10 tips for success as a freelancer
If you’ve recently started (or are thinking about starting) freelancing, whether that be as a designer, copywriter, social media manager or anything else in between, it can be hard to figure out exactly what you need to be doing to set yourself up for success and take the stress off the transition to this new way of working.
Our Senior Consultant Lilian Yessayan works closely with social media and content talent and has seen many people make the transition from full time work to freelancing. Learning from their experiences, here are Lils’ top 10 tips for people looking to see success as a freelancer.
Build a strong personal brand to establish credibility
We know we harp on this a lot, but setting up your LinkedIn profile (and anywhere else that your audience might be) and producing content that is educational, relevant and shows you know what you’re talking about when it comes to your area of expertise is going to do you a world of good. Potential clients will look at your content and have a good idea whether you’re the right fit for their needs.
Develop a portfolio
If you don’t have a portfolio, get on to it quick smart! You want to showcase case studies across different platforms, including the top line brief, your approach and the results. This will display your thinking and skills, plus your niche. Your portfolio can be a website or a digital pdf (Canva is super easy to use!), up to you.
If you do have a portfolio, but you’re not sure whether you’re on the right track or not, reach out to some people you trust (preferably someone who works in the same or similar area as you) and ask for some feedback. You could be missing something integral that you just haven’t noticed.
Network effectively to be front of mind for opportunities
You’re not just networking with potential clients. You also want to be networking with recruiters and other creatives too – you literally never know where your next freelance gig will come from. It also helps to schedule your networking events and meetings on the same day. It can be hard to context switch from networking to strategy to networking to admin work. Plan it all for the same day (or at least the same half of the day) to make things easier on yourself.
Keep your finger on the pulse
When you’re so busy doing client work and trying to get runs on the board, it’s easy to put learning and development to the side – especially since you’ve now said goodbye to that sweet, sweet L&D budget.
However, you need to keep learning! You need to keep up with trends, changes and new tech in your area of expertise. Go to conferences, attend webinars, do short courses to stay on top. Plus, sharing the insights you’ve gained during initial engagement chats will set you apart from other freelancers.
Be comfortable negotiating rates
Don’t have just a set price for your hourly rate. Having a price range and giving yourself a bit of wriggle room makes things a lot easier if you need to negotiate with a client, but if someone is lowballing you and won’t come to the negotiation table, maybe you need to reconsider if you want to work with them.
Negotiating is tricky and not everyone’s cup of tea either. So if it’s something you don’t have much experience with or don’t particularly enjoy, practice negotiating with friends or family first. We also wrote a nifty little guide on negotiating – while the tips in this are mainly focused on negotiating for a promotion or to change your working conditions, some are still applicable to negotiating rates!
Utilise project management tools
Start using a project management tool early on (even when you may not necessarily need it) to establish good organisation habits. When you start to get busier, you’ll have all of the tools and habits you need to stay organised, manage your desk and meet all of your deadlines.
Invest in marketing efforts
When you’ve got the hang of this freelancing thing and are looking to take more work on, consider putting some money towards marketing efforts, especially if you haven’t had any new enquiries recently. By sponsoring a post on LinkedIn or running an ad on. Instagram, you’ll expand your reach and hopefully attract new clients.
Set some clear objectives and goals
These are beyond the objectives and goals that are set for your client work. Create goals and objectives for you as a freelancer – it’ll help you develop a strategy and a plan for going forward. Think, how many clients do you want, how many projects do you want to work on, how many hours a week do you want to be working etc. You’ll be able to see how you’re tracking and if you need to funnel your efforts into a certain area to build your business.
Take the time to reflect
Once you’ve completed a project, look back on it and ask yourself a few questions. What went well and what didn’t? What would you do the same and what would you do differently?
Ask for feedback from clients. Their feedback will be valuable to creating similar pipelines of work in the future, refining your process and learning what type of work you want to deliver. You’ll be all the better for it.
Prioritise self-care and work-life balance
You may feel that early in your freelance career that you need to hustle hard and do long hours to land clients, however you need to take care of yourself too. You’re not going to be able to produce your best work if you’re burnt out and struggling to put two thoughts together.
So to help avoid burnout, manage your workload – don’t overload and take on too much, you’re not doing anyone any favours. Also, figure out where your happy place is and make it a part of your weekly routine.
If you’re looking to make the jump to becoming a freelancer, make sure to check out our guide to becoming a freelancer in Australia, download our freelancer checklist ⬇️ and get in touch with our team about freelance opportunities at firstname.lastname@example.org.