When starting out on your freelance journey, it can feel a bit like you are spinning plates. It seems there’s so much you need to do, and that’s even before you get down to finding clients and doing the task you’re good at.
But you know successful freelancers do exist out there, and their businesses thrive – so how do they do it?
Here are 5 simple but effective things successful freelancers do that you can apply to your own business to enhance your reputation and win (and retain) clients.
1. They network and collaborate
You may have heard the saying your network is your net worth, meaning that professional connections and business relationships can be a powerful asset – and this is especially the case with freelancing.
Successful freelancers know the power of networking.
What’s more, you don’t just have to network in person at industry events. You can effectively network online in business groups and on social media. Connecting with others in your industry and even in your specific field is a great way to get your name out there and can lead to numerous (potentially lucrative) benefits.
Don’t be afraid to connect with other freelancers in your profession, either. They can be a vital source of information and may even have excess work they can pass your way.
You can also collaborate with them rather than compete. They might offer a different service or skill that, when combined with your skill set, makes an irresistible client offer or unique ‘bundle deal’.
So be open to networking and actively seek out opportunities to build relationships in your industry and profession.
2. They communicate clearly, accurately and professionally
How you present yourself (and your offer and services) both online and offline is important.
Whether it’s the copy on your website and the user experience (UX) to your written client proposals communicating clearly what you do, your prices, and what the client needs to do if they want to proceed, how well you communicate is paramount to your success as a freelancer.
Unclear, confusing or incorrect client communications will cost you money.
When it comes to invoicing, for example, you can save yourself time (and, therefore, money) by using one of Invoice Ninja’s professional invoice templates. Not only will you come across as professional, but a branded and businesslike invoice template will help ensure you get the correct payment information and get paid on time.
Likewise, if you ask for a deposit upfront before you commence work (which is common practice for freelancer projects) with Invoice Ninja, you can send the deposit invoice, and once paid, it will automatically revert to a regular invoice for the balance and date due.
Having a written client agreement in place will also help manage expectations on both sides and can be referred to if any queries or misunderstandings crop up during the project.
So take good care of how you present your offers, services and ways of working.
3. They stay curious, explore and learn
Successful freelancers are often curious. If something isn’t working, they find out why. For example, if, for some reason, they are not getting leads, they explore different client acquisition strategies. They test what works and what doesn’t.
They also have their finger on the pulse of whatever is happening in their industry; this doesn’t mean that they necessarily jump on every bandwagon or ‘shiny object’, but that they are aware of what is going on and, more importantly, what might be of interest or beneficial to their clients.
They are always bringing something to the table to further help their clients.
Successful freelancers are always learning or brushing up on their skills so they can continue to provide value to their clients and don’t regress.
So stay curious, keep up to date with industry news and trends, and add value where you can.
4. They are reliable and consistent
This is a big one.
Successful freelancers know the importance of showing up and doing what they said they were going to do (and adding extra value when appropriate). Reliable freelancers are sought after because reliability can make the difference between a successful project and a disastrous one.
To maintain consistency, it’s essential to have robust systems and processes in place and even better if each process is documented. For example, what does your client onboarding process look like? How do you manage client queries? How do you ensure invoices are paid on time?
This consistency also shows up in their communications, for example, sending regular recurring client invoices on time. Invoice Ninja offers auto-billing via the world’s favorite payment gateways for clients that need to be billed on a fixed schedule – and to make things even better, also provides a vast array of different language options.
5. They continue to market themselves even when fully booked
To help combat the dreaded freelancer feast and famine cycle, successful freelancers know the importance of always marketing their services.
Just because you have an abundance of work one moment, there’s no guarantee this will go on forever. Some work is cyclical, and even work from a regular client can cease abruptly for a myriad of reasons.
Make sure you schedule time to work ON your business as well as in it.
So, be prepared and always be marketing!