As much as we like our freedom and flexibility to choose work and work anytime and anywhere across the globe, there are also a few downsides of being a freelancer. Paying attention to these downsides such as irregular income, late payments, disputes with clients and more, is crucial and can potentially break your career as a freelancer (and dragging yourself back to a 9-5 job).
Have you protected yourselves in those areas yet? If you're not sure, don't panic. Here are some tips to reduce the risks of each issue.
1. Plan your financial wisely with irregular income
Think about how much you need to sustain yourself on a monthly basis. Everyone has fixed bills to pay such as phone, internet, utilities, rent, etc. Calculate how much you need to cover your expenses and savings. That will be your monthly financial goal to attain.
For example, if you require $5000 a month and each project costs $1000. That's 5 projects a month. Do also take note of the seasonalities of projects outsourced. If you're serving a B2B client, chances are December could be a lull period so try to get more projects ahead of time and you could stop work in December too!
Clients = Money. Getting the clients will be a tricky part. Get yourself listed in online freelancing platforms like ZomWork, UpWork or Fiverr to showcase your portfolios and get a consistent flow of projects.
2. Get your money on-time
Don't you hate having to chase for a late payment? Because I do!
Personally, I prefer using freelancing platforms to ease my pain of chasing for payment. Time is money. With a small fee, it helps me to save time and deal with the administrative process from creating contracts, collecting payment and generating invoices.
There is a great feature called escrow payments where clients place a deposit before commencing work so you know that clients will pay when your work is done.
3. Put agreements in black and white
I know we all hate reading contracts (maybe not applicable to lawyers). Be honest, do you scroll and skip the agreements online and just click 'I Agree' without really reading them? DO NOT do that with your contract or brief provided by employers because they are your protection.
In every contract, ensure that you list your scope of work and set how many iterations your client is allowed for your work. Protect yourself that if anything goes beyond your scope of work, it will be additional cost and so on.
Read them carefully before you sign or agree to take on the project, ask the client if you have questions and always put it in writing.
4. Take care of yourself with employment benefits
As a freelancer, you lose the company benefits such as health insurance and paid leaves. Consider personal insurance to protect yourself from loss of income. In Singapore, you can purchase an independent Freelancer Income Protection offered by Gigacover, a growing insurance company in Singapore, with a very affordable rate.
There is no way we can predict illness or injury- let's all touch wood to avoid "tempting fate."
5. Get it done, submit it, document it!
Rule #1 in any industry and work environment: ALWAYS document your work!
Have you ever worked on Microsoft Excel and then it crashed on you? Or your computer just went "blue screen of death"? What's worse, you haven't saved a thing at all!
With plenty of cloud-based apps like Google Drive and Dropbox, you can easily save your files and access anywhere. It is user-friendly, free of charge and they have auto-saving and versioning (ability to go back into an old version of the file) function.
Start saving your files in these apps, provide access to your clients and start collaborating! Easy peasy, right?
Better to be safe than sorry
With these essential tips, it doesn't take much effort to safeguard yourself. A little goes a long way. Protect yourself from having to deal with the viable problems before it becomes a real pain. When you've got all covered, you can sit back, relax, and keep hustling!