Freelancing certainly isn’t for everyone but for some, it can be the solution for improving work/life balance or becoming one’s own boss. Whether you’re thinking about freelancing, just getting started, or have been working on your own, here are 7 tips that every freelancer should employ:
1. Calculate Your Rate
Your basic hourly rate = (annual salary + annual expenses + annual profit) / annual billable work hours
But, is an hourly rate going to be the best choice for your business? Research the pros and cons of charging hourly or by project fees, day rates, or pricing packages.
2. Always Have a Contract
A contract helps freelancers solidify several things: the rate negotiated between you and the client, the parameters and scope of the project, deadlines, revisions or project cancellations, and reimbursement. Contracts also assist in protecting you from potential legal issues, disagreements, and they ensure you are paid for your work. You can find resources for contracts on websites like LegalZoom.
3. Be Sure to Get a Deposit Upfront
It can be tough being out there on your own. So, you want to make sure you get paid for your hard work. Before beginning any work for your client, secure a deposit. You can do this any number of ways; receive ⅓ upfront, ⅓ halfway through the project, and the final ⅓ upon completion, or require a variation of an engagement fee, or pick another percentage of payment that works best for your business.
4. Get the Low-Down on Taxes
Your tax obligations should be a part of setting your prices and since freelancers are considered self-employed, they are subject to self-employment tax. Keep in mind that you’ll have to provide yourself with necessities such as healthcare, dental, and retirement. Additionally, it’s important to think about how you can save on taxes and the best way for your business to file taxes (annually or quarterly payments).
5. Keep a Regular Schedule
It sounds simple but most freelancers know that it’s not as easy as it seems. That’s why it’s so important to plan your schedule and stick to it. Scheduling allows you to:
- Meet important deadlines
- Give each client the attention they deserve
- Create work/life balance
6. Apply Technology and Tools
There are some great technologies and tools available to freelancers. Here are some examples of tools that can help you get your work done:
- Invoicing: FreshBooks, Toggl, BlinkSale, Hiveage
- Project Management: Wunderlist, BaseCamp, Project Bubble, LiquidPlanner
- Preventing Distraction: Freedom, Cold Turkey, Focus Booster, or one of these other cool tools
7. Be the Expert in Your Niche to Find New Clients
Wondering how to prospect new clients? You’ve got to position yourself as an expert in your space and share your knowledge with anyone who will listen. Here are some ways you can market yourself and your specialized skills for little to no cost:
- In-person networking
- Create a blog
- Keep your social media profiles up-to-date
- Speak at events
6 Non-Monetary Incentives for Remote Employees That They Will Actually Care About
Employee rewards and job perks come in many forms, and coming up with meaningful non-monetary incentives for a remote workforce requires creativity. Here are six of the best ways to recognize the successes of your remote workers—and employees in general.
Non-monetary incentives for remote employees that work
1. Personalized tangible gifts
While trophies and personalized apparel are common perks for in-office employees, many companies don’t extend these same gestures to their remote workers. As a result, those companies are missing out on an effective employee motivator.
Besides creating an atmosphere of friendly competition and recognition for top performers, gifts provide employees with physical reminders of their achievements and the company’s appreciation. In addition, gifts serve as work motivators to the employees who receive them and other team members.
2. Workstation support
While remote work offers many benefits to employees, one potential drawback is the cost of creating a home office space. This is an area where businesses can provide a valuable perk to their remote workers. For example, Shopify provides its remote employees with a $1,000 budget for home office equipment, ensuring everyone has an appropriate workspace.
Consider including in your budget ways to help employees get the office furniture and accessories they need to be comfortable and focused when they work from home. Businesses already invest in providing professional environments and ergonomic workspaces for in-office employees, and reap the rewards of increased motivation and productivity. Extending this non-monetary incentive to remote employees is a win-win situation.
3. Celebrate their successes, no matter the distance
It’s easy for remote workers to be left out of celebrations and miss out on opportunities for the team and wider business to recognize their successes. This can create a feeling that remote workers are less central to the business than their in-office counterparts. Make sure to announce the recent successes of employees through company emails, newsletters, or social media to reinforce a worker’s value to the business as a whole and act as a non-monetary incentive.
4. Flexible work schedules and time off
Flexible work options are one of the most popular work perks, especially for remote workers. Offering remote employees more control over their schedules adds an additional perk to the job, and also boosts motivation and productivity in the long term. In fact, according to a Gartner survey, 43% of remote workers say that having flexibility with their working hours is the most significant factor in increasing their productivity.
5. Online professional development courses
Giving your employees time off to attend an event or workshop that can benefit their career is a great non-monetary incentive for remote employees. Helping them pursue opportunities that matter to them ensures they will see your company as a place they can build a career.
Similarly, consider getting teams together for in-person group events and team-building exercises to reward their hard work or for reaching an important milestone. Unfortunately, this might not be possible for teams spread across multiple regions or countries. But if you are able to bring employees together, the opportunity for remote workers to build relationships in person can be invaluable for the team.
6. Online one-on-one feedback
Individual feedback and coaching are often overlooked as job perks, but they can significantly impact job satisfaction. Offering constructive feedback to employees helps workers improve their skills as well as gives them a better understanding of your business. In addition, encourage employees to provide you with their feedback on how the business can be improved and to suggest changes that will enable them to improve their output.
Why Skilled Trade Jobs Are Safer from Automation Than You Think
Fewer workers today enter the trades than in years past. The expectation that trade work will fade away has encouraged many to pursue white-collar jobs instead, leading to a skilled trade worker shortage. And yet the projection that automation will disrupt blue-collar trade jobs sooner than so-called “knowledge worker” jobs is misleading.
Automation will reduce the demand for trade labor over time. But many physical requirements of these jobs are surprisingly hard to automate, and the essential nature of trade work will continue to buoy demand.
More importantly, skilled trades require entrepreneurial and creative thinking, which offer more robust protection from automation.
The skilled trade worker shortage and continued demand
Workers are abandoning the trades at a faster rate than the trades are being automated. The labor supply decrease outpaces any decrease in demand, which is why wages are rising faster than ever for skilled technicians.
One reason the demand for skilled trades remains stable is that these jobs are essential. In the face of a disaster, service technicians are required to keep systems running. In the past year alone, I’ve seen our business’s technicians work around the clock in snowstorms, power outages, and a pandemic to keep critical sites like hospitals and government facilities operational.
Economists like Gary Shilling have tracked the growth of blue-collar and manual service wages over the last several years and find that blue-collar wages are growing faster than white-collar wages. In fact, they’ve had the largest pay bump across all industries, a trend that has continued even as the economic shock of the pandemic has subsided.
Skilled trades are more protected from automation than you think
There is reason to believe this wage trend may continue, because even as fewer people enter the trades, most dimensions of these jobs have proven resilient to automation. Don’t expect that to change soon.
We tend to overstate the risk automation poses to the skilled trades relative to white-collar jobs. The jobs of lawyers, doctors, even computer programmers, all consist of some repeatable tasks which are more readily automated—and many other tasks that require complex and creative problem-solving skills less ripe for automation.
In my experience working with technicians, electricians, and plumbers, I have found that the mix of rote and creative tasks is not so different from many white-collar professions. And skilled trade jobs require more physical labor in environments where robots will remain clumsy and expensive for the foreseeable future.
A McKinsey Report concludes that “[t]hose professions highly dependent on…physical work in a predictable environment…are likely to be the most affected [by automation].” Many mistakenly think of the trades as fitting the bill: men mindlessly hammering away at nails or pulling cables. In fact, skilled trades require technicians to think creatively in unpredictable environments.
During my time in the field with technicians, I’ve never seen two mechanical rooms that look the same. Service technicians troubleshoot numerous issues with limited information and under considerable time pressure. The solution often isn’t straightforward or formulaic. Though we have estimation tools to price a job, a technician often needs to examine the site because the equipment, piping, and valves come from various OEMs and are laid out differently in each property.
Even as automated systems improve, many tasks are likely to require human involvement: a controls system may determine that a part is broken, but a human must properly wire and install a new one. In fact, the trajectory of artificial intelligence suggests humans will remain important for skilled manual work. AI has successfully mastered complicated cognitive tasks even as robotics has struggled with simpler physical ones.
A machine can beat humans at Go—a strategy game with more moves than there are atoms in the universe—but a robot can’t load the dishwasher. Simply accessing the equipment may make it prohibitive for automation: units are in basements, on rooftops, and in hard-to-reach areas that would be difficult or costly for a machine to access.
Skilled trades require many of the soft skills we associate with white collar work
Of course, if physical labor were the only defense against automation, these trades would soon cease to be skilled, and anyone could do them. The more important—and often overlooked—reason why demand for skilled trades will remain stable is that they require substantial entrepreneurial and interpersonal skills.
The same McKinsey Report notes that “occupations that require application of expertise, interaction with stakeholders…or a high degree of social and emotional response will be less susceptible to automation…” Many completely miss the fact that skilled trade work requires these very same skills. Skilled tradespeople are on the front lines and face the customer.
I have seen our service technicians explain issues to clients, calm an alarmed property manager, and recommend the best solution after listening to the customer’s unique needs and preferences. The most successful technicians not only possess deep technical expertise, but the interpersonal skills that win them customer loyalty.
Skilled tradesmen aren’t going anywhere
The skills that make trade workers most successful today are the same ones that will help defend them from automation in the future. Ironically, they are the same attributes we value in knowledge jobs: creativity, entrepreneurism, and social acumen. But most of us fail to see the similarity.
Those who do, and choose the trades, benefit from both the security and the earnings these dignified careers offer.
The 10 Biggest PR Pitch Pet Peeves, According to a Seasoned Freelancer
With most brands comes a PR team, either in-house and/or a PR agency, and with that comes a group of people whose job it is to gain editorial or social media coverage. That means the relationship between PR pros and freelance writers is an important one. The last thing a writer needs is for their time to be wasted, so if you’re looking for coverage, avoid making the following mistakes.
Sending out numerous blast pitches to the same writer time and time again
Email blasts are annoying, and most of the time they’re dull, dumbed-down and sloppy. I want something that makes me feel like I’m reading something that’s geared towards my readers and I; not to a fifth-grader and their friends.
2. Not proofreading your pitch beforehand
No, I don’t want to be called by the wrong name, nor do I want to waste my time deciphering what you mean. Writing for high-profile publications means I receive hundreds of pitches in my inbox every day, and I don’t have the time to try to put together two-plus-two. As a publicist, your message should be concise and easy on the eyes.
3. Assuming freelancers are just bloggers with no editorial standards
You’re joking right? My editor will see this, and I hope that they laugh. What is Entrepreneur, your personal blog now? If you want a blog and or low-quality blog-like content, you’re more than welcome to seek that out, but that’s not the type of writing I do.
4. Pestering me for a response when I’m away from email for a few hours and then ghosting me
Imagine me having a life and not always being on my devices; I will get to you when I get to you, mostly the same day, and if not, as soon as possible. If we talk, and then you ghost me, it puts a sour taste in my mouth as a writer, and it shows me that I can’t trust you as a publicist. If you found someone else from the publication to write the article, telling me would be better than ghosting me.
5. Wanting your client to write the article instead of me
I’m the writer here; not your client. A writer and their editors know the publication and what works for it best.
6. Not knowing which publication you’re pitching me for
If you’ve read my most recent stuff, you’d notice that I’ve been contributing to Entrepreneur more than any other platform recently. I’m also pretty active on social media, where I share links to my recent writing. Although I’m more than happy to clarify for you, it’s irritating when you don’t check out my most recent work before coming to me with a pitch.
7. Pitching all the writers from the same website
This can cause major confusion, because pitching writers who don’t know each other, as well as editors, means multiple writers could end up pursuing the same story. Stick to either an editor and or one writer who you know well, and you might have a better chance at getting your pitch turned into an article.
8. Pitching me last-minute for content that should’ve been pitched ahead of time
No writer or editor can pull content out of thin air for you, no matter how big their team is. I can’t get a roundup for the Super Bowl out in two days. I can work under tight deadlines though; you just need to pitch accordingly so my editors have time to, you know, edit.
9. Not understanding that I’m just the writer, not the editor
I can only do so much, and if you want a say with my editor, I will be more than happy to put you two in touch. I can’t guarantee anything, so for clarification purposes, please, talk to my editor. Don’t pressure me into guaranteed coverage, because I can’t do that for you.
10. Sending me a pitch, inviting me to a relevant event, and then never following up
Do you want your content or not? Because with the amount of pitches that I get, I need to allocate my time among emails, personal life and writing. I can’t follow up for you; you’re the publicist that invited me to the event, and a thanks for coming to the event would be nice.
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