By Sabrina Loh
The reasons for embarking on a freelance career are tempting. From setting your own hours to choosing the clients you work with, freelancing opportunities are steadily becoming more mainstream as companies shift to remote work.
Today, almost anyone can be a freelancer, but to be successful, you’ll need to identify a marketable skill. Luckily, there's no shortage of freelance-friendly work, such as coding, writing, teaching, graphic designing, and more.
But for every success story of freelancing, there are just as many who’ve failed. Here are some actionable tips to help you to build a successful freelance career.
1. Determine if freelancing is right for you
Before you quit your full-time job, make sure you understand if freelancing is right for you.
Firstly, you’ll need to be independent, disciplined, and develop tough skin. The nature of freelancing means you’ll be self-employed, and running your own ‘company’. Every outcome is a direct result of your efforts – both good and bad.
If you think that being your own boss means you’ll have plenty of free time to kick back and relax, freelancing might not be right for you. You’ll have to hustle hard and be committed to keep pushing through, especially during the ‘dry months’ when clients are scarce and your income dips.
2. Find a profitable niche
Freelancing is incredibly competitive and there are thousands (if not millions!) of other freelancers offering the same service as you.
Instead of casting your net too wide, narrow down your skills and specify your niche.
For example, marketing yourself as a ‘travel writer’ instead of just ‘writer’, or ‘fashion illustrator’ instead of ‘illustrator’.
3. Do your research
Take a close look at what your competition is doing — How do they market themselves? How much do they charge? What services do they offer?
Based on your research, identify what you can improve and do differently.
4. Market yourself
Your profile is often the first impression of who you are and what you can offer. Therefore, it must be on point.
Articulate your experience, education, skills, and showcase your portfolio. Make sure visitors to your profile understand why you are the solution to their problem, and why you are the best choice in this niche.
Your voice, tone, and overall image should reflect your overall image and work style. That way, it’ll make strangers feel more comfortable around you and help you to stand out.
5. Actively network
Your clients may be closer than you think. Let your friends, family, and ex-colleagues know that you’re freelancing and recommend yourself for their project. Present yourself as the solution to their problem, and even offer to do the first one for free to show off your skills.
Don’t stop there. Engage with people in the industry through various freelancing platforms or Linkedin. Offer your services or ask them if they know anyone who’s looking for a freelancer.
Furthermore, remember to be active and responsive. Don’t just create an account and wait for potential clients to come to you.
Direct them to the profile that you created in the previous step!
6. Build loyalty
Repeat work is often the goldmine for freelancers. Therefore, if you’ve successfully scored a client, keep them coming back for more.
Make sure you always deliver high-quality work and go beyond their expectations. A happy client might even refer you to their friends.
7. Collect testimonials
Research shows that 79% of people trust the reviews they read online as much as personal recommendations.
Whenever you can, collect testimonials from your clients to build credibility and build trust with potential clients who don’t know you yet.
Showcase your beautiful testimonials on your profile.
The Bottom Line
Starting a successful freelance career takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, and commitment, but don’t let that discourage you. What you get in return is autonomy over your own hours, and who you work with.
With that being said, there’s also nothing wrong with freelancing as a side hustle. It’s a great way to supplement your income and get some extra work experience.
Tune into the BigPay blog every week for more actionable tips like this!