If you’re a freelancer, you no doubt understand the joys and the challenges of building a successful business that generates enough money for you to make a good living.
But benefits, such as being your own boss, working from wherever you want, and setting your own rates will wear thin really fast if you don’t lay the groundwork for a viable business.
Something to consider is the fierce competition for freelance work. Worldometers says that the U.K. population was 64,715,810 in 2015 while PeoplePerHour notes that there were 4.2 million U.K. home workers last year. Although the total number of home workers might appear small compared to the population, remember…you’re competing with millions of other freelancers.
Having an undergraduate degree or an MBA under your belt certainly won’t hurt your prospects for picking up projects, but there are various things you need to do regularly to thrive and to survive. Read on to learn about key tips to succeed as a freelancer.
Build Freelance Support Network
Focus on building a freelance support network so that you can reach out to other independent consultants with different skill sets and from different disciplines based on your needs. You may find that certain projects require a different skill set or perspective, and so building and nurturing a freelance support network made up of professionals with different yet complementary skills will help you not only to take on projects that you might not otherwise have accepted, but also to better meet the needs of customers. Furthermore, by being part of a freelance support network, you can help other members of the network who require your assistance on their projects.
Drop Worst Client
While this might appear to be counterproductive to building your business, you really need to comb through your client list…and drop the worst one. Before you do this, you should figure out how much you want to make per hour, look at your client list in relation to how much they pay, identify the one that pays the least and drop that client. Any new, better-paying customers you find will help you to quickly make up for and to exceed what you lost by dropping your worst customer.
Increase Your Rates
While the setting of freelance rates isn’t an exact science, you should know that your rates may need to be adjusted from time to time. Factors like where you live, your experience and skill level, the industry going rate, and the level of competition will help you determine how much to charge. You can approach your existing clients in a courteous, professional manner and let them know about your plans to increase your rates–and of your desire to retain them as clients.
Learn From Rivals
In order to succeed as a freelancer, you need to learn from your rivals. Building a successful practice means knowing your competition, so you must research who they are, and then focus on the ones who are doing well. That way, you can incorporate what you find into your own business. The sorts of things you need to learn about your rivals include the following:
Fees: Find out what your competitors charge and compare it to what you charge to determine whether or not your price is where it ought to be.
Customer Comments: One of the best ways to determine how your competitors’ customers feel about the services they buy is to spend some time searching the internet for reviews and monitoring social media sites to see what people are saying. In the event that customers are dissatisfied, you can market yourself as a more suitable alternative. In the event that customers are satisfied, you can find a way to differentiate yourself enough to better compete.
Don’t underestimate the importance of soliciting feedback from customers, since it’s a reliable way to gauge how you’re doing. Asking questions, such as how they feel about the services provided, whether or not they would refer you to their colleagues, or what they appreciated least about the experience can make your customers feel like their opinion matters.
Succeeding as a freelancer takes a lot of hard work, especially when you consider all of the competition for jobs. Take to heart the tips mentioned above, put them into practice regularly, and you’ll be well on your way towards long-term success as a freelancer.
This post is a contribution from Dave Landry Jr.
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