Here are few helpful hints for those new to the wonderful world of freelancing. I've been freelancing for over ten years now. When I first started out, I didn't require a retainer or bill clients every month. Consequently, I never received payment for a project and am still stuck with my first client, who has taken a year to pay an invoice; I won't lift another finger until she coughs up at least half of what she owes!
I learned the hard way to always get a retainer, 50% of my total fee up-front, after an initial client meeting, but before I begin the actual work. Doing so is my way of testing the client to see how committed they are to their project. If a new client refuses to give me a retainer, I won't work with them. Another lesson I learned after a client didn't want to work with me because I got a full-time job is set boundaries.
When I first started out and was building my client base, I would come home from my full-time day job and after dinner, work for my clients until 1:00 am. Most of them took advantage of my diligence, demanding updates during the weekend. I complied, only taking Friday nights off, without fail. Since I got laid off from my last full-time job in March 2009 and work from home during the day, I stop client work @ 7:00 pm, every night and I don't work weekends, unless a client is willing to pay double my fee. I use my free time to spend time with my friends and family, read, watch TV, or write.