Some people thrive in a 9to5 day job setup while some flourish when they work at their own pace and in their own space. If you belong to the latter category, freelancing can be a lucrative option. But becoming a successful freelancer is easier said than done. Many professionals jump into the path of becoming a freelancer head first and often get frustrated when success eludes them.
Working as a freelancer is not always a piece of cake, it demands exceptional will power and self-discipline. In addition to being self-motivated, freelancers also need to strategise to make it work. If you thought being your boss would be easy, trust us, it’s not. But while all this may feel a bit overwhelming, we have 10 great tips to your rescue! Add a bucketload of hard work and sincerity to these business building tips and you will enjoy being a freelancer while earning a good sum of money of course.
Consider this your business enterprise
The first step towards a successful freelancing career is considering it a business. Approach building it as you would any other business. Create short term and long term goals for your business. This will help create a road path so that you can create set actionable tasks for your business. As you consider yourself a business, look for tasks beyond your paid projects. When you are between projects, utilise the time to market and advertise your business.
Often new freelancers lose the direction needed to deliver on time and cover all the bases. Hence, list out what services you would be providing, the scope for these services and a practical workflow.
Grow your network
As you plunge into the market as a freelancer or rather as a business enterprise, make sure you don’t forget about the other major component to your success. Yes, it takes more than a freelancer to become successful, you need clients. Start building your network even before you leave your day job or finish your course. Your connections may not give you work directly but they may refer you to their contacts. Or in other cases, your past clients may talk about your work to their connections. This is word of mouth advertising and it goes a long way.
Most of the freelancers work from home, this may feel a little lonesome at times. As humans, we crave social interactions at one point or the other. Join networking groups with people from your industry, attend workshops or venture out to a coworking space once in a while. Such socializing is great for a freelancers growth and you never know, you may strike gold and find more clients at such events.
Build an online presence
Even when you are between gigs, create tasks for yourself for each day. One of these tasks should be creating a strong online presence. Start with setting up a powerful website, it will be your virtual sales pitch to all the prospective clients. You need not meet each one of them, your work on your website should do that for you.
Create professional social media accounts. Stay in touch with your industry experts through these media and build your strong profile in the meantime. This can also be a great platform for networking while working at home.
Find your niche
Everyone has one field they can specialize and excel in quickly. And we are not talking about skill. For instance, a good graphic designer can prove to be a spectacular logo maker or a content writer can be a mindblowing fictional writer. Therefore, identify your niche and cultivate it into an in-depth service for your clients. As you find your creative niche, you will discover that you are delivering better to your clients while enjoying the work more. And that’s exactly what you became a freelancer for. A specific specialization also helps freelancers narrow down their clientele and market their work better.
Set up some smart numbers
Being a freelancer often requires you to be a master of multiple arts. You would not only be building your business, carrying out marketing tasks, maintaining client relationships but taking care of the numbers as well. You cannot just pull out arbitrary numbers out of thin air when sending a quote. You would be competing with other freelancers as well and hence can’t take the risk of underselling or overselling your rates.
Test the waters and check out what the competition is charging for similar services. You should also invest in an invoicing tool to keep your number game strong and sorted in the long run.
Create your unique style
A unique style or flair sets you apart from others. Creating a specialization with a unique flair will help you stand out in the industry. A unique style is building upon a certain niche. If your niche is designing logos, then you can make designing certain kinds of a logo your unique style. Once you have refined this style, people looking for such work will prefer your services rather than hiring just any other competitor.
Know your clients
You clients can make or break your business enterprise. Don’t consider them as temporary employers. Build and nurture relationships with each of them. Even if you are not hired by them again, they may refer you to others.
Create a database of all your past and potential clients. You may even need to send out cold emails in between gigs to keep them apprised of your presence in the industry.
Collect client testimonials
As you set up your online presence with a good website and social media, showcase your client testimonials in addition to your work portfolio. This adds a personal touch and makes your past clients evangelists for your business.
Testimonials also work as referrals, with each of these testimonials, potential leads are motivated to hire you for the project. Some clients may not be too enthusiastic or eager to set aside some time and write reviews for you. You can offer some incentive to get those reviews posted.
Freelancers often struggle with devils of their own making. You may have left the 9to5 job to enjoy work on your leisure but that does not mean throwing up your schedule into the winds. Set up time structure for your tasks for a good work-life balance. In addition to the time management, keep an organizer with all your deadlines, work deliverables to stay you on top of things.
Build your brand
Building your business as a freelancer goes beyond a good website and an active social media profile. Write blogs for your website as well as others in the form of guest blogging. Invest a little amount in running some adds for your target demographic on social media pages.
The key to a successful freelancing career lies in strategic thinking and strong marketing. With the help of these tips, you can build yourself a reputable brand which is known for professionalism and quality of work. When you are starting out in the industry on your own, it all may seem daunting but staying positive as you plan and put your energy to work will go a long way.