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An increasing number of people are choosing to work as freelancers due to circumstances in the job market and lifes...
An increasing number of people are choosing to work as freelancers due to circumstances in the job market and lifestyle choices. The communications revolution has opened up new opportunities for freelance work and the flexibility and freedom that freelancing can provide are attracting all kinds of individuals to choose self-employed, independent career paths.
If you’re a freelancer or considering becoming one, here are 10 tips to help you boost your effectiveness and join the top ranks in your field.
This is number one. Reply to emails punctually, ask questions and make sure you and your client understand each other. Be honest, sincere and show off your knowledge and thinking skills (within reason). Clients want someone who is confident, but not an overconfident know-it-all. Be open to feedback and criticism, and if you don’t understand something 100% — ask!
Be available to work at consistent times and make sure clients know your working hours, when and how you can be contacted and the amount of hours you are available to put into a project. If you are in a different time zone from your clients, be sure to work out any details and complications relating to your differing schedules. Also, if you follow a regular routine you are more likely to get more work done and have a happier and healthier working rhythm.
Everybody likes a deal. Sweeten your offers by offering discounts for larger quantities of work by slightly lowering your hourly rate for blocks of hours or by publishing a special bulk rate. This could lead to more work, more long-term jobs and more repeat clients. However, make sure you don’t bend over backwards and sell yourself short. Clients want someone who is self-assured, not desperate!
As a freelancer you are essentially the owner of a small business, even if it’s just you and your computer. Depending on local tax regulations, you may be able to claim some or all of your equipment (computers, printers, phone and Internet bills…maybe even a portion of your rent if you work at home) as business expenses on your income tax returns and save money!
Just because you use the Internet for work doesn’t mean you’re on the cutting edge anymore. Keep abreast of all developments in social media and technology in order to get more business. Promote yourself with online portfolios, CVs, social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and whatever else comes along. Keep these platforms active and updated so you appear to be on the ball.
Don’t expect to be sought out, paid well or get interesting work if you sell yourself as some kind of freelance Jack-of-all-trades. Valuable clients want experts, not just competent workers. If you are just starting out, this may take some time, so don’t be afraid to try different types of work within your areas of competency. You’ll soon find your niche and clients will notice!
If you don’t value your own time, don’t expect anyone else to. An unusually low rate can smell of desperation and a low opinion of your own skills and work experience. On the other hand, you don’t want to price yourself out of potentially desirable clients’ budgets. Examine the rates of other freelancers who operate in comparable economies and have similar skills and experience as you, and choose a reasonable rate that you can comfortably and realistically increase as you build your client base.
Don’t take on work you don’t have the time to complete. This will turn off clients, reducing chances of return business. If you have multiple clients with different deadlines and priorities make sure you know them (through effective communication with your clients) and schedule your work time on each project accordingly.
Cultivate regular clients by keeping the lines of communication open, getting in contact regularly and keeping track of their progress (without coming off like some kind of creepy stalker). If you did a good job the first time, were polite, responsible, accommodating, confident and displayed a positive attitude the client will most likely want to work with you again should the opportunity arise. Someone who did a good job, is familiar with the work and has experience is always an asset to a client.
One of the advantages of being a freelancer is the possibility to take on different kinds of projects to keep things interesting. Don’t feel guilty about taking adequate personal time either. Just because you are your own boss doesn’t mean you have to be extra tough on yourself. Stay fresh, healthy and happy. If you end up hating your job you are far less likely to be successful at it.