What better way is there to live away all of your life in your pyjamas and not having it to make it to the office every day, pretending to be happy with your job when deep inside you are not? Well, as much marvelous it may sound, it does take a lot of work and persistence to reach that level.
Freelancing has taken the internet world by storm over the past decade and now thousands and millions of people are making their life online through freelancing. Freelancing is primarily all about the skills that you possess and how far you are willing to go to invest your time and money in self-development to be able to offer top-notch services to your client.
Freelancing is no magic and is definitely not something that lands in your lap while you lay down in your flip-flops and pyjamas inside your room. It takes due diligence from your end and some tricks of the trade to help you land that freelancing gig that you’ve always dreamed of.
In my over 3 years of freelancing career, I’ve seen the highs. I’ve seen the lows and everything in-between. I always tell people that freelancing is not something you must look forward to if you simply want to escape from your 9-to-5 routine, freelancing sometimes requires more work than just that. Do it for all the right reasons and you will become a better freelancer, no matter what field you’re operating in. Doing it for the love of it would get you more clients than simple skills ever can!
Effective tips to boost your freelance career
There are a few tips and tricks that I believe are the most valuable for attaining success in any freelancing activity that you are involved in. No matter your domain of expertise, these are the most important, effective and very often casually discarded tips that I believe would help you enhance your freelance career.
Know your skills and niche better
The first step before you dive into a freelancing career or are even looking for a getaway is to know yourself, your skills and the market better. Know yourself and your gifted skillset better. Be it writing, graphic designing, web designing or whatever it is that you are good at, identify your strong skills. Now take these skills and arrange them in the order of your expertise. Your freelancing career should probably be based on your top one or two skill sets, but that is not always the case. Now you would also need to identify the scope for improvement in these particular areas and you would need to take out time for investing your time and efforts into self-development.
Knowing the niche, you’re about to get into is another important step many new freelancers fail to consider while getting started and soon find themselves loathing about the field. There’s no such thing as a ‘bad niche’ and there are opportunities abound everywhere. Take time to explore the niche you’re about to get into, read relevant blogs, follow industry experts in that niche and look-out for what works best in your field of operations. This way, you would get a clear understanding of what your clients expect from you before you even get started working on the freelance assignments and projects.
Diversify your portfolio
While I’ve always been told to pick and stick with just one field, I’m pretty sure that myself and millions of other people would not abide by it. There are generalists and there are specialists, but there is no rule that one must always pick only one thing and try to dedicate their entire lives to the mission.
The Renaissance Soul is an amazing book by Margaret Lobenstine, which explores the possibility of taking up everything that you love and still succeeding at them. Although you might have several different skills, there is no need to suppress one of it just for the sake on concentrating on the ‘call of your life’. Diversifying your portfolio is something you would do to broaden your horizons by expanding your areas of expertise.
You might be an amazing web developer, but you might also be a decently good graphics designer. This is something when you must dedicate more time to your tertiary skills and gather skills outside of your domain. You never know when an opportunity might come just around the corner and you wish you had dedicated a little bit more time to work on it. From the skillset you’ve created from the previous step, try to concentrate a bit more on your tertiary skills and decide what it would take you to develop them even further. One doesn’t know what tomorrow may bring and diversifying your portfolio is a great way to not only enhance your freelance career horizons, but it will also help you develop better reasoning and critical thinking abilities.
Maintain an up-to-date personal website
I’m not sure how many freelancers on the Internet have their own personal website. I’ve seen good freelance web programmers who do not have their own personal website. While it is something very obvious to have for a web programmer or front-end designer, a personal website is not something only exclusive to freelancers operating in technical fields.
You can view personal websites of writers, authors, graphic designers, developers, and so forth online and there is a reason for it being live on the Internet.
Having a personal website to showcase your portfolio, a bit of personal information and a few testimonials from your most satisfied clients is one surefire way to enhance your freelance career.
Now while I might be talking about having a personal website on the Internet, it is just as important to keep it up-to-date and by posting some valuable content at regular intervals of time. Letting the world know about your services and helping them find you is the purpose that personal websites serve effectively. You do not need to be a programming whiz to get started on your first online website, and ShoutMeLoud is an amazing community with hundreds of articles on how to get started on your first website with a platform like WordPress.
Leverage social media for better networking
The social web has developed a lot since 2004 and there is now millions of petabytes of data generated just from these social platforms. People like being heard and the internet has helped in eliminating the physical boundaries and obstacles in having an effective communication. Although there are still hundreds of things wrong with social media, this is your best friend as you begin your freelancing career.
Outreach is an important aspect of a successful freelancing career and social media helps you just achieve that somewhat effortlessly. Well, there definitely is social media marketing and then lots of work to do before you make meaningful connections on the web, but it is something very important.
Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and just about any social platform that you’re comfortable with. There might be even a need for stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring social media marketing across other platforms where your potential clients might lie in anticipation. Make the most of every possible tool available to you and make it a habit of reaching out to your potential clients and previous customers. Even though most of your freelancing career might be involved in you being behind the computer, that must not stop you from networking. Try to even go beyond the internet and try to attend meetups and conferences in your field, where you might personally connect with the people in your niche.
Always try to deliver more than expected
Delivering a 5,000-word article when you were to deliver a 2,500-word article is not an appropriate example of delivering more than required. The delivering more than expected is stated here in a notion that expects the freelancer to put in more time and efforts into the work that gets outputted finally. James Altucher puts it amazingly in offering advice to writers, “Bleed in the first line”. Give life to your work by inputting your dedication and passion into it. A work that has been bled through the entire while of its creation is something that is definitely worth everyone else’s time.
Many first-time freelancers begin on their first freelance assignment and they tend to blow up the deal by getting more excited than required. Kicking out anxiousness is something every freelancer must consider first before even diving into the field. Getting overexcited about the freelance project and underdelivering is pretty common among new freelancers and is something which must be completely avoided at all costs. Offering your clients your best possible services is the only way for a successful freelance career, where everyone’s time is invaluable and you must respect that.
Value your and your client’s time
Everyone’s time is invaluable to them and the most important thing you must remember in your freelancing career is that your services might cost a client their business. Valuing your client’s time and your own time is essential to get started with a successful freelance career. Valuing your own time is said in the sense of how you are structuring the fee for your services. Many freelancers tend to under-price while there are others hitting the higher ends with little to no successful previous experience.
There is no hard-and-fast way or rule to price your services, but it must reflect your time and efforts that go into its making. The satisfaction of your client must also be taken into consideration, and that one usually takes care of itself when you understand the notion of valuing their time. Just make sure that you are making your work worth your and your client’s time.
Build effective relationships
When it comes to a successful freelance career, it is all about building effective and meaningful relationships with your previous customers and your potential clients. Ask for their honest testimonials and feedback once done with your work and this is where lies a great scope for improvement in your future freelance assignments or projects. This would also help you establish yourself as a good freelancer who is serious about their own work and deliver what is expected of them.
Reach out to your potential customers but don’t forget your previous clients in the process. Make sure to greet them occasionally and develop a meaningful relationship with them to improve yourselves as a better freelancer. These people are the ones who understand the importance of self-branding better and will never decline you in your request of a testimonial or unconditional feedback, provided you have delivered adequately what was required from you.
So, coming to the end of this article on how to become a better freelancer and expanding your freelancing career horizons, what are the key tips you would impart to your fellow bloggers and freelancers? Shout out your thoughts and comments below.