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
Every business needs a plan. Here you will find a blueprint to become a successful freelancer…..
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:
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, email@example.com.
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:
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? firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
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. email@example.com
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org