According to a 2019 Upwork survey, freelancers are paid more by the hour than 70% of the American workforce. Another study by Payoneer reported that freelancers didn’t suffer reduced payments due to the pandemic. The popular freelance platform’s study shows that freelancing allows you to do the job you love without sacrificing income. In fact, going out on your own can open opportunities for wealth.
That said, making the most of your freelancing career can be challenging. So, you should wield the freedom of being a freelancer with deft and careful planning. It’s easier to employ strategies to maximize profit since you can choose what projects to work on, when to work on them, and how to execute them.
Whether you’re new to freelance work or have been in the business for a while, the tips in this article will show you how to do things right.
1. Choose a Niche
“Niche down” is one of the most popular phrases in freelancing circles. This advice is so ubiquitous because it works.
While generalists have a larger market to pursue, specialists build more valuable and reputable business models.
You’ll develop expertise in any area you specialize in, making it easy to create effective marketing strategies. You’ll also deliver greater value than any generalist in your industry since you’ve delved deeper into that niche. What’s more, you’ll become an authority in your field, making you the go-to resource for companies looking for practical solutions.
Working in a particular niche means attracting the right clients and developing long-term relationships. Plus, if you deliver real value, word of your work will spread like wildfire, and you can charge more and select the best clients to work with.
So, take your time to consider what you’re good at and stick to it. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to keep up with industry trends and skill up when and where you can.
2. Create a Portfolio
One of the rites of passage as a freelancer is creating a high-quality portfolio site. It should showcase your past experiences, demonstrate your expertise, tell who you are, and contain your contact information. You need this site if you want clients to take you seriously.
Make sure you tailor the site to the niche you’ve chosen. If you don’t have a lot of testimonials, you should lay out your expertise and experience in detail to make prospective clients comfortable about hiring you. You can talk about problems you can solve and explain solutions professionally.
Ideally, you should have finished the fine details of your portfolio before setting out to land your first client.
3. Be Intentional and Direct About Your Offerings
Once you’ve chosen a niche, it would be best to stay on message. Clearly defining and communicating what you do and don’t do is one policy you should maintain throughout your freelancing career.
Being specific and consistent about your services allows you to market yourself better and attract the ideal clientele. This way, you’ll be able to future-proof your brand and move your career in the intended direction.
For example, if you want to pursue a career as a SaaS freelance writer, you would do well to avoid digital marketing jobs in the hospitality industry.
Indeed, you will likely go through hard times, and getting out of your niche might seem like the only way to stay afloat. That said, you don’t want to waste time going off course. Instead, you can take advantage of your free time to skill up to provide more value and remain relevant in the long run.
4. Bump up Your Rates
Selling yourself short is one mistake you should always avoid. Your rates can communicate your worth as much as your work does. Clients will think you offer sub-par services if you’re charging below your competition.
Since you’re constantly gaining experience and new skills, your rates should grow with your career. Don’t be afraid to scale how much you charge and review your bills. Whether you bill hourly or by project, always communicate with your clients before the next cycle about fee changes.
When you offer value, clients will be willing to pay. Even if the competition charges lower, your customers understand the importance of your work and wouldn’t want to trade its effect on their business for anything else.
Apart from asserting your worth, your rates determine how you scale your skills and business. For example, if you grow big enough to start outsourcing, you need funds to pay other freelancers, provide resources, and grow your brand.
5. Skill Up
You need the skills to match your rates. Clients won’t pay top-dollar for low-value services. So, if you want to earn more as a freelancer, delve deeper into your niche by learning new and advanced skills.
You can start by building projects you want to sell in the future. For example, you can set up a high-quality blog to show prospects what you can do. This way, you’re gaining experience and learning the tricks of the trade. You should also attend workshops and take professional courses that can be added to your resume.
Note that you don’t necessarily have to return to college for a degree to be relevant. All you need are the core skills to get your jobs done. According to Payoneer’s 2020 Freelancer Income Report, only 57% of respondents had a bachelor’s degree.
6. Use the Right Resources
Let’s face it, being your own boss can be a lot of work. From time management and invoicing to marketing and client management, you must wear many hats. That’s why you need to identify tools that will make life easier.
Many different tools can aid your career. However, you have to pick the right ones. Whether it’s a time tracking app for freelancers or a project management tool, you must go for resources that will help you meet your objectives.
For example, if you’re outsourcing, you need to go for a clock in and clock out app to monitor your freelancers and calculate their billable hours. The best employee monitoring software will also allow you to track their productivity.
That’s not all. Sometimes, you’ll need other tools to do your actual job. For example, you need resources like Google Analytics and some keyword research tools if you’re an SEO strategist. You must find the solutions that work best for your brand if you’re going to be successful.
It would be a good idea to go for paid versions of these tools to get the best out of them.
7. Become an Authority in Your Niche
There are different ways to become an authority in your field and build credibility. They include:
- Focusing on your niche
- Collaborating with other influencers in the same industry
- Creating high-quality blog content
- Speaking engagements
- Creating or co-creating online courses
- Writing e-books
- Improving social media engagement
These activities will boost your credibility as prospective clients will keep hearing your name wherever they turn.
Remember that you can quickly lose the ground you’ve gained if you fail to deliver valuable services consistently. Every industry is fast-paced, and client demands will continue to grow. You have to level up your skills to meet those demands whenever your customers come calling. Also, develop innovative services that will further drive value. This way, you’re setting yourself up as an authority and will continue to earn more.