Freelancing embodies freedom. The flexibility that freelancers enjoy is supported by self-discipline, ethical choices and consistent output.
But, beyond that…there aren’t many rules you have to follow.
Even after 13 years of full-time freelancing (and many years before that of hustling on the weekends), I still click on articles that showcase the rules for freelancing. Some of the tips are solid. But more often than not, the ideas make me laugh all the way to the kitchen to refill my mug of tea.
Nobody starts freelancing to live the same workflow, perks and salary as they did while managed by an employer. Nobody.
So, here are a few freelancing rules I’ve come across that are just plain ridiculous — and my take on why.
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1. Never Post Your Rates on Your Website or Portfolio
What? If you sell a product or service, potential customers are likely to scope out the fees. If you’re about to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars into something, you’re likely going to price shop around, right? Well, hiring managers do this too when looking for freelancers.
The agencies I work with know my base rates and that I will politely refuse projects that fall below that threshold. It’s just business, baby! I find that newbie freelancers have a hard time asking for money for their services. If that’s you, remember you’re a business, and they’re a customer. They are buying your talent. Don’t be shy about sharing your rates and fees.
2. Always Ask the Client What Their Budget is For a Project
Nope. I fell into this trap early on and it puts the financial discussion in the client’s court first. This gives them leverage to start at a low rate that a freelancer might bite at when they are lacking work or not confident about their skills.
Instead, learn about the project and decide if it’s something that aligns with your goals and interests. Then, share that you’d like to learn more about the workflow and rates. Offer to share a proposal (rate included) or state your fee for the project if the work is pretty cut and dry.
3. Real Businesses are Available From 8-5 Daily
Ha! You run your business and can set your working hours however you see fit. Some of my colleagues mirror their children’s school schedules while others work in chunks around personal time for exercise, cooking and hobbies. Do what feels best to you. You are the business owner as a freelancer.
With all that said, I will say it is important to have some daytime availability for meetings, calls and interviews for collaborating with the client or outside sources. This is tough for my night owl freelancer friends, but they’ve told me that just having a block of two to three daytime hours open for scheduling collaborative activities is enough. Boom!
4. You Need To Rent Office Space
Um, no. I mean you can rent office space or join a co-working hub if that’s necessary for your type of business, boosts your motivation or helps increase productivity. But, it’s not an absolute must-have to thrive as a freelancer. I think navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has taught many people that we can effectively work from home, and how to do it.
I have a dedicated space in my home for work. My office is set up with my personal needs in mind to help me get into a working mindset. I’m a huge advocate for having a dedicated space for work, but you do you. Try a few arrangements and see where you stay the most focused — and uninterrupted.
5. Accept Every Project To Boost Income
No way! I have so many thoughts on this bogus rule. First of all, every project you accept should align with your business and income goals. Do you actually like the work? Is it adding to your resume or building your expertise? And, does it pay what you need to stay in business?
If you say yes to everything that comes your way, you’ll end up overbooking your calendar, skipping days off and working yourself to a point of exhaustion or burnout. No thanks! I’ve walked that path and it’s not easy to get back on track. When evaluating projects, remember you’re assessing whether it’s a good fit for you or not just as much as they are deciding if you’re the freelancer for them.
Is there a freelancing rule that you’ve heard that should also be tossed out the window? Or, is there a rule that you’re not sure if it’s a good idea or not? Feel free to contact me, and I might just write about it in a future blog post.
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