Top 5 sites for freelancers

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. When it comes to working as a freelancer or sole trader, there are lots of great sources of information and guidance around the world. Here’s my top 5 list of freelance resources.

1 – Freelance Switch

With lots of short, punchy articles, Freelance Switch is a great source of advice. There’s also a job board and discussion forums so you can bounce ideas of others that might be in a similar work position,

2 – Good Business Consulting

Good Business Consulting’s blog provides advice to sole traders and small businesses. While  Good Business Consulting offers professional services, the blog is a great way to get insight into the way Phoebe Netto [Twitter link] thinks and what sorts of benefits she can deliver to your business.

3 – Freelance Folder

FreelanceFolder is a community for freelancers, entrepreneurs, work-at-home business owners, and web-workers. While the forums aren’t as active as Freelance Switch, the quality of advice is great for experienced and new sole traders alike.

4 – ProBlogger

You might wonder what a blogging advice site has to offer but there’s plenty. Time management tips, writing tips, how to get more people to your website – all that and more.

5 – Freelance Rant

I think the site description says it all – “This is the long lost writing assignment and second home of Johnny Spence, a freelancer with a bone to pick at the whole 9 – 5 life spent confined to the cubicle.”

So there’s my Top 5 sites. Which sites do you visit regularly? Where do you get your advice? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Contracts – defining the scope of work

It’s amazing but so often I hear of freelancers who end up in dispute with clients over what seems to be obvious – neither party understood what the other understood the work to be. In today’s instalment on freelance contracts I’m going to be short and sweet.

As a freelancer – before you agree to a job make sure you understand what the client expects.

That may sound like a statement of the bleeding obvious. In project management speak it’s called defining the scope. But it also involves creating an agreed process for managing scope changes. It’s often the case that as you show a client progress on a job that they’ll get ideas for different or improved features. That’s OK but you need to firmly, but politely, let the client know when those extras will

a. affect your ability to deliver the agreed work on time; and

b. cause you to incur unplanned costs.

Define the work

I’ll use the example of a writing project I did recently for a corporate client. The job was to write a case study about one of my client’s clients and their business partner. Here’s how I defined the scope

1. How many people was I expected to interview?

2. How many words did I have to write?

3. Did I have to fit into a particular corporate template?

4. Did I need to source supporting images?

5. How long did I think the task would take (and therefore what would I bill my client)?

6. What were the deliverables? Were drafts expected along the way?

Now, that’s a fairly simple example but it covers what services I was offering, what the client was getting and a timeline for milestones and final delivery. If you can get these things right then you’ve gone a long way to also creating a payment schedule.

It also means that if the client, after reading a first draft realises that I need to interview another subject then I can estimate how much extra time that will take and, if required, adjust my quote. We can then discuss it and  I’m not left feeling like the client is screwing me and the client doesn’t suffer from bill shock.

Defining the scope of a complex piece of work can sometimes take as long as the actual work. However, without a good plan you’ll never really know if you’ve reached the right destination.

Freelance contracts – a guide

Many of freelancers I talk to are excellent practitioners of their chosen craft. However, when it comes to understanding the obligations and responsibilities for the freelancer and client, there’s lots of confusion. That’s why it’s important to understand a little bit about contracts.

Contracts are an insurance policy. If everything between freelancer and client goes well you’ll never need to look at the contract. However, when you get started the contract is important because it make clear what each party expects from the other. That way, there are no surprises for either party.

Many of freelancers I talk to are excellent practitioners of their chosen craft. However, when it comes to understanding the obligations and responsibilities for the freelancer and client, there’s lots of confusion. That’s why it’s important to understand a little bit about contracts.

Contracts are, in my view, something of an insurance policy. If everything between freelancer and client goes well you’ll never need to look at the contract. However, when you get started the contract is important because it make clear what each party expects from the other.

Next week, I’ll be writing a series of posts on freelance contracts. Each day, I’ll focus on a different theme.

Monday –  Payment schedules
TuesdayLiability and indemnity
WednesdayDefining the work
ThursdayCopyright, ownership and intellectual property
FridayA look at some model contracts

In the lead up to that series, let me know if there are any specific things you would like me to cover. Use the comments below or the Contact Form.