A shift in the economy has seen more people move into and embrace the freelancing space and remote work. You can become your own business owner, set your own hours and manage your own clients and own projects.
It is worth noting that the freelance world requires working intelligently and implementing incredible productivity for success. Being your own boss and running your own business can be tough – heck, it’s a full-time job for most freelancers!
Whether you are just dipping your toe in the waters of the freelance world or are a seasoned freelancer, there is always room for a few hacks. You can never have enough efficiency-improving tips and tricks to maximize your imprint in the gig economy. Here are some freelancing tips to take your freelance career to the next level!
Top Freelancer Tips to Advance Your Freelance Career
1. Keep an Open Mind
This tip is going to work like magic. You have to be a little more easygoing and a lot more open-minded about freelance work. You will have to be very flexible with your availability and be a lot keener to learning new stuff if you want to be a successful freelancer. You are considered self-employed, which means you are responsible for the success of your freelancing services.
If you are a beginner, understand that the whole world can be your playground. As you venture into different freelance jobs, you will be able to find the category that you are most suitable for.
As you progress further, you can narrow down your niches. It will be easier for you to find jobs that suit you most. And if nothing else, you’re picking up new skills you can fluff your resume with and make finding freelance jobs easier.
With time and a curated portfolio of your freelance exploits, you will find it easier to charge a lot more than your peers in the industry are charging. This will lead you to better margins and a solid reputation in the freelance world, making it easier to secure your prospective clients. But it’s all for naught if you can’t keep an open mind and broaden your horizons.
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2. Set a Schedule and have Deadlines
One of the biggest perks of freelancing has to be the flexibility it affords. There isn’t a boss coming for your neck, but that is no reason to be lax with your tasks. If anything, you should put in extra effort and amplify your productivity levels! It’s not like there’s a shortage of freelancers out there!
One of the most effective ways to maintain productivity is by creating a schedule and blocking out specific business hours in your day. A robust schedule will help boost productivity. Also, set clear deadlines for yourself, even for projects where the client does not have a definitive deadline.
Assigning deadlines for yourself ensures that you squeeze in as much as possible. It will keep you on your toes, give you the needed momentum, and help you hold yourself accountable. Time management is the most important skill for successful freelancers.
3. Be part of Community Discussions
Stay engaged in community discussions and communicate with people in your particular industry. This will give you an insight into new trends in your niche that you may not know about. They will also give you leads on new job opportunities, word-of-mouth recommendations, plus a sense of camaraderie.
Be part of industry discussions on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook groups, and other social media platforms. You’ll find most freelancers on Facebook communities. There, they help each other, give advice and post freelance job opportunities. You should also attend networking events.
Position yourself as a thought leader by initiating relevant talks on your industry. That alone will help build credibility for your brand.
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4. Leverage Free Tools
Myriad free tools are at your disposal to help your freelance business boom. Try to make the most of them to streamline your work processes. Identify tools you can use to market your business and increase visibility with your target audience.
If you’re a new freelancer, you will definitely need these tools. Most, if not all, clients look for freelancers who can use specific industry tools. Being able to practice on free tools would be very helpful for you to secure your first project.
For example, you should use tools to set up your email list and optimize your email newsletters to potential clients. Follow this link to explore the best free email services that will make a difference to your freelance work: https://setapp.com/how-to/best-free-email-service-for-mac.
Aside from top email tools and software to help with managing clients, tracking expenses, etc., there are many popular freelance job board platforms like Upwork, PeoplePerHour, and the like that you can employ to search for projects, spark conversations with potential clients looking to hire freelancers and grow your business.
Specific industry tools are also available online for free. All you have to do is search. For example, if you are learning Search Engine Optimization, just look up “free SEO tools.” Learn how to use these tools, as they will help you in several projects where you’ll get paid.
5. Invest in your Professional Growth
As a self-employed freelancer, people will only line up for your freelancing services if you have incredible skills and knowledge. Expanding your knowledge and building your hard and soft skills introduces more opportunities, hence growth.
Put in hours devoted to your own professional development. Read about your industry and attend conferences and workshops. Invest in online courses to keep you on par with the current industry trends and standards. This will help your success in projects and client satisfaction.
Consider finding a mentor to help you navigate and expand your horizons. Investing in yourself goes a long way toward improving your freelance work.
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6. Define your Expertise
You could do much better in your freelance business if you start by defining your expertise and skill sets to your prospective clients. Remember that a prospective client will always be looking for people who have defined their skills, experience, proficiency, and quality of work in clear and precise words.
Maintaining an up-to-date resume, building a portfolio of completed work, and feedback from satisfied clients will help.
When reaching out to new clients, you must develop extensively well-written content and descriptions. Explain to your potential client just what your expertise is and how you can make an impact on their business by providing them with the services they are looking for.
Use your portfolio to showcase the various projects that you have completed in the past. This way, they get a better idea of the level of professionalism and knowledge that you will be bringing to the table.
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7. Charge a Price Somewhere in the Middle
This is a very important step, and you need to research it before you quote a price on your freelancing profile. Calculate the industry average that is currently prevalent in your sector. Then you should decide upon a price that is close to the median but a level or two lower.
You can always increase your average pricing as you progress further and gain more experience. As you find clients and rope in more projects, you will find it easier to increase your prices and make a better income. You may have to freelance full-time as your day job for a while, but once you get yourself established, you’ll be able to charge more for less work!
8. Make Use of Freelance Sites
Whenever a new freelancer is trying to figure out where to locate freelance work, they will inevitably come across advertisements for freelancer platforms. Here is our honest assessment. For those just starting, freelancing sites can be a gold mine of job opportunities.
Some less-than-honorable businesses use freelancing websites as a way to take advantage of the skills and time of amateurs. These cautions should not prevent you from trying out freelancing platforms. Don’t get taken advantage of by not doing your research on costs and the scope of the project. Set clear boundaries and rely on your gut instincts. The majority of today’s top freelancers got their start on one of these sites, so there’s no reason you can’t too.
9. Upskill Regularly
One of the most important things you can do as a freelancer is to keep learning. Learn not just on a theoretical level but also on a practical one.
Freelancing isn’t just about the work that you do—it’s also about how well you understand your craft and how skilled you are at executing it. It’s easy to forget that you’re only ever as good as your last project. This is especially true if you’ve been freelancing for a while. If you want to stay competitive in the market, you need to stay on top of trends. Know what clients are looking for and provide that value to them.
If you find yourself struggling to learn new things or unable to keep up with changes in the industry, consider hiring a coach or mentor. A freelance coach can help you set goals and track your progress over time so you can grow at your best pace.
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10. Upgrade Your Equipment as You Upskill
When freelancing, it can be easy to feel like you’re always playing catch-up. You have to keep up with new technologies and trends, which means you need the right tools for the job.
But don’t forget about upgrading your equipment as you upskill. Your clients will expect you to use the latest software and hardware. So if you’re still using something from 3 years ago, they might be disappointed by their experience working with you.
Upgrading your equipment helps keep your skills relevant. It allows you to offer better service to your clients—and that’s important when it comes to being a successful freelancer!
11. Underpromise, Overdeliver
When it comes to freelancing, underpromising but overdelivering is the name of the game.
When you’re working with clients, they’ll always have high expectations. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and promise things that aren’t realistic. This can be a problem because there’s no way you can promise every single thing they want all at once. But if you underpromise, it will be much more impressive when you do deliver! Your client will be pleasantly surprised and satisfied. They’ll return for more work in the future (and maybe even refer their friends).
So next time you’re working on a project, just focus on doing your best work and getting it done on time!
12. Prepare Your Contracts
Freelancing can be a great way to make money, and it’s not as hard as you might think. But before you get started, you’ll need to prepare your contracts.
Contracts are an important part of freelancing. They help protect you from potential issues and disputes with clients. They outline exactly what you’re doing, how much the client is paying, and when the project will be completed.
You’ll want to make sure that there is a written contract between you and your client. This should structure every stage of the process—including before you even start working together! That way, if things go south with a client later on in the process, you have something concrete to point back at them with.
The first step is to look at other contracts in your field and see what they include. If you’re working with a client who has never hired a freelancer before, it’s a good idea for you to set up some guidelines. These will guide them about how you work together.
You also want to think about how many revisions are included in your contracts (or if any are included). Make sure that you have enough room for modifications but also that the contract isn’t too long or complicated for either party.
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13. Improve your Online/Digital Presence
You’ve been focusing all your time and concentration on one platform. That is the one website or portal that has been your single point of contact with your potential clients or customers. Do you feel the need to move out a little from that zone? Well, you should!
You should make your presence felt on your social media platforms and any other job sites as well. Do a little bit of personal digital marketing and create professional profiles specifically for business purposes.
Broadcast a professional image of yourself, rather than one of you landing a prize catch or going on a party. That way, it will be much easier for you to showcase your previous works and projects to your potential target market and get more links and work from newly found sources.
These days, many freelancers use multiple platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a lot of other job boards and third-party platforms as well to spread the word around and build a strong and returning clientele.
See Related: Best Freelance Courses to Learn Online
14. Always Read your Contracts Carefully Before you Sign!
Whether it is a freelance writer arrangement or a monthly retainer setup that you want to enter into, contracts and agreements should always be sorted out right in the beginning. The contract terms should include details concerning the conduct of both parties and how they are going to coordinate their activities and communicate with each other.
The terms and conditions regarding the work hours, pay, and extra hours should also be defined in the contract. Make sure that the agreement/contract is revised by both parties before it is signed. And don’t sign it if you don’t think you can live up to it!
15. Create a Fabulous Freelancing Portfolio
I touched on it earlier, but I cannot over-stress the usefulness of a portfolio. Your clients and potential customers will always want to see your portfolio. It is the physical proof of your accomplishments and ability.
If you are at the very beginning of your freelance career, creating a work portfolio can be a little difficult because there will be a lack of good offers at the start – especially if you don’t have ANY evidence of your accomplishments and ability. However, you can always find interesting yet less rewarding jobs in the beginning and include them in your portfolio as you move from one project to the next.
This can be a little time-consuming, but it is going to pay off in the end – mostly because it shows you can do the undesirable jobs and legwork. The best part is that even if you do not have a highly impressive portfolio, there are a lot of clients out there who are willing to give newcomers a chance. Once they spot the effort that you have made to come up with a good portfolio, you might just get the job without even having to try too hard. Just one article could be enough to prove your worth!
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16. Have the Courage to Turn Down Work
Sounds crazy, but it’s a big one. Being a successful freelancer doesn’t mean that you take up every project that comes your way.
This is a very important rule that you must remember. It is always better to turn a few projects away if you know for sure that you will not be able to do justice to them. The following situations call for you to turn down a few offers:
- Lack of confidence in not meeting the deadline. There will be a few projects advertised by less-scrupulous companies that will require you to work on practically impossible deadlines. Those projects should be avoided if you know that you do not have enough bandwidth for them to begin with.
- The unsuitability of the project. If any project comes your way that doesn’t suit your skill set or looks like it doesn’t allow you the freedom to work at your full potential, you can turn it down. Other freelancers can take it.
- The price is just too low. This is a no-brainer. If the price doesn’t match your hourly rate or business expenses, there is no point in taking up that project.
- Feeling uncomfortable with the work hours. There are those out there who want to keep a tab on the freelancer as though they are a full-time employee rather than a contracted expert. These companies may keep track of freelancers’ work hours and badger them about it, which makes it very uncomfortable. Many clients may want you to work late hours and expect you to log in and log out as per their company rules. It’s getting more common for companies to advertise jobs as WFH, remote, or hybrid, only to pull the rug out and claim that the job is in person for a probationary period. In such situations, it is better to avoid such companies and look for a new client.
17. Grow with Criticisms
There are a lot of different ways to grow as a freelancer. You can take classes, read books and blogs, and get feedback from clients. But one of the best ways to grow is just by listening to other people’s criticisms of your work.
When you are starting, it’s really easy to get caught up in the praise. It’s easy to get defensive when someone points out something you’ve done wrong—but it pays off in the long run!
It can be hard not to take criticism personally, but you mustn’t do it. It’s not about how much you know or how good your skills are—it’s about how well you serve the client. And if there are things about your work that aren’t meeting their needs, then it’s up to them to tell you so that you can work together on finding solutions.
When you’re able to take criticism without taking offense, it shows that you’re open-minded and willing to learn new things. This can help clients trust you more, which can lead to more opportunities down the line.
See Related: Getting Started As a Freelancer: Everything You Ought To Know
18. Invest on Insurances
You’re about to become a freelancer, which is a huge step. It’s exciting, but it also means that you’ll have to take on more responsibility for your finances.
One thing that can help you out a lot is to invest in some insurance policies. You might not think about it, but if anything happens to you and you don’t have insurance coverage, it could be devastating to your financial situation.
If you don’t already have family coverage and health insurance through your employer, consider getting them now. You might be able to get better rates on both of these things as a freelancer than when you were working for an employer who was paying for them (or at least paying part of their cost).
You should also consider investing in disability insurance and life insurance policies if they aren’t already part of your benefits package through your employer or ex-employer. These are extremely important things to have in place because they can safeguard against unexpected expenses down the road—and being self-employed means there’s no one else to help cover those costs for you if something does happen!
19. Be an Excellent Boss to Yourself
You are your boss, so you have to be your manager. You can’t just tell yourself what to do—you have to give yourself the tools and the motivation to do something on your own.
One of the most important things you need to do as a boss is set realistic goals for yourself and then reward yourself for reaching them. If you don’t set realistic goals, then setting them won’t be very motivating—and if you don’t reward yourself when you reach those goals, it won’t seem worth it!
You’re the only one who can make sure you get your work done, and it’s up to you to make sure you have what you need to do that work. But this isn’t just about productivity—it’s also about self-care. You deserve happiness and satisfaction in your life. So take some time out from working on that project for your client to go get lunch with friends or go for a walk when the weather is nice.
You can make sure your clients are happy by working hard. But, if you don’t take care of yourself first, it won’t matter how much work you do—you’ll end up burned out and miserable before long.
20. Self-discipline is the Key to Success
Self-discipline is the key to freelancing success. You’ll find that the most successful freelancers have an outstanding system of managing themselves.
When you’re a freelancer, you have to be your boss, and that’s hard. You have to do the things that need to get done when they need to get done—and not just when it’s convenient for you. You have to be able to stay on task, get things done and make decisions quickly, or else you’ll end up wasting time and money. You could also end up losing clients if they don’t see you taking action on their projects.
Being disciplined means setting up systems that work for you. Focus on your work without having to think about what needs doing next or how to get it done.
The good news is that self-discipline is a muscle that can be strengthened with practice. If you can set aside some time each day or week to work on your self-discipline, then you’ll find that it becomes easier over time.
Freelancing can be the best thing to ever happen to your professional life. More so if you have proper strategies and hacks to get the most out of it. Whether you’re a freelance writer, digital marketing expert, or freelancer in general, we hope these tips help you in your freelancing career.
Adding the above tips to your catalog will take your freelance work notches higher. Work hard, set expectations and a regular schedule, stay motivated, and find the right tools to help you start your freelance business.