Freelancing is a tough gig. You have to constantly be pitching new clients, researching new markets and fields, and hustling for contracts. It’s draining, challenging, but also exciting and rewarding. If you’re thinking about becoming a freelancer or are already freelance and have been for some time now, this article will give you some great ideas on how to thrive in this field. In the third part of my series on freelancing (previous articles: The Value of Networking as a Freelancer & The Do’s & Don’ts of Freelancing), we’ll take a look at practical advice you can use tomorrow as a freelancer — with specific examples from my own experiences as an independent worker. Hopefully these pointers will help you not only get started as a freelancer but also flourish in your career!
Networking – It’s not just for finding jobs
Freelancing is a very isolated field. You’re getting paid to work remotely, with little (if any) team support. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation; it’s easy to be left feeling like you’re on an island. In my experience, collaboration and networking can help you solve this problem. They can be great outlets for sharing your experience, connecting with other freelancers, and learning from their mistakes. As well as being a good way to learn, networking is also the best way to find work. When you’re searching for contract opportunities, you’re in a seller’s market. There are way more people looking for work than there are companies hiring for work. In a situation like this, you need every edge you can get. And networking is one of your best assets as a freelancer.
Finding new clients is hard, so make your pitches count
You’ll probably spend weeks, months, and possibly even years trying to find clients. Getting work as a freelancer is even more competitive than getting work as an employee. There’s a lot more people out there trying to do the exact same thing you are. And there are probably other people who are far more experienced than you. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re trying to find clients; it’s really important to steel yourself against these types of feelings. Find a way to stay positive and motivated. Personally, I’m a big fan of meditation and visualizations. I’ve found that these practices help me when I feel discouraged or down—they give me a positive place to focus my attention. When you find a client, make sure that you don’t just get them on board. You want to make sure that you’re giving them a great experience through your pitches and communication. Take the time to learn about your clients and what they’re looking for in their work. Tailor your pitches to them. And make sure that you’re being responsive when you’re communicating with them.
Research before you pitch—and after you’re hired
Part of being a successful freelancer is doing your homework. As soon as you get a contract, you should be looking into your client. Where are they based? What are their competitors? What do they do? Who are they trying to reach? You can even take this a step further and look into your prospective client’s clients. What are they trying to do? Are there any problems they’re trying to solve? This research will help you tailor your work to exactly what your clients need. And it will help you understand how your work is impacting the world. You should also be researching your client before you pitch for work. Understanding your client’s business will help you write better pitches. You want to make sure that your pitches are targeted — that they address your prospective client’s specific needs.
Schedule tasks and keep track of your time
Freelancing is a lot like working a full-time job. You have to work on your own schedule, which can sometimes be difficult. It can be really easy to get sidetracked and procrastinate when you don’t have a strict schedule. To combat this, keep a schedule and make sure that you’re working on your most important tasks for the day. Keep track of what you’re doing throughout the day — make sure that you’re working on the most valuable tasks and that you’re not wasting time. Keep track of how long you’re working on each task. This will help you avoid getting caught up in long, unbroken stretches of work.
Freelancing can be a challenging and rewarding career. To be successful, you need to be hardworking, passionate, and prepared to work hard. There are tons of challenges you will have to overcome, and there will be times when it feels like you can’t take another step forward. But if you can push through, you will be rewarded with a lot of freedom and flexibility, as well as more control over your earnings. If you keep up with your networking, are willing to put in the time to research your clients, and be honest with your clients and yourself, then you can make this career a long-term success.