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How to Become a Successful Freelancer

how to be a successful freelancer
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Deciding to become a freelancer or contractor can be a liberating but scary decision. Now more than ever there are opportunities to be an independent contractor or freelancer. The workforce has become more mobile and many people who are a part of the digital age can take their work anywhere. 

The gig economy has helped people find work when they don’t have a full-time job. It has helped small businesses as well. They can find hourly employees to do small projects and jobs, and they do not have to pay someone full-time or offer benefits. 

Here are some helpful tips to help you become a successful freelancer:

Decide How Much Time You Have

You may decide to do this full-time or part-time. Regardless, think about whether you want to make this into a small business. Are you pursuing a dream or are you doing this until you find a job? Whichever way you would like to go, there are many jobs for freelancers. 

Discover Your Skill and Develop Your Goals

Most likely you know what you want to do and what skills you have. You may even find that you have more skills once you get started. You should also brainstorm and research ideas that will be profitable. 

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What do you want to accomplish? 
  • How much do you need to make? 
  • How much do you want to make?
  • What is your niche?
  • What do you do well? 

Start Researching Freelancer Sites

There are many different sites where you can get clients and get freelancing work. It is dependent on your niche. For example, if you want to consult for businesses, do administrative tasks, or write articles and blogs, you may want to consider Upwork. They also have a variety of other tasks as well. If you are a graphic designer or if you can do video, web, or mobile design a great site to use is Fiverr

Most of the well-known sites like the above help protect you. You do pay a small fee when you are paid, but they process payments from the client for you. This is a nice feature as you start your freelancing business. You don’t have to worry about contracts or asking clients for payments.  

Determine Your Fee

Knowing how much to charge can be more difficult. At first, you can start at a lower price to build your brand and reputation. It is important that your fee not be based on what you need to earn. However, it is important to know your worth. 

If you are skilled, specialized, reliable, and do good work, you can start charging more as you build your business. You will gain a reputation on freelancer sites. You will be requested and even recommended. 

Set Up Your Legal Structure

You may also want to determine what type of legal structure you want based upon the work you will be doing. At first, you may want to start as a sole proprietor but then move to a corporation as your business grows. 

It is important to consult a business attorney and tax professional to understand what you may need for your small business. 

Become Familiar with Legal Matters

If you are going to work for yourself and not through a freelance company, you may need a contractor’s agreement. Your agreement should state the terms of payment and timeline. Consider consulting with a business attorney.  Whether you work through a site or your own business arrangement, you want to make sure you get paid. 

There are many free resources for freelancers such as contract templates, tax guides, health insurance resources, etc. If you don’t have the money yet to get legal advice, consider conducting good research to protect yourself. 

Use Technology to Be More Productive

ezClocker – An app like ezClocker can help you keep track of your time for each job. You will have the ability to add customers, jobs, and hourly rates so you can figure out how much a job will cost to invoice your customers. It is a great way to see if you are spending too much time on a job and getting paid what you should. 

Prospero – This is an all-in-one tool to create outstanding proposals that win clients. Prospero helps you generate proposals faster, error-free, and with ease, especially with the presence of its ready-made templates. In just one proposal, you can include media files, portfolio, fees, timeline, and other necessary elements to make a great impression.

QuickBooks – This is an essential tool for freelancers and small business owners. You can use it to track your expenses and it also has an app. You can input your information as it happens and even track your mileage. 

Evernote – This is a great tool to use to keep notes, articles, and business ideas. When you first start freelancing, you will probably be at your most creative. You will think of many ideas. Evernote is a great tool to help you organize your thoughts. 

Need an Affordable Time Tracking App for Your Freelance Business?  

There are many apps and sites that can help you with your business. You may need social media scheduling tools like RecurPost. Also, if you start your own website you could start with a simple site through WordPress. Make a list and research best practices. Start small and grow as your business needs grow. Find tools that help you organize your money, payments, taxes, and clients.  

Once you start working, don’t forget to continue to improve yourself. There are tools online which can help you improve your skill or develop new ones. For example, many bloggers use Yoast and Grammarly to ensure they write good copy. Whatever your specialty, you should always be looking for productivity tools that help you produce better work and be more productive. 

Market Yourself

Create a logo and get business cards. You can have someone develop a logo for you on Fiverr for a low cost. Ensure you set your LinkedIn as looking for work as a freelancer. 

Find other professionals freelancing in your field. You could search LinkedIn or attend meetups or conferences in your area. Ensure your social media sites are good and develop a business Facebook page and Instagram. You may even want to develop a Pinterest page as well. 

Offer Great Customer Service

If you offer exceptional customer service, you will grow your business. Even if you want to keep your freelancer business small, offering great customer service will help you get more jobs and recommendations. This helps when you are ready for new projects. Also, clients are willing to pay more for great service. 

Great customer service builds loyalty and trust. If you are working by yourself, you are the brand. Build it and ensure your clients trust you. If you make a mistake, own it. Mistakes happen, but if you own them, your clients will respect and like you.  Make sure you don’t overextend yourself because you want to be able to complete each project with great quality. 

Final Thoughts

Treat your freelance business as a small business. Ensure you know your local, state, and federal laws. You should also consider liability insurance as well, especially as your client roster grows. Research what works best for you and protects you too. 

There are a lot of online resources out there like the Small Business Administration (SBA), it has tools that can help you get started on your business. There are also websites that offer loans for freelancers to give you the cash you need.

You may want to work on a freelancer site at first until you feel more comfortable. There are going to be people on sites who offer work for low prices or clients who try to get you to do work for very low payment. For example, some ask for blogs to be written for ten dollars in exchange for good feedback. 

It is important to not let your value of work go too low. Know your worth and don’t bid on these jobs. You can go a little lower at first, but don’t go too low. This is how you are going to pay your bills. 

Work hard, offer great quality, and price right so that your client roster grows. 

Author: Kimberley Kay Travis

Kim Travis has over 20 years of experience in business, human resource management, and leadership roles. She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, small business growth, leadership development, workplace safety and health programs, and writing business content.