How to Evolve and Grow as a Successful Freelancer 46

How to Evolve and Grow as a Successful Freelancer

This is a guest post by Tony Solomon.

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.

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.

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.

Don’t Hesitate to Turn Down a Project.

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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.

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.

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, DisplayMe glass whiteboards to better organize yourself, good lighting, plants to keep the room fresh etc.

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.

Conclusion

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.

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The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience 10

The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience

Providing a flawless customer experience is the ultimate goal for any business.

There’s a lot that goes into creating a customer experience that keeps your clients coming back for more. In fact, there’s so much involved that it can almost seem overwhelming.

However, providing a flawless customer experience becomes much easier when you approach the task through these five distinct elements:

Time
Understanding
Ownership of Emotions
The Unexpected
Follow-Through

Time

When it comes to your customers’ satisfaction, time is essential. Think of how a great experience at a new restaurant quickly sours if you’re left waiting for your food to arrive. Think of how your excitement over a great department store sale turns into frustration as you stand in line for what seems like hours.

Time is your most valuable resource and it is up to you to make sure you’re using your customers’ time wisely.

This is why restaurants have comfortable waiting areas with drinks and appetizers, or why airports have lounges with restaurants, shops, and even bars.

If your customers are being forced to wait for a service, make them feel as if their time spent is not wasted. The more positive drivers you offer customers, the less likely they are to grow dissatisfied with their experience.

Think of how you can implement this in your own business. Are there places where you can help fill customers’ time? Are there places where technology can be used to cut down on the time it takes to complete a task? Remember, it’s the customers’ time that should be valued, not your own.

Understanding

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You must understand what your customers want, when they want it, and how.

While this may seem daunting, getting a better understanding of your customers doesn’t take millions of dollars, complex data analytics, and a degree in psychology. Instead, all it takes is a simple look. Watch their process, engage with them, ask them questions, and listen to them.  

How are customers interacting with your product? What’s the first thing they do when they enter your store? What’s the last thing they do before they leave? How long are they spending in each department? Do you notice anything that hampers their experience?

Take a look at your competitors. How are your potential customers interacting with them? What does this business offer that you don’t or vice versa? What is your, as Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen says, “job to be done?” What are your customers hiring your product or service to accomplish? Understand why your users are turning to your products.

Ownership of Emotions

Many companies have already taken hold of their customers’ emotions, though cynically. Subliminal advertising is a key example. However, the ownership of emotions does not have to be cynical. When used correctly, it can be the “holy grail” for companies.

Owning emotions begins with the aforementioned ability to understand. When you truly understand a customer’s choices and then act to make the experience better, you’re building a relationship of trust. That trust is the foundation of emotional ownership.

One way to build this trust is to reduce the “emotional” noise that surrounds your customers. Let them know that, even on their worst day, your business or product is there for them and that it will be a constant in their lives.

Think of restaurants and the long wait times you have to endure when they’re busy. Think of how angry—or “hangry”—you feel as you stand around, waiting for your table, and listening to your stomach growl. However, think of how some restaurants are able to reduce that emotional noise by serving you finger foods and drinks as you wait.

Also, seek to understand what emotionally motivates your customers.

Why should they be motivated to visit your store or use your product? To feel confident? Free? Unique? Secure? Successful? Research shows that all human beings are motivated by one of those factors.

The Unexpected

Experiences become stronger and more memorable when they’re accompanied by an element of surprise. Surprise can be addictive, which will only keep your customers coming back for more.

Think about mailing your customers or clients small packages with gifts and swag. Everyone loves to get mail and everyone loves free stuff, especially when it’s least expected.

A surprise doesn’t have to be a huge flash mob (though it could be!). Hand out snacks at your store. Is it a cold day? Give your customers hot chocolate or warm punch. Is it a client’s birthday? Send a card! Even a small note of thanks for a customer’s business is a nice little surprise.

The most important thing to remember: simply be sincere and don’t become predictable. Chocolates on hotel pillows were once a great surprise for guests. However, now that their wow-factor has faded, hotels are continuously trying to get back to the “unexpected.”

Follow-Through

You’ve made promises and established goals. The only thing that’s left is to follow through on them. This starts with creating your mission statement, one that you, your employees, and your customers can commit to it. This will define your customer experience.

Your mission statement must promise to impact yourself/your business, the community, or the world. It may commit to impacting one, or all three. However, whatever it promises, you must follow through on. Your customers’ trust, and thus their experience, depends on it.

More about these five elements can be discovered in Unforgettable: Designing Customer Experiences that Stick, to be published in 2018.

***
Kyle H. David has made a career in technology and entrepreneurship for nearly 20 years. In 2001, he formed The Kyle David Group, now KDG. Over the past 16 years, KDG has grown at a rapid pace, attracting clients ranging from the United States Senate to major financial institutions, international nonprofits, and Division I universities.