What 1 year of freelancing has taught meA 3 min read
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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Over time get canned replies, templates. And get ready to answer a lot of the same questions, receive similar requests, and so on.
- 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).
- 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.
- Take breaks (very important). Please. I struggle with this, but it is important to recognize when the human condition kicks in.
- 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?
- Expanding to Lithuanian markets. I basically have no clients in Lithuania where I live which is kind of sad, kind of funny that I get all my income from other countries. I am currently translating this website and adding case studies, other works to my Lithuanian portfolio. In fact, I just added a language switcher to the bottom of this website!
- Improving my own brand. Redesigning my website for it to be more functional, unifying my online identity and portfolio into one thing, in one place (part of that included ditching mnts as a seperate freelancing brand). I am just me: Mantas. And the domain of this website is cool and short, so that is all there is to it.
- Branching out. As much as I do not like to admit it, it feels selfish to not do anything just for the heck of it, for the fun of it, or for the benefit of the community. Yes, in this year I did do some free things, but nothing too big or special. And I want to do more graphic designer things: business cards, more branding, logos, and so forth.