The following is a review from a Foundations in Freelance student submitted for us to post because he was so thrilled with his experience. Tim is available for questions on his experience and if you’d like to reach out just send him an email here!
I want to share my journey so far through the foundations of freelancing transitioning from dependency on external sources of finding work to generating and maintaining my own as an LLC owner. I’ve spoken to some colleagues who were considering taking the Foundations in Freelance series but were hesitant to pull the trigger. This post will discuss my experience with filing as an LLC, notifying the agencies I work with, representing myself as a business, to drafting contracts and subcontracting work. All things, I learned through the series.
I started out as many freelancers do, with feelings of being overwhelmed. I didn’t know which route to go in the business world of one hand washing the other. I felt for a long time I was washing hands and mine were still in need of a good scrub! My passion for choosing the field I did was to foster relationships within the communities and situations that I found myself in. However, time and time again there were times I felt let down and worthless. Fearing it was time to start pursuing another field and looking up post grad opportunities, I felt helpless. This all changed when I met a person (Grey) within my field who showed me that there was another way. There was a way to work within my field, be independent, establish my own best practices and treat others how I wanted to be treated. The first step was establishing myself as an LLC.
Now I’ve been to several workshops in regards to why it’s important to protect yourself as an independent contractor and many anecdotes from friends as to why establishing yourself as an LLC is vital. This time was different, I wasn’t told but shown the way. I made the initial mistake of being overcharged for an EIN by a state website and then was directed to a website called IncFile. The process was pretty quick and simple. Within a few days my own LLC was created with an EIN number. This is the first time I felt like something bigger than myself albeit even more nervous. Grey caught the rookie mistake and walked me through the process of getting my EIN for free. Already, I felt he was behind me and had my best interest at heart.
Not knowing what to do next I hired Grey to consult with me on a business level. It’s a lot of information that easily slips your mind at first. But trust me with time, things become easier and more natural. After a few months of still working under my own personal social security number, I attended the Foundations in Freelance Workshop hosted by Flamingo Interpreting. It was here we learned how to approach things from a business perspective, something that is not taught in depth in most training or certifying programs. The first topic we discussed was branding. What were the values I wanted to bring to the table and put forth?
This was the first time I was asked this type of question. I didn’t know how to categorize the things I wanted to put forth as a business. I knew the clients I’ve worked with before have usually given me good feedback because I tried to be reliable, effortless, and transparent and then it struck me that these were the values I wanted to bring to my business. From booking and paying me to actual implementation of services I wanted it to be as simple as possible. My goal was to make my LLC as user friendly as possible and work hard so others didn’t have to.
The way this came to be was to start using AirTable as a database on Grey’s recommendation. Organizing my incoming assignments, invoices, vendor profile, W-9, insurance and all necessary documentation became easy to send in one file with just one click. So this way when I am in negotiations with a potential client everything is in one place and in a business world efficiency is key. No one likes the vendor you have to chase down for documentation. Now that my files were beginning to take shape I decided to switch my freelancing work from my SSN to my EIN.
With a new perspective I reached out to several agencies that I take the most work with and presented them with my new information and began to change the way I interacted with them. I started to treat agencies who I previously saw as employers as clients. I treat them with the same reliability, diligence, and transparency I do with other clients. Again agencies are businesses and appreciate efficiency as much as the next one. The only difference between an agency and a direct client is an agency handles the client relations, billing, invoicing, and client sourcing. All of this, I learned through Foundations in Freelance and I couldn’t be happier. My practice is completely different now.
Luckily I hired a consultant when I did. This is because I had an opportunity to hold a decent sized contract for the first time. I hopped on the phone with him and we discussed provisions and terms of service and sent it over to the client. Within a few days it was signed, all of my information was sent in one easy click and I was able to focus on fostering those relationships within the work situations I was in. It was invigorating. I learned how to write a contract thanks to the workshop series I mentioned earlier and even how to subcontract. I successfully subcontracted my first team!
This is where my journey is currently. I’m looking forward to learning more, doing good business, and continuing to grow.
If you’re on the fence about taking a class that is going to foster development and growth in your practice, don’t hesitate. I know for my other classmates, they’ve seen fantastic changes in their work including a confidence in negotiating higher rates, finding new direct clients, writing and executing on their own contracts. Not only did we learn more than what I expected but Grey’s pro-tips on how to start out affordably and effectively saved me more money than had I tried on my own. I cannot recommend this course enough!