From the Harvard Business Review, Amy Gallo offers terrific advice on how to become a successful freelancer. Her advice includes guidance on getting the word out, finding a good accountant, setting your fee and more. Amy writes:
Familiarize yourself with the legal issues
While you don’t necessarily need a lawyer to help you set up an LLC, it’s good to have someone you can turn to for legal advice, especially at the beginning. Goel says you should look for someone who is “business-minded, not legally-minded.” Have this person help you understand the basics of a nondisclosure agreement and an independent contractor agreement. He adds that “99% of the time they’re the same” thing, so once you are familiar with the language, you can sign without consulting a lawyer each time. One of the more worrisome legal risks that contractors face is nonpayment, which is why Horowitz suggests that you “insist on contracts” that will “protect you and your work” from trouble. “If you think you may be in a nonpayment situation, stop work immediately and contact your lawyer,” she says.
Have your paperwork in order
When you start fielding requests from potential clients, you want to be able to respond quickly. Goel recommends having business cards, your résumé, a basic letterhead, and possibly a logo (which you can hire a graphic designer to put together pretty easily) ready to go. You should also prepare a standard statement of work, invoice, and contract. Many clients will have their own contract template, but you should have one just in case. Horowitz suggests having a lawyer look over that as well to ensure it “includes clauses appropriate to your industry.” Templates for each of these are available online, including on the Freelancer Union’s website. “Pick a template and personalize it,” Goel recommends.
Get the word out
When you’ve got the above logistics sorted out, it’s time to “transition to the active marketing stage,” says Horowitz. Making yourself findable is important. At a minimum, you want to have an updated LinkedIn profile that makes clear you’re looking for opportunities and possibly a simple website. You also can look for opportunities to be seen as an expert in professional circles: Speak at an event, be active in online communities, etc. Continue to reach out to your network, too, including friends and family members, who “can often be a source of great referrals.”
Read the full story at How to Become a Successful Freelancer