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    Hello everybody,

    I’m considering to try and find some freelance work in my city and would need some insight on how to go about doing this.

    • What’s the best way to get freelance work?
    • How do you go about charging for freelance work?
    • When or how should I get paid? At the end? Beginning? Half/Half? In thirds? etc
    • What are important things to include in the contract?

    I just need general information about freelancing so if by chance someone agrees, I know how to deal with it.

    This would be great information to know and greatly appreciated!



    I will start by saying that your contract will be the most important thing on any project. It needs to be thought about and tweaked until you are comfortable with it.

    I just had a project go to shambles and the only way I was protected was with the contract that I had in place.

    The payments also should be laid out in the contract. For example, I usually have four payments. An initial non-refundable deposit, and then another payment on each deliverable (design, development, completion).

    The best way to get work is the tricky part. It will most certainly be slow to begin with, but word of mouth pretty much gets the job done for me now. Every once and a while somebody on Craiglist is willing to pay a suitable amount of money.

    Getting in touch with local businesses is great. Going to Chamber of Commerce meetings, etc.


    That’s a good start, thanks :)

    In your opinion, what kind of stuff should I lay out in the contract?

    To get work, would you consider like finding business’ online in my area and checking out their websites. If it needs improvement, create an email and send them it and if they agree, set up a meeting? Is that a valid way?

    How much should i go about charging?


    I will try to get around to the contract part later today.

    Getting work is not an easy task. While cold-emailing is one method, you’re really going to need to get your hands dirty and get out there and start talking to people.

    Hell, you can even start by working for friends and family – or at least telling every friend and family member that you are available for work. Even if they don’t need something, chances are they know somebody that does. You just want to get your name out there. I’d say 95% of my work comes from people saying “______ referred me to you”.

    Charging is a tough one, because it all depends on where in the world you’re located. Every project that I do works like this:

    (Hours to complete work [research, design, development, etc.] + hours in communication with client) x hourly rate = Project Cost

    But somebody living in… Vancouver is going to need to charge more than somebody in India, simply due to cost of living.


    Great advice, TheDoc! Having a contract is an absolute necessity!

    I’ll see if I can add something to this.

    To Thadley:

    1) I would recommend attending business mixers in your area where large sums of people meet. Share business cards and if you get an opportunity to introduce yourself, have a speech planned out for a 3-5 minute talk about what you do/services you provide. is a place where you can meet other professionals in your industry, network, etc… your local chamber of Commerce (as TheDoc mentioned) BNI, etc.. These business groups often cost money to join (usually $300-400 a year) but I think it’s worth it. is free (most of the time) to join events. I would NOT recommend cold-calling businesses in the phone book—people are rude, and don’t want to talk. It’s best to attend meetings with large sums of people.

    2) I would think rates/charging would depend on a number of things: how long you’ve been a web designer, where you live. I always say: “Don’t undersell yourself, but don’t make yourself so expensive that you have clients walking away because you’re too expensive!” Your time is valuable, so factor your skills, cost of living into this.

    3) Always, always ask for a half-down payment before project starts (You’ll need to state your rates/payment plan in your contract). I used to have a 50/50 payment plan: 50% deposit before project starts and 50% at the end of the project, but, then I had a few clients that decided to take vacations half-way into the projects I started for them, making it seem like my work was less important. So I like 50-25-25. That’s worked well for me!

    4) Contracts should include: copyright ownership, your payment policy, project objectives, policies for when a client decides to halt services, independent contractor notification (so that clients know you’re a contractor and don’t work for “XYZ” company), plus so much more! I would recommend you going online and doing some research on contracts and find out ALL the things you need to include. You may decide you want to include other things in your contract.

    Also, I set guidelines in my contract for when I expect to hear back from clients. In past experiences, I’ve sent comps for clients to review and it took them a month to review before getting back to me. Set guidelines for how long you want things to take…if you don’t, the client will choose to take FOREVER! Believe me! Also, don’t be afraid to fire clients that are rude or waste your time. You’re providing them a great service, and if they don’t respond, or are rude, fire them!

    This is probably the most important advice I have to give: CHOOSE CLIENTS WHO KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT! I say that not to shout, but to emphasize my point. If you choose clients that are undecided or don’t know what they want to achieve, you’ll end up in circles designing things that never suit them.

    Thanks for reading!


    I would have to agree with Tanner…especially his last comments :”The long and the short of it.”

    I’ve found that staffing agencies and design agencies treat freelancers like their experience isn’t experience! I’ve even been told that a couple times before. “Freelance isn’t considered experience.”

    Then, What the heck is it???! It’s definitely experience, and I’ve worked harder as a freelancer than I’ve ever worked at a design company. The truth is—often times if you’re workig at a design agency, you’re stuck doing one task only! You don’t have the opinion to say what you want to say, and often times, there’s no interaction with clients. You may have interaction within departments, but you’re stuck doing one task! I find that boring and limiting. I love the freedom and work as a freelancer, but it bothers me that freelancers are treated as “non-experienced” designers in the work-force! It’s complete non-sense!


    One more thing: don’t do freebies, even if you’re trying to build your portfolio! (family might be an exception, but that’s the only one!!) Long story short, went through three months of EXACTLY what Tanner described because I was trying to help out a struggling non-profit. Details aren’t important, but having a contract in place and a cost involved would have made my life much easier.

    One final thought related to Tanner’s post: would be the best design website name ever. :)



    As @TheDoc stated previously, “Every once and a while somebody on Craiglist is willing to pay a suitable amount of money.”

    This usually shows to be true and I’m sure most would agree that Craigslist is probably the worst place to get clients. It seems to be the #1 place to get things on sale and/or cheap service. Not that there isn’t a few good apples because there are. But in my honest opinion, most Craigslist users are price shoppers looking to get a room at the Four Seasons for 3 months at a price of $300, metaphorically speaking. Meaning, the people who end up becoming clients from Craigslist want exquisite work for basically nothing at all.


    Josh’s Final point is so true. If you don’t look confident about your price people will start wondering weather or not its going to be worth it. If you are confident when you tell them the price, most likely they will be happy with it


    All of you have contributed amazing insight! :)

    It has really opened up my eyes and I will have to invest time to make it perfect. My biggest concern as of right now since I’m only starting out is to come up with the right contract from the start to protect myself from being screwed over.

    your last point is also a concern of mine in regards to money and confidence. It is true that its JUST MONEY, although it isn’t an easy thing to talk about especially when just starting out. I do believe what @tannercampbell said, I guess once I’ve got experience under my belt, I will know how long projects will take me and therefore giving me a better understanding about how to price it.

    , @robst and @TheDoc You’ve all clearly stated some really important points towards contracts, determining the cost of projects! This is really helpful.

    It bothers me to know that people will deliberately screw somebody over and how they believe in their minds that freelancing isn’t experience. That’s a joke! Most people get a lot of their experience from freelancing am I not correct? That’s unless you would rather just work for a design agency.

    There is so much to think about!


    Give this a watch:

    “Fuck You, Pay Me.”

    Some great points made.


    Ya, I just watched it. He does make some really good points. I have it bookmarked for when I’m ready to sit down and figure out my contract.

    Great video. :)

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