So, you want to be a freelancer? Let me be the first of many to start out by telling you that it sure as heck isn’t going to be easy. If you have thick skin and endless determination, then you “may” have what it takes! Being without steady and/or stable work can cause even the most level-headed of us to crumble under pressure. The pressure to land contacts, jobs, and make connections intensifies when our own livelihood is at stake.
To be successful as a freelancer, you must be unique! By this, I mean you need to be able to stand out from the rest and have something special to offer. Not only do you need to be highly skilled at what you do but, you need to have the right personality and business smarts to make it on your own. Being a freelancer is not a walk in the park by any means; there will be times where you feel as though you are always working. Whether you are researching, networking or brushing up on the latest trends in your field, the likelihood is that you are not going to find yourself laying in a hammock on the beach. However, with this being said, if you are the one in a million who do, then kudos to you!
Being a freelancer involves confidence, perseverance, and most of all determination! Know your worth and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! In this “dog-eat-dog” world, you will need to look out for you because no one else will. As your own boss, you now have the upper-hand; you call the shots! When negotiating pricing with a potential client, be fair not only to them, but also to yourself. Selling yourself short is the worst thing that you can do, especially when first starting out. If you under sell yourself, then you are under valuing yourself as a service provider. Clients will be more impressed and less reluctant to sign the dotted lines, if you express what sets you apart from competitors and your pricing reflects this.
Just because you are your own boss, does not mean that you can sit back and wait for contracts to fall into your lap. Unless you are well established, you will need to work around the clock to build rapport, network and market yourself and what you do. You need to create an image for yourself, a persona of sorts. Put your best foot forward and market your services accordingly. Be respectful and professional in all aspects of conducting business. Not only are you being evaluated on your services, but human instinct dictates that you will be highly more likely to land freelance work if you are viewed as “likeable.” Who wants to hire an asshole to do the job? Business professionals are often looking for what I refer to as “no-headache” clients. If you can provide a quality service and on top of that make it a smooth and non-troublesome transaction, then you are very likely going to have a happy customer. These are the people that will help you succeed as a freelancer. Business professionals talk with one another, and if you manage to impress someone, then you might just gain a referral!
Networking involves a lot more than just shaking hands and making deals. It is about building connections, through one person to another. It is about creating a positive reputation for yourself, as a service provider. If customers go away feeling satisfied with your services, then you have the potential of gaining a repeat customer. Don’t ever let your temper get the better of you when conducting any type of business. Following proper etiquette is just as important, if not more so when working as a “freelancer.” Emails, letters, telephone conversations, and one-on-one interactions all reflect upon you and what you do. Be sure to use full sentences when communicating. Be polite, courteous, and respectful to others at all times. Remember that language barriers exist and do your best to work around them. Be mindful of other cultures and customs. Be aware of social cues and always act with integrity.
Now that you know the very beginning to the basics of freelancing, you are one step closer to becoming a success story!