The word ‘freelance’ can be traced back as early as the 1800s in Sir Walter Scott’s novel ‘Ivanhoe’. Back then, ‘freelancers’ refer to mercenaries who fight for nations that paid them the most money. Though present-day freelancers don’t need to engage in wars between countries or kill people for money, in essence, they still need to ‘fight’ for clients who engage their services. Now, fighting means protecting your clients’ interests by doing a task that would help grow their cause or business.
True enough, 50 or 100 years ago, the freelancing that we know today may have been just a figment of somebody else’s imagination. But the issue is not how freelancing started. Now, what matters is how one can have a successful freelance career. With the vast majority of the office-based population jumping ship and joining the freelancing bandwagon, it’s tough to stay ahead in the cutthroat competition.
Freelance Career Tips for 2020
Whether you are a freelancing newbie, or you’re a seasoned freelancer still waiting for your time to shine, you can find a lot of guides to freelancing online. Here are some helpful tips to help you gain leverage in the freelancing competition.
Know your niche
Before you ‘eat and dine’ with prospective clients and employers, you must first know what you can bring to the table. Ask yourself where you can add value to the business or cause of your client. If you are great at administrative tasks, capitalize on that skill, and master the craft. Once you’re capable enough to help a business, look for Virtual Assistant or other similar jobs. If you are great at writing content, pursue copywriting or technical writing tasks.
The moment you add value to your client’s business, the more indispensable you become to their operation. While job security is something hard to find in the freelancing world, if you can always add value, jobs, and clients will always find you.
Manage your time well
The downside of working at the comforts of your home, or anywhere else outside the confining walls of an office, is that you can easily get distracted. Plus, you can become too comfortable in your comfort zone that you become lazy. Remember that in freelancing, you reap what you sow. If you decide to drop everything and just ‘Netflix and chill’ the entire day, you know the consequences. You won’t earn anything. So, before you venture into freelancing, master the art of discipline and time management.
Schedule a routine that works best for you. If you work better at night time, make sure to have ample time to rest during day time to condition yourself for work later. If you are a morning person, make sure to schedule work the earliest time of the day so that you also have more time to recharge afterward. Or, if you have multiple clients, you mustn’t compromise the quality of work you deliver.
Remember that if you want to have a successful freelance career, you need to give enough respect to your clients by providing stellar results each time. All of these can be achieved if you have discipline and if you know how to make productive use of your time.
Always deliver exceptional results
The freelancing formula is not discombobulating. Consistently deliver excellent results each time, and your clients will always come back for more. It’s not the competition, and it’s not that others are more skilled. At the end of the day, it’s just you and what you give your clients that allow you to charge more as a freelancer. Of course, if you deliver trash, you can expect trash. As the saying goes, “if you don’t grow, you go!”
Never settle for mediocrity, even if you are under a tight deadline. Yes, you can comply, but after quality checks and your results are dissatisfactory, you won’t get more jobs.
Build rapport and expand your network
By now, you already know that getting clients is solely dependent on your skills. Invest aggressively in yourself because you can’t make being an “introvert” an excuse for not communicating properly. How can you market yourself if you stay silent all the time? Learn how to build connections and relationships with every person you meet online and offline. You don’t know who among these people can give you the “freelancing break” you have been waiting for.
If you apply for jobs, make sure to build rapport by writing a personalized cover letter. If the recruiter emails you back, acknowledge the email. Remember, as well, that time is of the essence. You immediately get ahead if you do things quickly. Be the first to finish a trial task. Answer emails shortly after receiving and reading it. These small things create an impression that you value the other person’s time and business. It also communicates interest in the task at hand.
You see, building rapport is not always equated in words, telephone calls, or face-to-face meetings. It can be done by paying attention to what the other person is presenting and acknowledging communications as soon as you can.
Don’t rest on your laurels
The last but not the least tip for freelance warriors to be successful in this industry is always to learn new skills. Here, being complacent is tantamount to professional suicide. If you have been teaching online for a long time, don’t settle with just that skill. What are the other things you are capable of? What are your other interests? Ask yourself how you can grow personally and professionally.
You may have been earning more than enough being a VA or a writer for years, but ask yourself if this is the only thing you want to be. If not, then get out of your high chair and move yourself to learn new things.
The final takeaway
Cliché as it may sound, but it’s still true that freelancing is not for the faint-hearted. You have to stand out to gain leverage and land projects. Aside from that, you also have to be strategic to keep projects and clients flowing. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself kicking tin cans on the street. Despite these difficulties, it’s also not impossible to be successful. If others can make it, so can you. Learn and relearn these tips by heart and see yourself soaring.