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Here at MOO, we're seeing more and more people heading out into the freelance or small business world. As a few of the MOO team have been freelancers at different times in our careers, we can't help but discuss how some things have changed for the better - and other things never seem to get any easier.


One question that's always tricky to figure out is how much you should charge for your work. Too much, and you'll never get the clients. Too little, and not only will you be out of pocket, but you'll start feeling like your work is under valued (and if that's the situation, you'll wonder why you ever quit the rat-race in the first place).

Luckily, one of the things that has changed over the years, is access to advice from other people in your situation. There are hundreds of great communities online, places you can ask for advice, and get a measure of your market. From the more obvious sites, like Enterprise Nation, and Freelancefolder, to the less obvious mini-communities on places like Flickr, it's easier than ever make contact with people in your industry.

Freelance Switch, another community with resources for freelancers, actually has an hourly-rate calculator. Even just looking at it brings into sharp focus all the details you should be taking into account. If you haven't made the freelance leap yet, it's very well worth a look.

Once you've decided how much to charge, you need to figure out the basics of invoicing. While you can get an accountant to do the more heavy-duty end of year taxes, you'll need to be able to figure out who owes you money and whether or not you've invoiced them yet.

These days there are lots of very good, simple, online applications available to help you do this. Some of our MOO designers use applications like Freshbooks - with invoicing and expense tracking, follow-up responses, and tools for gently 'reminding' clients when they haven't paid.

Freshbooks also provides time tracking and client/team management on top of the money chasing. Time tracking, if you're new to working on your own, can be an essential tool. It's very easy to underestimate the amount of time a job will take, so carefully tracking a few different kinds of jobs - right at the beginning - can save you time, and unpaid hours as you progress. (This is also relevant for the crafters out there - just because you enjoy it, doesn't mean it took no time to make - don't undersell yourselves!)

So, what about you? Have you got any freelance or small business communities you frequent? Or are you using any great online tools to help you keep track of your money - or your workflow?

If you'd like to try out Freshbooks, then take this code with you - MOOMONEY. Just enter it in the discount code box, and you'll get a $20 discount on the service you choose. Let us know how you get on.

And finally... a post with no pictures? That would never do. If you're an artist looking to promote yourself, take a leaf out of fellow-artist Lili Chin's book. Your work itself is your best selling point, so highlight it, share it and hand it out whenever you can.

Lili made Postcards and MiniCards, of her work, using MOO's 'Printfinity' technology. (It means 'lots of images in one pack'!) It's a real talking point - a proper little pocket portfolio...

Lili's Postcards


Lili's MiniCards

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
magenta_babylon
22nd Jan, 2009 01:07 (UTC)
That's a really helpful post, thanks Moo :) I always under price my artworks, trying to learn not to.

-Emmeline
moocards
22nd Jan, 2009 11:04 (UTC)
Its really hard to know how much to charge for things you like doing, I think. Anything you make by hand, or paint, is usually something you've enjoyed doing, and working out how much that is worth is really tricky - also how much people will pay.
(I for example, sometimes crochet toys, and people have asked if I'd sell them - I always say no, as they take so long to make if I charged for it, they'd be about $200 each!)
I think the calculator is really useful actually - even if you don't fill it out, just looking at the questions on there makes you realise how much you need to take into account.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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