Picture this…you roll up to the pump at the station, slide in your credit card, hit the Premium fuel button and watch as the numbers roll up–wait a minute, the price of the gas is rolling up slower than normal, but the amount of gas going into your tank is the same amount as usual.
You just paid unleaded prices for higher quality gasoline.
So what does this all mean? What’s the point? This analogy was written so that you could draw a parallel with the rest of this article–providing premium services for unleaded pay, freelancing for slaves’ wages.
One of the advantages to being a freelancer is that you don’t HAVE to stick to one single job or project. If you’re good at what you do, you can CHOOSE your clients. Another advantage to being a freelancer is that you can typically choose how much you want to make–you get to name your own premium price.
You will find that there are several other advantages to being a freelancer: you get to work from home, you get to work with people from all over the world, and you can choose your own hours of operation.
Yes, that all sounds wonderful, but before you gear up to start your own freelancing business, there are a few caveats that you MUST know so that you can actually MAKE money as a freelancer.
Here is a long list of things to watch for when bidding on freelance gigs.
1 Job postings with obvious misspellings and English grammar mistakes. Chances are that if the business is run by educated, business savvy people, they will know how to spell simple words. Also, it is a warning flag if they say they are based in the US and their grammar and sentence structure looks more like a poorly translated video game script–“All your base are belong to us.” Bypass these postings and save yourself the trouble of working with people who may or may not understand your worth as a US freelancer.
2 Poor job description: If the entire job description can fit on the piece of paper inside of a fortune cookie, don’t choose that job. You should NEVER apply for a gig if you aren’t completely informed of what is expected of you as a freelancer.
3 Asking for professionals/experts/high-quality/US-based freelancers but offering really low pay. This is the one that pushes more freelancers to broke-ness than any other caveat–NEVER apply for a freelance gig if the job description is requiring high quality, professional work, but they are offering less pay than you’d make waiting tables. You are a professional freelancer with years of experience in your field–if they require high quality, they should pay for it accordingly. Getting paid $1.50 to write a 500 word article means that you are probably making $3.00 an hour.
4 Jobs that require purchasing special software, start-up materials, or instructions: Chances are that if you have to pay to work for a client, they are an online scam or MLM looking to take your money. If they ARE a legitimate business looking to hire a professional, they should be willing to provide you with everything you need to work with them.
5 Jobs that ask for unpaid “samples”: Never giveaway work for free.
6 Jobs with unresponsive clients/buyers: If you get hired and then never hear back, cancel the gig.
7 Freelance sites that require upfront fees: Often times you’ll end up paying more to apply to freelance gigs than you’d get from working the freelance gigs.
Freelancing isn’t all risk, but there are a few things you can do to protect yourself while still making money as a freelancer.
1 Create a contract: Pay a fee and sit down with a lawyer to hammer out a contract. Make each client print it out, sign it, and either mail it or fax it to you. This makes them liable for payment upon receipt of services or goods.
2 Require upfront payments using verified payment methods: Make them pay at least 35% of the total project price before you start work. This provides you a cushion in case the job goes sour.
3 Check their feedback or reviews: If you’re working with a freelance gig site, check the employer reviews. Do they pay on time, are they good communicators, are they too hard to please?
4 Google it: The first thing you should do before working with a company you’ve never heard of before is to Google the company name or the name of the person doing the hiring. Find out everything you can about them before you sign on to work with them.
Let the Cash Roll In!
If you know what to look out for and how to protect yourself from the villains looking to scam you or steal your intellectual property, you can actually make a great living as a freelancer. You are a high performance machine that requires only the best Premium gasoline–don’t let anyone put unleaded in your tank.
Get out there, work hard, make money, and come back and tell us if the information in this article was of help to you.
Dominique Brown is a financial planner, landord, personal finance blogger and video blogger. He is the owner of YourFinancesSimplified.com where he talks about everything from being a new father to his worst financial mistakes. He has been featured on The Huffington Post and H&R Block. You can find him either on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram.