In the beginning, we all need help to get started on a different career path. That's why we decided to provide you with a list of 10 tips for those freelancers who are just starting out. However, these tips can help freelancers at other levels of experience to better develop their career and see opportunities where they can thrive.
1. Know your expertise and be clear about what you can offer
Potential clients are looking to hire freelancers who have had previous experience in the field they are looking to hire. It is therefore a good idea to plan your type of business so you know what information you need to have in order to be able to send potential clients to hire you. Having prior experience or knowledge in a specific niche will give you a competitive advantage over others and make you a worthy professional. And, if you want to start working in an area in which you have no previous experience, consider taking certifications or diplomas that validate your knowledge.
2. Take care of logistics
Like everything in life, freelancing has its boring but essential sides that you have to take care of. For example, keeping track of a project, deciding the project fee, generating contracts, invoicing, etc. Planning these logistics in advance is very necessary to make your time valuable. Take the right steps to manage your project and always keep track of your time and invoices. Prepare a basic contract to secure your work and write an effective proposal for a project you are bidding on.
This also includes the pricing part of your services. Make sure you take the time to charge what you are really worth based on the cost of what you deliver or the business hours you offer.
3. Go deeper into pricing
Continuing on the same logistics theme, pricing deserves its own space. Here we'll break it down a bit further. There are different ways to price your work: by the hour and by the project. Freelancers generally avoid hourly rates as they are too detailed. Potential clients are more likely to micromanage the project because they can compare time to work. This is a problem for freelancers. Therefore, it is recommended to always opt for a project-based pricing model, where you look at the entire project and price and timeframe accordingly. In these circumstances, you and your client consider the overall value of the project from the outset, rather than giving an hourly estimate.
Of course, there may be exceptions. For example, working on graphic design projects on a weekly or monthly basis presents the situation where you can work on an hourly rate. Hourly rates make more sense in situations where you work intermittently after working on a full project as your full-time job.
It's all in analyzing the situation and seeing the best solution for it.
4. Search for clients using different freelance platforms.
This tip is self-explanatory, so you may wonder why we included it. The reason for this is that many freelancers stop at one or two platforms where they look for work; these are usually the most well-known, but that doesn't ensure success. The key is to branch out because some may not pay you what you're worth, if not less. We don't want that to discourage you from trying more places, on the contrary, it's for you to find where you are valued. Finding clients through these platforms is easy. Do your homework on pricing and project value, so you don't get underpaid. Be firm with your talent and believe in yourself.
5. Promote yourself
Self-promotion does not mean being on the street handing out brochures, but sharing your skills and knowledge effectively. For example, you can start by creating a website where you can show your portfolio; you can also generate a PDF with your proudest works and share it by mail or message. What we can tell you is that just don't forget to keep updating them constantly.
6. Use contracts to better manage your work
When you win a bid or are assigned a project, the contract binds you to the job. A contract helps you meet expectations and makes the work process as smooth as possible, so be sure to mention all the details required by both parties. Smooth and mutual communication plays a key role here.
If you want to know what else to include in your contract, read our article.
7. Update clients regularly
A notice of your progress is basic to provide good customer service. You may not think it's necessary, but this little move shows great professionalism on your part. Even this is something that can be agreed upon in the contract: the number of times you will follow up. But if not, it is a good idea to keep him informed of changes that are being made, or if you have to make a readjustment of the deadline, remember that these are issues that you cannot decide on your own, it is something to be discussed with your client. The worst this can give you is uncomfortable moments, but the best thing is that the client is satisfied and recommends you.
And when you finish the project, do not close the communication. Remember that you can offer them something else in the future. Don't close the doors yourself.
8. Keep realistic expectations
It's tempting to please a client with a budget or schedule because you want the work, but as a freelancer, you must be realistic with your pricing and deadlines. If your budget is low, look for ways to reduce the scope. If the deadline is not feasible, share your point of view honestly.
9. Show yourself as a leader
Being a freelancer is the same as being a leader. You are the boss and owner of your business of one that you built, that you know better than anyone else and that performs all of its activities. So don't doubt your weight as a leader, and above all, don't forget to show it to the world. Don't forget this: what differentiates an average freelancer from a professional is the ability to know what your client is projecting and propose a unique but related plan to meet their needs.
10. Ask for recommendations and testimonials
Following up after establishing a good connection with the client is very necessary. Because the reality is that if you do, you can easily get a client to write a testimonial for you. You need the testimonials so you can include them in your marketing strategy as it helps to increase the trust of new potential customers. You can post testimonials on your website, LinkedIn, other social media channels, marketing PDFs and freelancer platforms. The more recent a testimonial is, the more it will impact your positive rating.
Referrals are also a good way to get more freelance work and clientele. A referral means that your client recommends you to others in their network who may need similar services.