Three lessons from my first freelance project
I recently completed my first paid freelance project. Here are some things I wish I had known when I started:
- Overestimate the required budget and time: This really comes down to two things: don’t ask less because it’s your first project and don’t forget to account for time to educate the customer on thing you just delivered. I made both mistakes and ended up being quite frustrated due to time having to implement various last minute changes and tweaks.
- Communicate early and often: I can break down the project in two parts. In the first part I was pretty passive: I only communicated when absolutely required and preferably by email. Because the customer started to become less responsive, I picked up the phone and started communicating much more proactive. That allowed me to better understand the customer demands and react much quicker. Additionally, I was able to manage customer expectations.
- Invoice quickly: I only invoiced at the last moment. This meant that I had to keep complying with the customer until the last moment because I had already invested so much time while he hadn’t yet paid anything. Had I been smart and courageous enough to ask for (at least in part) upfront payment, I would have had a lot less frustration (see point 1)
So, that’s what I did wrong. What could you have done better in your first freelance project?