I recently posted about the Common Mistakes to Avoid When Freelancing , and I got a number of interesting feedback with people sharing their own mistakes while freelancing.
So now I’d like to look at the flipside and offer tips on how you can succeed as a freelancer by starting your freelancing career on the right foot:
1. You must have the right reasons for wanting to be a freelancer. Everything starts with the motive: why do you want to be a freelancer? How do you see the life of having no job security or benefits? If despite all the possible negatives you still feel the excitement of being a freelancer, then you’re off to the right track.
2. Determine if you have the personality and temperament to be a freelancer. To succeed as a freelancer, you need to have the right personality traits and skills. You need to have great people skills as you’ll be working from one company to another. You need to have good marketable skills and creativity in promoting your services. You should have energy and determination to grow your freelancing services into a profitable business operation. Attention to detail is also a must as there is only one who will watch out for you, and that is you.
3. Research, research and research. Like any startup business, you need to learn about your target market and your competitive environment. Who will need your services? What types of clients or companies will hire you? Are there enough of these companies in your locality? Or are you going to solicit assignments from other areas through the Web?
4. Use the power of networking. Presenting yourself cold to a company who’s never heard or worked with you before is not easy. In freelancing, “who you know” is a very important asset. You stand a better chance in winning the contract or assignment if you know someone from the inside (maybe from a previous assignment or work environment) who can vouch for your skills and reliability. Knowing the right people can also be your source of tips for upcoming assignments. The power of referral is incredibly important in the field of freelancing, and you can achieve this if you network.
5. Plan your freelancing career. Freelancing is just like starting a business: you need to have a roadmap to help chart your course to success. Think of it as similar to the process of writing a business plan. At the onset, consider whether you will embark on freelancing head-on and quit your job; or start slow and start freelancing while working part-time. Think of where you want to be in a year. The key is to determine whether you have the resources to tide yourself while you are still getting your groove in freelancing, or whether you can immediately find clients.
6. Hone your marketing skills. Don’t you wish that assignments and new contracts will conveniently fall on your lap without you lifting a single finger? Alas, that is mostly pipe dream. For majority of freelancers, you need to market yourself to potential clients. And marketing is never easy. You need to find the companies who are looking for the services you provide and learn about them as much as you can — what is their contract hiring process, who is the decision maker, what are they looking for, etc. Be prepared to do a lot of cold calling and responding to requests for proposals. Spend time knowing a contact in the organization, even inviting them for lunch. Use the web to market your services by creating a website. Create brochures, flyers and lots of business cards. Attend seminars, conferences and other events where your target market congregates and get to know key people. Personal networking is an important marketing arsenal for freelancers.
7. Improve your likability factor. In business, they say that it is easier to keep existing clients than finding new clients. And that is so true in freelancing. Being likeable can go a long way in making sure that clients love you and will want to continuously work with you. Give your best customer service and you will succeed in freelancing. And that means delivering high quality outputs, delivering them on time and on budget. Make sure that you have a smooth working relationship with the client by being congenial and a good communicator. I’ve seen talented freelancers whose clients cannot wait to get rid of them because they are just too difficult, combative and just being a pain in the neck.
8. Be a smart businessperson. In as much as you want to think that your client will keep you forever, alas that is not always the case. Have the foresight to prepare for the eventuality. Get a sense when clients are starting to think that they no longer need your services — the worst you can do is to assume that all’s well in the world only to be handed a termination later that day. It takes about 2 to as much as 6 months to find new clients. Without sacrificing the quality of your work, spend at least an hour a day marketing your services.
I would really appreciate it if you have any suggestions or additions to my tips :o)
Check out the slideshow How to Build a Successful Freelance Business