THE RULES OF FREELANCING
By Jaylin Paschal
I'm often asked about how I maintain a healthy work and school balance while freelancing. I thought I'd share some quick tips that guide my professional life in general.
1. SCHOOL PAYS YOU MORE.
This tip comes directly from my mama. I hear it every time I'm struggling to prioritize work and studies. If you're on a scholarship like I am, it's important to remember that school pays you more than your side hustle or freelance gig. I know it often doesn't feel like it since you never really get to touch the money, but remembering this will help keep your priorities in check. If you're dedicated to getting a degree (which I realize everyone is not), think of school as your first job. Everything else is secondary.
2. ESTABLISH A STYLE.
Your clients should have something to ground them; something that pairs their vision with yours. Having a style not only sets the tone for your work and allows clients to know what to expect, but it solidifies your brand and keeps you on track as well. This isn't to say that all of your work should be the same, but that it should be consistent in quality and detail.
3. CONTRACTS MATTER.
HAVE YOUR CLIENTS SIGN CONTRACTS! Sometimes they'll have you sign one, read it. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be on the same page in regards to payment, deadlines, intellectual property, insurance and deliverables. Don't be lazy. Be careful with your contracts.
4. ASK FOR MORE MONEY.
Know your worth. This is something I'm struggling with, too. It's hard--especially for women and especially for women of color--to raise their rates. But it's necessary. The cost of living is going up + the value of creativity is on the rise. If your client is serious about their company/brand and wants quality work from you, they'll pay for it.
5. NOT ALL MONEY IS GOOD MONEY.
It's tempting to take every job that's offered to you. Especially when they pay well. But not all money is good money. If your vision, style or brand isn't in tune with that of your client, that causes enough of a strain. But sometimes clients will expect you to cross ethical boundaries you're uncomfortable with. There will come times where it's better to politely decline the job than to abandon your creative or moral values.
6A. LEAVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME.
Don't set your turn around time too soon. Give yourself enough time to produce quality work among your other responsibilities. If your client needs something quickly, explain the limitations a hasty deadline may impose.
6B. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BE ON TIME.
It's never cute to be late for meetings, calls or deadlines. Don't be that guy.
7. HONOR THE SWEET SPOT.
There's a "sweet spot" right between what you want and what your client wants. Their is a compromise that must be made, finding the perfect merger of your brand and your client's. It's you and them, not you or them.
8. YOU'RE BOUND TO WORD OF MOUTH.
Referrals mean everything to you. Your website and social may bring in a few inquiries, but the best and biggest projects come from people who have been recommended to you. They already trust you, they've already seen that you're worth the money and they've already started thinking about how your work can elevate their brand. Additionally, you never want to leave a bad taste in someone's mouth. People are more likely to tell others about bad experiences than good ones and you don't ever want your name associated with bad work.