Mostly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 ushered in the year of the freelancer. The independent workforce generated more than $1.2 trillion in revenue, with about one out of every three Americans conducting some form of freelancing work. An increasing number of professionals have chosen to work full-time as freelancers. Nearly four out of every 10 professionals in the United States work as a freelancer full-time, which represents an eight percent increase over the percentage of full-time freelancers in 2019.
Transitioning into full-time freelancing can seem intimidating at first. Whether you have contemplated freelancing as a full-time work gig or you are on your way towards establishing a freelancing business, let’s review eight tips to grow your career as a freelancer.
Understand Your Professional Skills
The first step involves taking a professional inventory of your skills and areas of expertise. If you specialize in providing digital marketing services, decide where you excel in specific areas of digital marketing. Extensive development of professional skills combined with one or more certifications can make your professional credentials appealing to a potential client.
If your resume needs more professional polish, consider enrolling in a program or two that allows you to obtain the appropriate certifications for your chosen profession.
Competitively Establish Your Prices
When you start to build your freelancing career, the instinctive reaction is to price your services below market value. You should price your freelancing services based on your skills and experience, not just on experience. Clients want to work with freelancers they can trust to accomplish project goals regardless of experience. Put skills above experience when pricing your freelancing services.
Improve the Way You Organize and Share Your Thoughts
Going it alone as an independent contractor removes the formal rules of workplace engagement. Much freelance work will involve organizing your thoughts and ideas, into valuable content for your client. Commonly you’ll be getting to know a client on the fly, being bombarded with loads of information and ideas at once. Collecting these tidbits and crystallizing the information in a meaningful way can be daunting.
Enter a platform called Braincat. This software is a fave of freelancers across many industries: writers, designers, project managers, coders, speakers, business consultants, startups, researchers. It starts with some intense brain jogging and brainstorming questions and asks you to input any other notes you’ve collected. Then Braincat walks you through a process to organize your random thoughts and tidbits into categories and structure.
You’ll find clicking and dragging, plus visualizing in mind maps outlines to stimulate your brain processes in a new way. Developed by thought leader and business consultant Jon Ward, it’s useful in both business and personal settings and particularly useful for developing articles, pitches, strategies, and project plans.
Treat Freelancing Like a Job
Yes, freelancing represents a real career. However, far too many freelancers do not treat it like one. The lack of workplace guidelines can lead to lax workplace rules at home. Because you have removed yourself from an organized workplace structure, you should maintain some, if not all of the workplace protocols you experienced when you worked in a more structured environment.
This means following guidelines like minimizing distractions, wearing professional attire, and starting work at the same time daily.
Leverage Digital Technology
Before you dived into the world of freelancing, many of your professional interactions took place in person. Think weekly office meetings and interacting with clients over lunch at your favorite restaurant. Freelancing removes most personal communications, as you can expect to interact with clients and potential clients online.
Make sure you stay on top of your digital game.
This means creating a website devoted to your freelancing business. Your freelancing website should present your professional credentials, as well as testimonials from satisfied clients. You should also take advantage of online platforms that showcase your talents to client prospects.
Operate Using Contracts
Every time you gain a new client or start a different project for a repeat client, make sure you work on a project under the terms of a contract. Working with a contract clarifies expectations, as well as defines your compensation for the specified work to be done. If you and a client agree to work on an hourly basis, define the guidelines that track and report your progress on a project.
Details such as how you plan to communicate should be a part of any contract you set up with a client.
Responsive Communication Matters
In the world of freelancing, absence does not make the heart grow fonder. In fact, absence can at the very least frustrate clients.
You do not have to give daily updates on a project, but you must be responsive when communicating with clients. This is especially true if you expect to miss a deadline. Understand the guidelines for communication each client has written into a contract, which should include information that describes how you should handle project changes.
Responsive communication is especially important after you submit work for a project or a step in completing a project.
Ask for Referrals
Receiving positive feedback, whether it is posted on your website or an online review platform, can help you build your freelancing business. Nonetheless, you should be proactive by asking regular clients for referrals. Since a referral comes from a client who appreciates your dedication to producing high-quality work, asking for a referral should result in at least one contact to pursue additional business.
Receiving referrals represents one of the most effective strategies for growing your freelancing career.
Give Your Freelancing Career a Boost
Deciding to take your professional skills into the world of freelancing can appear to be a daunting task. After all, you lose all the structure that kept you grounded professionally when you held a standard workplace job. By following these eight tips, you can grow your freelancing business to make it the only way you make a living.