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Guest Post: Five things every successful freelancer does

New freelancers are born everyday but only a percentage end up making it. Why is that?

Matt Dowling
15th February 2016
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The number one reason is simply because they run out of money and this is generally due to business naivety. There will always be challenges, twists and turns along the way but the freelance fundamentals are essential to form the foundation of a successful career. Check out the five things all successful freelancers do to get to the top.

 

FIGURE OUT WHO YOU ARE (QUICKLY)
Your freelance brand is often a work in progress as your experience directly relates to your portfolio, which ultimately acts as a showcase of your work (phew, that was a tough sentence). Bearing that in mind, your overall brand should be thoughtfully worked out before you launch. Are you aiming at the luxury market? Do you want to speak to your customers colloquially or in a more professional manner?

TIP: Stick to what you’re good at. Your personality will play a big part in your brand as a freelancer as you’ll most probably be writing the marketing copy yourself so go with what you know.

 

MANAGE EXPECTATIONS
Freelancing is not just a romantic pursuit of a passion. It’s running an actual business in a competitive market. Businesses are temperamental beasts to tame so be prepared. The boy scouts had it right. Have money in the bank, understand the basics of running a business and mentally get ready for a challenging for the first 6 to 12 months.  

 

GET A SAFETY NET
One way to ensure consistency is to secure regular clients to cover your basic financial requirements. How you do that takes thought. Successful freelancers don’t want to constantly be on the lookout for new clients so they make a point of finding opportunities that fill up the diary throughout the year. Yes, there’s always room for new business and (depending on your core objectives in life) you want to dedicate time every week to do so. Consider each job as an opportunity to land another. Think promos, loyalty cards and follow up calls.

 

TREAT CLIENTS LIKE HUMANS
Regardless of who the client is, treat them with respect and you’ll not only retain their service but almost always pick up work from them again. Believe it or not, this simple piece of advice could mean the difference between success and failure. Here are some practical tips on how to treat a client with respect.

  • Meet them for coffee
  • Take an interest in their business and personal life where appropriate
  • Don’t be petty. You may have worked an extra 20 minutes, but it’ll come back in other ways.
  • Invite them to business related events, expos or gatherings that you feel they’d enjoy

FIND YOUR BALANCE
Freelancing comes with huge perks not least of all doing something different almost every day. Boredom is not a word one would associate with the self employed lifestyle. The payoff is that your life tends to follow a sporadic structure professionally and personally. It’s vital to set aside time to do the administrative bits of your business be it accounts or new business. These may not be the most exciting elements of freelancing, but it’s vital to the longevity of a successful business. Very few people talk about the effect freelancing has on your social relationships. Make time as much as you can. You’ll have to sacrifice the odd holiday or family gathering here or there, but carving out time with your loved ones gives you the social life we all need and allows you to go back to your work with fresh eyes and perspective.

 

The Freelancer Club is a creative community dedicated to supporting the self employed. Through connections, business development and access to paid jobs, join the club for free.

 

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