I remember a time at the start of my freelance career when I would fret the amount of work I received and the exceedingly low rates people would offer. It seemed like the only clients who were interested in me were the ones who were offering low-cost work at appallingly low-cost rates. There was even a time when I started thinking to myself, “What am I doing? Wasting my time on ridiculous work in a ridiculously overfilled market?!”
Many don’t realize the real truth about a freelance career. For one, freelance isn’t as simple as it seems. It’s a full-fledged business and you’re not just any other employee. You’re an entrepreneur. Yes, an entrepreneur! And just like an entrepreneur would, you’re running your very own business. You have to come up with several strategies, build your brand image, cater to your name, network, put your client’s needs before your own, and much more that is required to foster a running business.
Thankfully, I realized this before I could sink my freelance career down the drain and do the ultimate “occupation switch”. With this realization, I knew exactly what I had to do. That’s when the work started rolling in until I was over-worked and had to decline a handful of clients and stick with only the most profitable jobs.
Build Up On The Portfolio
Whether you’re a graphic designer, a web designer, or a developer, you need to have an amazing portfolio on different platforms to showcase clients. For designers, this is a must-have. Creating a digital portfolio of your best projects will give you the needed “proof” of what you can do.
Your portfolio is a showcase of your skills, achievements and capabilities. These are few things that clients look for when they hiring freelancers.
Give It Your Best
It is really important to do what you’re best at. However, it is even more important to give your best at what you do. This means that you have to hand in solid work and perform your level best at each and every job. Always value quality above quantity, especially when you’re starting out. The “quantity” part will naturally come to you after extensive experience.
Try to really push hard and achieve more and more every time. Aim high and think about ways you can improve yourself (reading, watching tutorials, taking courses, etc). Don’t just give in every time you find a piece of work too challenging. Face up to the challenges, and you’ll end up learning a lot more than your competition – and eventually stand out.
Have a Website
Now, I know you’ve probably heard this one many times, and you’ve probably already decided that you’re just not up for it. But the truth is that every freelancer needs online visibility, and a website is just one of the few ways a freelancers can easily achieve “online visibility”. You must be great at designing or developing, but what’s the point when you do not have any online presence?
Platforms such as WordPress and Blogger can be operated for free. It wouldn’t hurt to showcase your skills on freebie world-wide recognized, Google-searchable, and highly painless medium that is available for the whole world to see.
As stated earlier, a great freelancer (slash entrepreneur) would be tasked to all the things required for running a successful business. This includes branding and promotion. The only difference is that YOU are the brand you need to promote.
When you have a fab portfolio ready, all that’s left to do is gather a handful of people who need to see it. For a freelancer, this can be effectively done with the help of social networks and a website. Be active on all popular social networks and build a complete profile that tells people what you do.
Spark up conversations with your friends, relatives and other acquaintances and ask them if they know anyone who requires your service or could refer you to someone who does. Build a catchy business card and hand out cards to anyone you meet. Do anything it takes just to get your name out there!
Cater to Your Clients
Your clients are your customers. And, you know what they say about customers – they come first! This doesn’t mean you have to cater to each and every client who approaches you. Some client may not be as profitable as others, so it is okay to politely decline their offer.
However, what you clients you have, you need to carter to their needs as required. Be nice. Be likeable. Be some who they can trust. Listen to their requirements carefully, keep them in the loop, accept any fair changes and modifications to your work, and display a great amount of flexibility. Remember, best marketing is done by your most satisfied clients.