Being your own boss may be a dream come true, but it takes a long, arduous process to get there, which involves sending hundreds of scope of work templates, quotations, or proposal templates. As appealing as freelancing may sound, people are unable to leave their day jobs simply because the alternative doesn’t always offer stability or benefits. But freelancing businesses can definitely be done and there is a wide range of success stories you can read about.
If you are planning to take the freelancer’s path, understand that there are no instant solutions for taking your business off the ground. It will prove to be difficult at times, but with patience and extensive knowledge about effective freelance tips & strategies, you will soon begin to see results. For now, let’s take a look at what freelancers need to do to grow their businesses.
If you are the type who likes winging it, now is the time to consider changing because it is imperative to start with a solid self-employed business plan before anything else. Consider it as a bible that can help you stay on track with your brand goals, client acquisition, client retention, budgeting, and marketing goals, among others. In times where you need to make difficult decisions, it should keep or return your focus to be able to weigh up things thoroughly and to help you grow your freelance business.
There is no one way to create a solid freelance business plan because it heavily depends on your vision. The traditional business plan may come in the form of a document, but it is not limited to that. Some freelancers would use “vision boards” to chart out their goals for the year.
Typically, there are three areas to cover. First is the nature of your business and in this section, you must clearly state where your business specializes and which clients you cater to. This helps you keep the big picture in mind. Listing down your core objectives aids you to weed out the unnecessary opportunities, such as a project that is outside your scope of work.
Also, consider the edge you have over competitors. Take some time to ponder over any other products or services you can offer aside from your usual. At the same time, check if there is a segment in your industry that is yet to be explored. If so, do you have the means to own this niche?
The next step is to elaborate on your marketing goals. Look for answers to questions such as “How will you get your name out there?” or “How will you find your clients?” In essence, these points will cover your plans on building your reputation.
The third area to consider is your financial goals. Here, you should decide how much you will charge clients for your services, what your expenses would be, and how many hours you will work in a week. If you are unsure of what pricing you should settle on, study the amount of money clients would pay others for services similar to yours.
As it was previously mentioned. you should review your business plan every year, especially with new trends emerging every now and then. Every company remembers to analyze competitors, set new objectives, discuss the latest business topics and promote their brand wisely, so they won't be left behind. Clients may change, and innovative technologies are introduced every once in a while, so it is in your best interest to update your plan in response to these variables.
While it is noble to chase down big projects when you are starting out, it is best to remain realistic. Everyone takes baby steps in his or her career, and this one is no different. In a freelancer’s case, the value of small projects should not be underestimated because these give you opportunities to build your portfolio.
Building your reputation as a freelancer is a must. When you show a good work attitude and meet deadlines, it quickly builds their trust. In this way, you can receive testimonials from that could be great additions to your profile. After building rapport with a number of clients, it is then sensible to go after the big fish.
Networking is crucial to the growth of any business because it provides a number of benefits. For instance, you can get the inside scoop on certain projects before they are revealed publicly in freelancer websites. Additionally, you can easily obtain more job opportunities through personal connections. Clients would usually give the job to someone they know and trust.
Networking opportunities are available everywhere. There are parties, meetings with friends, and many other social events which are perfect occasions to get in touch with more people. You can even search for them on online forums or social media. The goal is to put yourself on people’s radar so you’re the first to come in their minds when they are in need of services in your industry.
Since you will be networking a lot, it is always handy to keep several business cards in your pocket. The card itself should make a big impression. In a recent Inc. article, it was mentioned that business cards with a personal touch are a lot more memorable because they allow a client to draw a basic picture of who the person is. Furthermore, there’s no need to stick to the standard card size of 3.5 by 2 inches. A different size, or even a different shape, permits your card to stand out from the stack of other business cards your client may have.
Finances are most likely the main reason why people have second thoughts about being a freelancer. The job can be an unstable source of income, especially if your usual clients have no new projects to offer.
If you are starting out, make sure to remove the expenses that you can perfectly live without. Scour through everything and cut off your monthly subscriptions, certain grocery items, clothes shopping, and restaurant trips. It is not just about saving money to survive. You can invest the extra money in your business instead, especially if your work requires particular types of equipment. Investing in new equipment can help you expand your services too.
This is especially true if you feel that it’s time to expand your business in terms of your services as a freelancer. If you’re unsure whether or not you should be expanding your list of services, BFS Capital recommends in its e-book to observe whether your customers or clients are saying it’s time for a change, or if you think expanding can increase your revenue without tiring you out. Let’s say your business is graphic design, and you decide to buy a camera. You can then offer photography services as well. Just remember to add it to your freelance business plan.
An unconventional way to grow your freelance business more quickly is to offer a product aside from your services. If you know you have the skills, it could be beneficial to channel all that wisdom into something tangible. This product may be an ebook, a guide, or a how-to video. The main goal is to provide something useful for your clients, a gesture that may strengthen your bond with them. Furthermore, it will help them comprehend the work that you do.
Make no mistake, these products are in demand. According to an article on Forbes, e-learning products generated $23.3 million in the US and $33 million on a global scale.
Starting a freelance business can be daunting, but having the right mindset and attitude, coupled with the knowledge of these tips, will certainly lessen the chances of treading on rocky road. Sign up for a free Bonsai trial and start managing your freelance business with ease.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?