What 1 year of freelancing has taught me

3 min read | July 25, 2019
Exactly one year ago I got my first commision. In retrospective, it was absolutely pityful — it is 4.9 times smaller than my average commission and my largest commission is a mind-blowing 21 times that of my first commission. I would have had to do 21 banner ads to just make up for that monster commission.

It is kind of fascinating how the world works. Cannot believe it has been a year; it only feels like 6 months. Like, at most.

Anyway, I have learned that:

  1. Starting is the hardest; take it easy and slow. It will get easier and things will just kinda happen naturally. This advice is applicable for not only new commisisons, but also freelancing in general. It is not always a linear process.
  2. Constantly research and seek ways to experiment, improve yourself, your commission process, and everything in-between. Be the best you can be (but not necessarily perfect, there is only good enough).
  3. Protect yourself and your client. Remind your client what they hired you for (your expertise and skills). Set expectations. Write a Terms and Conditions, a Refund Policy. Force your client to read it. Make the link bold. Like, seriously.
  4. Never work for free. Take the money upfront, if you want to have full control of the situation. I have not had the displeasure of dealing with many terrible people, but when they come, it hits hard. Always be prepared to give a refund.
  5. Track everything you do. Some obvious examples are expenses (although I would recommend not having expenses at all, if you can help it), income (spreadsheets are super important), track your time (so you can get averages for types of projects), keep pinned messages and relevant material you need on-hand for later reference.
  6. Over time get canned replies, templates. And get ready to answer a lot of the same questions, receive similar requests, and so on.
  7. Look from their perspective. Do not overwhelm your clients with too much information. Do not make them think, unless you have to (to make your point).
  8. Get to know your client and project intimately. I can more or less guess what kind of demographic a person fits into based on their tone of voice (which also helps with estimating budgets, taste, and so forth). And getting to know more background information about the project can help you to add extra little detail touches and go the extra mile.
  9. Take breaks (very important). Please. I struggle with this, but it is important to recognize when the human condition kicks in.
  10. Be genuine and be grateful (also very important). Just say thank you. Add a heart in there.

Thanks to the support of over 30 people I have now saved and put aside a significant amount of money for a laptop to help me in my ongoing ventures. ❤

How am I improving myself in the upcoming year?