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How to become a successful freelancer

by Gerald Umeh
How to become a successful freelancer

The freelance world is basically about showcasing your skills, getting hired to apply your skills and getting paid. Clients give you gigs related to your skills to work on and you do so wherever you want to. That’s what many people find so attractive about freelancing—the idea of working from anywhere in the world, the freedom and flexibility.

However, before it gets so good for you in the world of freelance, before you can start earning six figures from your cozy couch, you’ve got to work really hard and be smart while at it.

You have to know and do things that will keep your clients coming back to you with more job offers. Here are some of the best tips to take seriously if you want to become a successful freelancer:

  • Spread the word

See your skill as a tangible product or service that won’t sell unless people are aware it exists. Inform everyone you know: your friends, friends of friends, family members, colleagues and former co-workers that you are now a freelance writer, graphic designer or developer—whatever it is you do. As a freelancer, you are your own boss and you’ve got to start seeing yourself as your own marketer too. Your focus at the beginning of your freelance career should be getting more repeat clients, doesn’t matter if you are paid peanuts.

  • Work on your unique brand

It’s important that you have a niche you specialize in, this will help you create a personalized brand for your freelance business. Putting your brand out there on business cards, websites and logos will give you an edge and make you look professional. You don’t need to spend much for this, you can make use of free websites like WordPress to make yourself visible.

Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Quora and Meetup are all great avenues to build your personal brand. Share your knowledge and present yourself as an authority in your field—be patient and consistent and in no time, you will start seeing the results.

  • Set work hours and have a regular workspace

If you are not careful with the freedom and flexibility attached to being a freelancer, you may end up not meeting your monthly targets and never accomplishing much. When you wake up every day with the knowledge that you don’t need to rush to the bathroom and hurriedly prepare for work, you may find it hard to get up from bed. That means starting the tasks waiting for you much later in the day—your productivity will definitely not be high.

To be successful as a freelancer, you need to have fixed work hours that will include your lunch time and end time. Also, it’s important to have a space in your home dedicated to work. This place should be quiet and free from distractions.

  • Say no when it’s necessary

Above making money, your motive should be doing a good job. That’s a no-brainer of course, if you deliver a poor job, your client could still pay up but you can be sure you won’t be seeing him ever again. If a client asks you to do a job that’s outside your expertise or skills, don’t say yes just because you want to please him or just because the pay is too attractive. That’s your reputation on the line, stick to what you know how to do best.  

You should also consider rejecting the offer if your plate is already too full, you don’t want to be known as a good freelancer whose only problem is late delivery—doesn’t bode well for you. True, it can be hard to say no sometimes but when the benefits of saying no outweigh the cons, you should say no.

  • Be honest and transparent

As a freelancer, you are your business and your business is you. As such, almost everything you do reflects back on your freelance job. The clients who are considering giving you a job care about your personality, they want to be sure you will be honest in all your dealings with them. If a client approaches you or contacts you to discuss offering you a gig, you should make your methods of working clear to them. Make sure they are clear about the kind of projects you do and your availability time to avoid unnecessary confusions from popping up.

  • Go beyond your client’s expectations

It is only satisfied clients that will refer your services to their friends and colleagues, so your aim should be delivering exactly what your client wants and going beyond their expectations. You can provide them with tips that will help them make better use of the services you’ve provided and you can aim to always deliver much earlier than the deadline. Don’t ever underestimate the power of personal referrals in the freelance world.

Never forget that there are many people with the same talents you have, your success as a freelancer relies a great deal on the steps you take to set yourself apart.  

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