3 Powerful Ways To Protect Your Freelance Business
As a freelancer, probably one of the most important things you need to protect is yourself. A freelance career can come and go. You are the driving force, so managing your frustrations and stress should probably be on top of your list to protect your freelance business. However, if you have a good handle on your personal motivation and wellbeing, then you need to focus on protecting your business. Here are three powerful ways to protect your freelance business.
1 – Learn the Various Facets of Getting Paid
It is eye-meltingly startling how many online articles cover how to protect your freelance business, and then bark on about setting up contracts, diversifying services, getting insurance, and so forth. It is almost as if they understand nothing at all about being a freelancer. It is almost as if the articles were cheap rewrites of poor quality advice found on the first page of Google, written by a disinterested content creator in a cubicle within a massive corporate run machine.
Getting paid is the only way you can protect your freelance business. It is the biggest shield with which you have to hold off the waves of starvation, degradation and frustration. Some may say that securing new clients is the biggest defense against failure, but “Riddle me This.”
Which is worse, to spend a month working for new clients who refuse to pay or spend a month looking for clients who will pay? The answer is obvious, if not commonsense and yet is frequently ignored to push a more businesslike narrative. Online articles, YouTube videos, and motivational speakers offer instructions on running your freelance business like it was an already cogs-oiled smooth running business. It is just like those dating gurus who offer advice on how to keep a partner when you are still scratching around online trying to find somebody to even go on a date with you.
Example – Getting Paid as a Freelance Writer
Here are a few of the facets of getting paid for a freelance writer. Take these as an example and exploration on the number of ways you can protect yourself by ensuring you are paid. Get paid in advance, and if the client is wary, then suggest starting with smaller cheaper projects until enough trust is generated between the pair.
Do not take clients or contracts who insist on paying weekly or monthly. Get paid after you have done the work. The only way you can accept weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly payments is if you have known the client for years and you have built up a relationship. And even then, your client may take a five-month trip to silent town whenever you are supposed to be paid.
You can use websites like Freelancer.com to create milestones. This is where they pay the system, and then release the milestone when the project is completed. It is a little like escrow, except if there is a problem, then the website admins step in to decide if you should be paid. A reluctance to place a milestone may also suggest that the client never had any intention of paying.
Break down larger projects and start small because the last thing you want is to put loads of hours into a project, only to discover the client wanted something else and you have to do it all again. Also, be sure to have your own websites in order to quickly publish any content that is rejected. A common trick is to reject your work and then steal it, so publish your stuff as soon as it is rejected so that duplication software flags the other person who stole your stuff. This sort of standard should also apply to any sort of creative. For example, if you did some animation and they rejected it, make sure you post it on your website and YouTube right away. You own the copyright, but copyright is a lot easier to defend if you publish first.
Example – Forcing Payment as a Freelance Writer
The clients haven’t paid, and you have tried every method to get them to pay fairly. You can start by threatening to take them to small claims court, but if they are experienced, they will know you are not going to do that. Plus, you need to prove that they are using your work if you want to sue, and even then, it will cost you more to sue than you will receive in getting paid.
As a writer, start threatening to take their website content and post it on every website, forum, and social media site in the land to generate Google duplication notifications. Also, threaten to start posting negative reviews about their services all over the Internet, and claim your writing circle will do the same. Other creatives can take similar approaches, such as a video producer threatening to pay for 10K dislikes on your client’s YouTube videos.
Comment spamming is another good method, especially if you have VPN services where you can switch between servers and locations to place numerous negative comments. Although, it is also useful if you have friends who are on different computers and Smartphones so that your comments are not flagged by anti-spam software.
Discover the Facets of Getting Paid for Your Industry
These are just examples of getting paid and threatening-to-get-paid methods that a freelance writer can use, but the point is to highlight that there are actually a lot of options for freelancers both in ensuring payment and taking action after payment has been refused. Start learning the various facets of getting paid for your industry.
2 – Protect Your Identity
You need to protect your identity to a certain degree when you are a freelancer. Not to a Batman degree, but there is plenty of evil a malicious customer or competitor can do to your online reputation, to your online productivity, to your marketing and so forth. There are two ways you need to protect yourself, the first is overtly, and the second is technically.
Overt Freelancer Protection
You need to protect your identity in some way. As an example, let’s say that you make no efforts to hide your identity at all in a very overt way. People can go online and learn all about you from your various social media profiles and from all your online presence. This is very bad from a business perspective. This means that an angry client could run onto every one of your social media platforms and causes havoc with your high-producing content, with your friends, with your business contacts, and with your online reputation.
Now, consider the alternative. You have a freelancer profile, your own website, your own marketing machine, an online reputation, and a few profiles on freelance websites. If somebody is angry at you, they can find all of that stuff, but you have some degree of control over what damage they can do. Sure, they can leave negative comments and reviews, but otherwise there is little they can do. They cannot spam dislikes on your person YouTube videos, they cannot affect your other side businesses, they cannot gain direct access to your old clients.
You do not have to set up a whole new person, pen name, back story, etc., but there does need to be a disconnect between you and your personal information. Even if this means you set some of your personal social media platforms to private, and then set up an open freelancer version on the same social media platforms. You need to make an effort to separate “You the person,” from “You the Freelancer.”
Technical Freelance Protection
Your name, your freelance business, and your online influence have value. Stealing that value is very profitable. Even if the hacker doesn’t intend to use your online influence, marketing, reputation and goodwill for herself/himself, it can be sold to the highest bidder for a fair amount of money.
That is why you need to take steps to protect yourself technically too. This means anti-virus software, which sounds obvious, but you will be stunned how many people have great anti-virus software on their computers and not on their phones. Be careful who you give permissions to for your website and take all due care to scrub your tech clean after they stop working for you. Use a VPN service like Clear VPN to keep your online activity anonymous and safe. Plus, make sure you separate your working phones and computers from your personal computers and phones. This also includes using separate devices for your business banking/financial stuff, and your personal business and financial stuff.
Any other advice on this subject is probably preaching to the choir but do make the effort to protect yourself. Do not use your personal and business emails for free trials and/or for apps, and do not mix up your personal communications accounts with your business communications accounts.
3 – Try Work Before Turning it Down
After the mammoth-sized importance of the first tip, and the elephant sized importance of the second, tip number three is more elephant seal sized in importance. Nevertheless, if you are a long-time freelancer, this tip will ring true.
As a freelancer, you are going to become set in your ways. Life (aka clients) is going to teach you that certain types of work are more hassle than they are worth. Sometimes, it is the very low-paid stuff, and other times it is projects that require lots of work for relatively lower pay. Experience teaches you which red flags to avoid, but the problem is that this leads to some very bad habits.
When you started out and you were eager and hungry, you would have taken any project just for the work. Now that you are older and more experienced, you have become more selective, and this is a massive mistake.
The Trouble With Life is That it is Awesome
Life is unfair, and that is its biggest tragedy and its biggest selling point. The hassle work may seem worthless, but you need to play every hand in the poker game of life. Many long-time freelancers go bust because they say they cannot find the work anymore, but this is not true at all. They have started brushing off work that could easily develop into very productive and very high-paid work.
This tip is not suggesting you take on every project you see, especially if it seems the client won’t pay. This tip is simply saying that every now and again, grit your teeth, and power through some less-desirable projects because you will be surprised how often the work and/or working relationship develops into something else, even if that “Something else” involves the client passing your details on to his or her rich friends.