20 Tips to Help You Become A Better Freelancer
If you thought freelancing was what you do between jobs – think again. By 2027, freelancers will make up most of the workforce! You can thank the Gig economy, which has come about due to the digital transformation of industries, the economy, and the COVID pandemic. Today, workers are empowered to work as freelancers, aka contract workers, and accept short-term contracts with businesses located on and offshore.
Freelancing for some workers was a way to earn a secondary income from part-time work or a side hustle. However, why not freelance full time, making an excellent living working doing what you love? You will need to professionalize your status as a freelancer and be responsible for paying your tax and ongoing training to keep your skills relevant.
20 Tips For Freelancers
To help you along, we have twenty tips that will go a long way in professionalizing your new full-time ‘business’ as a freelancer.
Tip #1: Don’t Isolate Yourself
Freelancing is often a very solitary career. However, you need to be sure that you maintain a social life with friends and family to avoid isolating yourself. If you’re working from home, where you live can be an opportunity to socialize or network with like-minded peers. For example, coliving is popular and has shared spaces like kitchens and dining rooms. Plus, you can also choose coliving when you’re traveling for work. Coliving and coworking fit perfectly with a freelancer keen on a travelpreneur lifestyle.
Tip #1: Choose a Legal Entity and Create a Business Plan
Freelancing is often the precursor to operating a small business. When you decide to freelance full-time, your first step is determining how you wish to formalize your entity. Will it be with an LLC or as a sole operator? Research online what’s legally required in your state or region; it doesn’t hurt to reach out to a tax or accounting professional to assist you with deciding and setting your legal entity. If you plan to have staff at some stage, choose the LLC structure.
Your business plan will be your blueprint for when the time is right to start hiring workers. Your business plan can be a one-page statement of goals and growth as you realize what’s required to operate professionally as a full-time freelancer and then as a small business with staff. To ensure you have work for at least 48 weeks per year, some of your primary components will include:
- Goals immediate, short, and medium term, and the milestones
- Statement of Income required, hourly rate, and working capital requirements
- Marketing strategy, including tasks to create an online presence and attract job leads
Tip #2: Reach Out to Old Clients
If you need more projects to work on, try reaching out to old clients to see if they have any work available. Your email might be just the call to action they needed to go forward with a new project. You can start this by asking your recent employers if they have worked for you. The worst thing is that businesses will hold onto your resume and contact details. The best outcome is they have a project you can start on immediately.
Tip #3: Cold Call
If you need more work, find a business that could use your services and give them a call or send them an email. Many times, cold calling is much more effective than you might think.
Tip #4: Grow Your Online Presence
In addition to working off freelancing platforms, grow your online presence by building a website and social media profiles for your business. Linkedin is a social network for professionals. It’s also where you can connect and network with prospective employers and find out about new developments in your industry.
Tip #5: Attend Freelance Networking Events
Meeting other freelancers is a great way to expand your horizons and find connections that could prove to be valuable. This can be done online on Linkedin, a job search platform, or a recruitment site.
Tip #6: Hone Your Soft Skills
Soft skills such as communication and empathy can be equally important as the skills specific to your profession and industry. Join business associations to practice your soft skills by collaborating and talking in person and online with your peers.
Tip #7: Craft a Killer Sales Pitch
Develop a sales pitch and test it on people you trust. Once you’ve honed it to perfection, you can use it as a basic template for every assignment application. In your sales pitch within your cover letter or email, don’t be afraid to let prospective clients know about your skills and achievements.
Tip #8: Showcase The Work You Want
If you enjoy doing a particular project, showcase it in your portfolio. Clients needing that type of project will be more likely to hire you.
Tip #9: Bid Higher
If you have enough work to keep you busy, try bidding higher than you usually do on a few projects. While this may seem risky, your hourly rate may be too low if you’re in demand. Your clients will determine what is considered a fair rate for your services. This is a market economy, and your hourly rate can go up and down. Keep investing in your skills and knowledge to command the optimum hourly rate.
Tip #10: Let Clients Go
It can sometimes be challenging to let go of a client. However, if you have a client causing you headaches or paying an amount that is no longer your going rate, letting them go can be the best thing for your career. Putting yourself first is a requirement for meeting your business goals. Let go of clients who do not fit with your goals. You may be expected to work hours for free, or your hourly rate is too low. Weigh the pros and cons of keeping the client versus letting them go.
Tip #11: Create a Budget
Freelancing income is often anything but steady. Therefore, it helps to create a budget for your business and personal expenses and stick to it. Some expenses are not immediate, like tax obligations, so you will need to save for it and have some working capital you can fall back on if the work dries up.
Tip #12: Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
You should have multiple websites that you work off of and multiple clients to ensure that your freelance business is diversified.
Tip #13: Work On Your Own Projects
There will be times when work is slow i.e.inbetween jobs which may happen more frequently in the immediate term while you establish your profile and build your network. When starting as a freelancer, work on your business, which may just be you. Keep the same regular work hours and work on your projects to keep your talents sharp and your documentation, i.e., your resume or CV, up to date.
Tip #14: Use An Accountant
Do you know how to do self-assessment tax returns? If not, outsource your tax and financial statements to a chartered business accountant.
There is a fee for professional services; however, you will get the right advice about the health of your business, what to claim as an expense and how much to pay yourself. Plus, you’ll pay the tax you need, which is not always the same as if you did self-assessment tax returns. Accountants know more about tax and the latest laws for businesses and freelancing.
Tip #16: Set Goals
Goal-setting is one of the most effective ways to stay motivated. Set daily goals for the amount of work you want to do, goals for your yearly income, plans for the growth of your business, and more to ensure that you are always moving forward.
Tip #17: Go Above and Beyond
With every project you take on, make it your mission to deliver your very best possible work. Going above and beyond each time leads to great reviews and lifelong clients.
Tip #18: Ask for Reviews
When a client is happy with your work, politely ask if they would care to leave you a review. Most clients will be happy to leave a review when prompted.
Tip #19: Set a Schedule
Even when you control your own hours, sticking to a set schedule is still the best way to ensure productivity and not overwork.
Tip #20: Take Time Off
Working around the clock when you control your schedule may be tempting, but time off is essential to keep from getting burned out. Work vacations into your busy work schedule. Everyone deserves time out, and you’ll return to work fresher and more productive.