Estimated reading time: 8 mins
Woe: this is probably how being a freelancer feels for after years of a less than impressive freelancing career. You would definitely prefer to have a “wow” freelancing career. But how do you do that when your earnings hardly suffice for sustenance? Freelancing can be rewarding but it’s not going to be a walk in the park. You may want to consider the following ideas and pointers.
1. Be sure to have a business plan
Take note of the main difference between being employed and freelancing. In the former, you follow the instructions and plans of your employer or company. In the latter, you essentially run your own business. As such, you need to have a plan, a freelancing business plan. What you are doing may be comparable to getting employed by different companies on a temporary basis but the process is actually more like running your own business wherein you are both the owner and employee at the same time.
In coming up with a business plan, you need to identify important details such as your vision, specialization, target clients, and your investments. You need to be clear on what you want to achieve as a freelancer. You can’t just be doing it for the sake making ends meet. On the other hand, you need to determine your specialization as well as your target clients because these will affect your marketing strategy and the achievement of your vision. Likewise, you need to know what investments to make. Other than time and commitment, you have to invest in a reliable computer, dependable internet connection, and related software and hardware. If, for example, your business involves employees going off site to complete their jobs, you’re going to want to make sure that you have the software in place to make everything behind the scenes involved with this work as smoothly as possible to achieve client satisfaction with field service and ensure that no-one is waiting longer than they should for a service.
Moreover, it’s important to have a list of short-term and long-term goals. Make projections of the clients you want to have and the earnings you want to accumulate. Develop financial goals and systems (more on this later). Furthermore, map out the growth of your business. You can’t just get stuck with one or two clients and continue earning the same level of income for the next five or so years. Businesses should grow. Even employees get promotions and salary increases. There’s no reason for freelancers to be stagnant.
2. Come up with an appealing portfolio
As a freelancer, you must have a compelling portfolio. You can’t convince clients to consider you if you don’t have something to prove your track record and the quality of work you do. Make sure this portfolio only features your best works. Go for quality, not quantity. Your portfolio doesn’t have to be those you made for clients. They don’t have to be paid works. If you don’t enough to compile for an appealing portfolio, you can just produce projects that showcase the best you can do.
3. Market your products/services and build a favorable reputation/brand
Once you have your portfolio ready, promote your services. Start by doing it on social media and by having your services listed on classifieds and freelancing websites. You may want to sign up for freelancing platforms if you are willing to follow the systems, requirements, and restrictions they impose. Additionally, it’s advisable to create a professional looking and search engine optimize website.
An official website can add credibility to your freelancing service. It also serves as a convenient host for your growing portfolio. You may use it to generate additional revenues through ads. If your site/blog gains popularity, you may even receive offers for paid blog posts or reviews.
4. Make the most of social and professional networking. Consider collaboration with other freelancers
Maintain your presence on social media and be sure to establish your service on professional networking websites like LinkedIn. Create as many channels as possible for potential clients to contact you and to see your works. Inter-link your online accounts by making sure that links to your different online pages are presented on your profiles.
Moreover, consider making friends with other freelancers. If you don’t have the time to meet people in person because of your work, why not interact with other freelancers? This can even be useful for your freelancing work in the future. If you encounter a project you can’t handle on your own, you can try collaborating with other freelancers. Likewise, if other freelancers have work they need assistance with, they may contact you for help, which would really be great if you are experiencing a scarcity of projects or assignments.
5. Establish financial goals, systems, and processes
In relation to having a business plan, it’s important to have financial goals and a systematic way of handling your finances.
- Establish the rates you want to charge. This is not going to be a straightforward process. You may need to learn about how much others are charging and to negotiate with clients.
- Look for the best option for receiving payments. If you are going to deal with international clients, you need a reliable, fast, and secure way to receive payments. Compare your options or use MoneyTransferComparison.com as reference.
- As much as possible, accommodate as many ways for payments as possible. You may want to consider accepting bitcoin payments.
- Be sure to establish a savings fund. Always have funds ready for the rainy days.
Don’t focus on just one or a few clients. Maximize your abilities and handle as many projects as you can. Just make sure you can properly deliver them with the best quality of service possible. Also, as mentioned, monetize your website through ads. As a freelancer, you can also create passive income through blogging or by making money through royalties. As much as possible, retain ownership of the work you do unless the client insists that you have to give it up to them. Photos, designs, ebooks, and other digital content can earn royalties. Don’t totally surrender them to your clients. Negotiate a better deal if the client wants to claim ownership on everything you submit.
7. Ensure client satisfaction and retention
Of course this is easier said than done but you need to pay attention in doing this. Client satisfaction is more than half of what becomes of your freelancing success. To make sure that clients would leave favorable feedback for you, consider the following:
- Make sure that all agreements you make are in writing so you can have a reference in case issues arise. If you negotiate with the client through chat or email, be sure to keep copies of your discussions.
- Ensure good communication. It should be easy for the client to reach you for questions and complaints.
- Promptly address all complaints. You don’t necessarily have to act on all complaints immediately because you likely can’t do it if you are dealing with other clients and deadlines. Just be sure to properly communicate with the client.
- Make realistic promises. Don’t promise something you end up failing to do. Buy as much time as you can. Don’t try to impress the client with a promise of swift action unless you are 100% sure you can do it.
- Deliver the best work you can in the least time possible.
8. Anticipate the worst
Never expect anything to go as expected or hoped for. Always prepare for contingencies. Don’t expect that the project or assignment you submitted will be immediately approved. Be accustomed to the possibility that what you believe is your best may still not be good enough for the client.
Don’t just submit to every demand of the client, though. As you anticipate the worst, you should also be able to prepare explanations or justifications for what you did with the assignment or project. Try to present your thoughts or counter-arguments politely, especially if you are repeatedly being made to revise your work. Clearly establish the expectations of the client for the project.
Moreover, avoid instances of being unable to meet deadlines because of problems like power outages or internet connection problems. Nowadays, these should no longer be a problem even if regular power outages happen in your area. You can easily get a large 12 volt battery (a recycled car battery for example) and a power inverter (to convert 12 volts to the typical AC voltage) to serve as your backup power supply. If you experience internet connection problems with your ISP, you can always turn to prepaid mobile internet. You can use your phone as your wi-fi hotspot or you can do internet connection tethering via USB if your computer does not have wi-fi.
9. Pursue growth
As mentioned, your freelancing career or business needs to grow. You can never wow anyone with a job that has stagnated for several years. Always make it a point to grow in terms of the rates you charge, the kind of clients you serve, and the services you offer. Improve your skills and learn new ones. Also, be open to the possibility of working with other freelancers to build a company or at least a team so you can handle larger and more rewarding projects together.
Freelancing is not easy but it can be highly gratifying and financially rewarding. Just be sure to do it right. Take into account the points mentioned above. Be creative and resourceful to be able to deliver the best services to your clients. Also, don’t just be a going-concern business. Aim for growth and better opportunities. There certainly are more possibilities for growth and opportunities as a freelancer than as an employee. Strive to wow and overcome the woes of freelancing.