Freelancing has become a go-to option for many people who are looking to cash in on their knowledge without having to commit to an office environment.
Being self-employed means an amount of freedom that no other type of employment can offer. You get to choose the amount of work that you do. You can be picky about the projects that you do and also about the time frame that you’re going to do it in.
But to get to that point, you need to go through various stages of evolution and become a top-dog freelancer in your industry. This guide will offer some of the best tips for you to grow as a freelancer and become successful at what you do.
1. Set up Your Work Hours.
The most common problem most freelancers face is that they work too little on some days and too much on other.
It might seem like it is killing the purpose of freelancing. But setting up your work hours will go a long way to ensure you’re both efficient and not overworked. Because, whatever you think of it, freelancing is a job.
You can still be flexible about your work hours if you need it. However, the best freelancers out there know how to respect their free time. Knowing exactly how much time you are committing to your work on a daily basis will also ensure that you know which projects you can take and which ones you will have to skip.
2. Down Payment is Your Friend.
Not getting paid is one of the biggest issues any freelancer faces during his career. A simple solution for this problem is to always request a down payment for any project you take on.
Most freelancers will ask for 50% of the total fee, but you can go lower than that if your portfolio doesn’t speak for itself. Any potential clients that have a problem with a down payment, you should treat as unreliable. Carefully consider if you are going to work on their project or not.
Keep in mind that getting paid for your work isn’t only about getting the money. It’s also about keeping your reputation intact. Believe it or not, most clients will think of you as a more competent professional if you ask them for a down payment.
3. Don’t Hesitate to Turn Down a Project.
It might be difficult to say ‘no’ at times, but you will have to do it anyway. Overloading yourself with work is one of the best ways to get you frustrated enough to quit the freelancing career altogether.
Having enough on your plate is not the only reason to turn someone down. If you find the job too difficult for what you are getting out of it, you should also consider just skipping it.
Sometimes you will recognize a project that is way too hard but for an excellent client that you want to keep. In these situations, you should probably consider taking the job, or at least explain why you are turning it down. Retaining good clients is extremely important for any freelancer.
4. Adapt as You Grow.
By growing as a freelancer, you will inevitably attract more clients. Once you start getting more and more work, you might find it difficult to keep up with the pace. This is because you probably did not invest enough time and effort to make things easier for you.
Here are some of the tips to make things easier for you to keep up with the pace.
5. Adapt Your Home Office.
Maybe you have pulled it off with a simple desk in the corner in the start. Now that you’re starting to grow, though, you might need to adapt your room to match your current requirements.
This usually means getting a professional desk, a top-notch computer, glass whiteboards to better organize yourself, good lighting, plants to keep the room fresh etc.
6. Organizational Tools.
Project management, finance management, time-tracking… There are a lot of things you need to keep track of when you start to grow as a freelancer.
Doing all of this manually would take up much of your valuable time. Which is why you need to start using a wide range of tools to help you stay organized.
7. Be Assertive.
People tend to equate assertiveness with pushing people around. But there’s nothing wrong with expressing yourself and getting what you want.
When you have no one else to speak up on your behalf, keeping your head down can be bad for business. It can even get tiring to have people constantly haggling down your rates.
Speak Up for Yourself
A little assertiveness can help you negotiate your rate against even the stingiest of hagglers. This is an essential skill to develop as a budding freelancer.
By asserting yourself, you demonstrate your value even before the contract’s been signed. But this isn’t easy for everyone.
Indeed, not everyone can be naturally assertive and confident. A lucky break is that these two traits can still be developed with time and practice.
To get started, try taking professional assertiveness classes or read up on the subject yourself.
Once the conversation or meeting has veered towards your rate, the easiest tip to give is to stay calm. State your desired rate with conviction. Though it’s easier said than done, it gets much easier with experience.
By appearing confident in your abilities, you will be perceived as more credible and reliable and can soon land your first big client.
But when you get pushback, you should stay positive and professional. It’s normal for a client to question your abilities, so don’t take it personally.
Justify your rate by explaining the service you’ll be providing. Sometimes, all a client needs is a guarantee that they’ll be getting their money’s worth.
Negotiate the Scope
Sometimes, a client is just really stuck to a specific budget. On these occasions, the best course of action would be to reach a deal on the deliverables, instead. This might come in the form of less room for revisions or a looser deadline.
Standing your ground doesn’t mean you have to be firm and immovable. You want to be seen as valuable, while still being rational. If they won’t agree to pay more, see if they’ll agree to let you do less.
Learn to Say No
Negotiating can get particularly difficult when you’re wary of chasing a client away. But you don’t want to say yes to every request and end up overcommitting.
This might lead to a lackluster performance that’ll prove worse for your reputation than if you’d just said no.
Still, you should always try to make a counter-offer. But you should always measure if the pay justifies the effort. Don’t devalue your own work.
When it comes to unreasonable and demanding clients, the best thing to do is to just say no.
Reap the Rewards
As a businessman and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn once said, “You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for bringing value to the hour.” Don’t settle for anything less than what you’re worth.
For a freelancer, assertiveness is a vital skill that will let you promote yourself, reach your goals, and overcome professional difficulties. Master it until you can put your career into overdrive.
Being self-employed has its ups and downs but it gives you a chance to really get successful with your work.
As someone who has been a company employer for a long time, I can tell you that many times you will not get recognized for your work. As a freelancer, you will get to build up your portfolio with each project that you do and get recognition for your hard work. However, working hard may take a toll on your private life, which is often a reason for people to give up on freelancing.
If you listen to our tips, you will make sure to create a perfect balance between your work and private time. All while staying organized and becoming more and more successful in what you do.