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Becoming a contributor can be liberating — and additionally a little terrifying. Area do you alike begin? What processes and structures do you allegation to accept in place? How do you acquisition clients? And how do you apperceive how abundant to charge?



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What the Experts Say“Going out on your own isn’t consistently a brash choice,” says Sara Horowitz, arch of the Freelancers Union and columnist of The Freelancer’s Bible. Some bodies do accomplish the about-face carefully in adjustment to capitalize on their altered abilities and networks, acquire added money directly, escape the accumulated grind, and accept added work-life flexibility. Others end up as their own administration because they’ve larboard jobs and are aggravating to amount out what’s next, or they alpha accomplishing a few projects on the ancillary and apprehend the assignment is abundant to be their capital gig. Sumeet Goel, who founded HighPoint Associates, a able advising close that staffs absolute consultants at companies alignment from midsize ones to the Fortune 500, agrees that abounding freelancers generally appear into it: “I’d say 90% go bottomward this aisle because of circumstance. It’s not so abundant that they adjudge to do it; it’s added that they deathwatch up one day and they’re an absolute consultant.” Whether you chose freelancing or it chose you, you’ll abandoned be acknowledged if you chase some important steps.

Reach out to your absolute networkA able-bodied arrangement is a freelancer’s best friend. The ambition is to alpha your business with “a accumulation of bodies who absolutely affliction about you” and who are accessible to abutment you forth the way, says Horowitz. Ability out to the bodies abutting to you to let them apperceive what you’re doing. This doesn’t accept to feel like you’re allurement for assignment though, says Horowitz. In fact, she advises demography bodies you like out to coffee or cafeteria “before you accept an ‘ask’” and alms to admonition them out in any way you can. “It’s the agnate of accomplishing advisory interviews. You’re aloof authoritative bright the affectionate of assignment you’re accomplishing now and that you’re accessible to admonition anyone who ability allegation it,” she says. Actuality in blow with your arrangement isn’t aloof important at the beginning. Goel says it’s acute to body time into your agenda activity advanced to abide networking. “You never appetite to be so alive that you can’t ability out to the bodies who can admonition you,” he says.



Make new connectionsIt’s important to accept a few adolescent freelancers you can about-face to for admonition and abutment in your network. Sure, they may be “the competition,” says Horowitz, but they are additionally a abundant antecedent of information. Attending for able associations in your field, chase LinkedIn for bodies who are in the aforementioned business, and appear conferences in your areas of expertise. Horowitz’s alignment hosts annual meet-up contest for absolute workers in 18 cities beyond the U.S. “It’s a abundant way to get to apperceive bodies in the ambience of architecture your business,” she says. If you’re anxious about the networking aspect of actuality out on your own, you’re not alone. The Freelancers Union has a host of resources, including an “Authentic Networking Guide” that, according to Horowitz, “outlines some best practices for new or afraid networkers.”

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 Free Independent Contractor Invoice Template | Excel | PDF | Word (.doc) - independent consultant invoice template

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Determine your feeKnowing how abundant to allegation is one of the things your arrangement can admonition you with adapted away. Horowitz suggests allurement your adolescent freelancers what the bazaar is like for your abilities and what their ante are. Don’t accomplish the aberration of basing your fees on what you allegation to earn. “This isn’t about your expenses,” says Horowitz, “so don’t add up your mortgage acquittal and your added costs of livings to amount out your alternate rate.” If you’re affective from a full-time job, Goel suggests this calculation: Booty your banknote advantage and bisect by 250 (which is the cardinal of billable canicule afterwards factoring in vacations, ailing time, and archetypal downtime) and again add 25%–50%. Again booty that figure, analyze it with the ante you’ve gotten from your network, and acquisition a middle-ground cardinal you can float as an acceding and again acclimatize based on acknowledgment from abeyant clients. You may accept to adduce a lower amount at the beginning, while you’re still addition how abundant you’re annual and aggravating to win work. But plan to accession your prices eventually rather than later. Horowitz says you’ll apperceive aback you’ve hit the adapted level: “When you’re reliable and acceptable and you allegation a fair rate, bodies rehire you.”



Find a acceptable accountantEven afore you accept money advancing in, appoint a accurate accountant. “I consistently acclaim accepting addition who can admonition you set things up properly,” says Horowitz. “This ability be a lawyer, but I acquisition that the affectionate of abutment you allegation is added about economics than law.” A able can admonish you on whether it makes faculty to incorporate, how to save in taxes, and how to administer all of your expenses. Goel suggests ambience up an LLC or agnate appellation to abstracted your business assets from your claimed ones. He additionally recommends signing up for a business acclaim agenda adapted away, which will “make taxes and tracking costs easier” and “get you in the adapted mindset.”

Familiarize yourself with the acknowledged issuesWhile you don’t necessarily allegation a advocate to admonition you set up an LLC, it’s acceptable to accept addition you can about-face to for acknowledged advice, abnormally at the beginning. Goel says you should look for addition who is “business-minded, not legally-minded.” Accept this actuality admonition you accept the basics of a nondisclosure acceding and an absolute architect agreement. He adds that “99% of the time they’re the same” thing, so already you are accustomed with the language, you can assurance afterwards consulting a advocate anniversary time. One of the added awkward acknowledged risks that contractors face is nonpayment, which is why Horowitz suggests that you “insist on contracts” that will “protect you and your work” from trouble. “If you anticipate you may be in a defalcation situation, stop assignment anon and acquaintance your lawyer,” she says.

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 Free Independent Contractor Invoice Template | Excel | PDF | Word (.doc) - independent consultant invoice template

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Have your paperwork in orderWhen you alpha fielding requests from abeyant clients, you appetite to be able to acknowledge quickly. Goel recommends accepting business cards, your résumé, a basal letterhead, and possibly a logo (which you can appoint a bright artist to put calm appealing easily) accessible to go. You should additionally adapt a accepted annual of work, invoice, and contract. Abounding audience will accept their own arrangement template, but you should accept one aloof in case. Horowitz suggests accepting a advocate attending over that as able-bodied to ensure it “includes clauses adapted to your industry.” Templates for anniversary of these are accessible online, including on the Contributor Union’s website. “Pick a arrangement and personalize it,” Goel recommends.

Get the chat outWhen you’ve got the aloft acumen sorted out, it’s time to “transition to the alive business stage,” says Horowitz. Authoritative yourself findable is important. At a minimum, you appetite to accept an adapted LinkedIn contour that makes bright you’re attractive for opportunities and possibly a simple website. You additionally can attending for opportunities to be apparent as an able in able circles: Speak at an event, be alive in online communities, etc. Abide to ability out to your network, too, including accompany and ancestors members, who “can generally be a antecedent of abundant referrals.”

Set your scheduleFreelancers sometimes make the aberration of demography on too abundant assignment and accepting overbooked. From the beginning, accomplish abiding you accept allowance in your schedule. Goel advises architecture in blow to do business development and networking. “If you’re maxed out on a accurate project, you won’t accept time to acquisition the abutting one,” he says. Aim to be alive about four canicule a week, abrogation the fifth for addition out what comes next. Definitely don’t abatement into the allurement of adage yes to every activity that comes your way. It’s OK to say no to work, abnormally if it’s article you’re not ill-fitted to. “Clients will acknowledge you actuality honest about what you can and can’t do,” says Goel.

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Be able for the dry spells“Seasoned freelancers apprentice that assets is actual episodic,” says Horowitz. “They plan about the troughs instead of the peaks.” This agency stashing abroad money so that you’re able for the assured valleys — “it’s not if, it’s when.” You can apply a few arresting strategies to admonition accomplish those spells beneath frequent. In particular, Horowitz suggests architecture a “a amusing assurance net through your friends.” Aback you accept too abundant assignment to do, canyon on the gigs you can’t booty to bodies in your network, and hopefully “when you’re in a dry spell you can ask them if they accept any added work.”

You ability additionally accede signing up with a aggregation like Goel’s, which matches audience with absolute consultants. They can admonition you acquisition assignment aback you’re not able to. Goel suggests accepting “directly alien by a accepted connection” so that addition vouches for your abilities and you apperceive the aggregation is a acclaimed one. And if you don’t accept as abundant assignment as you want, don’t get despondent, abnormally at the beginning. “It takes time to get a constant banknote breeze going. It could booty six months to a year to get aggregate in place, to be adequate with your rates, and to body a pipeline,” says Goel.

Principles to Remember

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Do:

Don’t:

Case Study #1: Get your ducks in a row firstJennifer Hawkins had been a nonprofit controlling for over a decade aback she absitively to go out on her own as a association development consultant. She was annoyed with the continued hours of her acute full-time job and was balked with her disability to accomplish change from central the organization. “Boards, abiding staff, and funders assume to be abundant added adequate audition adamantine truths from a adviser than from an controlling director,” she says.

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Before accepting her aboriginal client, she batten to a few colleagues who formed for themselves, and they brash her to allocution with an accountant and a lawyer. With admonition from those professionals, she accustomed an S Corporation, got an employer identification cardinal from the IRS, opened a business coffer account, and set up amount with Gusto. These acumen took her four weeks and amount her about $1,200. “I additionally put calm a all-encompassing consulting agreement, cobbling calm accent from assorted agreements consultants had acclimated with me while I was an controlling director. I created a actual simple Excel spreadsheet for tracking my time and expenses.”

And she geared up her business efforts: “I ordered business cards from Moo.com and developed a one-page “company profile” to accelerate out to clients.” She admits that the one-pager wasn’t absolute — “it’s airedale and verbose” — but it listed her abilities and casework and was abundant to get her started.

She again fabricated a account of anybody she knew who ability be absorbed in her casework (or ability apperceive addition who would be) and emailed them. In the aboriginal three months, she had 25 altered coffee and cafeteria dates.

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All of this alertness has paid off. Six months into her new career, she already has several gigs lined up and, conceivably best importantly, feels assured that she can acknowledge to inquiries promptly and professionally.

Case Study #2: Body a reliable arrangement and be adequate with downtimeKaren Schwichtenberg was working at a all-around administration consulting firm, and although she admired the work, she acquainted constricted. “At those big firms, you don’t consistently accept ascendancy over the blazon of projects you get to do. I capital to focus alone on retail and customer appurtenances — the industry area I had the greatest acquaintance — and I couldn’t consistently do that,” she says. In 2010 she larboard her position to “look for that dream job.” But while starting that search, she got her aboriginal absolute consulting gig — “A acquaintance of a acquaintance appropriate I appear in and do a activity for a few weeks,” she says — and that was the alpha of her freelance career.

She says that best of her assignment aboriginal on came from her network, and she’s been absolutely alive aback that aboriginal project. “I’m a one-woman show. I absorb so abundant time accomplishing the assignment that I don’t accept a lot of time to antecedent my abutting project,” she explains. That’s why she brand alive with companies, like HighPoint Associates (Goel’s close from above), that do matchmaking amid consultants and companies attractive to appoint them. And while she doesn’t accede herself to be a adept networker, she has congenital a accumulation of adolescent consultants who occasionally cull her in to admonition with their projects, and she does the aforementioned for them.

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Her generosity with others has paid off in added ways, too. “I generally accord admonition to bodies about acceptable absolute consultants, and they will sometimes appear aback back they accept added assignment or advanced my name forth to a abeyant client,” she says.

Still, she’s not alive 100% of the time, and that has taken some accepting acclimated to. “The better affair I had to apprentice was patience. Aback you assignment for a big firm, you don’t accept any downtime. As an independent, the assignment ebbs and flows. It took me a while to embrace that,” she says.

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