Most Important tips and tricks to become a successful freelancerBeing a freelancer means a lot of freedom to plan your own days at work, but it also does require discipline and planning. Being your own boss, you need to be good at making the right rules to succeed. Most of these tips sound just like common sense, but actually remembering everything when it’s needed isn’t necessarily as easy as you would think.
Different rules work for different people. Having worked as a freelancer on and off for over ten years, I’ve created this list of my best tips on how to succeed. Maybe you already use several of these or versions of them, great! Hopefully you will also find a tip or three that can help you to succeed in what you do!
1. Make a marketing/business planThis should be the first thing you do. Even though you have all the info needed in your head, putting it on paper will give many advances and definitely be worth the extra work. Not only will you that way be «forced» to think through important issues and possible challenges before they occur, but it can also be a lot easier for you to get the needed help from potential business partners or investors when you have a good business plan to show them.
2. Plan your days aheadAllow yourself an hour or so at the beginning of each work week, or the last hour of the previous week to plan the upcoming week. Then it’ll be easier for you to plan how to spend your hours to reach the deadlines you have upcoming. The more ongoing projects you have, the more important this is.
3. Use free softwareStarting up as a freelancer can be challenging economically, and by choosing from all available and good free software you can save a lot of costs without necessarily having to give up a lot of functionality. Free doesn’t have to mean it’s not good software, there are more and more options available every day so make sure you check out what can be used related to your business. When you buy a computer, camera, tablet or printer make sure to check out the software that comes with it as well. You may be in for a positive surprise.
4. Create an eye-catching logoTo look professional and catch those potential clients in a tight market requires hard work when it comes to branding yourself. Creating an eye-catching logo (or getting someone to do that for you if you lack the skills yourself) can make you seem more professional and easier to see. The power of a good logo and actually using it on business cards, websites and such will give you that professional look which could be the extra inch needed to catch the attention of a new client.
5. Learn to say NO!If you don’t have the time for another client at the moment, it’s important to be able to realize it and say no. It is the fairest thing to yourself, your existing client and the new ones that knock on your door. Worst case scenario is saying yes to too many and it having consequences for existing clients. You always want to make sure you have enough time to give your current clients the best service you can. A client too many could be the thing that lowers the quality of all your work.
6. Make a blog/websiteIn this Internet age that we are, having a website of your own can mean a whole lot. Not only does it make you look more professional but it is also a gateway to new clients. Many do surf the net to find people for their next projects and if they can’t find you online they won’t know you’re there.
7. Update your website regularlyDo you already have a website or blog? – Great! But to maximize its value to you it’s very important to update it regularly. If new clients visit your site and see that you haven’t updated the content for a very long time that might just be the reason for them to choose someone else instead. Updating regularly will require an hour of your time every now and then but can pay back multiple times rewarding you with new clients.
8. Give your online visitors something freeGiving something extra to the visitors on your website always is a good thing. If you work as a designer you can for example consider putting up some free textures or buttons. This will give your site more visitors and potentially more clients for you. Or how about offering every visitor a percentage off on their first order with you? Again, this could be the extra thing needed to stand out to new clients.
9. Use social media
Social media is where many relationships are made these days. No matter which country you live in, using social media can connect you to potential clients and partners all over the world. Twitter is a must, and you should consider Facebook and also forums related to your business. If you are a designer consider having a look at deviantArt and YouTube aswell. In several of these media you can advertise for your own business as long as you make sure to not spam it too much.
10. Get alliesHaving allies can mean everything. Connecting with people through social media or even spreading the word of your business through friends and family can get you just that word out there that you need. Also making relations with people who can do things for the clients that you can’t can help, you give the clients a more complete package of what they need. One day you are the one sending a client to an ally that can offer a more suitable service in that case, the next day you could be the one having clients sent your way.
11. Save for rainy days
Even though your business may go really well, there can and probably will come a bad month or two every now and then. Being a freelancer is being vulnerable to changes in the market. My advice would be to save up a little bit of your income each month, save it in an own savings account so that you have it as a safety buffer for when times get rough. You sure won’t regret doing that. It would be a shame if a couple of small bills would ruin everything for you in a bad month.