Freelancing is a relatively new concept in India. India has around 15 million freelancers (hardly 1.2% of the population) although this number has started to grow in recent years. The 21st Century Indian freelancer is one that dares to break traditional career norms.
Freelancing breaks the shackles of an 8-hour routine and allows for far greater job flexibility. There’s also the perk of not having to travel to work – who wants to get jammed in an overcrowded bus or local train every day?
One of the most important components of freelancing is actually having a contract in place before taking on a project. Newbies go ahead with freelance work without signing this vital document or even thinking about it. That’s an absolute no-no. If you’re a freelancer or are planning on being one, here are 7 key pointers you have to read up on before you sign a contract!
Make sure you know as much as possible about your client beforehand. Do extensive research online, ask your friends and ask other freelancers in your field. Some firms are renowned for paying freelancers/consultants on time and in full while others are notorious for not doing so. Be prepared!
If you’re taking on a less-than-perfect client who might not have a stellar track record, that’s okay. Make sure you understand the risks beforehand and take action accordingly. For example, you might want to follow up more often than with your other customers.
Be absolutely sure of the payment amount as well as when you will be paid. Most freelancers take a 25-50% down payment before starting their project. Another important point to note here is that you must define the payment period properly. Are you charging a monthly fee? If so, should you be paid every 4 weeks or at the end of every calendar month?
As a freelancer you must also be aware of your own value. Look at others on the market. How much do they earn for their skill level? If your skills match up to theirs, you could always charge the same or slightly higher.
Some clients may be vague regarding deadlines. They might use language like “the last week of this month”. You might assume this means the 30th, but they might want their project ready by the 25th. It would be wise to set exact deadlines in the contract itself to avoid confusion. Do take a time buffer into account – if you feel like this will be a 30 day project, sign a contract for 45 days. Freelance projects almost always get delayed.
It is highly likely that your client would want some changes and/or additions made to your work down the road. This is especially true for graphic designers’ and content writers’ projects. Some clients like to keep adding bits and pieces of extra work as the project continues, eventually making you do twice as much work as you were agreed to. This is called scope creeping. Your contract must state the number of free additions/changes allowed in your project, as well as any charges that apply beyond this limit.
Remember that a certain degree of flexibility is required of all freelancers. Every project will require changes and corrections as it progresses. Be flexible and build better relationships with your clients – no one likes a rigid freelancer!
It is fairly common for clients to change their mind about a certain project after work has begun. This temporarily leaves the freelancer in a ‘jobless’ situation. In such cases, provision for the client to pay a cancellation fee to compensate for the time and effort.
Are you a nervous new content writer, probing for your first freelance project? Do not hesitate to ask the client any questions you have. Read every line in the contract and then read between the lines. It’s better to spend some time and be absolutely clear, than to sign a terrible contract in a jiffy.
Oftentimes, the client firm will give you multiple points of contact to coordinate your project. This can easily result in confusion, as each of your contact persons may give you a different direction. Your arrangement must specify only one individual as a contact person, so you will receive only one set of instructions and not be uncertain about the work you do.
There you go, now you’re all prepped up to be a great freelancer. Give it your best shot!
Do you have more to add to this article, or have you had any crazy experiences as a freelancer? Do write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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