Freelancers now make up 34% of the U.S. workforce and are projected to compose 43% of it by 2020. With these numbers in mind, it’s important for current and future freelancers to be smart, savvy, and learn how to distinguish themselves from the competition.
1. Network until it hurts.
Meet with experts in your field and learn from their experiences. Be persistent – if someone turns you down for a coffee, try the next person on your list. Make sure you regularly attend relevant industry events, as they are great places to find potential clients. In addition, schedule regular meet-ups with fellow freelancers and share ideas and insights with one another. It’s a great way to find motivation and keep each other in check.
2. Make your website work.
Naturally, you’ll need a website to claim your online space and shine the best light on your work. While your website can be either elaborate or minimalist – think about which aesthetic best suits your target audience – it should be optimized for SEO and designed to convert potential clients. Unsure if your website is optimized for conversion? Don’t just go with a friend’s (biased) opinion. Try user testing to get the professional point of view.
3. Stretch your influence with social media.
Smart social media use will expand your reach exponentially. Determine what social media channels are most important to your clients and then take a methodical approach. Establish a brand voice, and keep it consistent across channels (but remember that no one likes being constantly marketed to). Share content that appeals to your target audience, support your friends’ work, and, most importantly, be yourself. Since the field of social media is enormous these days, don’t be afraid to ask the experts for help.
4. Develop self-discipline.
We get it – self-discipline is easier said than done. But it’s essential if you’re going to make it as a freelancer. Maybe you want to keep the traditional 9–5 hours, or perhaps you work best at night (part of freelancing’s appeal). Regardless: Keep to your hours. Make a to-do list and review it each day. Group similar tasks together for maximum efficiency. Do your hardest tasks first.
5. Keep clients happy.
Treat your client as you would a regular boss. Maintain open communication, be ready to accept critical feedback, complete necessary revisions graciously, and always meet your deadlines.
6. Become skilled at content marketing.
It’s one of the hottest skills to have. In 2017, marketers are creating 70% more content than they did in 2016, and are investing 75% more in their content marketing strategies as traditional ads (which can be blocked) are phased out and targeted content takes over. Think about how best to develop and showcase your marketing skills so you can add content marketing to your resume.
7. Pursue other passions.
There are two kinds of freelancers: those who use their income to pursue other dreams, and those whose freelance work is also their passion project. Regardless of which category you fall into (and maybe it’s a bit of both), it’s necessary to take time away from your work. Know when to give yourself a break. Nourish other interests.
8. Invest in the tools you need.
A good computer, printer, scanner, and software for generating and tracking financial statements cover the basics. You can invest in other electronics, or spend time trying out apps to keep you organized, but don’t overlook the most important tool: a designated workspace that you can close the door on after each day.
9. Negotiate the right rate.
Propose a rate that is fair to you and to your client. Don’t undersell yourself and risk looking like an amateur. But beware the oversell – if you charge more than your competitors without delivering above and beyond, you’ll hurt your reputation and future chances too.
10. Pay quarterly taxes.
Most freelancers pay quarterly taxes and find that doing so eases the burden of having to pay one large sum come April 17. Use the 1040-ES form to estimate what you’ll owe. Project your income for the months ahead and always save for these quarterly payments. And use Visor for
Freelancing is always a work in progress. Keep the above tips in mind, and learn as you go along. And don’t forget that Fiverr is a great way for freelancers to market their skills and build their client base.