Foundations for a Successful Freelance Career


Freelancing can be a fantastic way of life. Who wouldn’t want to be their own boss and set their own hours? The hard part is setting yourself up for success. Experienced freelancers will tell you that it’s vital to have a solid foundation of both content rates and legal contracts to stand a chance of making it in this rewarding, lucrative and competitive world.  So, where do you start? With an understanding of your value and how to protect it.

Understand the Value of Your Work

As a freelancer, you can theoretically set your rates as high or low as you please. But what happens when we lowball ourselves in a lapse of confidence, or if we waste time calculating costs and fees without a rate reference sheet? Your freelance rates should always change to fit the situation. Why, you ask? Your pricing should change based on the amount of value it will provide.

Start by typing up a list of your services. Copy the list into three different documents. Now, assign your services different prices based on these three situations:

1) Individuals or small businesses who can only pay your minimum freelancing rate (the lowest amount you’re willing to accept for a project). These companies will use your content to reach a limited audience

2) Small and medium businesses that need you to complete emergency or rush projects. The ER costs more money than a clinic, so why shouldn’t your services?

3) Large companies and corporations that will use your content to reach a massive audience.

Not sure where I’m going with this? Well, let’s pretend that a small business and a large corporation hired you to design a promotional poster. The small business might use it to reach a few dozen customers. But the large corporation plans to use your poster to reach thousands of potential customers. Your posters value differs dramatically in both of these situations – so your pricing should differ as well. Having a few rate sheets prepared for different situations can help you confidently assert a price point during negotiations.

You can get a better handle on what you should be charging by investigating local businesses and seeing how much they charge for similar services. Smartphone addicts can also check out MyPrice, a handy freelance rate calculator app.

Fool-Proof Contract Tips and Templates

Unfortunately, getting a job is not the end of the road. You need to make sure you are protected. A well-designed contract can help you do that. It will protect you against clients who might ask you to take on extra work, unrelated tasks, or even forget to pay. To make sure you cover all of your bases, here’s what a standard freelancer contract needs to cover:

·      The parties involved: Identifying both you and the client.
·      The effective start date of your contract and project.
·      The scale and scope of the project.
·      Deliverables: The file format and method you’ll use to give the client a finished project)
·      Anti-plagiarism commitment.
·      Copyright clause: Who owns the finished product?
·      Client confidentiality agreement.
·      Compensation details.
·      Payment, collection and tax details.
·      Termination of contract.
·      Portfolio use: If you want to display this project on your professional work portfolio.
·      Dates and signatures from both parties.


If you want help with the legal wording, here are a few paces where you can find contract templates. Be sure to read them carefully and tweak them to your business as most templates are not industry specific in any way:

·    Docstoc: Business document templates
·    Docracy: Legal document templates
·    Contract Creator – Freelancer’s Union Contract Creator

Freelancers can run into obstacles at any moment during price negotiations and during a project with both new and long-term clients. Rate sheets and contracts can save the day, making these issues a lot easier to handle down the road.

Loraine Kanervisto FOLLOW >

Loraine Kanervisto has been writing business, technology, and lifestyle features since 2008. She loves exploring how diverse communities interact with technology. Loraine spends her time tinkering with gadgets, exploring Seattle's lit scene, and hanging out with her two black cats.