Freelance workers are self-employed individuals who work for different organizations on specific assignments. When you work freelance you are your own boss. Many full-time employees would like to work for themselves. So, how do you become a successful freelancer?
First, outline the area of activity that is likely to bring you the greatest income. Most types of freelance work require highly specialized and qualified individuals, especially in the fields of IT and web design.
Below are some suggestions that may help you in your quest to become a full-time freelancer.
Focus on what you are good at
Whatever niche you choose to focus on, there will be dozens, hundreds, and maybe even thousands of other self-employed individuals offering their services. Most of them will be specialists in their field.
To be able to compete effectively in the marketplace, you must well qualified and experienced. When prospects look at your quote or offer, they will probably be comparing it with several others. A prospect is a consumer or company that could become a customer.
There is no point in choosing a niche or field if most of your competitors know more than you do.
Focus on what you love
If you are good at something, well qualified, and also love what you do, your chances of succeeding as a freelancer are much greater.
If you are an expert in, for example, web design, and you also have a passion for it, your clients and prospects will pick up on that enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is contagious and a great marketing tool for getting repeat business, i.e., customers coming back for more.
Continue becoming more qualified
It is never too late to learn. Even if you are the most qualified freelancer in your field, you should continue improving and developing your knowledge and skills.
The world’s leading experts in their field dedicate a few hours a week to reading up on latest developments. That is one of the reasons they stay ahead.
If you don’t keep educating yourself, you may, in the long run, lose out to competitors who do.
Let everyone know about you
Your chosen specialization should be displayed in your portfolio, on your personal website, or blog. Emphasize your qualifications as a professional by posting useful aspects of your work online. Focus on your most successful portfolio examples.
It is impossible to become the first in all areas of freelance at once, so streamline your job activities, choose your main area of employment and develop exactly in this direction. Promote yourself as a highly qualified specialist in one, two, or at the most three main directions, and soon you will become a successful freelancer.
One project — one contract
In the world of business, everybody experiences problems with customers. One might refuse to pay for work you completed, even if you did a really good job. Others, when you have completed a project, may unexpectedly ask for alterations, which will use up your valuable time – time during which you could be earning money on another project.
The best way to make sure this does not happen to you is to have an airtight contract. Your contract should include what the customer requested, how you are going to complete it, how long it will take, i.e., a completion date, and how much it will cost.
It should also include costs for unexpected increases in prices for raw materials, new tax rates, and unexpected post-completion requirements. These post-completion requirements means, for example, alterations the customer may ask for after you have completed the job.
Complete you portfolio
Becoming a freelancer means not only being an expert, but also having a portfolio filled with relevant information. As a freelancer, your portfolio is one of your most important marketing tools.
In the word of business, potential customers will examine your portfolio carefully. They need to know that you are up to the job, reliable, honest, punctual, and able to understand what they need.
If you need help in creating your portfolio, there are several online agencies that can help you for a fee.
Make sure that everything you include in it is true. Don’t make the mistake of claiming somebody else’s work is your own. You would be surprised at how many people do that. Most potential customers will check out some, most, or all of the projects you listed. If anything looks suspicious, you will never hear from them again.
Don’t forget to regularly fill your portfolio with the most professionally-completed examples of your freelance work. As your reputation improves, you will probably find that you won’t need to approach prospects any more – they will come looking for you!
Analyze your workflow
Remember, that as a freelancer, you are no longer an employee. You are now a business person – an entrepreneur. Business owners need to know about certain numbers and metrics, including:
- Business income.
- How much you need to earn per month to survive.
- Website traffic – what is the most popular content?
- Content interactivity and popularity – which calls-to-action work? Which pages are not visible and should be deleted?
This information will shed light on areas that work for you, need improvement, or should be abandoned.
For example, take a look at how much you earn each month. Find out where your business income comes from, including which customers, type of projects, passive income, etc. Focus more on the areas that give the best results. If you earn $100 or more by selling products on the Creative Market each month, then make more products for sale.
In tracking analytics of your activity, CRM for freelancers will help. On the Internet, there are many online task managers and CRMs that help not only track progress on all current tasks and plan your work schedule, but also conduct detailed income analytics. CRM for freelancers will help you eventually bring your workflow to a professional level and filter out the excess.
Do not be afraid to say ‘No’
Saying ‘No’ is difficult. None of us like refusing work. However, sometimes there is no other choice. If a project does not benefit your business or you don’t think you can do it properly, you should walk away from it.
If the scope of a project gets too big, don’t be afraid of letting your customer know. Some projects can suddenly balloon and become too much for you. If you don’t let them know immediately, you risk a massive disappointment later on.
When you have said ‘No,’ be polite, but stand your ground. If you can, provide compelling reasons for your decision. Clients don’t like being turned down. However, if you can back up your refusal with supportive facts, they are much more likely to accept your decision and not challenge it.