Every business needs a plan. Here you will find a blueprint to become a successful freelancer…..

Your U.S.P

Your U.S.P


Here you will find your freelancers blueprint for success. A complete step by step guide to everything yo need to do to becoming a successful freelancer


Position Yourself

Position Yourself

Positioning yourself as a freelancer is something you should think carefully about before you launch yourself on any freelance site or make your own website. Positioning is all about where you see yourself in relation to your competitors and where you choose to be in your chosen sector.

Positioning can relate to the service you provide, the prices you charge, or an area of specialism that you want to push. Positioning relates heavily to your USPs, but isn’t quite the same, because it’s more subtle and more strategic in many ways, so it’s really important to take time to consider where you want to appear in the great scheme of things.


Here are some of the things you should consider to establish your position:

  1. Decide exactly who you want to appeal to and how you need to speak to them.  Appealing to everyone rarely works for freelancers or small businesses, so identifying a specific demographic is a great way to position yourself.  In my case, I have considerable experience working with high net worth and high earning clients and understand their way of thinking.  It’s for this reason that I position my business to appeal to this sector.  What’s more, I know I can convert them into paying clients once I have their attention! ;-)
  2. Decide on your pricing strategy.  Where you pitch your price in relation to your competitors will affect your position.  In certain sectors, low price strategies work well, but in others, a higher price can actually result in more interest and more sales.  It’s a dangerous strategy to assume that cheap is good, because invariably, if you’re successful, you’ll simply end up a busy fool.  My price position is slightly above the market average, but my quality is exceptional, so once I get a client I tend to keep them.
  3. Establish where you can add value.  This is a really important feature of positioning yourself.  If you can add value above and beyond the job you’re asked to do, this is highly appealing to potential clients and will win you business time and time again.  It could be that you’re a website designer, but you have a real knack with design, so not only will your client end up with a functional site, they’ll get a great looking one to boot.  In my case, I have considerable small business coaching experience, so this means that my clients don’t only get great copy, they get someone who understands the big picture of their business as well.  This is extremely important for clients who are starting out or going through a change phase.

Once you have established your precise target market, your pricing and where you can add value, you need to get to work on how you will describe your position on your website and in your profile.  On this one, while you need to get the message across, you need to be subtle.  Positioning is a fine line to tread and will take time to achieve a good result, but one thing’s for sure and that is the time you invest on this will pay real dividends in the fullness of time.  If you need help though, do get in touch,


Promote Yourself

Promote Yourself

There are various ways that you can promote yourself as a freelancer. The most obvious and arguably the most valuable promotional tool when you start out is the websites dedicated to putting clients in touch with freelancers. That said, it would be foolhardy as a freelancer to remain a one trick pony for any length of time when it comes to promoting yourself.

When you’re promoting your freelance business, it’s important not to forget about all the traditional methods of promotion and of course word of mouth.  So what should you be doing to promote your freelance offering?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Dedicated freelance websites.There are any number of websites where freelancers can promote themselves.  Some are better than others and it’s a case of experimenting to see what works best for you.  At this point though, it’s really important to familiarize yourself with the websites and decide how and where you are going to promote yourself.  The likes of People Per Hour and Elance should be your first port of call.  Before you register with either site though, take time to look around at the people who seem to be securing a good amount of work in your chosen sector and see what they have to say about themselves because you’re going to have to write a profile for yourself and it’s a good idea to see what seems to be working for other people.  That said, don’t ever be tempted to copy someone else’s profile, just have a look and see what sort of voice they’re speaking in and then create a voice of your own to say what you want to say about your offering.
  2. Local businesses. Sometimes freelancers forget that local businesses are highly likely to want to avail of your services.  Reaching out to local businesses can be done in a whole host of ways.  Depending on where in the world you live, the likes of Chamber of Commerce or other business networking events are a great way to get yourself known on the local business circuit.  If you’re going to make the effort to go along to such events, do make sure that you have a great elevator pitch (a highly benefit focused short description of what you do) and a top quality business card, so that once you’ve made an impact, you leave your potential contacts and clients with a way of getting in touch.  If your business is complex, you might even want to invest in a brochure that you can hand out selectively.
  3. Your own website. Irrespective of what you do, having your own online presence is essential.  Whether you make your website yourself or you pay someone to do it, you need to make sure it’s professional looking and sends out the right messages about the service you are offering.  Depending on the sector that you plan attack on the freelance market, you are likely to have your work cut out for you to get to the top of any Google search, so using incoming links, article writing and social media are probably the best ways to get traffic to your website.
  4. Word of mouth.Sometimes freelancers forget that good old word of mouth can be the best way to fill up their diaries.  There are few things more effective than a happy client recommending you to a contact of theirs.  It’s important to remember to ask your satisfied clients if they think any of their contacts may be interested in your services and asking to be referred.  Done the right way, this isn’t at all pushy and will enable you to build a strong and sustainable business.
  5. The social media.Because most freelancers can theoretically work with clients all over the world, it’s a good idea to use the social media to promote your service.  At the start, LinkedIn is likely to be your best friend and getting your LinkedIn profile spot on is essential as well as Face-booking and Tweeting.

If you’d like help to get your freelance promotional plan in order or if you’d like me to write you a hard-hitting SEO friendly LinkedIn profile, why not get in touch?


What To Charge

What To Charge

One of the most common mistakes made by new freelancers is pricing their service too cheap. You need to bear in mind that you are going into freelancing in order to make profit, so selling yourself too cheap rarely makes sense. This is particularly important for those of you who are planning to dip your toe in the water of freelancing with a view to really making a go of it if things go well.

Getting your pricing right is one of the key things that will determine whether or not your business is a success. Having said that Marc showed you in a separate article how one of his freelancers, Kai, went from number 30.000 on a job site to number 1 by initially competing on price, so it is an option, but not the one I chose.

The great news about pricing your service as a freelancer is that you have a whole lot of flexibility in how you work it out, but this does mean that particularly at the start it can seem like a real minefield.  The three key elements you’ll need to take into account are: your competitors’ prices, the value you add to your potential clients businesses and how you value your time.  Because the costs associated with freelancing are relatively low, there is generally little value to be gained in trying to work on a cost-based pricing strategy.

Checking out your competitor pricing is relatively easy and a bit of time spent online and on the phone will give you a good overview of what freelancers who have positioned themselves similarly to you are charging.  When you look at your competitors’ prices, you should aim to establish the band of pricing that’s being charged across the board.  Once you have that information, you should be able to establish where you position yourself in relation to those competitors and that will give you a good idea of what price the market is likely to bear.

In terms of tweaking your pricing above the market average, an important factor is the perceived value you add to your potential clients’ businesses.  There is no getting away from the fact that clients will pay more for a service that has “bells and whistles” rather than a straight service.  That said, this only works if you get the chance to sell those bells and whistles in your sales process and convince your potential clients of their value when you speak to them.

Finally, you need to work out how much you want or need to earn for the effort you put into your work.  Again, many freelancers trip themselves up on this one.  They might decide to charge £30 for a 500 word article, which is a good price from the client’s and the freelancer’s point of view, however, if this is a one off, there’ll be a whole lot of peripheral work that needs to be done, making it an unreasonably low price for a professional piece of writing and all that goes with it.  While at the outset, you might be glad to get your hands on any work you can, you should try to upsell or establish a longer-term relationship whenever you can so our price becomes more attractive.

Don’t ever be shy when you’re speaking about the cost of your service with a potential client.  If you’re good (which you’ll have to be in order to be successful), you’re selling not only your time, but your experience and your expertise as well.  This costs money and if you’re good at what you do, you’ll have your clients coming back for more, again and again.



Once you’re clear about what you’re going to sell to whom, it’s time to start banging your freelance drum. At the start of any business venture, it’s tempting just to give promotional activities a go and see what happens, but the problem with this is that you’ll end up sending out your business message randomly which rarely works.

What you need to do is focus all your promotional activities on speaking in the right voice and delivering the right message to the right people.  In order to achieve this, you need a plan.  Plan your promotional activities by establishing exactly what you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it and how you’re going to work out if it’s effective or not.

Here are five of the main activities you should be including in your initial plan: 

  1. Freelance websites.  It goes without saying that you need to get your profile and portfolio on a selection of freelance websites, such as People Per Hour and Elance.  But before you do this, make sure you invest the time you need to get your profile and portfolio spot on.  Think about keywords as well as describing the benefits of what you do succinctly and seductively.  It sounds really obvious, but make sure your portfolio looks professional and that both your profile and your portfolio are grammar, spelling and punctuation perfect.  If you need help with this, contact me
  2. Your own website.  Your website is your shop-front to the world and should show off your wares in their very best light.   A clean, easy to navigate website will encourage your visitors to stay and explore what you have to offer.  If you plan to freelance in a real niche, it’s probably worth investing in a bit of SEO, but other than that, it’s likely to be waste of money (at least at the start).  Use your portfolio and your business cards to get traffic to your website, as well as article writing. 
  3. Local businesses.  Many freelancers forget to include local businesses in their promotional sights, because they tend to think of their potential clients as far-flung folk, only contactable by phone or by email.  All of that said, you’d be surprised at how many businesses on your doorstep are beefing up their workforces by recruiting freelancers.  Do your homework on this one, pick up the phone and make an appointment with the decision-makers.  Make sure you’re well prepared and knock ‘em dead with your pitch. 
  4. Networking.  In most areas of business, there are groups of people who get together to share a common goal.  This is what networking is.  If you’re going to network, it’s really important to know the purpose of the event you’re going to attend.  Once you’re at the event, make sure you get to meet the host or the main organizer and give them your best ever elevator pitch, but at the same time be humble (in networking, ‘in your face’ selling rarely works).  And remember, there’s more than one way to skin a cat…you can use networking to sell or you can use it to educate people about what a great referral looks like. 
  5. Social media.  Facebook, Twitter and in particular LinkedIn are great ways to promote your freelance activities, but again you need to make sure your message is clear, going out to the right people and saying the right things.  Don’t ever be tempted to mix your personal social media activities with your business social media activities, because more often than not that winds up in disaster. 

 If you’re struggling to get your message out or would like a winning LinkedIn profile, give me a shout and we can work on that together. 

Sales Process

Sales Process

If you get your promotional activities right, you’ll be faced with prospects on a regular basis. A prospect that is in front of you as a result of the right promotion will have a need for the service you provide and it’s your sales process that will convert that prospect into a paying client.

The duration and complexity of your sales process will depend to a large extent on the service you provide as a freelancer, but here’s an idea of my sales process to give you a notion of what you should expect:

  • A prospect contacts me to find out if I’d be interested in pitching for their business, or I see a client brief listed on a freelancer site.
  1. If I am responding to a listing on a freelance site, I pull together all the evidence I have to convince the prospect that I am the right person to do their job and I work out my most competitive price.  I then invest the required time to convert that evidence into a benefit-driven proposal that I send to the client, together with my portfolio and my best price.
  2. If a prospect contacts me to ask if I’d be interested in pitching for their business, I normally organise a Skype call or a telephone call to listen carefully to their needs and give them my best verbal pitch to convince them that I’m not only the best person to do the job they have in hand right now, but that I’m the best person to bring on board to partner them in achieving their objectives.  If appropriate, I’ll send a proposal together with my portfolio to back up my verbal pitch.
  3. Once I have either sent a proposal or made a verbal pitch followed up with evidence, I will diary forward to contact the client within a five working day period (unless they suggest that their decision is more pressing than that).  When I follow up, I make a point of re-stating what I can bring to the client’s business and say that I’m happy to discuss their project with them in more detail at a time that’s good for them.
  4. I continue to diary forward and keep the conversation open until the client has made a decision.
  5. Then hopefully the client decides to work with me, but when a client makes a decision to work with someone else, I always contact them to wish them luck and let them know that I’m there for them should things not work out as they hope.  Although this may sound like an odd thing to do, two of my best clients have come back to me after choosing someone else on price grounds … and living to regret it!

Working out your sales process is a bit hit and miss if you’re new to freelancing, but imagining the process you’ll go through and being ready for each step will stand you in great stead in the early days.  I couldn’t encourage you enough to invest the required time to do this and do it well.


Define Service Levels

Define Service Levels

One of the key things that separates a great freelancer from an average one is the service they provide. Unfortunately, there are too many freelancers who don’t appreciate the importance of top notch customer service as a client retention, promotional and business development tool.

If you really want to add power to your business elbow, you need to get your service level spot on. So how do you go about it?

The most important thing in business is integrity.  Integrity is all about being honest in business, having strong principles and doing the right thing by your business and for your clients.  Integrity in your freelancing activities is what will really get you noticed.  When you say to a client that you’ll do something, do it at least within, and ideally ahead of the timescales you’ve agreed with them and do it to the very best of your ability.  A great service standard for me is that I never send something to a client that I wouldn’t happily publish with my own name next to it.

When it comes to defining your service levels, you needn’t create a 500-page document or make any commitments you think you mightn’t be able to uphold.  The important thing is to set standards for your service tht you can deliver and you know will add value to your offering and to your clients’ businesses.  Here are just some of the things I include in my commitment to service:

  1. I respond to all emails within 1 hour maximum during working hours.  In exceptional circumstances, I’ll reply to emails within this timescale outside working hours too.  Although I don’t do this as standard, I make a point of doing so for any client who has a pressing project or is under pressure to get a job completed.  By means of example, I worked two consecutive nights for a client who was asked at the last minute to bid for a job for the Olympic Park in London -he won the job :) !
  2. I make it easy for my clients to contact me by telephone, email or Skype whenever they wish during working hours.
  3. I agree service levels with every client regarding timing and communication.  For my regular weekly clients, the work they send me on a Monday is delivered by close of business on the Friday of the same week, accompanied with an email offering to carry out edits or changes if required.  I never charge for changes, so it’s important from a business point of view that I fully understand the client brief.
  4. The work I do is checked at least twice (and in many cases three or four times) for grammatical and spelling errors and wherever humanly possible goes to the client perfect and ready for proof-reading and publication. To check that my written work is at least 75% original content I use which is an awesome tool and only costs cents per article

These are just some of the things that you should think about when it comes to setting your own service levels.  At the end of the day, setting and sticking to high customer service levels will get you a whole lot of word of mouth referrals, so it’s well worth putting the effort in. 


Ready To Work

Ready To Work

When you’re starting out as a freelancer, it’s a great opportunity to get everything right from the word “go”. It’s unlikely that you’ll need to set up any sort of formal company to trade as a freelancer, but if you have other income, it’s well worth seeking advice on how best to structure your business and your finances.

There are various small business organisations in countries across the world that will give basic advice and guidance free of charge and also have trusted contacts where advice can be sought on a paid basis. It’s well worth checking these resources out and using them for advice as well as seeing if they have any offers of start up loans or grants.

Beyond that, here’s some of the things you need to think about when it comes to getting your ‘house’ in order:

  1. Open a bank account for your business activities.  Even though your income from freelancing at the start may be relatively small, it’s both motivating and efficient to separate out your financial affairs.
  2. Download some free accounting software or invest in a low cost option.A huge part of getting your house in order from day 1 is making sure that you record all of your business transactions.  There are plenty of free accounting software options available on the internet as well as paid systems that won’t break the bank.  Shop around and find a system that you find easy to use and do your accounts regularly.  It’s important to know how your business is performing on at least a monthly basis and the best way to do this is to keep your accounting up to date. 
  3. Identify when you will bill your clients and work out your payment terms.It’s important to have a billing system in place for your freelance work.  Whether you bill immediately when your work with a client is complete or you bill on a monthly basis, is up to you and the client.  In fact, it’s likely that you’ll have slightly different invoicing schedules for different clients, but the important thing is to have a system in place.  Creating your invoices is only the first part of making sure your till is ringing though, you need to make sure those invoices get paid within a timescale that works for you and for your clients.  It’s highly likely that some clients will take longer to pay than others, but it’s important that you know when your payment is likely to arrive and that you chase it up if it doesn’t turn up on time. 
  4. Create a letterhead, invoices and a business card. Like your website, your letterhead, invoices and business cards are a way to promote your business.  Although letters aren’t all that often sent these days, you’ll need a letterhead for your client proposals and your pitches, so getting a logo and a style for your business stationery is an important part of your business set up. 
  5. Establish a system of storing your clients’ work and make sure you have a back up.At the start of your freelancing activities, you probably won’t have all that much client activity, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly it builds up and having the right storage system in place is really important, right from the start.  Personally, if I do more than a handful of jobs for a client, I create a file for them on my desktop, but if not, then they go in a general file.
  6. While you’re doing this, make sure you have a reliable and easy back up system in place.  The likes of Dropbox or Google Docs are free to start with and work well, but after a while, it’s probably worth investing in an external hard drive where you get into the habit of doing an automatic back up at least daily.  I have an Apple Time Machine that backs up on its own without me doing anything, which is perfect for me because otherwise I’d forget :) !

 Ultimately there’ll be other admin tasks to think about depending on which sector of freelancing you’re going into, but if you start with this checklist, you won’t go far wrong.


Long Term Success

Long Term Success

So there we have it, the A to Z of becoming a freelancer. When Marc asked me to produce this course, I accepted without hesitation, but I hadn’t realized what a trip down memory lane it would be for me. Re-living the steps I went through to create my now (touch wood) solid business has been a great chance to look and see what I would do differently if I was to do it all again and what I have learned from the process.

In terms of what I would do differently, I’m delighted to say that I’d do it all the same if I were to start again tomorrow.

Regarding what I’ve learned from the process, now that’s a different story.  Amongst other things, I’ve learned that a business is like a dog; it’s for life, not just for Christmas!

When you work on a self-employed basis, no matter what you do, you need to be constantly on the lookout for new business opportunities; different ways to solve your clients’ problems and new sectors where you can add value and generate income making opportunities.  Those activities never end, and for me, that’s one of the most exciting aspects of freelancing: constantly looking out for new ideas and new actions.  No two days are ever the same for me and neither are any two clients.  That’s what makes my job so much fun and so rewarding.

The best advice I can give you when it comes to building your business for the long term is, once you hit on something that works, even at a low level, stick with it.  Keep plugging away at finding clients, keep trying new techniques to win jobs and keep delivering.  If you get those things right, everything else will follow.  Also, get yourself a mentor or a coach.  It’s tough working alone if you don’t have someone to bounce your ideas off or share your troubles with.  It’s not always a good idea to use your partner, friend, wife or husband as a sounding board and having someone on the outside that can be impartial and honest is a real boon.  I know many of you will be working with Marc on this, but if you want an alternative ear, I’m a great listener and my clients tell me I’m a great coach too.

What else can I give you?  I know I can give you great copy and I can help you get your message out.  So, I’d like the chance to work with you to take your copy to a new level and to make sure you get the best from your efforts on the social media.  In terms of a deal, I’m happy to invest half an hour or so with you at no cost whatsoever.  All you need to do is get in touch:

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