Congratulations, you figured out that you want to become a freelancer! As you probably know, freelancing provides more flexibility and control over one’s time. There’s also unlimited earning potential as it is almost like running a business. On the flip side, it doesn’t come with employee benefits such as a steady paycheck, health insurance, 401(k) matching etc.
Whether or not it is right for you depends on your personality. For someone who’s completely new to this world, they might encounter a few obstacles on the way to achieving success. I have faced some of them firsthand and I know how overwhelming they can be. If you’ve made it this far and are still interested in freelancing, here are some things you should know:
Your personal brand is what will set you apart from other freelancers. Treat it like a resume. You want it to speak for itself. Think of yourself like a business and figure out an identity to work with clients under. Once you decide on a name and the services you will offer, invest in your marketing tools – namely your logo, website and business cards. If you’re not a design expert, hire someone who can do the task well. You need to be polished and professional so do not hesitate to invest in quality work.
Having a website is essential to showcasing your work and having access to people. In addition to having a great photo, here are some important details to remember to include:
- An introduction – tell people who you are and about your experience
- Your services – make it clear how you can help them
- Portfolio – document past work and results
- Contact – always let them know how to get in touch with you!
Later, you can install a blog, implement search engine optimization, and maybe create tutorial videos or online courses.
Choosing a Niche
When you first start, you will be tempted to say yes to everything and take on loads of work. You might even try to learn about a new topic so as not to pass on a gig. From the perspective of making money, this course of action might be recommended. But eventually, you will find that your income depends more on the pay per project than the number of projects. You don’t need to have twenty clients to make a decent income. Besides, you only have a limited amount of time.
What you should do is pinpoint your area of expertise and focus on high-paying clients within that space. For example, it’s easier to find clients if you target upcoming pharmacy students for your tutoring services than if you’re offering them to everyone. Choosing a niche doesn’t mean reducing your earning potential. It only facilitates the process of scoring gigs and earning a sustainable income as you’ll know exactly where to look and who to pitch.
Finding work is crucial to successful freelancing. Without it, you simply cannot go on. Of course this comes down to landing clients and when it comes to that, keep an open mind and consider every potential avenue. Networking is key! Social media used to be the place where people hung out and documented their everyday, but it has evolved into a legitimate networking space. Consider joining Facebook, LinkedIn and any other platform that makes sense for your business. Share valuable content (that demonstrates your expertise), monitor ongoing conversations, participate in chats, interact with other users and invite people out for coffee. Don’t hesitate to cold email someone and offer your help. People can become clients in unexpected ways.
To put it simply, look everywhere. Offline events are also important. Be ready to ask questions at conferences, figure out people’s problems and talk about what you do. And of course, don’t forget your business cards!
How to Stand Out as a Freelancer
Your personal brand will set you apart from other freelancers. It mainly relies on people’s perception of you. It is not enough to do great work, but to know how to effectively work with people. It’s essential to communicate with your clients, especially at times when there is confusion or frustration. It builds trust and can make or break your relationship.
Be different by going the extra mile in anticipating your clients’ needs and fixing their problems. Ask for feedback and be open to constructive criticism. They will not only remember your great work, but also be drawn to your positive attitude. And guess what? They will naturally refer you. Do not underestimate the power of word of mouth marketing!
Another aspect of your personal brand is your commitment to perfecting your craft. Take online courses or attend seminars. Invest in learning opportunities and demonstrate your expertise. Literally, you have to “be so good, they can’t ignore you.”
A freelance career comes with its fair share of difficulties, but what doesn’t? Despite the challenges, it’s a rewarding venture that can supplement your income and be the creative outlet you need to complement your day job.
Shelcy Joseph is a freelance writer and the voice behind A Millennial’s Guide to Life, a career and lifestyle destination for multi-passionate creatives. When she’s not typing away on her laptop, she loves to explore the city, try out new restaurants, capture moments with her camera and meeting new people. Get her FREE guide to effective time management on her site.