In this interview series, we ask Laura from Everyday by the Lake a few questions about freelancing, landing new clients and using freelance platforms.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m Laura, a 35-year old Central FL resident. I own Every Day by the Lake, LLC, a written content creation company that helps busy business owners stay top of mind with their target market.
I’m a freelance writer. Sometimes, clients just give me assignments.
But, sometimes, I get to have a more consultative role. I really enjoy collaborating with other business owners on their content strategy.
How long have you been freelancing?
I’ve been freelancing for two years. I quit my full-time job in February of 2018, but I didn’t have a clear plan for making money. That summer, I was surprised to get paid for a guest post I wrote. That’s when it clicked: I can make money writing online.
It’s funny that it didn’t occur to me sooner. I’ve always liked to write. I’d been published before in a poetry book and newspaper. I’m just glad it eventually dawned on me!
How did you land your first client?
I got my first two clients on Twitter. The first was the paid guest post I mentioned. The second became a long-term client that I still write for every month.
In both cases, I responded to a Tweet asking for writers. The long-term client said that they were thinking of reaching out to me before I contacted them. That felt good. It meant that all of my networking efforts were starting to pay off.
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What would you tell yourself starting out as a freelancer if you knew what you knew today?
Since I spent the first few months after quitting my job trying to figure out my next move, I’d tell myself to get started with writing sooner!
Other than that, I’d tell myself to be open to possibilities and opportunities from anywhere. I’ve had business come in from all sorts of different places.
What is your biggest struggle with freelancing?
Time management has been difficult!
As a freelancer, I work in my business and on my business. That is, I’m responsible for completing client work and building my enterprise. Juggling the two has been overwhelming at times.
I’ve found that most things take longer to complete than I originally anticipated. Having to scramble to meet deadlines has taught me to allot more time to each task.
But — I’m human. So, I sometimes procrastinate and still underestimate the effort required to get stuff done.
What do you enjoy the most about freelance work?
The best part about freelancing is the flexibility and freedom that comes with it. I set my schedule based on what’s happening in my life and my current assignment load.
If my life is a little chaotic, I want to go on vacation, or I’m investing more time working on my business, I take on fewer assignments. But, if I’ve got the time and want some extra cash flow, I take on more work.
It’s also awesome to shop at off-peak times and take afternoon naps when the mood strikes!
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What’s the best way for other freelancers to grow their business?
Get visible online and engage with others!
Clients can’t hire you if they don’t know you exist. So, create social media handles for your freelance business. Make connections. Like, share, and comment on other folks’ posts. That builds your network and fosters relationships.
Be sure to share your own content, too. That will demonstrate your expertise to prospective clients.
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How do you deal with tough clients?
Directly. If you’re having an issue with a client, talk to them about it. You don’t have to go into the conversation fired up. But, you do need to clearly lay out the issue.
Most people are reasonable. So, there’s a good chance that your client a) doesn’t realize they’re causing a problem for you, and b) is willing to make changes to preserve your relationship.
But — if that’s not the case, you have a decision to make. If the problem is really bad, and you’re not hard up for money, drop the client. If the problem is really bad, and you are hard up for money, find more work, and then drop the client.
But, if the problem is just mildly annoying, and the client pays well enough to compensate you for the aggravation, let it ride (for now).
You can prevent and more easily deal with client issues by:
- setting clear boundaries from the start
- having a detailed contract or statement of work that spells out the expectations for both parties
Do you use any freelance platforms (i.e., Upwork, Freelancer, etc.) to land clients?
I don’t use freelancing platforms. They take a cut of your earnings and often feature lower-paying gigs. I’ve found that I can make (and keep) more money by finding clients on my own.
However, I do see the value of using a platform when you’re just starting out.
It can be a good way to get your first couple of paid gigs and testimonials that you can leverage to get other work off of the platform.
How do you go about landing new business?
I’ve never been big on cold pitching. I get much of my new business through relationship building.
For example, I’ve gotten work from a mentor that connected me with a prospect, a Tweet catching someone’s eye, being seen on LinkedIn, getting a referral from an existing client, and having someone remember me from a blogging group I was in nearly two years ago.
If it looks like a great opportunity, I will still respond to freelance gig advertisements. But, the majority of my work basically comes to me. That’s due to showing up consistently online, networking, being of service to others, and doing good work for my existing clients.
Work with me: [email protected]