Giles Roberts, one of PeoplePerHour’s consistently top-rated and top-earning freelancers, shares his success story with us. He explains how he earned more money, learned new skills, got more savvy and most importantly, won those all-important bids from discerning clients.
I decided to start working as a freelancer after having a tough time with my last job. Although I was running a small team at the time, I was still not really in control of my timescales. I frequently didn’t have enough time to complete the projects to a level of quality that made me, my customers or my boss happy. So I decided I needed a break.
For a while I was working on a personal project. Then I realised that my money would probably run out before the project was completed! So I needed to get a job, preferably part time. I remembered seeing Xenios and PeoplePerHour on a BBC news item and I thought “OK,I’ll give them a shot”. The key factor in my decision of choosing freelancing over a regular job was that I
could always be in control of the amount of time I had to get my work completed. I could then finally complete jobs to a level of quality that made me happy. As it turned out, if I am happy with my work, my clients are happy too.
The initial setup on the site was a breeze and I was bidding on jobs in no time at all. But the really tricky part was winning my first few jobs. I was afraid that I would virtually have to give my services away before people would accept a bid from me. And I found that even clients became wary when I lowered my bid to unspeakable levels. But as clichéd as this may sound, with determination, effort and patience the work finally started to come in.
Everything changed once I had completed about three or four jobs with perfect feedback. New potential clients started inviting me to bid, whilst old clients came back asking me to work with them again because they were so impressed with my work. So new jobs and repeat business gushed in.
And it gets better…
With hard work I managed to make it into the top 10 freelancers on PPH. Ever since then, even more people have started seeking me out for work, and this enables me to secure a spot in the top 10 freelancers consistently. And so the story goes. I now have a great lifestyle and am happy with the amount of money I earn. I’m starting to wish I’d begun freelancing years ago. Actually, since I’m wishing for things, I should probably wish PeoplePerHour existed earlier.
Another benefit of working on different jobs for different people is that the range of technologies I’ve used has expanded rapidly. I’m never stuck in a rut. And so if I were ever crazy enough to look for a ‘real’ job again, at least I’d have a much more in-demand skill set.
A few words of advice for new freelancers learned from the school of Hard Knocks:
1. Make sure you always provide good customer service. This is where your repeat business comes from. Reading The Golden Rules of Customer Care by Carl Sewell really opened my eyes on this.
2. Estimate the number of hours to quote for a job conservatively. At least until you’re confident you’re pretty accurate. If you don’t, you’ll be out of pocket and your clients will be unhappy. Fogbugz by FogCreek software is a great tool for doing this with its evidence based scheduling.
3. Pick your clients carefully. Be wary of people who say they’ve had problems previously with other freelancers. They may have genuinely been let down but it’s equally likely that they tend to set unrealistic targets or are tricky to work with themselves. Be cautious of people who say that something is simple when they have no understanding of the technicalities involved. These dolls usually end up expecting you to do amazing things for nothing.
4. Don’t accept unrealistic budgets. When clients offer rewards that are too low for a job, sometimes it is worth going back and asking if they’re willing to be flexible. Often clients are just “testing the waters” to see if they can get away with it.
P.S: If you’re thinking of jumping in, setting up a limited company and sorting your tax out is easier than you’d think. Companies like Crunch make this as pain free as possible.
If I can do it, so can you!