There are special challenges involved in being a freelance worker. It can be difficult to make progress and grow, especially when you are just starting out.
Here are eleven ways you can revolutionize your freelance career, no matter what stage you are at in the journey.
1. Go Above And Beyond
The easiest way to keep customers happy in your freelance career is to do more than what you promised in less time or for less money than you estimated. Here are a few ways you can do that.
- Always build a little extra time into your estimate. If you think something will take five days, say it’ll take a week.
- Overestimate your budget. It is better to tell someone you managed to come in under than to go back and say you need more money.
- Throw in extras when you can. A little bonus makes the customer feel like they are getting an extra good deal.
- Deliver materials or finished products yourself. Depending on what business you are in this may take renting a heavy-duty vehicle.
- Pay attention to unique details about your client and acknowledge them. For example, if they always have a coffee when you see them, offer to bring them one for the next meeting.
Aim to please and surprise with everything you do.
2. Do Your Research
As a freelancer, make it your business to know what your customer wants.
- If your customer is a business, look into what they’ve gotten from services like yours in the past.
- Ask insightful questions. This lets them know you’re fully invested in them and their needs.
- Find out what your competitors are offering and outdo them.
- Take note of what others in your industry typically do for this kind of client.
- Find out how much time and money it will cost you to complete the project.
- Make sure your price is competitive, while still being fair to you.
The more information you have the better prepared you’ll be.
3. Be Prepared For Anything As A Freelancer
Always have a backup plan.
- Consider what could go wrong in a given situation and make a just-in-case plan.
- Bring two of anything you really need if you have to go to a job site.
- Keep a list of people you can count on to help you if you need it.
- Double-check all the details.
It pays off to be prepared. Clients can relax knowing you have everything under control.
4. Look For Repeat Clients
Switching from one-time clients to repeat clients will make your work life, and paydays, more predictable, and supercharge your freelance career.
- Find companies that are willing to pay you a certain amount per month to do freelance work for them when they need it.
- Agree on a minimum and maximum amount of hours you can dedicate to them each month.
- Agree on a set rate of pay for each of those hours.
- This will give you a steady stream of income while allowing you time to work for other clients as well.
There are plenty of companies out there that can benefit from this arrangement. You just have to find them and agree on a contract.
5. Respond Quickly
When clients or potential clients reach out, don’t make them wait.
- Schedule multiple times throughout your day to respond to messages from clients.
- Quick responses let clients know their concerns matter to you.
- People hate having to wait for services they are paying for. You can save yourself a lot of complaints by getting back to them quickly.
- If you are the first one to respond to a potential client who is looking to have a job done you’ll stand out in their mind.
Responsiveness builds trust between you and your clients. They’ll know they can rely on you to handle situations effectively and quickly.
6. Be Flexible In Your Freelance Career
Be open to working around challenges.
- Consider changing the hours you would normally work if it is for a larger client.
- Don’t assume that you can’t do something just because you have not done it before.
- Be prepared to adapt to less-than-ideal situations.
- Be open to making changes to your plan based on client requests or feedback.
Clients appreciate it when you can help with their specific needs.
7. Communicate Often
Check-in with your client regularly throughout the job.
- Update them on your progress.
- If there is something you can physically show them, do so.
- List off what has been done so far and what is left to do.
- Update the timeline for the project, or let them know it is running to schedule.
- Give them the opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns.
- Be positive and confident in all interactions.
Your customers will appreciate that you are keeping them informed without them having to request it. Regular communication builds trust and peace of mind.
8. Enjoy What You are Doing
Take on projects you’ll enjoy doing as a freelancer.
- Take on one job every month that you think you’ll like doing.
- Having a creative challenge or a project you are passionate about will keep you motivated.
- Enjoyable work lowers stress and prevents you from becoming burnt out.
- Liking your job helps you be successful in your industry.
It is important to have some fun projects sprinkled into your work life. It’ll help refresh you and remind you why you do what you do.
9. Stop Comparing to Other Freelancers
It can be tempting to look at what other freelancers in your industry are accomplishing and feel discouraged. Keep in mind that you each bring something different to the table.
- Focus on how you can stand out.
- Don’t use the lowest price approach, it makes you look less experienced.
- Keep in mind that what you can see about another person’s business isn’t the whole story.
- Everyone started where you are, you’ll grow with time.
- Look for mentors instead of competitors. Advice from someone who has been doing the job longer than you can be priceless.
- Take on challenging projects that can serve as a resume or portfolio booster.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. What matters is growing your own business.
10. Respect Your Needs As A Freelancer
Don’t get caught up in the constant hustle mindset. You need time to rest and recharge so you and your work don’t suffer.
- Take lunch breaks.
- Set a certain amount of hours every week you plan to work.
- Plan to have days off.
- Take time to do things you enjoy that aren’t work-related.
- Eat healthy meals.
- Get enough sleep.
- Spend time with loved ones.
Allow yourself time to be human. Ignoring your needs will only lead to exhaustion and your quality of work will suffer.
11. Follow Up And Get Feedback
Follow up with your client a few days after you finish the work you are doing for them.
- Ask if your work was what they expected.
- Ask if there is anything they would have you do differently in the future.
- Listen to their feedback and respect their opinions.
- Take note of suggestions that can improve your client relationships in the future.
They’ll like that you cared enough to follow up and your willingness to accept feedback will mark you as a good candidate for future projects.
You’ll face many challenges and rewards as a freelance worker. It is not a life for everyone, but if it is the path for you, you know what to do. Follow these eleven steps to begin revolutionizing your freelance career right now.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.