Many freelancers have, and skills and desire to become a successful freelancer, but do they have what it takes to succeed? Being a freelancer can be liberating — and a little daunting. How does one know where to begin? Which processes work best? Another question may be how does one find clients? These are all excellent questions to have. Many of these questions get answered during our free webinar training where we discuss how to develop a profitable online business. Below we provide 7 tips that’ll help solve some of these questions and set a freelancer on the right course.
Decide on a few areas to specialize in
Digital Freelancer recommends starting your freelance business out right by deciding to concentrate only on a few areas. If you specialize in too many areas, it’ll be harder to grow your business because you won’t become as specialized. Stick to just a few areas, and you will become more knowledgable which will make you invaluable to your clients.
If you’ve followed my writing for a while now, you’ll know I share quite frequently about focusing your freelance business and the importance of it.
I continue to share this tip because I regularly get message after message from freelancers who seem to be stuck.
They can’t find enough work and they struggle to get their name out there.
By focusing your brand identity and the type of projects you take on, it’ll make everything much easier for you:
From marketing to charging higher rates to actually delivering the work.
Pick one or two services to specialize in, and only take on work that falls into those categories. Then turn down the rest.
Once you’ve decided on the services you now specialize in, be sure to translate that into your personal brand.
Reword everything on your website for those keywords and phrases, only showcase that type of work in your freelance portfolio, and start producing content around those services to prove your expertise.
All of this is a byproduct of marketing, which in turn will drive traffic and new freelance projects your way.
Make new connections
When starting a new online business, it helps if you make new connections. A support group, as Harvard Business Review recommends can help you work through questions and concerns. You may also find some excellent tips on various support groups on where to find new clients and where to start first!
It’s important to have a few fellow freelancers you can turn to for advice and support in your network. Sure, they may be “the competition,” says Horowitz, but they are also a great source of information. Look for professional associations in your field, search LinkedIn for people who are in the same business, and attend conferences in your areas of expertise. Horowitz’s organization hosts monthly meet-up events for independent workers in 18 cities across the U.S. “It’s a great way to get to know people in the context of building your business,” she says. If you’re concerned about the networking aspect of being out on your own, you’re not alone. The Freelancers Union has a host of resources, including an “Authentic Networking Guide” that, according to Horowitz, “outlines some best practices for new or nervous networkers.”
Seek multiple income sources
It’s important as a freelancer not to put all of your eggs in one basket. If you dedicate most of your time to one or two clients but don’t have any others, think about what could happen if one client doesn’t work out. You will lose all of your income! Try to work with multiple clients without spreading yourself too thin so that you won’t be relying on just one or two clients to pay your bills.
It’s a fact of life that freelance work ebbs and flows. If you want to maintain a relatively steady income, it’s important to diversify your client base. By taking on multiple clients of different sizes, you can protect your pocketbook in the event that one revenue source dries up. Additionally, exploring different customer bases can help you gain expertise in new and potentially lucrative areas of the industry. This is crucial if you hope to grow your business in the long term.
When you start working as a full-time freelancer be transparent with your clients. Digital Freelancer recommends letting them know how many hours you have available and what you’re willing to work on for them. Being clear from the get-go will help eliminate any miscommunications down the road.
As a freelancer, your business is just you running it inside out.
That’s something you must be proud of, so don’t hide behind a facade:
Be the name and face of your business, because your business is you.
From a client’s perspective, if I were to hire you to provide a service, I would want to know who I’m giving my money to.
So be sure to inject who you are into your brand. You can shape that however you’d like, but the key is to be personable.
Also, when a client is interested in working with you, be transparent in conversing with them.
If you only take on freelance opportunities part time, let them know.
Otherwise, you could run into a situation where expectations are misaligned and conflicts pop up as a result.
If they’re going to hire you, explain to them how your process works.
Show your interest in them and their business, then break down what they can expect by working with you step-by-step.
Being transparent isn’t a weakness, it helps build trust and confidence, and can be what seals the deal in a proposed project.
Get featured online
We realize you can’t get featured online right away, but if things do start taking off, Forbes says that can help your business out a lot. See what they have to say about being featured below:
Brandon Seymour – Content marketing, SEO, and conversion optimization consultant at Beymour.
For the past couple of years, Seymour has been offering SEO, online reputation management, content marketing, and conversion rate optimization services to clients. Crucial to his rising authority in the industry has been getting featured on sites like Moz, Search Engine Journal, and others. On how he's brought in his best clients, Seymour shares, ” I've had the most luck through blogging for popular sites and getting featured in print publications. One article in particular led to connections that brought in about $40,000 in revenue over the course of one year.”
Setting boundaries are essential as a freelancer, which is why Business Know-How reminds freelancers to do just that. If you don’t set your limits it’ll be easy for businesses to walk all over you. Don’t allow that to happen.
While it’s important that freelancers work hard to build their businesses, it’s a mistake to let clients walk all over you. When your home is also your office, you might be tempted to take phone calls and answer emails at all hours of the day and night. However, being this available to your clients likely means you’re less available to family and friends. By setting firm hours for work and play, you can ensure that you start every day refreshed and ready to do your job.
Freelancing might mean skipping the commute and working in your yoga pants. However, self-employed persons have to work hard to stay profitable. By following the above tips, you can give your freelance business the best shot at success in the coming years.
As your freelance business takes off Preston Lee on Forbes mentions that if you do a great job, then your clients will refer you to other companies. If you would like to get more freelance gigs word-of-mouth marketing is ideal!
Preston Lee – Entrepreneur, blogger, and freelance graphic designer at Millo.
It's been a few years since Lee transitioned from actively freelancing, over to managing Millo, an online destination for freelancers to get tips, strategies, and advice on how to grow their businesses. But before Millo took off, he was a freelance graphic and web designer. ” My best clients always came from word-of-mouth marketing. It always required much less convincing up-front and had a level of trust built-in,” he says.
Something Lee really struggled with while freelancing was assigning more value to his work. “Learning to value your work properly leads to huge amounts of success as a freelancer because it allows you to charge more, turn down jobs you'll end up hating, and ultimately be more satisfied with the work you do.”
Inc. also interviewed the entrepreneur Preston Lee and added to the thoughts that he shared on Forbes:
In his more than 17 years of experience as a freelance designer, Paul's learned a lot about how to find the best clients for his business.
Paul shares, “I've never cold-called or put my services on job boards or marketplaces. It's been 100 percent word of mouth and referrals since I started. My focus has always been making my clients so happy and successful that they become my sales force.”
He also feels very strongly about turning down projects that aren't a perfect fit for him. “If I don't pay attention to the warning signs before money is involved in a project, the work ends up being stressful and turns into something I'm not stoked on doing,” he adds.
The most valuable piece of advice Tom has to offer is, “Focus on referrals. They're easier to attract than new clients and they're meeting you with context about who you are. They often come with a glowing recommendation from someone they trust, so it makes it a lot easier to land the job, price yourself better, and focus more on the actual work.”
Starting a freelance business is exciting, and these tips are a high starting point. Join us during our free webinar training to check out more amazing tips on how to start an online business and turn it into a profitable powerhouse!