America is going freelance. According to the Freelancers Union, 53 million of us are freelancing – 34 per cent of the national workforce. But is self-employment as glamorous as it seems?
The vision of working from home, taking holidays any time of the year, and a better work-life balance is mistaken. In fact, freelancers often find themselves working longer hours, including weekends, and having to dedicate a lot of time to finding new business.
Whether you’re freelancing already or have plans to do so in the future, here are five simple but effective tips for being a successful freelancer in 2017.
#1 Research and Preparation
Before opting for self-employment, make sure you have an accurate impression of the work freelancing involves, including how to attract clients.
One path to success is to have experience in a specialized industry – to help you build knowledge, expertise and contacts. That basis will give you the wide network and portfolio you need to get started.
#2 Form an Identity and Brand
The business world is competitive, with everyone jostling to stand out. When applying for a job or trying to win a client, think about what makes you different.
Many freelancers are advised to get in touch with as many people as they can to offer their services. But before you get to that stage it’s important to have a strong identity behind you.
Present yourself like a brand. Put together a good-quality website, make business cards, update your LinkedIn profile, and put your CV online. Only then should you contact potential clients. This will drive higher response rates.
Networking should be fun. Experiment with novel ways to meet people in the industry. Always be ready to think outside the box and open to new ideas for business opportunities.
#3 Negotiate Like a Pro
The art of negotiation is more important than ever – especially for freelancers. Negotiation will help build your confidence and expose you to different situations. Some of these circumstances may be out of your comfort zone, but the more you practice your negotiating skills, the more expert you will get. Advice from experts in the industry such as The Gap Partnership will help you secure important deals and clients.
Negotiation ensures that mutual goals are met. From defining expectations to conditions of sale and targets, being able to communicate effectively will help you provide a good service.
Being an expert negotiator helps produce long-term, sustainable outcomes rather than short-term gains. These strong connections built on mutual trust will lead to flourishing client relationships. Many negotiation training and courses can help you master this vital art.
#4 Learn New Skills When Business is Slow
To last as a freelancer, you need to expect spells where business is quiet. It’s important to use this time productively to gain skills and knowledge in your industry. One advantage of being self-employed is that you have the flexibility to do that and, for example, enrol on courses to learn new skills.
#5 Provide a Quality Service
Focus on quality, not quantity. As a freelancer there’s only so much work you can take on at once – so make sure it’s of the highest level, giving clients 100% satisfaction. If this is the case, clients will stay loyal and recommend you to others. Another benefit of working freelance is that you can give your clients a very personal service, keeping in regular contact and being very approachable. This is important for many companies when looking for services.
If you do find yourself building a loyal client list, with a lot of returning business, reward your regulars with discounts on services every now and then. Again, not only will this keep work flowing, it’s more likely that you’ll be recommended based on positive experiences.