I’ve had two people ask me about freelancing within 1 day of each other. So, I’m going to give some advice. I also talked about finding freelance clients a few weeks ago in this episode.
Talk to other freelancers to see if they know people looking for work. It’s a great way to get advice as well as referrals.
Start talking to people in the community. I found all of my original clients directly or indirectly by talking to people I knew both locally and in the international community.
You should also go find a good accountant and have him advise you on setting money aside for taxes and structuring your business to save you on taxes. My accountant has probably saved me thousands of dollars on just this alone.
Your accountant will probably tell you this, but set up a business entity (usually an LLC or S-Corp) and get an EIN tax ID. It makes it much easier to write off expenses, avoid being dubbed an “employee” of your clients by the IRS, and makes keeping your books simpler since you will have to get a separate bank account.
The IRS looks for freelancers who are, for all intents and purposes, employees of their clients. To avoid this not only do you need your own business entity, but you also should have more than one client and use your own equipment when working for them.
Figure out what you need to charge and charge it. There are cheapskates out there who will be shocked that you want to charge them more than $20-30 per hour. Stick to your guns! Go to the Freelance Switch Hourly Rate Calculator and figure out what you need to charge to get by.
The problem you run into with the cheapskates is that these people are looking at Filipino and Indian developers on oDesk. Several of these developers are decent developers. A lot of them aren’t. Your potential client usually doesn’t know how to weed them out. So, if they insist that they’ll go overseas, let them.
Start a blog. Write about the stuff you’re doing. Someone will want something similar done. I’ve gotten a bunch of business off the Twitter Clone videos Eric did a while back because people are googling “Twitter clone.” I’ve also seen quite a bit of interest from my podcast, even though it’s geared much more toward programmers.
Finally, don’t be afraid to fire clients that don’t fit with your lifestyle or business. And don’t be afraid to raise your rates periodically when you need more time or money to make things work.