Ten Simple Tips to Succeeding As a Freelancer
Freelancing can seem like a great career option—you get to set your own hours, choose the work you take on and decide how much you get paid. But oftentimes freelancing is not as simple as it appears. In addition to being competitive, the freelance working world can be very complex and tricky to navigate. Here are some tips that can help you enjoy your career as a freelancer and the success that follows.
1. Know Your Skills
It’s crucial that you have a good grasp of all the intricacies of your chosen freelance field, and that you know what you can and cannot do. All professions have sub-niches and specialties, so you need to be confident in your ability to assess where your expertise lies. This will help you target your pitches and approach the right clients. Sticking to your expertise will also ensure you produce quality work. As a result, you’ll gain a good reputation as a freelancer and will be in a better position to sell your skills to future clients.
2. Don’t Over/Undersell Yourself
The world of freelancing can be very competitive. Entire websites function as “race to the bottom” bidding wars. Do not fall into this trap! Always remember that your time is valuable—don’t undercut yourself by taking low-paying jobs just for the sake of having work. When starting out, you will likely need to take some jobs at a lower rate, but use your judgement on this. You cannot expect to charge top dollar when you are new in your field, but do not allow employers to exploit you either. Seek a balance, and make sure you’re being fair to yourself and your potential clients.
3. Maintain a Schedule
Setting your own hours sounds wonderful, but it can come with the potential for procrastination. Making a schedule for yourself and sticking to it can help keep you focused and on track so that you’re consistently and steadily getting your work done. Set goals, make lists and use calendars so that you are using your time meaningfully each day.
4. Keep Your Promises
Reputation is everything in the freelancing world. No matter how brilliant your work may be, if you’re seen as unreliable or untrustworthy, earning the favor of new clients may be a struggle. To avoid such labeling, be mindful of your promises. Do not commit to things you cannot deliver. Consider your workload and schedule when agreeing to take on new tasks, and be realistic about deadlines.
5. Link in With Your Freelancing Community
One of the most valuable resources you have as a freelancer is others in the same line of work. While it’s true that there will always be an element of competition, other freelancers who perform similar tasks to you can often provide advice, or even direct their clients to you if they cannot take them on.
6. Use the Right Tools
Every profession has its tools. Tradespeople need hammers and nails, writers need computers and research materials, drivers need vehicles and a good mileage tracker. Knowing the right tools for your job and how to use them will not only save you time and money—it will enhance your credibility and professionalism.
7. Learn to Embrace Feedback
Client satisfaction is one of the most critical components of working as a freelancer. While most people will clearly communicate their needs and wants, which will equip you with the necessary information to do the job exactly as they desire, not all potential clients possess these skills. That’s where feedback plays a huge role and becomes extremely important! It can be tough to hear at times, but as a freelancer you need to appreciate feedback as a gift that helps you improve. Making the client happy will boost your reputation and increase your opportunities for more work. Always be mindful of the differences between feedback and criticism. Feedback is positive and helps you do things better, where nonconstructive criticism can be harmful and unwanted.
8. Be Patient
Patience is key! You cannot expect to be offered large amounts of work and earn big sums of money when you’re just starting out. Likewise, you should not expect potential clients to spend all day waiting to hear from you. Be realistic and do not try to do too much too soon. Respect people’s budgets and timeframes, and stay calm and professional.
9. Learn How to Negotiate
Negotiating can be tough, but it’s something you must be willing to master if you want to succeed in the freelance world. The topic of salary and deadlines are the most often debated matters in freelancing, so you need to go in with a clear idea of your fastest and cheapest possible offer. Of course that is not where you would start—but the art of negotiation lies in being able to advocate for yourself. Keep in mind that your client will be coming from that exact same perspective. Be polite, honest and clear. Stay realistic and focused, and always remember that if you and a potential client cannot come to an agreement, then there is nothing wrong with saying no.
10. Be Safe
A final point but by no means the least important: Success feels great, but keeping yourself safe when conducting your work is essential. As a freelancer, most of your initial communication with potential clients will occur online, and the internet can be a risky place. Make sure you are cautious about where you agree to meet people and what information you share. Your safety should always remain your number one priority.