Freelance work can have many benefits, such as working from home, a flexible schedule, and setting your own rates. However, because of the numerous advantages of freelancing, people will often settle for just barely surviving through their freelance jobs. You should be aiming to flourish as a freelancer. We can teach you how to do that. Keep reading to learn tips from professionals on how to make your freelance business thrive.
Freelancer Tips for Getting More Clients
You may be one of the best in your field, yet still struggle to get clients. Freelancers need to be their own marketers and ensure they have a steady stream of work.
Share Samples of Your Work
No matter how well you can describe your skills, it’s easier for potential clients to see if you’re a good fit by showing them examples of your work. For writers, this might be personal blog posts you’ve written. Designers might show sample logos or other graphics. Programmers can show contributions to open source projects. Your field will determine where to best display your work. For example, while a blog or website might be most beneficial to a writer, an Instagram account could be appropriate for a designer.
Be at Peace with Rejection
You aren’t going to be a perfect fit for every client and rejection is an unavoidable aspect of freelancing. You’ll pitch to clients who aren’t interested and you’ll work with clients who, even if you produce your best work to date, won’t be satisfied. Don’t waste time sulking after each rejection or allow one poor critique to make you question your ability to freelance with your chosen skill.
Ask for Testimonials
When clients are pleased with your work, request a testimonial. Recommendations are a built-in feature of the professional networking site LinkedIn and that is an excellent spot for them. You can also post testimonials on your website or social media pages. Testimonials instill trust and trust goes a long way towards having someone hire you.
Pick a Niche
You’ve likely heard the description “jack of all trades, master of none.” In the world of freelancing, it can be more beneficial to be a specialist than a generalist. For example, take successful WordPress developer Keith Devon.
At first, he marketed himself as a “web developer,” which put him up against a lot of competition and made potential clients unsure what his skills included. When he added “WordPress Development” to his skills list, his inquiries increased. Eventually, he changed his title to “WordPress developer and web designer” and that’s when business started booming.
Have Multiple Clients
It’s a common mistake for new freelancers to rely on one client who offers them bulk work. If this client suddenly stops providing work, you’re in a financially dangerous situation. You’re also only gaining experience for that particular type of project. Working for a single client has many of the downsides of being a traditional employee, without the job security and benefits. Always try to have more than one client.
Stay Open to New Opportunities
Even when you have a steady amount of work, it’s essential to look towards the future. You might have a full calendar now, but are you about to finish a big contract that will drastically reduce your hours? It’s preferable to already be talking to another client you can start work for later. Even if you aren’t actively looking for clients, it’s useful to keep your online profiles updated. This makes it more likely people will reach out to you and, when work does slow down, you don’t have the daunting task of updating profiles with months of work.
Maintain Relationships & Request Referrals
When work for a client you like runs dry, try to keep in touch. You want to be at the top of a client’s mind if they need more work in the future. You can also ask them to refer you to others who might need your services. Word-of-mouth referrals are one of the best ways to build new leads.
Tips for Freelancers on How to Work With Clients
While getting clients is a huge part of the battle, just because you impressed them with your work, that doesn’t mean the relationship will automatically go well. These tips will help keep both you and your client happy.
Hammer Out Details Early On
Don’t start work for a client without the project details discussed. Some questions you should consider asking your clients upfront include:
- What specific deadlines do you want for project milestones?
- Who will be my primary contact?
- How often do you want updates?
- What is your preferred communication method?
- How would you like to handle invoicing and payment?
If there is confusion about expectations or duties, it’s easier to adjust your plans earlier than it is to later.
Use a Contract
Often freelancers don’t ask a client to sign a contract because it may seem as if they don’t trust the person or writing one up may feel like too much work. Neither of these is a valid excuse. Any client that refuses to sign a contract probably isn’t one you want. Contracts increase your chances of getting paid, establish intellectual property rights, and more.
You don’t need to create a contract from scratch for each client. You can use a platform. For example, Clarrow provides contract templates you can quickly customize for each client. Clarrow’s e-sign technology makes it simple for both you and the client to sign your contract as well.
Create an Onboarding Checklist
When you first start with a new client, several crucial tasks can’t be forgotten. Create a new client checklist to ensure it all gets done. Your list might include introducing yourself to other team members, gaining access to needed systems, having your client sign a contract, and more.
Jump on Calls When Possible
Phone calls may feel intimidating, but they can also be extremely efficient. In just one call, you can get many more questions answered than with several back and forth emails. It’s also more personable and can make clients feel closer to you. After calls, follow up with an email recap. The recap ensures you’re on the same page and gives the opportunity for any misunderstandings to be corrected.
Be Strict With Your Boundaries
Just because you set your own hours doesn’t mean you need to be constantly available. Your personal time is important too. If you’ve established your workday is done at 6pm, don’t occasionally send an email response at 7pm because people will start to always expect responses at that time. An easy trick if you’re trying to get ahead on emails late at night is to schedule them to send the next morning.
Money Management Tips for Freelancers
Freelancers are responsible for every aspect of their money management. It can be challenging to know how much to charge, what an invoice should include, and how much money to set aside for taxes. Fortunately, there are simple tools to help and we have the following tips to get you started.
Have an Emergency Fund
No matter what type of employment you have, it’s always recommended to have an emergency fund. This fund can be especially essential for freelancers. If multiple clients are behind on payments, work slows down unexpectedly, or your computer dies, you’ll be happy to have money set aside. How much to set aside depends on your expenses and, if you have a family, whether or not you’re the sole income earner.
Don’t Work for Free or Lower Your Rate
Don’t work for exposure. It’s better to create something you own completely than to give it away to someone else for free. The one exception might be if it’s for a charity with which you have a connection. Also, don’t lower your rates with new clients in hopes they’ll pay you more next time they want work. Be upfront about your costs. You should reevaluate your rates a couple of times per year to see if they should be raised.
Track Your Time (Even for Project-based Work)
It’s too easy to forget to write down when you started and stopped working on a project. Use a time-tracking application so you can bill your clients accurately. Even if you aren’t getting paid hourly, it can be beneficial to track your time for your personal records.
This information allows you to determine which clients are the most lucrative as well as if you’re as productive as you think you are each day. Clarrow has a straightforward time-tracking feature. Press play to start tracking or manually log in hours. Clarrow can then put your hours into a client-ready invoice.
Record Your Expenses
Tracking your expenses can save you a significant amount of money when you file taxes. Your home office, health insurance premiums, and software are just a few examples of tax-deductible expenses. It might not seem worth it to keep a box full of receipts and you might be right about that. Use a platform, such as Clarrow, to manage your expenses instead. Clarrow will track and categorize all your costs.
For clients you’ve never worked with before, it can be a wise move to ask for a deposit. Deposits don’t guarantee you’ll be paid in full, but they do ensure you won’t end up working for free. Most professional clients don’t have a problem with deposits and realize the risk you are otherwise taking. Alternatively, you might request to be paid partially after a milestone in a project is completed before you turn in the finished product.
Freelancers work as their own marketers, lawyers, and finance departments. To keep your freelance business thriving, you need to continuously attract the attention of new clients, meet their expectations, and charge them appropriately. Follow the above tips for freelancers to set yourself up for long-term freelance success. Also, make sure to take advantage of available tools, such as Clarrow’s all-in-one platform for freelancers.