The 10 Freelance Commandments

Since a lot of college grads are underemployed, some of us are finding other ways to do what we love – and getting the experience on the way.  I don’t have to sell you on freelancing.  It’s a proven way to learn the business, gain clients, and build a network to a job you love.  That said, here are some pointers for the beginning freelancer that will make sure you start off right!

1.  Good work begets money.  Good work.  Not shoddy, inconsistent, lazy work, but heartfelt, insistent, take-the-initiative work.  Do your best at every opportunity you have.

2.  Always deliver work ahead of time.  A good way to do this is to plan how much time for the work is needed and set the deadline for 2 days after.

3.  Consider doing work for free (or at a lesser price) in the beginning, in exchange for a reference, referral, or testimonial.  I do this sometimes.

4.  Write thank you notes to people who do you favors (i.e. use your work for a publication).   If you can’t write it by hand, send an email.

5. Ask for a reference, referral or a testimonial in writing. A sample e-mail:

Hi Jill,

It was great working with you today on project ____.  I hope I helped you!

If you have a chance, would you write a short testimonial about how I did ____  for you?  It would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Adrienne

6.  Make a virtual portfolio.  A website or blog is perfect for this, especially if you have insights on a specific industry.  I use WordPress.com right now.  It’s a great resource for people just starting out. Buying a domain name is $20-30 and there are many good free themes.

7. Network with people in your field.  Join an organization that meets regularly and get to know the people.  Odds are, they know someone that knows someone who has a job for you.

8.  Become a mentee.  Find someone who has ever freelanced – who also wants to mentor you – and sit under them.  Mentors have great advice, help you make moves in unfound territory and can give you the confidence you need to step out!

9.  Build a questionnaire.  This step is crucial.  Often people are unsure about what they want or what exactly they want you to do.  A questionnaire is great for this.  It will save you time and hypothetical money. I have a brief one here.

10.  Get it in writing.  The last – the least fun – and the most boring is probably the most important.  Even if the work is minimal (and unless you’re just doing it for free), have both parties sign a contract.  If you don’t want to be formal, don’t expect them to pay you formally either.

Got any more tips for new freelancers? Write them below!

Adrienne Johnson is a freelance writer & editor in Indianapolis, Indiana.  A graduate of DePauw University and a self-proclaimed “nerdette,” she can’t get enough of witty shows like Community and New Girl while discussing articles from her favorite blogs with friends. She laughs loudly, sings constantly, and will always have a place in her heart for the cello. Get in touch.


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3 Things You Must Do Before Graduation

It’s October.  It’s officially the month of post-grad tests, job fairs, grad school applications and trying to boost your network before second semester senior year – so you can get a job.  Depending on where you are in this mess of a year, you might be worried, confused, or you could be doing alright.

I only have three tips for doing well this year.

1.  Network!  If you don’t know what you want to do after college, spend sometime networking with people you admire.  Apply for cool opportunities, jobs, and grad schools.  Talk to people.  Believe me, they definitely want to help you.

  • Use social media.  Find people on LinkedIn & Twitter who do things you want to do.  Ask them for an informational interview.  Get their advice.
  • Go to events and meet alumni.  Tell them what you have in mind.  Admire what they’ve done and tell them what you want to do.

2. Enjoy this year.  You’re only a senior in college once.  Spend some time with people you may not see for a very long time.

  • Take risks. Do some things you’ve never done.  Self explanatory.
  • Connect with your professors.  They’re professors for a reason.  They want to help you so spend some time in their offices.

3.  No matter where you are or what you’re doing a year from now, Know that you’ll be fine.  If someone had told me that I could live on my own in the city on a teller’s salary and have money left over – I wouldn’t have believed it.  But it’s true.  You’ll be fine in this bad economy.  If you have to take a job that you don’t want, take it, but never lose sight of your vision.   And you can do amazing things.  Just enjoy it – know that a year from now, you’ll be somewhere in the world making waves (because that’s just what millenials do =).

What’s your best tip for college seniors? 

Adrienne Johnson is a freelance writer and editor in Indianapolis, Indiana.  A graduate of DePauw University and a self-proclaimed “nerdette,” she can’t get enough of witty shows like Community and New Girl while discussing articles from her favorite blogs with friends. She laughs loudly, sings constantly, and will always have a place in her heart for the cello. Get in touch.

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How to be a Savvy College Grad (Even When You Don’t Feel Like One)

 

I graduated from college over a year ago and, needless to say, I’m not where I thought I should be.  You know, with my college degree and all.  I mean, some of my friends have great jobs that are right in their career path while others are in graduate school or even at home.  Yet, here I am – a teller at a bank (for now).

And truthfully, there should be no shame in my game.  I have a degree that I’m using, bills that are getting paid, family that loves me and friends that are true.  But still, there was a ginormous amount of adjusting I had to do in order to get to this point.

Maybe you’re gravy right now and are doing your best to get in shape, save and invest for your future, and make personal strides.  Or maybe you’re like me and you’re not where you thought you would be since you graduated. If so, here are some suggestions to help you get there:

If you’re having trouble paying them, put your student loans in deferment or forbearance.  This is usually pretty easy to do.  Figure out how much you’re spending on household bills, rent, gas, and food, and then factor in the cost of loan payments.  If you can’t stretch it, postpone it.  This should be a short-term solution because interest still continues to accrue on each loan daily. When you get a better paying job, get back to paying them quickly!

Get a roommate.  It’s a lot easier to pay the aforementioned bills when you’re splitting them.  You also don’t have to worry about buying all new furniture. Simple.

Exercise and eat healthy.  Stress caused by a transition – like graduating from college – might affect you mentally and emotionally.  Keep your body in balance by exercising and eating healthy. You’ll feel better and won’t dread those awkward moments when you run into someone from your alma mater.

This is a post I wrote the blog of professional career counselor, Steve Langerud. Read the rest here.

Adrienne Johnson is a freelance writer and editor in Indianapolis, Indiana.  A graduate of DePauw University and a self-proclaimed “nerdette,” she can’t get enough of witty shows like Community and New Girl while discussing articles from her favorite blogs with friends. She laughs loudly, sings constantly, and will always have a place in her heart for the cello. Get in touch.

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