How to Avoid Being Exploited as a Freelancer
Prevent difficult situations with help from our experienced professionals
Are you letting yourself be exploited?
Taking a departure from your usual 9-5 job and nose diving into the world of freelancing can be scary and might not be everyone’s cup of tea. You could be harbouring some doubts regarding whether this is the correct path for you, whether you’d be able to handle the pressures or if you would end up giving in to it. But, hey, there’s a first time for everything and that’s no reason to back out. If you are just starting out and not so confident about your next steps, here are a few things to keep in mind in order to proof yourself against online bullies and intruders!
1. Know early on what the expectations of your client are
Before you even start on your project, come to an understanding about what it is exactly that your client wants. Go through client expectations in detail on the freelance website you use. Revolancer has a quality-check in place where our algorithms automatically ward off dodgy clients. In case you are still doubtful, you can contact them directly through Revolancer.
All I’m saying is it’s better to find out if your website and your client are legit, and then you can safely go ahead. Follow reddit and subreddit threads for checking it out yourself. Putting a little bit of time into doing some background research might save you a lot of heartbreak later on.
2. Get a written contract
Take time to chalk out a written contract, and most importantly, make sure that it is not a slapdash effort. Don’t just assume that it is merely a formality and everything will go well. You need to write down in detail about your expectations regarding the project, including delivery dates, days off, rates, as well as how major and minor changes can be made to the project and how much additional fee it might incur.
Pro tip: don’t get too friendly with a client before signing the contract!
3. Take an advance payment
Everybody is a bit dodgy when it comes to money! And that’s something many freelancers learn the hard way. The best way to avoid being ghosted by your client is to be aware of and minimize potential risks from beforehand. Taking a part of the payment in advance can set some ground rules as to how the client can expect things to move forward from your end. It also sets a precedent towards mutual respect and trust and establishes a professional relationship on both ends.
If the client has a problem paying up a percentage in advance, move on! It probably means there’s something dodgy going on. Above all, don’t feel guilty for having asked what you deserve.
4. Set clear rules on your availability
Keep a timeline for specific targets within the project so that there are no unpleasant surprises going forward. It’s also a good idea to let your client know if you’d be unavailable for a certain period of time. Revolancer even has a ‘vacation mode’ which you can turn on if you are not feeling up to it at a certain point in your career.
Being decent goes a long way!
5. Know exactly what you have to offer
It is a good idea to read and re-read client expectations thoroughly before taking up the project. If you do not understand what they want or expect of you, be upfront and talk to them directly (Revolancer gives you the option of contacting your client without any third-party interference!). If you are still unsure about the project or exactly how you can go about it, then simply drop it.
It’s better to say you do not know, rather than taking it up and damaging your reputation as a freelancer. Believe it or not, the perfect project for you is always on its way!
6. Know your worth
An often overlooked part of a freelancing career is the persistent doubt that many face regarding their skill set and the kind of fee they can demand for it. So, before venturing into a freelancing career, it’s better to take an honest assessment of one’s own skills, portfolio, and experience and be confident about how best to use these to their advantage. However, beyond a point, we would advise against too much self reflection, since that might eat away into our confidence, making us demand much less than we deserve.
So, make it a point to set fixed pay rates for your client and don’t budge if you are not getting what you deserve.
It won’t be easy
You’ll be dabbling in a lot as a freelancer. It won’t be easy to have the same level of faith in yourself everyday. In fact, it might take you some time to build experience and knowledge about the freelancing world in order to operate with a certain level of confidence. There is a fine line between being self-assured and being presumptuous and your freelance career will be a reflection of how well you balance both.
Before you go
If you liked this article, you might also want to check out How to Prepare for a Professional Convention. Also if you join Revolancer and sign up to Plus today, you’ll be entered into a brand new iPad Pro+Apple Pencil, or Apple Airpods! Good luck.
Freelance marketplace: Revolancer