Deciding how to charge as a freelancer can be difficult when you’re first starting out. The most popular ways to charge clients are hourly, by project, and by retainer. No matter if you’re a writer, graphic designer, web developer, or consultant, there are pros and cons to each. 

So, how do you decide which is best for you? 

Before we delve into each method, here are some things to think about when it comes to your rates:

  • Keep your rates flexible, and adapt them as you gain experience 
  • Decide on different pricing strategies for different clients
  • Get insights from other freelancers to see what they charge
  • Ask for a deposit for large-scale, fixed projects
  • If it’s a rush project, increase your price 
  • If your client wants to reduce your fee, then reduce the project scope
  • Make sure you charge enough to cover the growth of your business
  • Don’t undervalue your talent as you negotiate your price

Deciding your payment method

Now, let’s examine what it means to charge hourly, by project, or by retainer.


Charging your clients hourly is a pretty controversial practice in the freelancing world. That’s because it often limits the number of other projects you can take on from other clients, which means your efficiency and profit will most likely take a hit. Plus, you are required to estimate and track every task you do. Most experienced freelancers try to avoid this method if they can.

However, if you’re a beginner freelancer and you’re trying to build your portfolio and client list, then you may have no choice but to accept an hourly offer from a few clients at first. If this is the case, then perhaps offer to charge a daily rate rather than an hourly rate. This way, your rate doesn’t necessarily have to be for an 8-hour workday. It provides a little more schedule flexibility, and you can decide on the hours you work each day. It also allows you to adapt and modify your rate for larger or smaller projects. We recommend limiting your weekly availability to 3 to 4 days if you go the daily rate, so you have time for other projects. 

By Project

Freelance web designer Jake Jorogovan writes about his first six months as a freelancer and how he went from charging hourly to charging by the project and why. Here’s the gist: While he made roughly $6,000 a month from his work with clients by charging hourly, he was also working more than 60 hours a week while juggling lots of different clients. He found this to be much more stressful and not terribly efficient regarding his time. Then he switched to charging his clients per project. Not only was he still making the same amount of money per month, but his quality of life was better because he’s working a lot fewer hours with fewer clients.

Charging per project, otherwise known as fixed-pricing, is the preferred option for most freelancers because it’s based on the quality you bring to your work. When you charge per project, you guarantee your client that you will deliver the job you agreed to. Rather than pricing your work based on your time, you’re changing based on the value of your work. If you choose this method, you’ll need to show your clients why you’re pricing your job the way you are. Be prepared to explain how the quality and approach of your work will help their business. 


Charging your clients based on a retainer fee depends on if they have enough work to warrant a long-term commitment with you. Retainers are generally a flat rate based on a weekly or monthly basis that allows you as a freelancer to get a consistent income. Typically, you discuss your potential client’s work needs upfront, then agree to a list of projects during that period. We advise signing a freelance retainer agreement, so both you and your client know what to expect regarding your workload for the retainer timeframe you’ve agreed to. Though you are working for a flat rate, you’ll need to think about your work in terms of hourly rate simply because it’s the easiest way to think about your value in terms of money and time. 

Do what’s most comfortable for you

Ultimately, you’ll need to decide how to charge your client based on your comfort level. None of the methods we mentioned above are wrong. If you’re new to freelancing and you want to charge hourly, you can always change your strategy later on as you build your confidence. It all comes down to finding the best fit for both you and your client. As a freelancer, building long-lasting relationships with your customers is vital, so there may be cases where you need to compromise, and that’s okay. Once they see the quality of work you’re delivering, you can always renegotiate. 

Establish a contract

Always have a contract. Writer, editor, and entrepreneur Jessica Schwartz offers this advice on what to include in her Medium article about the fine art of writing a freelance contract: 

Your contract should dictate payments, deadlines, deliverables, 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.)

She also includes a sample contract template via Google docs you can use for yourself and a YouTube video in her piece, so be sure to check it out.


𝐇𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐲 𝐓𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐝𝐨𝐜 provides high-quality, convenient care by giving NFICA members and their dependents free unlimited on-demand or scheduled consults with U.S. board-certified doctors via phone or video for just $9 a month! If you’re a freelancer, independent contractor, self-employed, or a direct seller, your healthcare just got a whole lot easier. Learn more



Clubhouse is the latest platform to sweep the social media scene. Born through a socially deprived pandemic in which people are limiting their in-person interactions, Clubhouse is taking the internet by storm. Currently, in its beta-testing stage, Clubhouse is a place for professionals from all industries to come together and network. In short, it’s a fully interactive audio-only app that allows you to either listen in on or participate in live discussions.

This unique layout combines the best of popular social media platforms:

  • It gives you the ability to network with like-minded professionals and gain knowledge on navigating your way through your career endeavors, just like LinkedIn
  •  Provides the opportunity to connect with others around the world and discuss common interests, just like Facebook
  • After a “session” is over, the conversation is gone forever, just like Snapchat

Clubhouse Explained

The premise is quite simple. Clubhouse is full of various rooms that cover a myriad of topics. The company describes itself as “a new type of social product that allows people everywhere to talk, tell stories, develop ideas, deepen friendships, and meet interesting new people around the world.” You simply choose the room that you want to engage with and enter the chat. Immediately, you have access to the audio as it is happening in real-time. You can either stay and listen or “raise your hand” for a chance to speak. In fact, the more you contribute useful information and participate in various discussions, the greater your clout becomes on the app. 

Why Join Clubhouse? 

At first glance, adding yet another social media platform to your Rolodex of apps can feel exhausting. But there is a sense of authenticity to Clubhouse that other social media sites don’t offer you. Especially if you are a freelancer, direct seller, or entrepreneur, joining this interactive experience is a chance to network with professionals in your field and gain invaluable information to help your business. Additionally, with the app being so new, it’s easier to gain a following here than in any other, more established social media platform. Having a large count of followers is a great way to advertise your business for free and get your name out there.

Users can also take a break from the professional topics and listen in on some fun and engaging content. There are even celebrities currently using this app. At any given time, you could be hearing a lecture from Kevin Hart, Oprah, or Ashton Kutcher. Having the ability to interact with powerful and famous people can mean huge things for your growing business as an entrepreneur and just plain fun.

Clubhouse also offers a feature that allows you to connect your other social media platforms. If someone clicks on your icon, they receive links to your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and any other social site that you want advertised. These links add an extra opportunity for interested clients or customers to check out your product. 

The Bottom Line 

As an entrepreneur, whether you are established in your field or just getting started, make it a priority to be on the frontlines of Clubhouse. Clubhouse is your opportunity to pioneer a new social media platform and build a following before it blows up. Currently, Clubhouse is invite-only, but iOS users should download the app and reserve their username. Clubhouse will contact you when you’re accepted into the app. 

Join NFICA for $5 a year

The National Federation of Independent Contractors Association is designed to meet the needs of self-employed business leaders like yourself by offering competitively priced insurance benefits and lifestyle and business product discounts. With NFICA’s support, you can confidently say, “I can do this!” Learn more.


Conducting customer satisfaction surveys are among the best ways to encourage user engagement, establish customer loyalty, and create a business that stands out from your competition. Every small business owner can benefit from their customers’ feedback, and conducting a short survey is well within reach for a growing company. 

So how should you incorporate a customer satisfaction survey into your business model? Let’s start by explaining what a customer survey is. 

Breaking Down the Basics

A customer satisfaction survey is an easy way to evaluate a customer’s experience with your company. A questionnaire is usually no more than a few questions, designed to help businesses understand what their customers think about their products, practices, and customer support. This tool is handy for small business owners, as it gives them an opportunity to course-correct as their business grows. 

Customer satisfaction surveys are beneficial to every growing business, including independent contractors, freelancers, and direct sellers, as it gives tangible feedback on where to improve. However, there is a science to curating a useful customer survey, whether it’s pinpointing appropriate questions to ask, deciding how long the questionnaire should be, or when exactly the best time is to send out the survey. Luckily, there are several tools to help you craft the perfect study for your business. 

Apps to Get You Started

There are tons of helpful apps used to create surveys for you. What’s more, each App serves to provide you with a different style. You can pick and choose, depending on your vision and the growth level your business is experiencing. Below are some of the most popular customer satisfaction survey apps:

SurveyPlanet: This App is beneficial for beginners. SurveyPlanet offers over 90 templates with pre-written questions that you can use “as-is” or tweak as you see fit. They also provide a live edit feature, which allows you to see your edits in real-time in the same window.

LimeSurvey: This App is a little more involved, offering a highly customizable survey builder. It also gives you the ability to collect confidential information. LimeSurvey allows you to build detailed surveys, and you can host them on your own servers. 

YesInSights: YesInSIghts is perfect for those looking to conduct one-question surveys. Suppose you would like a fast and overarching way to evaluate your customer’s experience. In that case, this App allows you to set up a survey as simple as, “Were you satisfied with your customer service experience?” Customers may be more inclined to answer if the questionnaire is simple and to the point. 

SurveyAnyplace: If you are struggling to get your customers to fill out a customer satisfaction survey, incentivizing them with prizes may be an effective attention grabber. This App is designed to gamify the survey process. After a customer has completed the survey, they receive a digital scratch card that instantly lets them know if they’ve won a prize. 

Asking the Right Questions 

Regardless of the style you are looking for, it’s essential to incorporate relevant questions into your survey. First, determine the questions you want to ask by pinpointing your company’s area needing improvement. Since these surveys should be relatively short to avoid fatigue, only focus on one or two places where you think there may be room for improvement. 

Start with asking simple questions. These can either be in the form of yes/no or multiple choice. Customers often become intimidated by text boxes, asking them to fill out a paragraph’s worth of information. It’s okay to include it once, but consider putting it at the end of your survey to allow customers to elaborate on their previous answers. 

Keep your phrasing simple. If you are genuinely looking for ways to improve, avoid language that may lean biased or compel the customer to answer a certain way. This could lead to inaccurate results and a skewed idea of the customer’s experience. Keeping the questions as simple as possible, with minimal words, will garner the most genuine responses. Consider questions as simple as, “Would you rebuy this product?” 

Optimize Your Time To Send

Successful surveys rely on timing. You could have great questions, but they’re only useful if they get answered. How long should you wait to survey a customer after interacting with you, your website, or your products and services? Generally speaking, it should be directly after an interaction with your company. If someone has a bad experience, you can rectify it before you lose that customer for good. 

Here are the best ways to distribute and promote your surveys online:

  • Send email surveys
  • Add surveys to your website
  • Embed surveys in blogposts
  • Share surveys over social media

Customer satisfaction surveys are an excellent way to increase user engagement. It sends the message to your customers that you are always looking for ways to improve. Consumers love to feel heard, and when they also feel as though they are making a direct impact on the improvement of a company, they may feel more loyal to your brand. 

Join NFICA for $5 a year

The National Federation of Independent Contractors Association is designed to meet the needs of self-employed business leaders like yourself by offering competitively priced insurance benefits and lifestyle and business product discounts. With NFICA’s support, you can confidently say, “I can do this!” Learn more.


Running an email marketing campaign takes a lot of planning and hard work. So when it’s time to monitor your campaign’s success, you need to know precisely what to look for, or else your efforts will be in vain. The metrics to watch are called email marketing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). While there are many types, there are three you should always be tracking – deliverability, open rates, and click-through rates.

The importance of email deliverability

Email deliverability is the ability to deliver emails to subscribers inboxes. While email deliverability is often mistaken for delivery rate, they are not the same. The delivery rate shows the percentage of your emails delivered divided by the number of emails sent.  

Deliverability depends on a variety of elements such as the service provider, the accuracy of your email list, the domain from which you’re sending the emails, frequency, and your IP address. 

If your email isn’t delivered, then open rates and click-through rates don’t matter. 

Now that we’ve established what deliverability is, what qualifies as a good deliverability rate? Your goal should always be 100% deliverability. However, this usually isn’t the case. Sometimes your email will, for various reasons, not be delivered successfully or bounce back. This is called your bounce rate, and on average, almost 11% of emails over all industries experience it. Bounces happen if your subscribers have a full inbox, there’s a problem with the recipient’s server, or if you’re using an invalid email address. When tracking your overall email deliverability rate, follow these KPIs: 

  • 95% or higher is a good deliverability rate
  • Your bounce rate shouldn’t be more than 3%
  • Don’t exceed 0.08% for your spam rate

Keep in mind that your deliverability rate depends on the platform you use to send your email campaigns. Not all of them are created equal, though most providers typically hover between a 88% to 89% delivery rate. Here’s a list of 7 email marketing services for small businesses. 

Measuring your open rates

Your open rate measures the percentage of your recipients who open your emails. If you have a large portion of your audience opening your emails, it’s a good indication that your subject lines attract attention. It’s also a way to know if your emails are relevant to the people you’re sending them to. An open rate to aspire to is anywhere above 25%, though between 20% to 25% is acceptable. Of course, you can always drill down by measuring the different types of open rates. Here are a few to think about:

  • Mobile opens – This measures how many users open your emails on their mobile devices versus desktops. If you find most of your recipients are opening them on mobile, you can optimize your messages with larger font sizes, less text, and more graphics. 
  • Open times – Knowing how soon your audience is opening your emails after receiving them can help you decide the best time and day to send them. Here is data to assist with this.
  • Unique opens versus total opens – Comparing how many recipients opened your email once to how many opened it multiple times is useful. Ask yourself, why would a single subscriber open an email multiple times? A few answers include, a recipient likes what they read and wants to follow up in some way or share the email with a colleague (both good) or bots are opening the email (not so good).

To improve your open rates, analyze your subject line. Try using your recipient’s first name in the subject line. Avoid using a question mark (?) or hashtag (#). Keep your subject between 6 to 10 words.

Measure your content quality with your click-through rate

Your click-through rate (CTR) measures how many people click through an email in relation to how many emails were delivered. This gives you direct insight into how many people engage with your content and are interested in learning more. So, in essence, you’re measuring engagement. You can calculate your CTR by taking the number of clicks your email received divided by the number of times your email was successfully delivered multiplied by 100.

Here’s an example: 

500 total clicks ÷ 10,000 delivered emails x 100 = 5%. 

HubSpot provides a great post about what constitutes a reasonable click-through rate, depending on your company’s size. 

If your CTR is lower than you’d like it to be, then consider looking at the quality of your email content and your CTAs. What are you requesting your readers to do when they click on a link? How engaging was your message? 

Join NFICA for $5 a year

The National Federation of Independent Contractors Association is designed to meet the needs of self-employed business leaders like yourself by offering competitively priced insurance benefits and lifestyle and business product discounts. With NFICA’s support, you can confidently say, “I can do this!” Learn more.



Whether you’ve taken a leap of faith and quit your 9-5 or want to generate some side income, starting a home-based business can be a good option. While the venture is undoubtedly exciting, there are a few important ducks to get in a row before you can begin selling a product or service from your home.

Here are just a few things to consider before getting started.

Create A Business Plan

It’s imperative to sit down and figure out every aspect of your business before bringing it to the public. Consider starting with some basic questions. What do you have to offer? What makes your product/service stand out from the competition? Is your product or service imperative to the general public, and if so, why? Remember, if no one else is offering your product or service, it might be because there is no demand! What are you looking to accomplish through your business financially?

If you need a business loan, a business plan is required. Even if you aren’t applying for a loan, a business plan will serve as your business’s blueprint and operations guide. Here’s a simple business plan template to get you started. Another great resource is SCORE, a volunteer business mentorship program that offers entrepreneurs free or low-cost business counseling.

Determine Your Business Structure Before Choosing A Business Name

It’s essential to choose your business structure before choosing a name for your business because rules regarding name registration vary depending on your business structure. A few examples include sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), or an S or C corporation. Entrepreneur lists what to focus on when choosing a business format.

  • legal liability
  • tax implications
  • cost of formation and on-going administration
  • flexibility
  • future needs

When you’re ready to choose a business name, check to make sure it doesn’t already exist. Check the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Just as important, if your planning on having an online presence check to make sure your domain name is available. Try checking here.

Federal, State, And Local Licenses And Permits

You might love your neighborhood, but is it suitable for a home-based business? That depends on the business itself. First, check your local zoning and permit regulations and see if any business licenses are required. There may be restrictions on what kind of business is allowed. For example, will you need customer parking, or will there be a noticeable uptick in shipping traffic? If this is the case, a residential location may not be best. If you’re making some type of food product, you may have to undergo a health inspection. Address all legalities ahead of time so that you don’t risk any fines, penalties, or being forced to shut down!

Make Sure Your Family Is On-Board

You might think that working out of your home will provide the flexibility you desire to spend more time with your family. Unfortunately, sometimes the opposite may occur. Small business owners, especially when starting, may feel that they need to always be “on the clock.” Because of this, it’s imperative to consciously focus on time management. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time.

Purchase Insurance

It’s important to know that neither homeowners’ nor renters’ insurance policies cover home-based businesses. The type of insurance you need will depend on your business or industry. Some types include:

  • business property insurance
  • liability insurance (professional and product)
  • business automobile

Lastly, don’t forget about health insurance for yourself and your family. The NFICA offers several great options.

HealtiestYou by Teladoc – Talk to a doctor 24/7 for only $9 a month; choose from over 8,000 certified doctors. 

Hospital Indemnity – includes hospital visits, physician visits, prescriptions, and more.

Dental Insurance – includes exams, fillings, extractions, crowns, implants, and dentures.





Ben Henry-Moreland was a classical singer straight out of college. Though school had given him the skills he needed to sing professionally, he realized he didn’t know how to manage its business side. How could he make a career out of being a freelance, classically-trained musician and support himself financially? 

This is a familiar problem freelancers face when starting their businesses. That’s why Ben decided to switch gears and help others with the same problems he experienced by starting his own financial planning firm specifically for freelancers called Freelance Financial Planning. His company specializes in financial planning and investing, and starting next year, tax preparation. 

We talked with Ben about what freelancers need to know about the financial side of working for yourself.  

What’s the first thing people should think about before quitting their current jobs to start a freelancing career?

If they’re starting out as a freelancer from scratch and don’t have any clients in the pipeline, it’s really going to take a minimum of a year or two to build up enough of a client base where you’re just breaking even. Obviously, it will depend on each individual situation, but I would say start with at least a year’s worth of cash to pay your bills at least.

What’s the number one best practice freelancers can do to stay organized when it comes to their finances? 

Spend 10 minutes a week logging your expenses in whatever bookkeeping program you use and make sure you’re setting aside emergency money. Calculate what your business expenses are versus your personal expenses. That’s going to save you a whole lot of time at the end of the year. And when you’re trying to put your tax stuff together, it’s going to save you a lot of frustration, too, if you do a little bit at a time regularly. That also goes with your personal expenses as well; just spending a little bit of time getting a picture of what your financial needs are.

What advice do you have for beginning freelancers who eventually want to grow their business but are afraid of managing a healthy work/life balance? 

Having some awareness of what you need every month just to keep going, and then looking ahead at the preferred lifestyle you’d like to achieve gives you a place to start to set some goals for what you want to make in terms of income and how much you need to grow your business. It can be challenging to find that balance. After all, you feel like you’ve got to work and grow your business as much as you can because you’re just starting and you don’t know many clients. It’s hard to step back from that and say, “Okay, I’ve reached the place where I want to get to,” if you haven’t actually set a goal in advance. So just set a goal for what you want that freelance lifestyle to look like.

Freelancers have to rely on themselves to make sure they are taking out the appropriate amount of money for federal and state taxes. What tips can you provide for people who have to calculate those deductions on their own? 

Technically you are supposed to pay quarterly. Otherwise, you’ll usually owe some sort of a penalty to the IRS. That can save you a little bit of money just in terms of penalties. I often recommend trying to replicate that experience for someone coming from a salaried job where they’re used to getting a regular paycheck. You might set up three different bank accounts. I recommend a business bank account where all of your money from clients comes in, and then you pay all of your business expenses out of that account. And then, every check that comes in, you’re going to take a percentage of that and put it into a separate bank account, which will be your tax savings account. Next, you can set up your personal checking account with a recurring transfer and basically pay yourself a paycheck. So you’re paying yourself a paycheck, you’re withholding your taxes, and then you don’t have to worry at the end of the year about owing a big chunk of money for taxes that you might not have.

Join NFICA for $5 a year

The National Federation of Independent Contractors Association is specifically designed to meet the needs of self-employed business leaders like yourself by offering competitively priced insurance benefits and lifestyle and business product discounts. With NFICA’s support, you can confidently say, “I can do this!” Learn more.


We all know that holiday shopping will look a lot different this year compared to years past, thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Like Forrester, most market research firms agree that this will be the year when online shopping explodes. Forbes reports that online retail is growing 18.5% this year, with the potential to reach 20.2% in North America. Many businesses are ramping up their holiday marketing plans because of it. 

Here’s how to make sure you’re ready to meet online shoppers’ needs during what’s called “Pandemic Holiday Shopping 2020”.

Evaluate and update your online store experience

Invest in the following maintenance and upgrades to ensure shoppers a smooth retail experience on your site: 

  1. Test your infrastructure – Do load testing to ensure your servers can handle a surge in traffic.
  2. Upgrade your site speed – Your load speed should be under three seconds. If it isn’t, you’ll likely get high bounce rates. Tools such as GTmetrix will give you a detailed list of recommendations on what you should change, like optimizing your image sizings, limiting the number of plugins and apps on your site, or reducing redirects. 
  3. Give your site search a tune-up – Your website should be easily navigable and well-organized by product type. Even if it is, sometimes customers are on the hunt for something specific. This is where your website search tool truly comes in handy. Make sure your customers can get to the items they’re looking for as seamlessly as possible by using keywords to optimize page results.
  4. Simplify your checkout processMake sure your checkout process is no longer than one page, enable guest checkout, offer multiple payment options, and enable multi-recipient functionality that allows customers to specify items to multiple addresses to save them time and money. 

Stock your inventory

Be ready for the uptick of online holiday shoppers with fully-stocked, updated inventory, assuming at least 10% to 12% more product this year than last. Make sure your site accurately reflects the stock you currently have.

Send cart abandonment notifications

There are multiple reasons customers might leave your website with a shopping cart full of goodies. Sending them a cart abandonment notification will remind them of the products they left in their online shopping cart. Nudge them to go back to your site by featuring the items they left and include a special offer like free or reduced shipping, a discount, or some other incentive. Ensure the language you use in your email is breezy and casual with statements like, ‘Oops! Looks like you forgot something!'” or “How about 15% off to change your mind?” or even “Will free shipping help seal the deal?” Many times all customers need is a little nudge to change their minds.

Join NFICA for $5 a year

NFICA has chosen MetLife, a trusted name in insurance for over 150 years, to provide competitively priced life insurance products and services for independent contractors. This offer is for the members and spouse/domestic partner, and children of members of the NFICA and is not available to the general public. Learn More.


Small Business Saturday is quickly approaching. This year it falls on November 28. If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that this year is unlike any other we’ve experienced in our lifetimes, especially when it comes to the retail industry.

 According to Forbes, a survey taken the first week of August found that 46% of small businesses expect to close for good by the end of this year. 

 If there ever was a time for Small Business Saturday, this is it. 

What is Small Business Saturday? 

Small Business Saturday is a movement held annually the Saturday after Thanksgiving that recognizes the need for consumers to shop at locally-owned businesses. With national and international retailers getting most consumers’ attention during the onslaught of Black Friday sales, locally-owned small businesses often find it hard to compete. Thanks to a unanimous Senate vote, it is now considered a national day of observance that sees more than $103 billion in spending over the last decade. 

Safety First

Because Coronavirus has dominated all aspects of our lives, it’s at the top of almost everyone’s minds. While many businesses have opened back up after the nationwide shutdown earlier this year, consumers are still concerned about safety. That means if you haven’t already, put in place new protocols to make sure all employees and shoppers feel comfortable in your shop. Be sure to:

  • Enforce the “six feet apart” rule
  • Make hand sanitizer readily available for everyone
  • Establish a face mask policy 
  • Clean and sanitize high-traffic areas hourly
  • Establish contactless payment, delivery, and pickup

Go online

This shouldn’t be new advice for anyone in 2020 but just in case, if you own a brick-and-mortar store, make sure you have an online presence with eCommerce capabilities. This helps customers who don’t want to risk exposure to COVID by visiting your store still support you online. It helps you, too, because it gives you a chance to broaden your audience exponentially. Make sure you use social media and email campaigns to help promote your online store. If you don’t have eCommerce functionality and think it’s too late to make it happen, read how Danielle Landrum and her husband Eric did just that in just a couple of weeks during the beginning stages of the pandemic. 

Show customers your appreciation

As you know, small businesses often get new customers via word-of-mouth. Many times, shopping local is a very deliberate choice consumers make to support their local economy. Rather than shopping at larger chain stores where they might be able to get similar items more conveniently and possibly for a lower price, the customers who shop with you choose to support your business because they believe in your brand. It’s a good idea to choose messaging and marketing tactics that reflect your appreciation for these holiday season efforts. Here are some ways to do just that:

  • “Friends & Family” promotions such as special discounts, coupons, or even free gift wrapping are a great way to say thank you. 
  • Send out a handwritten holiday card to those who have consistently supported you. 
  • Offer free shipping for gifts sent to loved ones in other cities.
  • Post signage and content in your physical location and your online store thanking customers for their support during this extraordinarily difficult time. 

Small business stories

To get a sense of how the pandemic affects small businesses worldwide, read this article by the Associated Press. Then, let’s all do our part to help each other keep our livelihoods afloat this holiday season. Promote your peers on social media, collaborate on a special event, or shop at your competition’s store. 

 Join NFICA for $5 a year

Join our community of 15,000 independent contractors, small business owners, freelancers, and direct sellers who are experiencing the benefits of belonging to the NFICA. As a member, you’ll gain access to discounts on industry-leading traditional and virtual business tools, the security of supplemental health and life insurance priced competitively to other market options, work-life balance with discounts on lifestyle apps and services, and a quarterly newsletter with tips on improving your business and your life.


What comes to mind when you think of the holidays? Perhaps it’s time spent with family, delicious recipes, and gift exchanges, but the holidays are also full of opportunities for those of us that are freelancers, contractors, or self-employed in some other respect. Here are five tips on how to effectively market yourself during the holidays:

1. Tie Your Tactics to the Season

Clients will be naturally drawn to your services if you implement holiday themes, colors, or references into your website and promotional offers. Center your campaigns around emotions and experiences that fit with the holiday season, such as gratitude, giving back, or spending time with loved ones.

2. Prepare Your Calendar 

While it is hard to overlook most major holidays, it’s essential to mark your calendar to prepare your seasonal campaigns and offerings in advance. Preparing and promoting your business ahead of time will allow your clients to take advantage of your services fully, and the extra organization may give you some free time to enjoy the season yourself, too.

3. Stay Active on Social Media

Visual social networks such as Pinterest and Instagram are a great way to connect with your potential clients all year. Focus on creating content that ties together your work with the holiday season in a way that’s memorable, informative, and meaningful. Investing in advertisements directed towards your target demographics is also a great way to make the most of your holiday campaigns.

4. Send a Personal Message

Sending a personal message, whether in the form of a newsletter, email, or a good old-fashioned phone call, allows you to continue building your relationships with your clients. The holidays are a time where many people reflect on their goals as well as what they’re grateful for. Let your clients know that you appreciate their loyalty and use this time as a chance to communicate with them on a more personal level.

5. Market Your Holiday Promotions

One of the easiest ways to make the most of the holidays is by offering a sale or a free gift to your clients. Your marketing material can include discounts, coupons, or informational products, so your customers feel like you’re celebrating with them. If you’re hesitant to offer widespread promotions, reach out to your most loyal clients before the season begins with a special campaign that may include an extra thank-you discount for the holidays.

Join NFICA for $5 a year

Join our community of 15,000 independent contractors, small business owners, freelancers, and direct sellers who are experiencing the benefits of belonging to the NFICA. As a member, you’ll gain access to discounts on industry-leading traditional and virtual business tools, the security of supplemental health and life insurance priced competitively to other market options, work-life balance with discounts on lifestyle apps and services, and a quarterly newsletter with tips on improving your business and your life. Learn More.


People network for a lot of reasons. To keep up with the latest trends in an industry, connect with professional mentors, and make contacts with people who can assist with problem-solving. For instance, meeting the right people might lead to a graphic designer who can help you create a logo or a copywriter who can help with content creation for your website or blog. 

James Chapman knows all about the power of networking. He is the founder and CEO of Plain Sight, a localized social networking platform that connects small business owners, entrepreneurs, and creatives with people who can provide potential resources for any project or endeavor, both online and in physical spaces. 

Before James started Plain Sight, he spent more than ten years in workforce development and entrepreneurship training. He was also a trainer for a program called CoStarters that helps budding entrepreneurs go from idea to action. In Detroit, he started a $1.2M pitch competition for businesses to compete for cash. James’ entire life, as he says, has been “geared around helping people succeed.”

We talked with James about why he created Plain Sight, the challenges he faced in starting and sustaining the company, and why he’s so passionate about helping others succeed. 

What was your inspiration for starting Plain Sight?

The experiences we have and the people we meet are left mostly up to chance and privilege, which prevents us from reaching our highest potential. I used to run an evening hours coworking space for side-hustlers. The people that would come appreciated the physical space but enjoyed the human connections even more. They would always ask me for introductions to people in the space and around town. I knew then that being able to make real-time local connections was a barrier. 

Why is networking so important when running your own business? How has it helped you? Can you give specific examples?

C.J. Heck has a quote that I love: “We are all products of our environment. Every person we meet and every new experience touches and changes us, making us the unique beings we are.” That’s why networking is so important. Meeting the right people and having the right experiences will drastically change your path in both life and business. It has meant everything to me. From the investors in my company to the cofounders building this with me and the partnerships we have secured to succeed, it all points back to relationship building and networking. 

What were some of the challenges you came across when starting your company, and how did you overcome them?

I’m a non-technical founder of a tech company. As you can imagine, that can present all sorts of hurdles from learning the tech stacks and languages, finding the right devs to hire, and putting together a product roadmap. I have had to learn very quickly and surround myself with people who can help me understand the right direction and avoid pitfalls. 

Explain how Plain Sight works in helping people have success with their own companies.

It’s harder than ever to make new, meaningful connections. Plus, local places could use our support. Plain Sight allows you to meet unique talent in your area and see the type of connections they’re looking to make. You can also find places to go based on proximity, amenities, and profiles of people who visit. No names and no profile pictures are included to maintain privacy and to combat unconscious bias. But you can insert your Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and website into your profile. 

How has COVID affected your business? And how have you been able to pivot during these difficult times?

Last October, we created a platform so that people with common goals, needs, and interests could capture the opportunity to connect if they happened to be in the same city or the same space. Events and travel spaces indicated demand and a path to scale. Once COVID-19 hit, those verticals were eliminated. We responded quickly and broadened our focus to connecting people in local business communities at large in a time when it’s needed most. When the initial verticals make a return, our business and business model will be more comprehensive and well-positioned to seize the moment, as if we planned it that way all along. 

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs looking to start their businesses?

Test your assumptions. Talk to as many people as you possibly can about your business to make it successful. The feedback that you get will help shape the way your product shows up in the world. It will also help you speak to their needs. You are doing yourself a disservice by not talking with as many people as possible to get critiques. 

Join NFICA for $5 a year

Join our community of 15,000 independent contractors, small business owners, freelancers, and direct sellers who are experiencing the benefits of belonging to the NFICA. As a member, you’ll gain access to discounts on industry-leading traditional and virtual business tools, the security of supplemental health and life insurance priced competitively to other market options, work-life balance with discounts on lifestyle apps and services, and a quarterly newsletter with tips on improving your business and your life.