There is very little help out there for fledgling freelancers. When I decided to take the plunge, I went to a couple of seminars, but they were only about taxes and accounts, and I didn’t understand any of it. For the rest, I had to make up and improvise, and it was a bumpy road.
I had no marketing strategy whatsoever, and my client base stagnated for ages. I decided to work from home without thinking of the consequences, and got very, very lonely. I didn’t have any IT backup at all when I started, and lost all my data in one swift breakdown. I spent whole days in front of my PC without taking my eyes off the screen and ended up with a bad back (I’m ok now, thanks). I had no terms and conditions in place regarding payment, and no system at all to keep track of invoices, which were left unpaid for months.
Phil Gyford, in his excellent beginner’s guide to freelancing, talks about all these issues and details every area that has to be considered when you start freelancing. I really like the way he’s structured it, because it sums up what every freelancer needs to be aware of: you are your own marketing department, your own boss, your own HR department, your own project manager etc. When I started, I really should have sat down to think about all these issues instead of solving avoidable problems as they presented themselves. If Phil had written his guide 6 years ago, it would have saved me quite a lot of trouble!