Work ethics for freelancing? Is that necessary? Many of us might ask that question. Same as how some people view professionalism as unnecessary for some jobs. They look at it that way because of the lack of knowledge of their work and the ignorance on what really are needed in order to succeed in a certain field. Work ethics is important wherever you are in the world and whatever work you have. And yes, freelancing is included.

Since most freelancers are working online, you might wonder how work ethics can be applied. Well, we have to bear in mind that freelancers deal with people all the time and that this is not just a hobby but a business, a career and a job. In order to succeed, proper work ethics is necessary. It is not enough to be an excellent designer, photographer, writer or whatever field you are in. It has to be paired with good work ethics.

Defining Work Ethics

Defining Work Ethics

It is said that work ethics is hard to define. Well, maybe it is or maybe not! We will try to give you a definition of work ethics in the simplest possible way we can. Work ethics refers to different values that one practices in terms of his work. It also refers to one’s conduct while working and how that person may perceive and value his work. Work ethics include being honest, reliable and many others. We will be giving you some work ethics that freelancers need. Also, we will share to you why work ethics are important and how you can maintain your work ethics.

What are Your Work Ethics?

You can best define your work ethics if you examine yourself and if you look into how you regard your work as a freelancer. You can try to assess yourself in order to know what your work ethics are. This can also help you improve yourself more and be a better freelancer. Here are three things to help you assess yourself.

1. Know your attitude towards work. How do you act into your responsibilities? Are you willing to do them? How much effort do you put into your job? Are you willing to give more than what is required of the task?

2. Know your feelings about work. Do you feel happy while working or you feel stressed? Are you that enthusiastic to work or you’re only feeling obligated? Do you really love what you are doing?

3. Know how you perceive work. What are your beliefs about your work? Do you think that it will help you improve and develop as a person? Or you merely think it is a necessity? How do you look at your work as a part of your life?

These three things can help you determine your work ethics are and how you are as a freelance worker. Your work ethics does not only define the type of worker you are but it also defines what kind of person you are. This can totally affect your character and how you can attain your goals in life.

Freelance Work Ethics You Need to Succeed

Now that you already have guides on how you can determine your work ethics, let us check on the work ethics you need to have in order to succeed in your own field as a freelancer, keep a good reputation and get more clients. Here they are:

1. Proper communication.

Proper communication

We all know the value of communication be it in writing, online, phone or personal communication. This includes how you deal with fellow freelancers, clients and even friends. How do you speak to them? What is your approach when you email them or when you send them a message online? Do you sound friendly and professional on the phone? All of that matters. If you are not in a good mood, do not communicate with other people yet because you might be able to say something that you would regret in the end. Compose and calm yourself first so that you can think well, communicate well and be open-minded on what the other party has to say. Read more at Reasons Why Effective Communication is Important for Designing.

2. Take and give credit where it is due.

Take and give credit where it is due

Each of us works hard for our own crafts and we would always expect to be given credit for what we do. After all, we deserve that because we have exerted effort for it and we have used our knowledge in order to come up with that. That is why, it is important that you give credit to resources you use for your works. Also, you should only accept credits if it is solely and truly yours.

3. Honesty.


Being honest is a big thing in whatever you do and wherever field you are. It is also important in our everyday living. How much more if it is about your business and your job! You have to be honest in your words and acts. You have to practice honesty all the time.

4. Accept only jobs that you can do.

Accept only jobs that you can do

Let’s face it. We cannot do everything that a client will ask us to do. Of course, you might be able to do a lot of things if we speak of design but if there are jobs that are no longer your line of work, then do not accept it. You have to be honest with your clients as what you can and cannot do.

5. Introduce yourself fully.

Introduce yourself fully

You should also make sure that you introduce yourself to clients honestly. Update your resume all the time. Include only information that is correct & true. Do not be inventing your resume’s contents. This is important because your resume will be your representation when you apply for online jobs. Be sure to introduce yourself on who you really are. Check on Best Practices to Bear in Mind for a Graphic Design Resume to get guides in creating your resume.

6. Show clear rates.

Show clear rates

Do not have hidden charges. Make sure that you will show your charges in detail even if the client doesn’t ask for it. It would even be better if you give a detailed quote at once for this will be much appreciated by the client and they will have a good impression on you. When it comes to money matters, you have to make it clear all the time to avoid confusion and trouble.

7. Avoid bad mouthing anyone.

Avoid bad mouthing anyone

You wouldn’t want to be bad mouthed by your clients and by your fellow freelancers. So, do not do the same thing to other people too. That would boomerang to your own personality and character. When you feel bad and appalled, do not talk to your clients unless you have cooled down. You should also learn to control your anger so you could do away with bad mouthing anyone.

8. Respect clients’ opinion.

Respect clients’ opinion

Respect begets respect. So, if you respect your client’s thoughts, they will most likely respect yours too. If your clients give their inputs to a project, respect that. If you do not agree with it, explain your side well. There is always a good way to express your point without offending your client.

9. No gossiping.

No gossiping

You think there is no gossiping in freelancing? There is. Instead of talking about other freelancer’s doings or some things about your clients which are no longer your concern, just focus on what you are supposed to do. If you avoid gossips, you are saving yourself from dwelling on stressful situations and you will be able to work better. Always remember your limits.

10. Avoid spying just to copy.

Avoid spying just to copy

Some freelancers spy in order to check on what others are doing to improve their own works. If that is your aim, that is okay because you are merely getting inspiration and you are also posting a challenge for yourself. But if you spy in order to copy other’s work that would be a different story. Do not copy the works of other designers.

11. Keep your promises.

Keep your promises

Do not say anything that you are not capable of doing. When you meet your clients, you will be discussing things about the project. Be honest about what you can and cannot do so that you can make arrangements about it. Then, be sure that what you have presented in the meeting is exactly what you will do for the project. That is one way of keeping your promises. So, be careful of what you will say to your client because they will hold on to it.

12. Be on time.

Be on time

Submit on due date and follow the project’s schedule. You have created a schedule for the process of the project and have shown the same to your client. See to it that you will follow that because your client is waiting for it and would expect that you will also give them what is due on a certain date. Also, make sure you finish your work on or before the deadline. Your client will need that. More tips about deadlines on How Designers Can Hit Deadlines before Clients Hit Them.

Why is Work Ethics Important?

Other people just do what they want to do without thinking if it is proper or not. There are some who also do not consider work ethics and just go on with what they want. They might even view those who follow proper ethics as being “too nice”. But that is not the case. Then, why is work ethics important even to freelancers? Well, work ethics is significant because…

1. It affects your reputation. Who would want to have a bad reputation? No one. That is why, you need to maintain good work ethics. Your clients and fellow freelancers will have more respect on you if you have good ethics towards your job. Also, it can show your character and personality.

2. It creates a solid freelance foundation. With good work ethics, you can gain more clients, establish friendship and know more freelancers who can also help you with your freelance job. The real online brand is not what we see but what we cannot see. It is not just about the logo and tag line but is it your personality. With good working ethics, you are on the right track for your freelance career.

3. It brings in positivity. When you are working with positivism around you, you will be able to create better outputs. Having good work ethics will help you keep positive.

4. It makes you a better professional. Since you will regard your work highly, you will become a better professional. Well, what we mean by being professional doesn’t necessitate a degree or a license. It means that you have good conduct, aims and qualities as a freelancer. It also shows that you have that mark of a professional person with business-like character worthy of other’s respect.

5. It makes you feel happy about work. Having good work ethics will make you feel happy because of the optimism it brings. Also, there will be a smooth flow of work. You can finish on time with good quality resulting into happy and satisfied clients. This can surely bring your career to boom.

How to Maintain Good Freelance Ethics

Knowing the different freelance work ethics will make you wonder if you can really do all of it. Of course you can! If you doubt about it, then we have here a list of what you can do in order to maintain good freelance ethics because if you try to practice the tips we have below, everything else will follow.

1. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Keep your eyes on the prize

Setting a goal for your work is a good thing. It can help you to be on the right track for your work. But keeping your eyes on the prize is even better. This will keep you going and you will even be inspired to do better. Look into how much you will be earning at the end of every project. The monetary reward you will receive is a good way to motivate yourself. But aside from that, you will also get other rewards such as the things you learned from the project and the trust you gained from the clients.

2. Be inspired by others.

Be inspired by others

You can also look into other people who have succeeded in their own fields because of good work ethics. Yes, these people can be smart and hardworking but what really makes them more successful are the work ethics they have. Considering them as inspiration can also help you to maintain good freelance ethics.

3. Think of long run benefits.

Think of long run benefits

Do not just look into the results of your acts today. Look into what it can do for you for a long time. Having proper work ethics will help your career in so many ways. It can also prepare you for future ventures.

4. Love your job.

Love your job

If you love your job, you will surely be able to do wonders for your career. Part of that is being able to uphold good conduct and continue practicing good work ethics. Once you have the heart on something, things will fall on its proper places.

5. Value your clients.

Value your clients

Aside from loving your job, you also need to value your clients for these are the people who keep your career and business running. If you look at your clients this way, you will also be able to act rightly towards them and you will learn to respect them.

It’s Your Turn Now

Freelance work ethics isn’t really a hard thing but it can also be overlooked especially when we are too occupied doing a lot of work. We hope that this article have helped you and have also served as a reminder to you to have good conducts while working. What is the most important work ethics for you? How can good work ethics help your freelance career? Share your thoughts to us.

Kareen Liez

About the author: A Civil Engineer who has a construction business and a youth volunteer for a civic organization. She also contributes for a local newspaper due to her unwavering passion to write.


  1. You are right Sanny. We have to look into work quality and not just on how much we can earn. We should also learn to say no to some clients.

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