The Digital Nomad Starter Kit

Ever seen the #digitalnomad under those fancy Instagram posts with a gorgeous view of a sunset or a swimming pool with a laptop somewhere in the shot? What is a digital Nomad you ask. It’s nothing but a fancy word for a freelancer, the wild west of the employment world!Working from home or your favourite coffee shop on projects you really like without being answerable to any authority sounds like a dream eh? It is definitely the way to go if you do not like being confined to a specific location or a project and love to meet new people.

However, Life of a freelancer is not an orderly, predictable way of life, it is dauntingly different. Communicating, planning, outsourcing, networking and designing – it’s busy! Adding to that is the never ending list of risks, invoice clearance, clients having a stick up their asses about last minute changes yada yada yada. But there are some things you can do to keep your Freelance life (full time or part time) somewhat hassle free.

1. Before you do anything, Build a Portfolio

Remember: Your Freelance Portfolio is your Resume. Potential companies and entrepreneurs looking for freelancers are not interested in what school you attended. They want to know what you can do and how you can help them further their goals. Even if you don’t have paid work, showcase anything that reflects some of your best works, maybe a redesign or a personal project.

2. Networking

You cannot be a designer, artist, gamedev or any kinda Freelancer without being a businessman. If you do not know how to pitch yourself you are more likely to get stuck in a rut and at this day and age, social media is the strongest marketing tool you can have at your disposal. Having a social media presence not only helps you reach out to more people but also helps clients find you. I cannot stress this enough. Building a social media network is as important as building a Portfolio. Not just social media, you will land some of your initial clients via word of mouth. Family, Friends, Acquaintances tend to pass your name. I receive a new lead once in a quarter from Someone who knows I am in this field of work.

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3. Cold Calling

You want companies to reach out to you? Reach out to them first. I remember when I first started, I emailed over 150 companies pitching myself and my work. It is a long time investment. They may not need your services at that point of time but your information will be there in their database. So if anything opens up in the future, there is always 60 percent more chance of you getting contacted. 

4. The most important of all Documents, The Contract

Do not. Ever. Start working. Without a contract. Period. This is the only thing that keeps Freelancers secure from getting whipped. Not only does a contract establish you as a professional Freelancer but it also mentions all the do’s and don’ts, payment information and important dates. Your contract is the only thing that will protect you AND the client from the horror stories you hear about freelancing.An ideal contract includes information about the deadlines, the deliverables expected from you, the Down payment, the final amount that needs to be paid and anything else having to do with the client/freelancer relationship. Both of you should sign this and have a deposit paid before ANY work is done (if you require one).P.S. It always helps to keep a contract template ready. You can adapt it according to different works/ clients.

5. Establish you Rates

The worst part of freelancing is the confusion in terms of how much you should charge.Every freelancer has had this thought at some point or the other during negotiations.Clients, for that matter, have divided opinions. Some are willing to pay the freelancer on an hourly basis, and some are simply happy to pay per project. To make life easier for your as a freelancer, you should ideally be able to make the pick between hourly and project based even before the talks around money with the clients begin! If you decide to charge per project it would be a smart move to already have an established rate card or package deals you can offer the client. If you want to charge hourly, calculate the amount you want to earn as a whole and divide it by the amount of hours you want to put.Eg: I want to make 30 grand within 180 hours,  that gives us 166 bucks per hour.Continue to increase your rates with each project or as you take on more complex work. Lastly, never reduce your rates for a client without removing something from the scope.

Now, here are some things that you shouldn’t do:

1. Do not over commit or over promise something you cannot do. It’s fine to take on the project if you know it’s something you can do based on your current skills. But don’t say you can code an iOS app for a client if you’ve never done any iOS development before.

2. DO NOT WORK FOR FREE. EVERRRRR. They wanna pay you in exposure? Let them do their work on their own:)

3. Set a realistic time frame. If you think something will take you a week to code, tell the client it’ll take two. Something will come up that will throw off your schedule. It’s better to deliver earlier than expected than to have to push out a launch date.

4.Keep track of you expenses. Before you know it you will find a dent in your pocket growing more and more with every project.
So yeah, that’s it. These are some of the basic things you need to know and set up before you embark upon you journey as a freelancer. And if you already have, you know you can’t control the behavior of your freelance clients, but you can manage your expectations and responses.

Happy Freelancing!

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