Best Practices to follow when working as an online freelancer

When you’re in the business of online freelancing, you have to follow certain best practices in order for you to make a good impression on your clients and to last long in this trade.  What I’m going to suggest are very common, almost basic, practices that an online freelancer should do.  But sadly, there are still a lot who are not following it.

  • Always meet deadlines – It is very easy to say this, but sometimes it’s very hard to do.  This is especially true if you took on more projects than you can handle.  Only take on projects when you are absolutely certain that you can meet the set deadline.  If you have even the tiniest doubt that you can submit it on time, then it would be a lot better for you if you just said “no”.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew – When you start to get project offers left and right, you might be very tempted to take them all in.  Why not?  The more projects you have, the more you earn, right?  While this could be true, you still have to think if you can handle all these projects at the same time and still deliver quality work.  If you take on too many, chances are, you will have difficulty managing your time.  You will find yourself working too much, with almost no time left to do anything else.  You will also find that you are more stressed than you would’ve liked.  The quality of your work will suffer and you will struggle to meet deadlines.  The best thing you should do is to choose a few, quality, high-paying projects that you know you can handle comfortably.
  • Be honest with your clients – As with everything else in life, honesty is still the best policy.  Present yourself truthfully.  Do not list skills in your resume that you don’t have.  Do not say that you know how to do something when you actually don’t.  Don’t use someone else’s work and pass them off as your own.  Bottom line: Don’t lie just to get work.  Sooner or later, your lies will catch up with you.
  • Don’t leave your clients hanging – When you can’t meet a deadline, you might be tempted to just disappear, never to be heard of again, at least by your client.  Worse than not meeting a deadline is not doing anything about it.  You have to remember that these people are counting on you to deliver.  The least you can do is inform them if you can’t.  It is better to just suck it up and ask for a deadline extension, than doing a Houdini and disappearing from the face of the internet.
  • Learn to communicate with your clients – I can’t stress this enough:  in online freelancing, communication is key.  In this trade, your clients are online.  You can’t rely on body language or facial expressions to get your point across.  You have to articulate your thoughts and make sure that nothing gets lost in translation.  If you need anything from your clients, you just have to ask.  Don’t be too shy to ask for something.  If you need to take time off, tell your client.  It is way better than just going ahead and not being online for work and come back days after with a lame excuse.  Even in unexpected emergencies, always try to find a way to keep your clients in the know.  Trust me, they will appreciate the fact that you found time to inform them of your whereabouts no matter what kind of stitch you are in.  Tip: invest in a cell phone that has wi-fi or GPRS that can send emails.  It will be a worthy investment.  The same goes if there is something about the work assigned to you that you don’t understand.  It is better to ask and make clarifications than waste your time doing the wrong thing.
  • Always be available online, especially during work hours –  There are a lot of instant messaging systems available on the internet.  The most common are Skype, Yahoo Messenger, and Google Talk.  Strive to have as many ways your client can contact you instantly, especially during work hours.  Employers feel a sense of security knowing that their providers can easily be contacted should they need to.  Emails work, but instant messaging works better.  With emails, it can take up to a day to give a response as opposed to instant messaging where you can give an instant reply.  It would also be good to speak with your client once in a while.  It builds a better working relationship and fosters trust towards each other.  You can use skype to call each other.  It is free and the reception is decent.
  • Before submitting your work, review, review, review! – Before you submit anything as your final output, it is best to review your work.  Go over it again and check for mistakes.  It is better to spend some extra time to review your work than submit something that could potentially be of poor quality.

The ones I mentioned above are just a few of the best practices that you should aim to do when you work as an online freelancer.  There are still a lot more that you will discover on your own as you grow in your career. Just remember that in everything you do, let your conscience be your guide.

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