For many of us, a freelance career is a part-time gig. But it doesn’t have to be this way! If you do it right, freelancing is the best job in the world. In this blog post, I am going to go through my top 10 tips to start your freelance career off right.
- Don’t compete on price
Even if you’re new, you’ll rarely win. There is always someone who will work for less than you, especially if you live in the US. If you don’t think so, just go to Upwork and price out just about anyone from India, Pakistan or the Philippines. They work for pennies on the dollar because the value of a US dollar there goes so much further. I know, it’s tempting to lower your price, especially if a client asks you to, but hold firm, your client will respect you more for it. Plus, you don’t want to work for clients who are always trying to nickel and dime you.
The first thing you have to do is set the proper rate for yourself. Understand your pricing. To do this, drop three zeros from your yearly salary goal. Don’t have a yearly salary goal? Go get one! So, if you want to earn $100,000 for the year, your hourly rate should be $100.
- Don’t worry about your competition
Learn from your competition. Do a reverse search on Upwork and essentially search for yourself. Get inspiration from the profiles you see. What is your competition using as titles? What’s in their descriptions. Use that information to build your own unique profile.
- Don’t be a generalist
If you target everyone, you’ll get no one. Get your ideal client defined. Know the who, what, when, where and why of your client and define the problems you solve.
- Always be prospecting
Even in good times, you should be prospecting. Freelancing is cyclical. You might have dry spells during economic downturns, or maybe the nature of your work will cause seasonal variations with slow patches of work here and there. Whatever the case, you always want a full pipeline of prospects to talk to.
- Know your objections
Write down common objections you may hear like “Can you work for less?” “Do you have experience with X”. You don’t want to be on the phone with a prospect and stumble on easy answers.
- Get an LLC and a bookkeeper
Don’t try to be the jack of all trades. Why spend your time learning QuickBooks when you could be prospecting for new clients. Yes, it will cost you a little money to hire a bookkeeper and to set up an LLC but it will make you money if you spend your time prospecting for new clients. An LLC will protect your personal assets from lawsuits too. It’s easy to set up, with LegalZoom you can do it in just a few minutes. I worked with a freelancer once who refused to get an LLC, she kept telling me she wanted to be a sole prop because it was easy. She always said if there was ever a problem with a client, she will just give them their money back and there will be no need for a lawsuit. Guess who got sued that very same year! Now, all her personal assets are at stake. Her financial accounts, her house…everything is up for grabs.
- Make keeping existing clients priority #1
Work harder on keeping clients that you love than finding new clients. It’s 19x harder to find a new one.
- Don’t be a slave to responding to clients
If you respond super-fast to client emails and texts, then the minute you stop doing that you become “unresponsive” in their eyes. Make it clear that you respond to emails once, twice, even three times a day. Don’t get taken advantage of here or you will never be able to scale your business.
- Set expectations early
Tell your clients “This is how I work”, “This is how and when you can reach me”. Again, don’t get taken advantage of or clients will be calling you on Friday night, Sunday mornings or whenever it is inconvenient for you. They aren’t doing it to be malicious they are doing it because they are used to being able to talk to you whenever they want. You need to structure your day around client work, not around ad-hoc calls and meetings.
- Have an extremely clear scope of work
Before starting work with a client, be sure to set parameters around the costs in your proposal. How many revisions will you do? Will you charge for meetings? What are the deadlines? Without a clear scope of work, something called Scope Creep will set in and the client will use a lot extra of your time, and as a freelancer, time is money. Setting a clear scope of work is the foundation for any successful freelance career.
I hope these tips helped as you begin to scale your freelance career. When you’re ready, head on over to the register page and become a masterclass student