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Friday 22 April 2016

Freelance lead generation: what are your sticking points?

We talked about strategies for finding freelance leads before. After talking to several freelancers it seems that everyone has his or her own sticking point. Some people do not like to cold call leads because they are afraid that people will react negatively. Other freelancers hate to write proposals because it takes a lot of time an effort from their part. Finally, some freelancers do not like to communicate with leads since they prefer to work on the project and do not want to deal with the administrative part.

The first step is to make a list of your sticking points and make a conscious decision that you are going to overcome them by giving them attention in the coming weeks. Next, you prioritize the sticking points and rank them according to their priority.

There are two solutions to overcoming these sticking points. You can gain more reference experience so that you know that you can do it or you can outsource the work. The first solution is that you just keep doing it and learn along the way. Every time you see or hear something new, you try to improve your processes and will be able to overcome this sticking point. The second solution is simply realize that someone can do it better than you and outsource it so that you can focus on your other tasks.

I found it very liberating to know that even very successful freelancers had sticking points and that they had to work hard to overcome them.

Monday 11 April 2016

Freelancing: why you should join a coworking space

Freelancing can be quite lonely. Especially if you work on a difficult project and no one can support you, you could become demotivated. There are a lot of great coworking spaces out there and you will be able to meet several great people if you join them.

A second reason to join a coworking space is that you will be able to find more Freelance leads. People work on several projects and you could help them out if needed. In that way I was able to start working on a lot of projects for Fortune 500 companies. This way the coworking space paid for itself since I would not have been able to take on these projects if I had not worked there.

A third reason you should join one is that there are a lot of networking events and training events at these spaces. You will be able to learn new skills without having to go to another place.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

Giving back

As a freelancer I owe a lot to people that taught me how to get started and how to approach clients and so on. Now that I have some more experience, I am able to mentor younger freelancers. This takes quite a lot of time but is very rewarding because they know more about the online world than I do so we can learn new things from each other.

The great thing about the freelance world is that people want to share their knowledge and help each other out. You can find a lot of forums, Facebook groups or meetups where you can get advice and get your questions answered. You should share your own knowledge as well since just leaching is not acceptable.

The most important sales metric for freelancers

What is the most important sales metric for freelancers? If you think that it is predictability, you are right. Let me explain.

It can happen that you get lucky and find a freelance lead from your website. It could be just an random event and you could think that you should focus on your website. However, after several months you don't get another lead from your website. Your website does not generate leads predictability. You should find channels that offer this predictability since you need to know in advance how much you can make each month. If you know that you can get 10 leads a month from meetups, you should focus on this channel. You should try different channels and see what works and how predictable they are.

Some channels generate a ton of leads during one month but almost none during the next. This is very frustrating since you don't know how much work you will have in advance. The one moment you could be overwhelmed whereas the other you could be bored out of your mind. Therefore it is important to combine channels and create a predictable sales process so that your sales funnel is always filled with several leads. There will always be some fluctuations but if you can combine different good sales channels, it should be possible to keep yourself busy.

Monday 4 April 2016

Freelance opportunities

I always have to laugh when people complain that there are no opportunities for them. I was a freelancer in the eighties and back then it was a lot harder to find a gig. You really had to know someone or go to meetups to find new clients. Nowadays you can find clients over the whole world. If you have a clear strategy and work hard, it is quite easy to find your first clients and start building your portfolio.

In the old days you had to send a letter to someone, or hope that they were at their desk so that you could call them. The process took forever. Now you can find a project in under 30 minutes. People don't appreciate how easy it has become to find clients. There is only one limiting factor: your creativity. If you think long enough, you will find a creative way to pitch a lead or to get in contact with a project owner. Via LinkedIn you can search who is responsible for this type of work, you can learn more about them via their Twitter and Instagram account and even know how you are connected with them. What more do you need?

It can be daunting because there are a lot of ways to contact leads but you should just pick one and go for it. A lot of freelancers never follow up and they only call once and give up. You should be more persistent. It is quite easy to send multiple emails to someone. What is the worst that can happen?

Freelancing: how to get started

A lot of people don't know how to find their first freelance clients. It all starts with finding great leads for your freelance project.. This sounds easy enough but how does this work in practice. Some try to send out a Tweet that they are available but that is not how it works.

You should have a clear strategy if you want to close your first projects. Are you going to build a portfolio, use your network, work with other freelancers or work on a platform such as Upwork? It is an important decision that you will have to make. It is important that you find your first clients as soon as possible since this will motivate you to find more clients and get the ball rolling.

A lot of freelancers don't have a clear strategy and they get lost during this period in time. Ask yourself what you are best at. Do you have a strong portfolio? Do you know how to network? Do you enjoy to work with other freelancers? This will affect the way you should try to find your first freelance clients. If you are an introvert, you could opt to join local Facebook groups and discuss your services. If you prefer to talk to people in real life, you could go to meetups and talk about your freelancing activities.

To conclude we can say that you should determine how you will find freelance leads based on your own strengths. If you like to talk to people, you could go to a meetup. If you prefer to find your clients online, you could go for Facebook groups or platforms such as Upwork.

When I started as a freelance bachelorette party organizer, I talked to a lot of people to find out what they expected before I started organizing these parties.

Thursday 31 March 2016

Freelancing: when should you quit?

During my career as a freelancer, I have seen a lot of freelancers that start full of energy but want to give up a few months down the road. They underestimated how hard it would be to be their own boss. Most of the time they find it very hard to find freelance leads. They often ask me when they should give up and go back to a full time position. My answer is always the same: if you don't believe that you will be able to do it. If you don't believe in yourself anymore why should you keep going? A large percentage of becoming a freelancer is getting through these first months and finally you will find that it will become easier to find new leads since you have a portfolio you can leverage.

The first months as a freelancer can be challenging if you are not prepared to get a lot of rejections . If you do not want to work on a proposal that could not make it, freelancing is nothing for you. Before you jump to become a freelancer, you should think about this and decide if you want to make it through this period.

To conclude, you should only quit as a freelancer if you do not believe in yourself anymore.

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Walking away from freelance projects

In the past few years I have had to walk away from a freelance project a number of times. There were different reasons why we decided to stop the project. In some cases the client decided that the project was no longer a priority and they paid me for the work I had finished. This is fair enough, if they reallocate their resources I should be able to be flexible as a freelancer and deal with that. This happens from time to time but in the 5 years that I have worked as a freelancer so far this only happened to me two times. In both cases I knew beforehand that the project was not the highest priority so I knew that there was a chance that the project would stop. This is not always a lot of fun, especially if you have put a lot of time and energy in this project and the client decides that the project should not be finished.

There were also some projects where I had to walk away. If the client does not respect the work I do, does not pay me on time or does not follow the contract, I sometimes walk away. Again, this has happened only a few times in my career so far. Now I often know beforehand that a client will not follow the rules in the contract and I just don't accept these projects anymore. If the client does not respond to my proposal for a few weeks, it is a clear sign that they will be hard to work with. Before I accept these projects, I really think hard if it is worth the struggle; I get a lot of people that ask for a quote and receive a lot of inbound leads so I can be picky. Walking away from a project after it has started can be messy since the client can threaten you with legal procedures and this could also affect your reputation. The client of one of the projects I walked away from started spreading negative rumours about me and was very stingy when we met again a few months later. I have clear expectations from a client and if they don't adhere to them, I reserve the right to walk away. I warn them before they do so they are able to correct their behavior so they know what is coming. I have never walked away from a project without warning them, that would be unprofessional.

So to conclude, there are some projects that were not finished, be it because the client changed his mind or because I had to walk away from the project. It is always a good idea to refuse working on projects before they start because it can be quite difficult to stop working on a project once it has started.

Should you work for free as a freelancer?

Should you work for free as a freelancer? I get the question a lot since a lot of freelancers find it hard to find their first clients. Generally my answer is no. Clients will appreciate your work less if you have done it for free. It is also not very motivating for yourself to know that you are not being paid for delivering your best work. If people pay for a project, they will provide more honest feedback that you can incorporate in your next projects. In the past it was harder to get noticed and you sometimes had to work for free to build out a portfolio. With the proliferation of online freelancing platforms, there is less need to build your own portfolio and you can find projects without having to work for free or having an enormous portfolio.

There are a lot of ways to generate freelance leads without working for free. If you start out freelancing and you need to build a portfolio, you could team up with other freelancers and leverage their portfolio and client base. You could also start out by working for smaller clients that don't expect that you have a portfolio. My favorite way to stand out is just to work on your own projects. Create a website or product that you can show. In the best case you can even earn some money from this product. This are just some examples of how you can build your portfolio. If you find a niche where you can add a lot of value, you don't need to have an elaborated portfolio.

On the freelance platforms such as Upwork you do not even have to have a portfolio to get hired. Also on some newer platforms such as Gigster you don't even have to communicate with the client during the sales process so you don't have to create a portfolio. A lot of these systems focus on reputation instead of the old fashioned portfolio. Once you are able to complete some projects successfully, you will rise in the rankings and get more projects forwarded to you.

To conclude we could say that it is not really necessary to work for free since there are several strategies that allow you to get started without having a large portfolio.

Thursday 15 October 2015

Freelance leads

Do you waste a lot of time finding clients? We're creating a tool that will make it easier to find the right client. Based on advanced filters you will be able to select the best gigs. This is the lifeblood of your business so you should pay a lot of attention to finding leads and converting them to clients. During the past several years I have been able to talk to a lot of freelancers and they all note that being able to find freelance leads is an important skill for every freelancer. More info about finding ore freelance leads here.

Friday 2 October 2015

Sales and use tax regulations for freelancers

Don't know how to calculate your sales tax or income tax? You have to add sales tax to your invoice (depending on the type of service you offer) while you have to fill in a form to declare your income and are taxed based on that.

Here are three aproaches to get started: - Ask fellow freelancers. If you go to a local coworking space, there are often freelancers that can help you out. - Contact an accountant. - Do the research yourself. The regulation depends on your location so it is hard to give all the answers but these site provide a great overview. Here is info for people in the USA (more info on taxes) and Europe.

It is superimportant to get this right because it can be very expensive to make mistakes on this front.

Thursday 1 October 2015

Freelance retainer agreement / contract

Are youi looking for a free agreement for freelancing on a retainer?

This contract could be a great start, consult with your legal advisor to create a final document. Working on a retainer has been described as the best option for freelancers because it offers a higher degree of financial stability.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

More about Recurvoice

We wanted to create a tool that can be used by everyone. So if you live in India, Australia, Ireland, South Africa, UK or Singapore you can use Recurvoice as invoicing software. Recurvoice can be used by Mac as well as PC users.

The following currencies are supported: USD, CAD, Euro, Peso, Australian dollar, CHF (Swiss Franc), Yuan, Yen, British pound sterling, Indonesian Rupiah, Rupees, Krone, Turkish Lira, South African Rand.

Monday 28 September 2015

Hoe een boekhouder vinden als zzp'er

Een boekhouder vinden is een van de belangrijkste beslissingen die je zal maken als freelancer. Deze persoon zal u helpen bij het invullen van documenten, bepalen van uw belastingsschijf en zal u waarschuwen indien u te weinig inkomsten heeft.

Hoe start u nu aan dit zoekproces? Er zijn verschillende stappen bij betrokken: - Vraag aan uw vrienden en mede freelancers of ze iemand kunnen aanraden - Contacteer al deze boekhouders en bezoek ze - Maak een spreadsheet om de boekhouders te vergelijken (tarieven, compabiliteit, afstand van werk etc.)

Op basis van deze informatie kan u beslissen wie de beste accountant is voor u.

Haat u factureren? Automatiseer alles met Recurvoice. Probeer het hier

How to find an accountant as a freelancer

Finding an accountant is one of the most important business decisions you will make as a freelancer. This person will help you to fill in your documents, save money on your taxes and warn you if you don't have enough revenue.

How do you start the search process? There are different steps involved in this process: - Ask your friend or other freelancers if they can recommend someone - Contact all of the accountants that were recommended to you and visit them - Make a spreadsheet to compare the freelancers (eg tariffs, likeability, availability, distance from your work etc.)

Based on this information you can decide what accountant you will work with.

Hate invoicing? Outsource it to our algorithms. Give it a try here

Saturday 26 September 2015

Best Mac Apps for Freelancers

What Mac Apps do you use as a freelancer? A lot of friends asked me this question so, I decided to create a blogpost about this.

Here is the list: Namechanger helps you with changing filenames in bulk Alfred makes it easier to create hotkeys Ember allows you to create fast screenshots on your Mac Flux adjusts the brightness of your screen based on the time of day. This will improve your sleep and productivity. Sketch is my favorite design tool. Anxiety is a todo app that allows you to finish your tasks on time 1password stores all your passwords so you don't have to waste time finding the correct login info. Fluid converts websites into Mac apps. Perfect for Gmail, Facebook etc.

This is a web app but it is a great one: Recurvoice automates your invoices for you.

What is your favorite Mac app?

Thursday 24 September 2015

Why Recurvoice is the best invoicing solution for virtual and personal assistants

Virtual assistants are super important for almost every business. We have developed Recurvoice so that they can have an fast solution to invoice their clients. Since you work with a limited set of clients, a complex invoicing system is not always useful. With Recurvoice you can automate the whole process.

Are you a VA or PA? Check recurvoice here

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Best invoicing tool for freelancers: Harvest versus Hiveage versus Paydirt versus Recurvoice versus Ballpark versus Thrivesolo versus 17 hats vs Invoicera

There are a ton of invoicing apps out there. Which one should you use?

To make your life easier, we made a simple tool to find that out.

Just answer a few questions and you'll know what you should use. Give it a try here.

Friday 18 September 2015

Hoe een factuur op te stellen als freelancer of zzp’er

Hoe een factuur op te stellen als freelancer of zzp’er

Wil u uw klant factureren maar niet zeker wat er in de factuur moet staan? Laten we een lijst maken van wat wettelijk moet worden vermeld:

- de (verstuur)datum

- Factuurnummer

- KvK-nummer (als je ingeschreven staat bij de Kamer van Koophandel)

- BTW-nummer

- Naam, adres en woonplaats van jou en je klant

- Omschrijving van de geleverde goederen/diensten

- Datum/periode waarin de goederen of diensten geleverd zijn

- Prijs exclusief en inclusief BTW

Vergeet niet om uw facturen bij te houden zodat de belastingsinspectie kan nagaan of alles conform de wet is verlopen. U kan dit ook met uw boekhouder regelen.

Om dit eenvoudiger te maken voor u, hebben we enkele templates ontworpen. Deze kan u eenvoudig aanpassen en direct versturen!

Templates voor projecten: link

Werkt u langere tijd voor dezelfde klant? Automatiseer uw facturen met RecurVoice

Why hiring contractors and 1099 makes sense (or not)

Hiring full time employees as contractors is evil because you deny them certain benefits and you don’t pay enough taxes. This is the core of the discussion about 1099 versus W-2. This discussion is not limited to the US but is also seen in Europe and elsewhere. It is called Scheinselbständigkeit in Germany (Germans have a word for everything) and comes down to the fact that someone is hired as a freelancer but does the same work as a full time employee. The German government is getting so strict that some start talking about a witch-hunt. The BBC also got criticized because they hired people as contractors instead of employees.

Especially in Internet companies and companies with low margins (both are fragile during a certain period of time) this way of hiring people seems to be quite prevalent. Startups are often still trying to find the best business model and lowering personnel costs can be a make or break issue. The Zirtual flameout illustrates this once again because they got into trouble once they started to switch from contractors to full time employees:

This week in startups by @jason The interesting part of the discussion is that 5–10% of the contractors decided to leave the company because they did not want to become full time employees. Some people clearly like the status of being a contractor because they get the full dollar amount and can manage their own taxes and keep a higher degree of flexibility.

Governments are trying to make the difference between a contractor and an employee clearer (a contractor has to have other clients, a clearly defined project etc.) but the difference is not always clear-cut. This tool can help you if you are in doubt yourself.

It is necessary to find a balance between what is fair for the company, employees and the state (taxes). We will have to see how this evolves but an organized witch-hunt is not the answer. Feel free to add your comments below.

Freelancer? Automate your invoices, sign up for RecurVoice here.

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