Freelancing

Focused casual businessman working at his desk in his office trying to find a freelancer

Quick Tips: 9 Questions to Ask Yourself When Hiring a Freelancer

770 513 guyramsay

Hiring a freelancer can be tricky business. Not only are there thousands of potential candidates out their all vying for your projects at cheap as chips hourly rates, but there are also so many unknowns about if they have the skills, qualifications and experience to deliver the goods. To make sure you get the right freelancer for the job, it’s so important to ask yourself a bunch of questions at the start to help you map out the project brief and budget. Knowing who you are chasing will make the hiring process easier and the delivery of the project even easier.

What is the project brief?

Before throwing the lure out and getting a bunch of applications come through the door, it’s crucial to bed down the project brief. Ask yourself the following:

  • What is required?
  • Who will they deal with internally?
  • What skills do I need from my freelancer?
  • How much money do I have for this project?
  • When do I need the project completed?
  • What do I need from my freelancer? Is it a locally based person who can come into the office or am I comfortable for them to work remotely?

Not clearly outlining this, in the beginning, will mean the job advertisement will be vague and you’ll receive hundreds of potential freelancers with a variety of skills that might not be fit for the job. Honing in on exactly what you want will mean you attract the right person for the job.

What skills do you need from your freelancer?

If you are designing a website it’s likely you’ll need someone with CSS experience. Or, if it’s social advertising, hiring someone with Facebook advertising experience is non-negotiable. Being aware of what you need for the project will mean the freelancers responding to the advertisement will be more aligned with your project needs.

If this is an area you struggle with or are finding it a challenge to determine specific skills, terminology and platforms you can always try to look at similar projects on websites such as Seek, or ask your professional network.

Have you asked for their portfolio?

A resume will outline what the freelancer can do and their technical experience, but knowing they can walk to walk is so important. That’s why checking out their portfolio online will help you to separate the men from the boys.

Is the freelancer a cultural fit?

Being able to deliver a project is one thing, but slotting into a company’s culture is a sign of a great freelancer. To know if the potential candidate will be a good cultural fit, it’s best to have an initial phone or skype conversation to begin to understand the freelancer’s personality. As a freelancer myself, I always aim to meet the client in person either at a coffee shop or their office. This commitment has resulted in them finding out if I am the right guy for the job but also if I feel like this organisation is one for me. After all, it’s always a two-way street.

Have you considered a test project?

For some companies that can’t decide which freelancer to pick, it could be a case of offering them both a paid test project that assesses their skills. This will definitely help to put the freelancer’s skills to test and help you decide who to pick!

How will payment work?

Is this an ongoing or one-off project? Will the freelancer charge an hourly rate or project rate and more importantly what is the project budget? If both the freelancer and the company are transparent about this upfront, it will make the working relationship smoothly.

Where is the freelancer located?

When starting freelancing I noticed that freelancers on job posting website such as Upwork or freelancer.com, were charging an unfathomable $8 an hour for work. Although this might sound super affordable from the outside, it’s important to assess other elements such as the freelancers location. Think about it, if you are in Australia and working with a US Designer, chances are you’ll be only hearing from them once every few days which can substantially slow down the delivery of the project. That’s why it’s important to know where the freelancer is located and if you are able to meet them face-to-face.

Does the freelancer have availability?

A big part of being a freelancer is trying to ensure there is enough work coming through the funnel to pay the bills. However, for those freelancers living it can sometimes get so busy that you are unable to take on any more clients. That’s why as a business owner it’s crucial to ask their availability. To know how much time they can commit to the project. This might help you decide which freelancer to pick if you are down to the pointy end.

What are your deadlines and payment terms?

In the world of freelance marketing, we work on deadlines to deliver project elements. The best projects I’ve worked on is where we both agree to the deadlines upfront and payment is made quickly following the completion of a milestone. Knowing these will make sure the freelancer knows what they need to do for what time and more importantly, the company will know what they should be expecting to receive when.

Asking yourself the above questions will help you identify the best freelancer for the job. One that is not only technically sound who can get the job done on time but can also slot into your organisation like a glove.

Lessons I've learned as a freelancer

Dear Diary: 8 lessons I’ve Learned As a Marketing Freelancer So Far

770 430 guyramsay

Starting a freelance business is harder than it looks.

Don’t get me wrong, the flexibility of working your own hours and the ability to pave your own path without the constraints of an overbearing boss is certainly an amazing feeling, but there are also elements that are not so cruisy. Things like not knowing where that next paycheck is coming from or how to price your service. Things that the guidebooks don’t tell you that you quickly figure out on the fly all while trying to build your brand and customers base.

The good news is that with any challenge comes lessons. Lessons I’ve certainly learned. Quickly.

Here is my take on the lessons I’ve learned in my first 6 months of freelancing.

Joining a support group or network keeps you sane

Freelancing from the outset sounded so exciting to me. The flexibility to do what you want, when you want made so much sense to me. However, as the larger projects rolled in, I started to realise that I relied so heavily on humans as a sanity check. Humans to bounce my ideas off and to see if I wasn’t going bonkers. If this sounds familiar to you, I get it. To combat loneliness and to keep your brain sane joining Facebook groups and meetups was my answer. Meetups especially helped me to connect with other like-minded freelancers and potential clients all at the same time.

Changing up your working space drives creativity

As a freelancer, cabin fever can set in very quickly. Sometimes the flexibility of working from home is great because you can practically put on your washing while working, however, the act of actually separating work and home is so important. That’s why moving to a cafe or shared office space to work for the day can help. I find that some of my best work is done outside of my home office. What works for me is making a commitment with myself to work from a cafe or one of my clients’ offices for a few hours a day. I find that the act of actually getting dressed as if you are going to an ‘office’ and leaving the house helps tremendously for my creativity.

freelancer changing up her work environment

 

Know your numbers

It is so important to know the ins and outs of your business, especially when it comes to money.

  • Do you need a second job to support your lifestyle?
  • How much is going out the door in expenses?
  • How much is coming in the door?
  • What tax deductions exist?

Knowing your numbers will help you calculate how much you are going to charge your clients and how much you need to eat etc. To streamline my finances, I use Freshbooks to record expenses, especially the ones that are tax-deductible for easy access when tax time comes around.

Also, a note on tax time for freelancers.

It’s our job to collect tax during the year. I highly recommend that you keep a separate account and transfer funds into it to cover your tax bill on 30 June. Spending money that is not yours always leads to a nasty shock at the end of the financial year.

knowing your money and how much things cost as a freelancer

Value your work and don’t become a doormat

As a new freelancer, it is so common for us to accept any work the comes our way. We tend to go above and beyond to make sure we get that much-needed approval from our new clients. Although this is definitely a good thing to build that solid relationship, it’s important to not become a marketing doormat. In other words, know your limit. If your client is asking so much of you and you know it is starting to affect you, taper back and say no. Know how many hours you can put into projects while keeping your body and mind in check. They are both far more important than a client’s opinion of your work at the end of the day. 

Keep a focus during downtime between clients and projects

When freelancing, it is inevitable that there will be downtime between clients. When these periods hit my life, it’s a perfect storm for my brain to play the ‘what if’ game:

  • “What if that client proposal was priced too high or low compared to others. Why haven’t they got back to me yet?”
  • “What if I can’t get enough money through the door this month to pay the bills?”
  • “Will that client accept that proposal?”

During periods where my brain plays funny buggers, I always aim to keep a focus in my day and work on my own website and brand. This could include:

  • Installing customer user journey mapping and analysing how customers interact with my site (thanks, Hotjar)
  • Yoga and meditation – Headspace is your answer!
  • Developing new e-guides for lead generation
  • Creating new lead forms for my website
  • Touching base with my network

Separate work from home

As a startup freelancer, it’s impossible to afford a office space, that’s why I work from either a cafe or at home. Although working from home can help keep your operating costs low, it’s important to separate work from home. We all know how tempting it is to jump onto your laptop at night and smash out a few hours in the evening, but it’s so important to give your mind a rest and balance your personal life, too. To combat this, I set times where I am allowed to work and when I need to switch to ‘no-work-guy’. I do this by using alarms on my computer plus getting my girlfriend to remind me to stop (thanks, Simone).

Doing work that you believe in far outways the paycheck

When I left the classic corporate 9-5 world, I did it because the work I was doing was not aligning with my values. I was sitting in meetings knowing full well that the agencies were planning on taking the client for a ride. An approach that really didn’t sit well with me.

So, when I decided to freelance, I made a pact with myself that the meaning that comes from the project or the relationship I build with the client far outweighs the project. This mentality has helped me immensely so far.

It is you and only you. You pave your future.

Freelancing can sometimes feel lonely. It’s just you. You pave your own future. You don’t have a big company behind you offering support programs or other colleagues who you can lean on. That’s why you need to create a support network by finding a mentor that can help you and offer advice.

Another big part of this is setting actionable goals for your business and going after them by breaking it down. After all, you set your own agenda and goals.

To help me each day, I spend a quick 10 minutes answering the following: 

  • What did I want to achieve today?
  • What did I actually achieve?
  • What challenges did I face?
  • How did I overcome them?

And there you have it. That’s my take on the lessons I’ve learned. The bottom line is to consistently believe that the work you are producing is valuable. To question your work where necessary but not let that uncertainty rule your life. Mistakes and challenges are inevitable, but learning from these is the most important bit.

Good luck fellow freelancers!

13 apps and software tools you can't live without as a freelancer

13 Web Tools Guaranteed To Get Your Freelance Business Up & Running

770 430 guyramsay

When finally deciding to take the plunge into the world of freelancing, I was immediately apprehensive of the cost. The cost needed to set up an idea that I have had in my mind for many years.

After talking to some friends it became clear to me that what I was experiencing was not uncommon. I quickly found out that every freelancer experienced it. As if worrying about the setup cost was almost a prerequisite.

If this is you, you’re not alone.

To keep costs low and making sure I had ample time to dedicate to the real tasks like building my name with a solid bunch of clients, I searched high and low for the most efficient and affordable software and apps needed to run my freelance business.

Below is my arsenal of software and apps I can’t live without. Tools that not only do a great job but apps that also don’t break the bank.

Design

Sketch

Photoshop for dummies. Sketch is a brilliant piece of software perfect for wireframing (and when Photoshop and Illustrator are just too laborious for a simple project).

Cost: $99 for the whole year

Benefits:

  • You can edit vector elements or any .eps file directly inside Sketch
  • You can export code or artboards in every conceivable format
  • Import UI/ UX kits directly from their resources portal
  • Grids and guides make drag and drop a breeze
  • You can iterate and duplicate artboards at speed

To add to its impressive set of design options, the guys at Platforma have developed a set of beautiful wireframe templates for $49 that slot nicely, straight into Sketch. Offering every conceivable landing page element you’ll need, I swear by this and have used it in every web project since I stumbled across it.

Freelancer Web App Tool 1: Sketch

Accounting & Invoicing

Freshbooks

The ultimate accounting platform – Freshbooks saves so much time by doing the accounting groundwork for you. No more manual invoicing or constructing invoice emails in Gmail. You can now send them directly from the Freshbooks portal.

Cost: free for the first month then $25 a month, which includes up to 50 clients.

Benefits:

  • Connect Stripe to all invoices so clients can pay with one click from the electronic invoice. This decreases the time you’ll be waiting to be paid.
  • Send invoices on the fly – from your mobile and PC.
  • Record billable time and hours
  • Build freelance proposals
  • Set invoice reminders

Although slightly more expensive compared to their counterparts, I think the investment is worth it for only a small fee of $22 per month.

 

Freelancer Web App Tool 2: Freshbooks

Project Management Tool

Asana

The perfect project management tool – Asana takes the complicated out of projects by simplifying them into smaller bite-sized chunks and holding you accountable for overdue tasks with daily reminders.

Monthly Subscription: FREE!

Benefits:

  • If you are collaborating with others, you can send them reminders of overdue work
  • Tag up your project and plan your work out for the week using the calendar view
  • Add attachments and screenshots to any tasks to quickly explain feedback
  • You can see all your projects and outstanding tasks at a glance
  • Chat with others over a task or subtask

Freelancer Web App Tool 3: Asana

 

Stationery and Printed Collateral

Moo

The worlds most affordable business cards – the guys at Moo have developed an online design portal for you to either upload your business cards or design it on the spot. For $22 you can land yourself 100 business cards. For something extra special you can choose to individually design the back of each of these 100 cards for a small additional fee. Whow.

Cost: $40

Freelancer Web App Tool 4: Moo Business Cards

Document Management

Google Drive

A total no-brainer for those wanting to share large files with clients – Google Drive has your answers. For those freelancers that also write lots of blogs and website content, Google docs provide the perfect platform for track changes without the back and forth emails.

Cost: 15GB FREE

Benefits:

  • Secure – every file stays safe regardless of if you lose every device you own. After all, it’s Google.
  • Sharing options – you can opt to give people different access such as editor, viewer or an all-access pass.
  • Make powerpoints, documents and sheets. Think of it as the suite of Microsoft products without the price tag.

 

Freelancer Web App Tool 5: Google Drive

Banking & Finance

ING Bank

If you time your run right, ING Bank offers a $100 bonus for new customers with their referral program. This means you can open a bank account for your clients to deposit money into AND start your balance at $100.

Cost: free

Benefits:

  • Shop online and overseas and pay no ING international transaction fees – this one is perfect for hosting and domain fees which are usually in American Dollars.
  • You can set up roundups to your savings account. This of this as forced savings without you really knowing. For example, if you make a purchase of $4.55, the remaining 45c will flow.
  • Recurring bills? No dramas. You can set up recurring payments easily.
  • Free ATM withdrawal fees anywhere in Australia
  • No monthly fees (always important)

Freelancer Web App Tool 6: ING Banking Account

Domain Registration

Go Daddy

By far the cheapest and most reliable domain registrar – Go Daddy has your back as the world’s largest registrar for business names. With top-notch online support, they have some of the best online guides and instructions to connect your domain to your hosting platform.

Yearly cost: 99c (literally)

Freelancer Web App Tool 7: Go Daddy Domain Registration

Design Collaboration & Presentations

InVision

Take your wireframes and designs to the next level with Invision. This platform allows the freelancer to show off their hard work professionally while putting the power in the reviewer’s hand with easy commenting. Backed with email notifications and summaries once a user has made comments, it’s the ultimate design collaboration tool and will certainly increase your review process.

Cost: Free for the trial period.

Freelancer Web App Tool 8: InVision

Brainstorming tools

Mindmeister

For so long, I was on the hunt for a solid brainstorming tool that was easy to make and share, that didn’t resemble a Microsoft word clip art design. Then I stumbled across Mindmeister – an easy way to collaborate and share mind maps that look great and can be branded with your colours.

Cost: the first 3 maps are FREE.

Freelancer Web App Tool 9: MindMeister Brainstorming Software

Screenshot

Awesome Screenshot

Awesome Screenshot for Chrome and Firefox is a browser-based extension that can capture a selected part of a website, the portion visible in the browser window or even the entirety of the page in one go. You can also make comments, annotations and add arrows/ shapes once you’ve taken it.

Cost: FREE

Freelancer Web App Tool 10: Awesome Screenshot

Spell Check

Grammarly

Even the best of copywriters and freelancers make spelling mistakes. That’s why you need a spell checker that integrates so much more than just spelling. Grammarly looks one step further at your sentence structure. With Grammarly, you can make sure effect and affect are used in the correct context. The best part is that it is a Google Chrome add-on and any point you click a text box Grammarly will work its magic.

Cost: FREE

Freelancer Web App Tool 12: Grammarly

Protection & Security

1 Password

If you’ve been locked out of your account for too many login attempts and forgot your email that you created 7 years ago, this app is for you. 1 Password allows you to aggregate all of your passwords into one encrypted portal so you don’t forget it.

Cost: FREE

Freelancer Web App Tool 13: One Password

Coming in at a grand total of $431 for the whole year, the above is what I used to help me start my freelancing website and business. Less scary than originally anticipated, $431 was a much more affordable start and proves you can begin anything on a shoestring budget.

Why using a freelancer can save you more than just time and money

Why a Freelancer Can Save You More Than Just Time and Money

770 430 guyramsay

Imagine this, you’ve got a digital marketing project on the boiler and you’re weighing up your options.

Option 1: hire an agency.
Option 2: bring it all in-house with a full-time employee.
Option 3: hire a qualified freelancer for the duration of the project.

Based on your research and chats with other friends in the business, you know there are a bunch of pros and cons to each option.

With cost and time being top of your priority list, you’re leaning towards the freelancer. However, you’re not sure what else they can offer you besides this.

The thing is, there is a lot more to a marketing freelancer than meets the eye. Many more benefits that they can offer your business than simply time and money.

Flexibility & Accessibility

Maybe a late minute campaign needs to be pushed live or perhaps you work in an industry that is very reactive to what’s around. Either way, their flexible working schedule means your freelancer can get your last minute work up and running for you after hours.

The best situation is that some clients even brief their freelancers on Friday and because they know that the freelancer is on board with working weekends, they can have their requirements sorted and in the company inbox, just in time for their Monday Team WIP.

Top Notch Output

Like any business, freelancers are committed to building a sound reputation with their clients. As word of mouth plays a very important role in how a marketing freelancer builds their database, it is not uncommon for freelancers to go above and beyond the status quo to ensure they produce solid projects. After all happy client, happy life.

Education

Not everyone is up to date with the latest and greatest marketing channels. Heck, some people that do this for a living struggle to keep up. That’s why freelancers act as marketing educators who take the time to explain concepts to their clients. This can range from understanding a digital marketing report to wanting to know how email marketing automation works. The job of the freelancer is to make the complicated simple and spend the time communicating this.

Time

In a digital world, freelancers are no strangers to tight deadlines.

One thing that some might not know about agencies is that the account manager’s job is to act as a buffer or communication channel between the client and the specialist.

When signing up to become a freelancer, you know all too well that you are taking on both hats. Some days you’ll be mainly focusing on communicating the work, while other days you’ll actually be doing it.

From my experience, this always saves the client time because when they are talking to the freelancer, they are talking to the horses mouth. Nothing is lost in translation.

Affordability & Cost of a Freelancer

The obvious one.

Without the traditional business overheads, freelancers – especially those in the digital space need only a laptop and desk. Or in my case, sometimes a coffee table.

This means that the project charge-out-rate is typically cheaper. I’ve seen many clients say they have saved upwards of 60% by using a freelancer over other methods.

Knowledge

One of the most important selling points of any freelancer is their experience across the board. Not only experience in marketing methods (design, development, copywriting etc) but also industry. This is because some weeks they might be working for a resource provider before moving onto another project for a fashion label. This versatility and experience translate into knowledge. The knowledge that they can offer your business.

Superannuation and Employee Benefits

As a freelancer, I am a sole trader. This means that when I work for a client, there is no need for them to pay me superannuation or any employee benefits for that matter. This is definitely a huge advantage for businesses looking to either choose a freelancer or full-time employee. 9/10 this point tips the scales in our favour.

So there we have it.

A few more reasons why a freelancer may well be your best option for your next digital project.