Saturday, March 25, 2006

Your label in business cards

Yeah, it was a tough question to answer. It took me a couple of days to figure out what to label myself in my business card. Being a freelancer there are a lot of things that you can call yourself. But most of the time, the label has got to do with what you do.

Offline freelancers
Easy if your work is offline. If you are a plumber, you put there something like Master Plumber. If you're a auto detailer, put Auto Detailer. Most of the time, people put CEO in their cards.

Online freelancers
Online freelancers like web designers, software developers, or web developers may have a hard time putting labels on their business cards. It's not that they don't need one to get clients. Sometimes, they do need to meet face to face with a prospective client. If this happen, chances are prospects will ask for a business card.

Most of the cards I've seen, including mine, have "consultant" in them. Consultancy is a pretty generic term that fits in anything hard to define and those that have a wide/broad coverage. It fits most programmers, they use many programming languages. It is not to say that most freelancers are consultants, but they are. So to be safe, just put "Consultant" to describe yourself in your business card. Actually, you can put anything you want - CEO, Manager, Specialist, anything.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Get Started Freelancing: Portfolio

Just like in any field and in any job, in freelancingl, you need something to show that you can do the task at hand. In an offline freelancing, most of the time you have samples of previous work or referral from a previous client to prove that you can do the job you sought.

It's no different in an online freelancing. You need to give an assurance of your skills. In most cases, this is called a Portfolio. It is a showcase of your work. Web designers have galleries with screenshots of their web designs. Web developers also have links to their project sites. Software developers have download pages for their softwares.

Personal Site
It is suggested that you first get a website to host, hold, and showcase your skills. A place where people can go and verified that you do exist and you have done something that they would want you to do for them.

As a freelancer, it doesn't matter if you host your site in a free hosting account or in a paid hosting. A newbie freelancer can get away with this. But a professional freelancer will most likely get a paid hosting to give that professional feeling to their prospective client.

Work Samples
As mentioned above, you need to have samples of your work to show prospects. If you do not have something concrete to show, if you're a web developer or a web designer, your site is your best sample.

Other than that, you need to show more. Your other options are your work/services rendered to a close relative/friend. This is best achieved when you are still starting and have more time in your hands to do projects pro bono. Don't squirm at doing things for free for others. That good deeds will pay up in time. You just have to have patience, just like everything in life.

Do small projects which you can finish. If your friendly baker next door needs a website, design one for him for a small fee or, better yet, for free. The return you get from it not monetary - at the moment. Think about future projects this opportunity brings to you.

There are freelancers who are employed before doing the same job as what they are doing as freelancers. They have a lot to show. Their path is easier.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Get Started Freelancing: Freelance Sites

So, you have your tools and you checked your skills. You feel ready to go to work and get your hands dirty. Unless you have somebody looking for clients for you, as a freelancer, you need to go out and do all the work. After all, this is your "business".

You should know every details on how to go about it. And the best way to do that is when you are still starting. As your business grows you need not do this things if you can already afford to hire people to do work for you but as a freelancer, and starting at that, you have no choice but to find clients yourself.

It's hard for a software/web developer geek to go out there and knock on every shop if they need something done with their software or business process. Geeks are not known to be very good in sales and marketing especially during the first meeting. So where should one go if visiting prospective clients are not your thing? Online.

Online Freelancing Marketplace
Most of the freelancing work are now posted online. It's cheaper for the company seeking freelancers and the freelancers themselves. There already exists many sites that cater to these service buyers and seekers. As a freelancer, you can look and compare companies for better compensation. For companies, they can choose the one that fits their criteria. Example of these sites are (these are some of the sites I use):

Take note that some sites require registration others do not. Others even requires membership fee. But if you are starting as a freelancer, it's best to stick to free sites. There are projects available in fee-free freelance sites. Craigslist is my favorite. It's free and has lots of listings.

Freelance Pro - Be the Boss, Be Free

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Get Started Freelancing: Invoice

In my previous post, I wrote about service pricing and payment gateways. In this post, I am writing about invoicing, what is an invoice, why you should send invoice to your client and online invoicing services.

What is an Invoice
An invoice is a detailed list of goods shipped or services rendered, with an account of all costs. It is commonly known as an itemized bill. As a service vendor you can send the service purchaser a written account that indicates the quantity and value of the items purchased. When you give someone an invoice, you are therefore billing him.

Why give an Invoice
The invoice will give your client the clear idea of what he will be getting from you. The invoice will help eliminate confusion as to the extent of your service. The invoice is also a sort of a contract binds you and your client. Paper based invoices can be taken to court if not honored by either parties. In a way, your invoice will protect you but can put you in trouble if you don't honor what was agreed.

But the best reason of giving out invoices is for accounting purposes. It is easy to track and manage your finances when everything is documented. It is very important when you are settling you taxes.

Paper and Online Invoices
When it comes to legality of the transaction, paper invoices will always win, hands down but with the advent of the internet and the subsequent boom of eCommerce, electronic invoices has gained popularity especially when companies are not located near each other. For paper invoices, your local printing presses can help you facilitate in getting a license from your internal revenue service before they will print the invoice. But most of the time, internal revenue service issued invoice is not enforced like Official Receipts since they are merely a detailed lists of items/service you and your client has agreed upon.

One good online invoicing service I found is BlinkSale. It offers free account for beginner freelancers who needs to send invoice not more than 3 times a month. It is already appropriate to most newbie freelancers.

Freelance Pro - Be the Boss, Be Free.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Get Started Freelancing: Service Price and Payment Gateway

So you want to become a freelancer. You have evaluated your skills, your time and dedication. You are ready to take on projects that seem doable. Before you jumped into the murky water of freelancing, you have to know what are the tools of the trade.

First you must have a way for your clients to pay you. It's not a problem if you are doing the job onsite. Your client can just hand you the payment after you got the job done. The client is less likely to scam you in this situation.

Service Fee
It's different if you are freelancing online. Most of the time, you are dealing with a total stranger. The internet is home to a lot of scammers. People online can be mean. When dealing with a project online, make sure you ask for a partial payment up front. Don't start with the project unless you are paid initially. It doesn't have to be the full of the agreed price. It should be enough for you to start and him to trust you that you will finish the project.

You can't ask for the full amount before the project starts. No one in their right mind will do so. The right value for the initial pay is somewhere between 30% to 50% of the full price, depending on the project.

Payment Gateway
So how can your client pay you? Setup an online payment system. Apply for one. As a freelance, you don't need a merchant account. Most people use PayPal. But Paypal is not readily available to all countries. Check on their website if you are living in a country where they allowed residents to signup for an account. If you are unfortunate who belong to a non-registerable country, you can try other online payment system. There's GreenZap, StudioPay, and 2Checkout. There are others, some are specific to your country of resident. These sites will give you a way to accept credit card payments from your client.

Freelance Pro - Be the Boss, Be Free.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Freelancing Benefits and Drawbacks

The following are taken almost verbatim from Wikipedia on Freelancing:

Freelancing Benefits and Drawbacks
Freelancers generally enjoy a greater variety of assignments than in regular employment, and almost always have more freedom to choose their work schedule. The experience also allows the opportunity to build up a portfolio of work and cultivate a network of clients in hopes of obtaining a permanent position.

A major drawback is the uncertainty of work – and thus income – and lack of company benefits such as health insurance or retirement pay.

Another drawback is that freelancers often must handle contracts, legal issues, accounting, marketing, and other business functions by themselves. If they do choose to pay for professional services, they can sometimes turn into a significant out-of-pocket expense. Working hours can extend beyond the standard working day and working week.

As a cultural phenomenon, freelancing exists both below and above the system. In Germany, for example, among other countries, creative freelancing is considered one of the most socially elevated fields of endeavour one can pursue. In Japan, freelancing is generally associated with an inability to find work with a major company, and is held in low esteem.

As with every endeavors, the drawbacks almost always outnumbers the benefits. It should be put to mind that it is not purely in numbers that we based our decisions. We should take into consideration the weights of the benefits and the drawbacks.

Yes freelancing is tough. There are more people failing on this than being employed. Just like everything that we do, we gamble, we risk to achieve what we longed for. Just what I've said before, freelancing is not for the faint of heart. So before you jump into the freelance market, please do think deep and hard about your decision.

Freelance Pro - Be the Boss, Be Free.

What is a Freelancer

The following are taken almost verbatim from Wikipedia on Freelancing.

Whatis a Freelancer?
A freelancer or freelance worker is a self-employed person working in a profession or trade in which full-time employment is also common.

Common Freelancing Jobs
Fields where freelancing is especially common include journalism and other forms of writing, computer programming and graphic design, consulting, and many other professional and creative services. But the practice is widespread: for example, bounty hunters and mercenaries are freelancers, with their full-time counterparts being, respectively, the police and the military.

Newest Freelancing Opportunities
The internet has opened up many opportunities for freelancers, especially those in low-wage countries working in software development and information technology areas, while it has made the work of many other kinds of freelancers easier by increasing communication.

Freelancing Basics
Freelance practice varies greatly. Some require clients to sign written contracts, while others may perform work based on verbal agreements, perhaps enforceable through the very nature of the work. Some freelancers may provide written estimates of work and request deposits from clients.

Payment for freelance work also varies greatly. Freelancers may charge by the day or hour, or on a per-job basis. By custom, payment arrangements may be upfront, half-half, or upon completion.

Freelance Pro - Be the Boss, Be Free.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


FreelancePro is all about freelancing and being a freelancer. I will posting freelancing resources and tips on becoming a better freelancer. For those who are contemplating on going this route down their career path or is already a successful freelancer, I will try my best to provide a insights on freelancing.

I am also a freelancer. I do work for other people on specific projects. All I can say about being in a freelance market is that, it is tough. It is not for the faint hearts. Beginners need someone who can point them to the right direction. Somebody who will help them avoid the pitfalls successful and failed freelancers alike experienced.

I will be writing here about my experience of being a freelancer. I will also be writing about the tools I used, the strategy I take, the places where I hunt for projects and a lot more. I am by no means an expert but I am writing from a perspective of the one who haggles with prospective clients.

That's it for now. Welcome to Freelance Pro. A blog of a semi to pro freelancer.

Freelance Pro - Be the boss, be free.