A Freelancer is basically a self-employed person who is not bound by any permanent or specific contracts from any company or clients. Freelance work is often short-term work and is primarily remote, i.e., it can be done from literally any part of the world.
Becoming a freelancer takes a lot of courage and discipline for sure because you have to put effort into finding work, doing the work, and managing your time all by yourself. You make your own rules, therefore, it is easy to slack off and fall off the wagon.
Because there are 100s of freelancing fields, it is impossible to talk about how to be a great freelancer in all these fields. However, there are fundamental rules to being a consistent freelancer that is applicable regardless of what field you desire to work in.
There are different ways to join the freelancing world. You can either sign up to large freelancing sites, or send a direct pitch to a specific company or website, or simply go through your connections and people in your network. No matter which one you choose, you can definitely excel and grow by following the rules below!
Fundamental Rules on how to be a Great Freelancer:
1. Stay consistent
Submit projects with the quality that you promised the client beforehand. Be available on the hours you said you would be. Make sure you remain consistent towards yourself as a freelancer and towards your client. Keep the quality of your work consistent so that clients will look at you as a reliable freelancer. The best part of being a freelancer is choosing your working hours, so it is your right to choose your own working days and hours. With that said, you should still always contact your client and be transparent with them regarding your working & non-working hours in advance to keep both parties satisfied. Always remember that communication is the key to success when it comes to Freelancing. The faster you develop your communication skills, the better it is going to be for you.
2. Don’t accept more work than you can handle
Make sure you are not cramming yourself up with work beyond your expertise or taking a larger volume than you can handle. This will either lead to frustration and feeling overwhelmed or deterioration in the quality of the work, if not both. You may be tempted to take as much work as possible because that will bring income and a better network, but in the long run, it will affect your freelancing career because the quality of your work will deteriorate due to lack of time and motivation.
3. Update your freelance profile consistently
Let's take Upwork as an example. Upwork gives freelancers a lot of opportunities to include as much relevant information as possible into their profile. You can use this chance to include as many relevant qualities and skills about you to attract as many clients as possible and widen your market range. You should also make sure you use a professional yet not a very formal photo of yourself as your profile picture. Avoid using Getty pictures or pictures of anything else but yourself. Always remember that people trust a face more than anything else. This is the main reason why clients feel safer to pick someone when they can see their identity. Update your profile as you acquire more skills, and make sure your profile is free of typos. Avoid lying about your skills or resume because that would end up in a dissatisfied customer who will leave a negative rating on your profile which can seriously hinder your performance over time.
4. Write an attractive pitch.
Clients are usually too busy to review all of their applications, especially if there are a lot of applicants. Therefore, your application should always stand out from the crowd to catch the client’s attention. Try to start your application with an attractive sentence and dive straight into why you believe you would be a great candidate for the job instead of beating around the bush. Try and use the Formula of Hook, Story, and Offer. Make sure you write down your relevant skills and show previous work to the potential client. Keep your application short and precise and always maintain a friendly tone.
5. Make a schedule
As a freelancer, you get to choose your working hours and working space. It makes it easier for you to procrastinate. In order to avoid slip-ups and leaving everything for the last minute, which definitely is going to hinder the quality of your work, make sure you stay organized. Create a plan of your preferred working hours along with everything that needs to be done to avoid forgetting or missing something. Organize all your to-do lists into a time frame so you understand when to do what and distribute your tasks accordingly.
6. Be as transparent as possible with your client.
Almost any problem can be resolved with communication. Let them know about your input, what you can and cannot do, and be clear on deadlines. Always remember, communication is vital if you want to be a successful freelancer.
7. Ask questions
Don’t hesitate to ask your clients as many questions as possible during or before you start the task. It will make it easier to get the work done, but it will also help improve the quality of the final result. The better you understand the client’s requirements, the better results you will be able to provide to the client.
8. Submit your work on the promised deadline
If you have a deadline given to you, always make sure you submit your work before the deadline, or if you, for any circumstances, need to extend your deadline, make sure you are transparent about it with your client.
9. Don't be afraid of rejection.
The main reason many freelancers give up in the first few weeks of freelancing is that they can't get past the feeling of getting rejected and making money as quickly as they hoped they would. As a freelancer, you are most likely to get more rejections than acceptance from your applications. You are going to be rejected by a lot of clients before you secure your first gig. Don’t let that demotivate you. As long as you stay consistent and build good relationships with your clients, it can be a gateway to help you get more regular work. If your client finds that you are a great person to work with, they might even recommend you to others and help you build your network.
10. Always work on improving your skills.
Most freelancers don’t start freelancing before they are professionals in their fields. Freelancing can be a learning process for you. There will always be a way to improve your writing, tweak your website development skills, work faster, and so on. There are always new apps and software popping up that can simplify your work and make you more efficient and effective. You can always do better no matter how great you think you are in your field, so make sure you continue to take time to learn new concepts, tips, and tricks to give yourself a competitive edge instead of staying mediocre.
11. Always abide by freelance platform rules.
Make sure you are always following the rules and regulations of any given freelance website to avoid complications or even risk your account being taken down.
12. Be open to suggestions and feedback.
When you submit your final work, be open to recommendations and feedback from your clients and other freelancers. Always understand they are just giving their insight, and they might be spotting something that slipped your sight. Being open to feedback will also make you a better freelancer over time because it helps you learn from your mistakes and understand different people’s perspectives.
13. Get a mentor
If you feel overwhelmed once you step into the world of freelancing, don’t hesitate to get a mentor who has been in the field longer than you have. Mentors will help guide you through how to be a “successful” freelancer and help you avoid mistakes they made when they first started freelancing.
14. Plan Your Action
Do not sit back relaxing all the time, just waiting for things to happen themselves. Always keep in mind that nothing happens automatically without your own efforts. Thus, instead of just dreaming about how you will do everything, make a plan of your actions and keep a record of it in writing. It is basically not possible for our “human minds” to remember everything at all times. Thus, we all need to ensure that we keep a record of our dreams, and plans in writing. This helps us recall each one of them, providing better stability for us in the near future of our Freelancing Career.
15. Respect Your Competition
These days, it is tough to find some profitable niche with almost no competition in it. Therefore, you need to assume that you will have to face Freelancers in your niche who could be more skilled than you are at the beginning. Always note that you must respect your competition seriously to outrank them later.
My suggestion here to you all would be to do an in-depth competitive analysis of the niche you are about to start freelancing in before actually stepping into it. If you do not know much about a niche yet you are entering it, always ensure that the competition is low to moderate. Otherwise, it will be very hard to land those first gigs since you are not as experienced in that particular niche yet.
So there you have it; a comprehensive list of everything you need to know to be a successful freelancer. Apply it in your freelancing journey to have a happy and successful career!
Rather than running for short-term projects, you need to instead focus on Long-Term projects that will eventually pay you the big cash you need. I will explain it in detail to you all right now. Consider yourself in a situation where you are a newbie freelancer on a platform like Upwork, Freelancer, etc., and you have no feedback or ratings at the moment. Suddenly, you get an offer from a client who offers you work at penny rates; way lower than you should take. However, the wise decision here could be for you to actually take that work and do your best on it to get a cool 5-star review on the job. Remember that it is not your photo, skills mentioned, description, or anything else on your profile that sells your services to the clients as much as reviews do. No one wants to hire someone who has either bad reviews or worse, no reviews. This is why you should do the work in such a situation since once you successfully complete the job, you will get “great feedback” on your profile that will help you get in touch with big-money clients in the future. This was just a simple, short, yet “real” example here in the world of Freelancing. It would help if you thought of long-term goals and focus on growing your presence and your personal brand as much as you can.
Doing so will also ensure that you increase your own traffic sources to your freelancing portfolios, sites, etc. This, in turn, would then ensure that you always get the most gigs possible from your “own” clients.
You shouldn’t be 100% dependent on online freelancing platforms. The reason is pretty simple and straightforward; you do not own these platforms. Remaining completely dependent on these platforms is nothing different than literally stabbing your online freelancing business yourself every single second. You do not have any control over the policies and their enforcement done by these platforms. It takes these platforms less than a minute to remove your hard-worked account from their database. After that, it is all gone, and there is nothing further you can do with it. This is the unfortunate reality of these online freelancing platforms. This is why instead of completely relying on them, you can use them to gain some experience in your field. Once you believe you have enough experience in your field and have finally got the skills you need to deliver high-quality work to the clients, you can start building your own clients.
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