Someone said on discord this might be helpful.
About working for yourself:
- Finishing stuff requires discipline, not inspiration. Doing a little bit each day is more effective than doing a lot all at once.
- Don’t work more than your allotted “work time” per day. If you want to work six hours per day, stick to it. Don’t work more than eight hours a day.*
*if you’re working under contract for a particular company this may change, but try to enforce good boundaries.
- Also, make sure to have a weekend. Be unavailable to clients barring emergencies during your weekend.
- Establish boundaries with your clients. Even if your clients are also your friends.
- Take breaks during your work day. Take an hour for lunch, get up to stretch, drink and snack.
- Work during your work hours. That seems obvious but I’ve also sat here at my desk “working” when I’m really just dicking around on tumblr.
About setting prices:
- Charge for the time & service, not the final product. Shift your thinking from “my skill level isn’t worth much” to “my time is valuable”. If you spend 4 hours on work, that’s four hours you could have been doing something else and won’t get back; you should be compensated for it.
- Flat fees should be established based on the amount of time you take for a project of that type x your hourly rate
- Hourly rate should be no less than a living wage. not minimum wage. living wage. how much does it take each month for you to have food, a roof over your head, and your bills paid, then add on a little fun money for spending and saving. divide this by four (avg. # of weeks in a month), then divide by five (# of business days in a week), then divide by 8 (standard hours in a work day). Final number is your minimum hourly rate.
- Experience should absolutely increase your rate. If you’ve been taking commissions for a few years, give yourself a raise. now you’re charging for time, service, and prior experience.
- Charge for the time you work with a minimum price of 30 minutes. If a task only takes you 10 minutes to complete, charge the full 30 minutes. But if you spend an hour at your desk and only 10 minutes actually working and you’re not done, hold on to that 10 minutes til you hit 30 or exceed 30.
- I can’t stress valuing your time enough. Don’t price yourself ridiculously high, don’t try to undercut your fellow freelancers, but get paid for your time. If you value your time, so will your clients.
- Always, always send an invoice. Google docs has some great free templates. An invoice protects you and your clients from fraud. Paypal has them too.
- Paypal: Don’t try to get around fees with “sending money to family and friends”. This can bite you in the butt – no seller protection, and no papertrail of them paying for a service.
- Large projects should have a contract. It doesn’t have to be stuffed with legalese, but it should outline the scope of the project: who it’s for, what you’re expected to do, what you’re expected to deliver/how/when, and the agreed on price or budget with any conditions about deposits or upfront payment.
- Upfront payment on large projects will save your butt. People are less likely to ghost you if they’ve already invested money, and if they do ghost you then you keep their deposit.
- If you do a lot of commission work, you probably have to pay taxes. Do your research on what that means, and the minimum amount you have to make annually from commissions before you pay. If you’re in the US, your state laws AND your county laws vary. US Federal law has a low threshold of $400 USD gross earnings annually before you’re technically supposed to start paying.
- Don’t freak out about taxes. They can be scary and confusing, but honestly, unless you’re pulling in tens of thousands or more per year in revenue, the tax people aren’t going to throw you in the dungeon. If you fuck up on your taxes, stay calm and talk it out with an agent – they want their money, and they’ll work with you to get it. If you’re under 18 don’t stress, but it’s probably worth asking your parent / guardian / local responsible adult to help you start learning about taxes. If this isn’t possible for you, seriously, don’t stress about it.
- USA: Estimated taxes are a thing. Since you get all of your money upfront, you’re supposed to estimate and pay state and federal taxes every quarter. If you want a tax return instead of a mountain of owed taxes every April, pay into your estimated taxes every quarter.
- Set aside 25% of each invoice for your taxes if you can* (if you’re doing emergency commission work, disregard. it’s more important for you to pay whatever it is needs paying ASAP)
- Some places require you to have a business name and a business license. See if that applies to you.
- USA, but possibly others idk: CreditKarma has a free online tax filing thing that’s super user-friendly.
Interacting with clients:
- “No” is a complete sentence. If a client wants you to do something that makes you uncomfortable – pressuring you for a discount, pressuring you to meet a deadline you didn’t agree to, if the subject matter is iffy, say “No.” Clients that do not respect your “No” will be clients you’ll regret.
- Try and keep in contact as best as you can. You’ll struggle as things come up and sometimes you’ll forget. But an attempt at communicating is better than leaving people in the dark.
- Family & Friend discounts will bite you on the ass. Don’t do it.
- Scope creep is a thing and try to guard yourself against it. Scope creep is when people ask you for a bunch of little changes outside of what you originally agreed the project was. A change or two isn’t too bad but be wary; offer a maximum # of revisions to start, and stick with it. Scope creep is how you start off with a commission for a forum signature for $20 and then wind up redesigning an entire forum for free. :( press F to pay respects to 2006 kami.
- Keep your messages and explanation brief. Don’t be like me and get sucked into a rabbit hole of having to write an essay to justify my rationale. A simple, “It is more effective if we do X” or “Y is not possible, can I recommend Z instead” makes life easier.
- Have a separate work email from your personal one. Gmail allows you to connect your gmail accounts together so you can work from one inbox but send from multiple addresses. Use filters to make sure anything being sent to your work email is marked as important so inquiries don’t wind up in spam.
- And sometimes, sometimes, “Go fuck yourself” is an appropriate response. Use sparingly.