Here are some tips for being a smart, successful contractor:
1. Sign a contract
Put some basic, yet important, terms down on paper that both you and the client agree upon. Something like:
- the client’s scope of work stays confidential. Sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) if you have to.
- your payments terms. Tell them what you want to be paid and by when (and find out how long they take to pay).
- the work that you will produce is yours and not plagiarised.
- you and the client has the right to terminate the contract and scope of work – and what that means for you both.
There are many things you can put in your contract, try to cover the basics. A quick Google search will help you.
Having some basic terms in place for every project will help protect you but more importantly, will help inform the client of how you work.
2. You have every right to say, ‘no’
If you’re not happy doing something for a client, say so. Don’t get dragged into anything you’re uncomfortable with.
3. Focus on being a contractor
Trying to juggle a day job and being a contractor is painstakingly hard. If you want to make the leap, do it properly (ensure you can pay your way for a few months) and focus all your time to getting yourself contracting work.
4. Transparency is key
Be honest with your clients. This will save you any future issues. You’re allowed to be a little more open as a contractor as you’re juggling many things, so tell your clients what you need to so they can empathise with you. This will help in case work is late or you have an emergency of some kind.
5. Know the maths, know your income
Work out how much you need to survive, how much tax you will pay and what a client wants to pay you before taking on work. This will save you hours of work for a lower rate if you know you require a higher one.
6. Take short breaks, often
You will end up working 11-hour days and be tired. To stop yourself getting grumpy and flustered, remember to take breaks, go for short walks and even invite a friend over for lunch if working alone. Meeting friends for lunch is one way to replicate that camaraderie of working in an office.
You can’t work if you’re not up to it, so keep your mental health in check. There are many resources online to help you stay focused, calm and happy. Google them.
7. Ideas are your friend
Write down all of your ideas and use these as leverage to pitch working solutions to clients about their projects. In the end, you will learn to make succinct notes and have a lethal book of notes helping you to generate more income.
8. SPLIT YOUR INCOME!
You have to pay your taxes. Sorry about this. Work out how much you are earning per year, find your tax bracket at http://gov.uk and put that percentage of tax money away into a different account (if you have to) so you can pay your taxes on time when you need to.