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5 Tips For Successful Freelancers

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reelance work is fast becoming a very real option in the new global workplace. Flexibility, independence, and autonomy are all key factors for freelancing becoming a coveted career choice. As a freelancer, you are self-employed and contract jobs are your bread and butter. It’s a unique dichotomy, you’re your own boss, while at the same time you will have multiple bosses. 

There are numerous types of freelance opportunities. App development, graphic design, photography, e-learning, web development, writing, accounting, and various other consulting professions to name a few. 

My aim here is to help break down the process of what goes into the making of a successful and effective freelancer. Confucius put it perfectly - “Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for a lifetime.” Let’s go fishing!

1. WISH IT. WANT IT. PLAN IT.

I cannot emphasize the importance of planning your every move. Making lists or creating a vision board will help you to categorize your talents and their scope. After all, the whole point of wanting to freelance is to do what you love and improve the quality of your everyday life. Re-think your tasks in categories. This  3Cs technique can help structure your plan better: create, collaborate, and connect.

Having a clear understanding of the services you are offering is very important. You can’t possibly sell yourself without knowing who you are. Make a schedule and stick to it. Don’t forget to squeeze in some time to let the creative juices flow. Most freelance jobs require more than just your personal skill set. For example, graphic designers and photographers rely on each other and constantly collaborate. Doing it all by yourself as a fervent freelancer can be exhausting. Connect with your peers in the industry and in the community, there is strength in numbers. You would be amazed, what a little communication can do.

2. PAPERWORK, THE UNSUNG HERO FOR A FREELANCER

It’s exciting to be your own boss, making sure to cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s will lead to success. Paperwork may not be fun, but it is necessary. 

Once you have decided on your business type you will need to envision a mission statement and the core values of your company. There are few steps to setting up your brand new freelance venture. You will need a business plan depending on the size and scope of your venture. Set up your company as a sole proprietorship, limited or general partnership, or as a corporation.

Don’t mix business with pleasure, set up a bank account for your business. It is best to have your business account separate from personal as it is essential to keep a watchful eye on your financials. Some freelancers choose to do their own booking keeping using software like Quickbooks. Once your business grows you may choose to hire an accountant or protip: consider taking an accounting course from a career college. Believe it or not, detailed bookkeeping is essential to your financial success as a freelancer - let’s face it, any business for that matter. 

3. YOU NEVER GET A SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION

Congratulations, you’re a business! Now that you have legitimized your freelance services, It is time to set up your online presence. This will require you to have a website and a social media presence. The idea is to build yourself into a brand that someone wants to use. Your business needs to be immediately recognizable through a business name & a logo. Canva is a great tool to get you started. 

Since your services are not offered via the traditional methods, you need to be able to showcase your work. Marketing yourself effectively can make or break it. Think outside of the box, inside the box, around the box - be creative and collaborate with professionals who can market your business and help you connect with your future clients.

It’s not necessary that you market yourself on every social media platform. Knowing your key demographics will help focus your marketing strategy and choose relevant platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, etc). 

4. GET YOURSELF HIRED

You will most likely be looking for work that is largely bid on through online portals.  Fiverr.com, Upwork.com, and flexjobs.com are platforms that allow you to showcase your work and for people to hire you. While in the bidding stages of getting a job, appear professional and organized. You should be able to provide a clear breakdown of the project you are bidding for including the time, budget, and other logistics required for the completion of your job. Calculate your rate for “x” amount of work. This shows that you mean business and thus you will build authority and trust. And most importantly be friendly and negotiable. In a situation where there are many takers for a job, you want to stand out from the rest; smile, make eye contact and charm your employer with your knowledge and personality. You know what you can do, make sure they do too.

5. GET VERY COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE

Freelancing is a perfect career path for anyone who enjoys the freedom that comes with being your own boss. As your own boss, you will need to manage every aspect of your business. It is not for everyone, you will need to be part creative virtuoso and part taskmaster. With so much freedom comes huge responsibility. 

Just like the girl scout motto, you must always “be prepared.” You will need to protect yourself and your clients - you will disagree from time to time. Make sure you have a legally binding contract signed before commencing any job, always. Once again depending on the size of your operation, you can create a customized sample contract for free or hire a professional. Make sure you, your business, and all its assets are covered.

The fear of facing rejection and sometimes not knowing where the next paycheque will come from will be hurdles that many freelancers will need to overcome in their careers. Don’t worry you will be better for it, scars are cool. 

Continually upgrade your skills and stay current with the latest trends in your field. Make sure you invest in yourself, stay focused and remain positive. For me personally, I like to set 15-20 minutes aside and take stock of each day as it comes because the life of a freelancer is ever-evolving. Just breathe and as I said earlier, have fun! Believe it or not, it shows in everything we do. Good luck!

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