Five Skills Every Freelancer Must Have

Handwritten by TVD

At TechOctave I run a tight ship. That means I bill every two weeks (Net 15). But, more importantly, I bill on a Time-and-Materials basis. Over the years, I’ve found T&M to be the best billing practice because it allows me to decouple the value of my services from my client’s perceived value of his project.

What this does is put me in a position to sell the full value of my services, rather than price my service based on the ease or difficulty of my client’s request.

If you’re new to running a development shop, you’re probably okay with billing on a Fixed Bid basis. But, unless you’re billing into the millions, fixed bid is a losing proposition for you and a losing proposition for your client!

Nathaniel Talbott of Terralien fame, in his awesomeness, has put together a video explaining the Five Skills Every Freelancer Must Have:

I took the liberty of jotting down notes from the video, so you could spend your time enjoying his talk. Here are the Five Skills Every Freelancer must Have:

1. Time & Materials: Negotiate. Give your price in person. Fit your worth + what you can do into their budget. No negotiation can work unless you're willing to walk away. Fixed Bid = Walk Away!

2. Mutual Benefit: If client fails, then you don'
t get a referral or a successful case study. So, play a win-win!

3. Manage your Time: 1 hr rule. After an hour, ask yourself *Have I done something the client can see and thus, verify what they are paying for?* The client shouldn't pay for you to think while you're banging your head against the wall.

4. Always be Delivering Value: Your client is paying you to deliver value to them. You have to deliver this value consistently. Have the technical competence so you can deliver the value they are paying for. *Never be blocked!* The client doesn't see it, but he will consistently block you from delivering (e.g. interruptions, scope creep, etc.) and it is your job to work with them and make sure they get their return on investment.

5. Watch your Cash flow: Net 15. Bill every two weeks. Collect every two weeks or quicker. Nathaniel has never had anyone complain. Neither have I. To grease the money pipes, the first bill should be an advance bill for the first week. How your client pays is indicative of how the client will pay for the project. Do this and you'
ll know if they plan to skip the bill and can fire them quicker. Your clients that pay deserve your time and respect, not the clients that try to stiff you! Keep short account (payables), especially with subcontractors, pay them as you receive payment from the client.

Have you learned any other helpful tips for freelancers? Leave a comment and we can discuss your experiences.

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