There isn't one.
The first thing a young freelancer needs to realize is that nothing is one-size fits all. Some projects (or budgets) won't fit you and what you're trying to do with your career. Maybe they're above your head, or a step backwards. That's OK. Likewise, not all advice will fit you.
This is the best advice I can give to a fellow freelancer:
- Read as much as you can.
- Learn from other people.
- Don't sacrifice high standards for anything.
- Work harder and smarter than everyone else.
That's all. It's up to you to figure out what specifics fit you best. Whether you like charging hourly or per project, and what rates you charge. What services you want to offer and what type of projects are best suited for you. Whether you prefer to meet in person or collaborate in other ways.
There's a lot of information out there about what works and what doesn't work. Some of it is true. But it really is up to you on how to approach things. I can tell you how I do things, but that doesn't mean it will work for you. So take it all in, digest the information, and figure out your own plan. The important thing is this: don't waste time making mistakes other people have already made. That's where the advice comes in handy.
I recently wrote a post about my first year of freelancing. It seemed to resonate with a lot of people, and I appreciate the replies, mentions, and emails I received. My goal has always been to share as much information as I can with anyone who wants it. But just remember, only you can decide what works best for you.