1. Don't start a blog until you can market it
It's all well and dandy that you finally have a blog with great content. But it means absolutely nothing if nobody is reading it. And how do you get people to read your content with snappy titles and informative tips? You market it! Making your blog a success story takes time and lots of work. Unless you have the time to dedicate to perfecting and marketing it, you are just wasting time by creating it in the first place.
2. Don't wait till you want to start a newsletter to begin collecting e-mail addresses.
I beat myself up about this almost every day. The amount of time it takes to build up a thorough mailing list is definitely much longer than I would like. But of course, I was stubborn when someone suggested that I start an email list. I refused because I had no plans to send out newsletters or promotions at the time. However, about a year ago I decided to send out newsletters and I found myself hunting down email addresses where ever I can find them. It isn't easy! Save yourself the trouble and post a link to sign up for newsletters on your website. Cost an issue? MailChimp is free for the first 2,000 subscribers. I highly recommend it!
3. Never work without a contract
This one seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised to hear how many people tell me they took up a project without a contract. No matter how good your friend's friend may know this client, or how definite the project seems, always get that contract. Even if you don't like the formality of an official contract, at least send an email with terms of the project that you both agree to. Which leads me to my next point...
4. Don't stop marketing until you both sign the dotted line
Things fall through all the time. The last thing you want is to block off time in your schedule for a specific project and then be left with no other prospects if the first client backs out. Trust me. It is not a fun situation. Continue marketing your services until you are absolutely certain that the project is a done deal and you have the contract to prove it.
5. Avoid non-competing contracts like the plague
Sometimes when you are working with big clients, they may ask you to sign contracts with a non-compete clause. The problem is they almost never work in your favor; especially if that specific industry is your specialty. Try negotiating for three months if the contract states six months. Or you can make it work in your favor by asking for more money when items such as these exist in contracts. Otherwise, you may want to prepare yourself for some downtime in advance.
6. Never believe a contract is non-negotiable
I don't care what anyone says. Everything is negotiable- even contracts. The only thing non-negotiable means is you have to fight a little harder to get what you want. Be prepared to bend a little more in certain areas.
7. Don't cash the check and disappear
As you already know, business is about building relationships. So please don't vanish into thin air once you get the check. After all, you never know what referrals or projects this client can bring your way. Try asking how they are doing every once in a while, send cards, and thank them for their business. Let's not forget, repeat business makes the best business. It's something that I once ignored way back when I first started out.
8. Don't follow up too much
You may be anxious to close the deal, but following up too much just may drive your prospect away. Aim for once every two weeks and try to have new information to include. For example, mention a new promotion you have coming up. Or send links to samples that you forgot to send the first time around. This tactic helps stay on the prospect's mind without coming off as pushy.