3 Work Ethics You Should Have As a Freelancer

By DABA Team
4 min read
2 Replies


Professional ethics are the personal and behavioral rules that guide the operation of any business, organization, or professional body. Many creative people today start their careers as freelancers. Some others transition to freelancing after honing their skills through working for others. Others combine the two. 

Whether you started as a freelancer or transitioned into it, you have to understand that you are a full-fledged business and must treat yourself as such. One way to do this is to have a good work ethic. 

Good work ethics will help you make the most of your career. Growing a thriving freelance career is not a walk in the park. Your professional ethics should match your level of expertise. That is the recipe for a successful freelance career. Success means that you have a steady flow of jobs. It also means that your clients are satisfied with your services and recommend you to others. That said, here are three important work ethics you need to have. 

Create and Communicate Your Terms and Conditions 

Many freelancers make the mistake of not clearly defining their terms of engagement. People can set out to exploit you as a freelancer. That is because they feel that there are legal gray areas they can exploit. Early in your freelance career, develop a terms-of-engagement document. It should contain all you need to get on a project. This should contain the work you do and your standard rates. 

Some details of this document include: 

  • Project Deliverables 

  • Milestones and expected completion dates

  • Fees, taxation, and equipment charges. 

  • Risk and Dependencies 

  • Terms for contract termination

Don’t forget to include any other information that would be important coverage for you. You would have to edit the document from time to suit your client. Whatever the case may be, make sure you work with the said document. Let the client sign it and make sure to enforce it.


Decide What is Morally Acceptable to You

Many legitimate opportunities may go against your moral beliefs or ideals. Define what these opportunities are. That way, you can identify them from the very first sight. A classic example would be a Muslim writer who would not work on any project that promotes the pork market. Another could be someone who decides not to work on gambling-related projects. Maybe because they think gambling harms society. It’s different strokes for different folks. You should clearly define what is a moral deal-breaker for you. 

Keep Client Data Private 

Most of your clients are in a competitive market. When you work with them on a freelance project, they trust you with their information. Always ensure that you handle this information with utmost care. Don’t use it as leverage to bag a competitor. This is important when the client has not explicitly asked you to keep documents private. Some organizations might ask you to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) to make it binding. Either way, whether they ask or not, don’t use company information as a bargaining chip. 

Another area that might pop up when talking about data handling is a conflict of interest.  As you build your expertise in a certain field, you will attract fierce industry competitors. If you still do not know how to navigate this situation, stick with one organization. The inherent risk is that you might lose both of them when they find out. Except you have been explicitly permitted to do so, avoid it at all cost. 

A Final Note

There are a lot of talented freelancers, and your work ethic is what separates you from the rest. Remember that word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to get clients. Bad work ethics can hinder it. While your work ethics might not be visible from the start, some organizations will terminate your appointment if you become negligent with their work. Ensure you go the extra mile to demonstrate your capabilities with appropriate work ethics.

Share this article

There's alot more on the way! Subscribe to our newsletter to get an early peek at what's next and share your feedback.

Sign in or create a new account

It looks like you aren’t connected to DABA, Click here to get connected.

message icon
message icon