a designer point of view – oh and need to say that there's some great tips here too – should have said that!

    That said, many people I know who are the front person of that business, especially in design don't suddenly dress different if they're meeting a client as it only perpetuates a lie. Better to be honest. This is who I am and this what you're buying. Also wearing the odd quirky thing often sparks conversations and creates memorable moments in the mind of potential new clients – hopefully good ones!

    Only last week a client commented on my trainers. Admittedly they're are rather fab, but we then got into a conversation about the culture of trainers and other stuff!

  241. Brendan Dawes on January 28, 2009 at 12:07 pm said:

    Yeah sorry I was coming at it from a designer point of view – oh and need to say that there's some great tips here too – should have said that!That said, many people I know who are the front person of that business, especially in design don't suddenly dress different if they're meeting a client as it only perpetuates a lie. Better to be honest. This is who I am and this what you're buying. Also wearing the odd quirky thing often sparks conversations and creates memorable moments in the mind of potential new clients – hopefully good ones!Only last week a client commented on my trainers. Admittedly they're are rather fab, but we then got into a conversation about the culture of trainers and other stuff!

  242. edraynham on January 28, 2009 at 7:02 am said:

    Andrew, thanks for the comment. It's a difficult call to make regarding the tipping point from freelancer to business. I think that it mainly revolves around how you present yourself and how you plan for the future. In my experience, most freelancers have a short-term approach to working with a customer in order to satisfy an immediate revenue goal, whereas when you are planning on building a business you need to ensure that you work with a customer in the best way possible to ensure your success in the future. All my business comes from referrals and this is solely because of the way i deal with my customers. Hope this helps.

  243. edraynham on January 28, 2009 at 12:02 pm said:

    Andrew, thanks for the comment. It's a difficult call to make regarding the tipping point from freelancer to business. I think that it mainly revolves around how you present yourself and how you plan for the future. In my experience, most freelancers have a short-term approach to working with a customer in order to satisfy an immediate revenue goal, whereas when you are planning on building a business you need to ensure that you work with a customer in the best way possible to ensure your success in the future. All my business comes from referrals and this is solely because of the way i deal with my customers. Hope this helps.

  244. I disagree with you a little bit, Brendan. Interviewing a designer to come work on your team is a whole different thing than what Ed is talking about here. He's saying that you are now the business face, you are the sales director, the tech directory, you run the thing, so looking a bit professional is good for new businesses. Your reputation is probably not that good yet, and making a good impression when you're pitching or meeting a new client is fundamental. Sure, once you're established, wear ripped jeans to your heart's content. I say don't be boring though– girls wearing funky dresses, guys wearing dark jeans and nice clean shoes, but look good. Appearances DO matter, anyone who doesn't think so are liars.

    The only thing I think missing from your list here, and it's probably pretty obvious, but what about having a kick ass website, name, portfolio etc. I'm guessing that's just assumed here 🙂 Good article

  245. I disagree with you a little bit, Brendan. Interviewing a designer to come work on your team is a whole different thing than what Ed is talking about here. He's saying that you are now the business face, you are the sales director, the tech directory, you run the thing, so looking a bit professional is good for new businesses. Your reputation is probably not that good yet, and making a good impression when you're pitching or meeting a new client is fundamental. Sure, once you're established, wear ripped jeans to your heart's content. I say don't be boring though– girls wearing funky dresses, guys wearing dark jeans and nice clean shoes, but look good. Appearances DO matter, anyone who doesn't think so are liars.The only thing I think missing from your list here, and it's probably pretty obvious, but what about having a kick ass website, name, portfolio etc. I'm guessing that's just assumed here 🙂 Good article

  246. Brendan Dawes on January 28, 2009 at 6:27 am said:

    Ok so I'll be the first to chime in on point to 2: Dress for business.

    If you're in the design business, especially graphic design then that's what you're selling. I have to say if designers turn up for interview here wearing a suit or “smart clothes” then they're already at negative points! Also I find that clients love all the slogans and other stuff. You've got to remember that for many of them coming to acreative space or meeting a “creative” is actually fun for many of them and often breaks up their beige cubicle driven day.

    Obviously don't take the piss. Wash. Shave. And don't smell. Especially don't smell.

  247. Brendan Dawes on January 28, 2009 at 11:27 am said:

    Ok so I'll be the first to chime in on point to 2: Dress for business.If you're in the design business, especially graphic design then that's what you're selling. I have to say if designers turn up for interview here wearing a suit or “smart clothes” then they're already at negative points! Also I find that clients love all the slogans and other stuff. You've got to remember that for many of them coming to acreative space or meeting a “creative” is actually fun for many of them and often breaks up their beige cubicle driven day.Obviously don't take the piss. Wash. Shave. And don't smell. Especially don't smell.

  248. Hi Andrew, I have to admit, I didn't write the article. Ed did. The author name was taking a while to update at first. But now it's done. I'm sure Ed will have some input on your question.

  249. Hi Andrew, I have to admit, I didn't write the article. Ed did. The author name was taking a while to update at first. But now it's done. I'm sure Ed will have some input on your question.

  250. Gillian , this is a great article. So many times people over look the business of the business. I would really like to get your input on balance. When do Freelancers hit the tipping point where it is not longer projects but business.

    great post.

  251. Gillian , this is a great article. So many times people over look the business of the business. I would really like to get your input on balance. When do Freelancers hit the tipping point where it is not longer projects but business. great post.

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