Do you dream of being a freelancer, a location independent worker who can afford to travel and work anywhere in the world? You must be filled with envy (we know we are!) every time you see photos of digital nomads working by the white sand beaches of Thailand, doing web design, writing, social media management, or whatever it is that they do. Indeed, it is everyone’s dream job, right?
However, no matter how attractive those nomads make freelancing appear to be, being a freelancer is actually very challenging.
One of the biggest challenges you will face is finding work. The freelance industry is growing, and that means the competition is also growing. You must know how to set yourself apart from the rest and be hired at your own terms.
To help you with that, this article is going to feature ten tried and tested ways you can win more projects as a freelancer.
Get a Website
If you are serious about freelancing, you must consider it a business. What do serious businesses have in common? Yep, they all have a website.
If you’re technologically-challenged, don’t worry. Your web design doesn’t have to be complicated. It just needs to be responsive and look nice and professional. At the very least, it should include your portfolio, a good head shot, and important details related to your freelancing work. Don’t forget to include a Contact Me page as well so potential clients can easily get hold of you.
Request for Testimonials
This might sound obvious but you will be surprised how many freelancers fail to do this. Of course, you have to get testimonials from your satisfied clients. It will give you the much-needed boost when looking for more work, as it will tell future customers that you have what it takes to complete the job.
If you are just starting, though, don’t be tempted to write your own testimonials. It will sound fake. More importantly, it will hurt your personal brand. Yes, you are freelancing yourself now. That means the brand is you.
Perfect Your Copy
If you don’t know what copywriting is, it’s the art and science of persuading your potential customer to hit that “Hire Me” button.
You should try perfecting your copy on everything, from your web design to your business card. Copywriting is something that is very hard to master, but it’s definitely worth pursuing.
Of course, if you don’t have the time or skills to do it, just hire a good copywriter to do it for you.
Keep Your Website Updated
You must always keep your website updated. Don’t just post your picture and portfolio and forget about it. Your website is the perfect platform for establishing yourself as a specialist in your field, an authority who can demand more compensation from clients.
The best way to achieve that “expert” status is to post regular, relevant content on your website. When writing your posts, always keep in mind your purpose for doing so: making yourself appear an expert in your field so that potential clients will hire you.
Join Social Networks
Social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are a great way of reaching new clients and broadcasting your personal brand. Some freelancers might think they are already doing social media marketing by posting popular links on their accounts.
It’s fine to do that; however, social media marketing is more than that. Start by reaching out to other people. Engage with them and let them know what you can offer, whether it’s web design or something else.
Ask for Referrals
As a freelancer, your biggest source of business is referrals. Hence, don’t hesitate to ask for referrals from your previous and current clients. How exactly do you do that?
The simple answer is to just simply ask for them. The worst thing that could happen is the client would say no. On the upside, if the client does provide a referral, that’s more business for you.
Asking for referrals is a low-risk and high-reward proposition. That means you should be doing it right now.
Don’t Forget the Time Zone
If you are looking to get hired from the western world, that means you should be aware of their current time zone and adjust accordingly.
For example, if you are in Asia, it is most likely nighttime when the U.S. is wide awake. As a freelancer, you should adjust your schedule so you can be awake at the same time that your potential clients are.
It’s a no-brainer — how can you meet new clients if you are sleeping?
Sign Up at Freelance Job Sites
There are a lot of job sites for freelancers out there, like Upwork.com (formerly oDesk and Elance) and Freelancer.com. Most freelancers start their journey by joining these kinds of sites. There is one important thing you should know about these sites, though: it can be a competition as to who can bid the lowest.
Do not bid low, and don’t be discouraged by the low bids. Justify your rate by emphasizing the value your clients will get from your services. If you are already a professional in your field, state that clearly in your proposal. Communicate in terms of value. Surprisingly, most people won’t expect high-quality work if you are offering your work at very low prices.
When you submit proposals or meet clients, make sure to differentiate yourself. Let your personality shine through your proposals and communication.
If your proposal gets noticed, then you just increased your chances of being hired. Remember, to get noticed is to set yourself differently from the rest.
Don’t Forget About Your Goal
If you are already experienced in your field, it’s easy to boast how good your web design is or how you can write a journalistic-style article. There is nothing wrong with that, just as long as you keep one important aspect in mind.
People are looking for someone to solve some kind of problem for them. Most people aren’t really that interested if you can write or code with your hands behind your back. They just need you to help solve a problem. Hence, when you are communicating with people, always keep in mind that you are there to help them solve their problem.
If you truly want to get more clients and to charge more, you will need to continuously educate and improve yourself. You will have to learn more about your field, or learn something new that complements your field.
The more things you know, the easier for you to suggest a problem-solving solution. Ultimately, your clients will see you as a true expert and won’t hesitate to refer your work to someone else and/or pay you more.
Being a freelancer can be very rewarding. However, it has its own set of challenges that is not found in the corporate field. One of those challenges is finding more clients. Thankfully, you can return to this article if you need help in this area.