The good news is that 57 million people were freelancing in the U.S in 2019. This means that millions of people have already been and done what you want to do next.
As such, there is a lot you can learn from freelancers, including both their successes and their failures.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at 6 tips freelancers can offer to new remote workers. By the end of the article, your new venture should look less daunting.
It’s sometimes the case that those who start freelancing still don’t know what they want to specialize in. For example, you might be experienced in digital marketing - but what specifics of digital marketing do you specialize in? While in theory it can sound like a good idea to market yourself as an “all-rounder,” in practice it doesn’t always work so well.
This is largely because clients are looking for specialists. Rather than hire a freelance jack-of-all-trades digital marketer, they might instead prefer to find someone who specializes in SEO, social media marketing or copywriting.
Find your niche and double down on it. Get so good at it that you can start to advertise yourself as a specialist/expert in a specific field who becomes known for a particular skill.
The complexity of the freelance world is that it can be very hard to know how to price yourself, especially if you’re completely new to this game. Clients will often size a freelancer up according to how they price themselves. Some will prefer to hire a freelancer who’s charging more because it suggests they’re good at what they do, while others will prefer to hire a freelancer who’s charging less because it suits their budget more.
The last thing you want to do is charge so little that you don’t make a profit, or too much so that you fail to land any clients from the off. You could scare them away with a price tag that doesn’t match your experience, for example.
Many freelancers prefer to charge much smaller fee’s when they first start out because they simply want to get their foot in the door. As they do more work and gain client testimonials and experience, they slowly start to price themselves higher.
This is a strategy you could implement. You don’t want to undervalue yourself, but you also don’t want to price yourself so high from the start that it’s impossible to land clients. You also need to decide whether to charge by project or by the hour. This will depend entirely on how you prefer to work. As you go along and build up more experience, you can start to adjust your price to a fee that reflects your qualities, skills and level of involvement in projects.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that you might be wary of pricing yourself too low that, while you’re landing clients, you’re not making enough to cover your bills. This is why experienced freelancers recommend that it’s super important that you develop a budget and sound financial plan.
It’s also a smart idea to not start remote working until you’ve got a good amount of savings behind you to cover what could be a turbulent first few months. A simple spreadsheet will help you understand your expenses and earnings, and how they’re aligning with your savings.
If you’re making the transition from the office to working from home for the first-ever time, you might find that the lack of schedule is your biggest enemy. Indeed, first-time freelancers who are used to working 9-5 may feel a jarring effect now that their usual, everyday structure is taken away from them. If you don’t have to start at a set time, will you start at all?
It’s really important, then, that you create a schedule that works for you. This might require you to plan your week ahead before it begins, blocking in projects and lunch breaks so that you know exactly what needs to be done and when. The purpose of this is to give you structure, but also to prevent stress and burnout. It will also help to boost your productivity and ensure you stay on track.
Because creating a schedule isn’t necessarily a simple task, you might find it helpful to use a tool. You could use a free, simple tool, such as Google Calendar, or you could try a premium tool with more features (including time tracking) such as Plutio.
Established freelancers will tell you that the reason they’re relaxed about finding new clients and having enough work to keep them afloat (and then some) is because they’ve established a brand around themselves.
What does this mean?
It means leveraging channels such as LinkedIn and a website to build credibility, and positioning yourself as an authority in your niche. By posting regular unique content, updating your profiles with news about your latest jobs etc, as well as publishing client testimonials, you can establish a brand that reflects your skills and experience. This then gives potential clients the chance to find you online, measure you up - and recruit you.
Here are some tips to help you create an online brand around yourself:
Once you’ve created a brand and positioned yourself as an expert in your niche, you can then start to create ads to attract and acquire customers. When you do this, maintaining your brand’s voice is essential.
When working in an office, being a good communicator is a useful skill to have - but it’s not always essential.
If you’re working remotely as a freelancer, however, it becomes critical that you have good communication skills and know how to talk to people.
Because you’ll now essentially be acting as the boss. This means you may have to coordinate with other freelancers on a project, but it especially means that you’ll be the one who’ll be talking directly with clients. If you can’t communicate, you will fail to either land clients in the first place, or at least retain them. Plus, you may develop a bad reputation.
Here are some ways to improve your communication skills that all freelancers have learned:
Problems can easily mount up for remote workers if they don’t stay organized. You might find that you fall behind with projects (or even forget about projects altogether), and ultimately this could cause friction with clients who may eventually decide to sever relations. It could also create burnout and needless stress.
As experienced freelancers will tell you, staying organized is one of the keys to success. Creating a schedule and a daily routine will help, but it’s also important that you make a list of priorities in terms of projects and what you need to do each day. Critically, you also need to ward off procrastination.
Most freelancers will tell you that establishing yourself as a remote worker will take time, effort and commitment. They’ll also tell you that you can get there quicker if you learn from the mistakes of others.
However, while it’s useful to take onboard the advice, experience and wisdom offered by successful freelancers, you still need to be prepared to make your own mistakes, learn from them and grow.
Harness the advice in this article, and let it give you a good foundation as you begin your new venture.