I was working with one my long-time coaching clients recently when she brought up something that happened to her while she was looking for freelancing leads. “I saw how much competition in freeelancing there was and I froze,” he said.
The notion of there being too much competition in freelancing has been addressed in the past. Is freelancing more popular than ever? Yes. Are there a lot of people out there trying to get a piece of the freelancing pie? There sure are.
But there are several ways to ensure that competition in freelancing is irrelevant. Here are some of my best tips (and personal views) on how to stop seeing competition as an obstacle.
Stop competing and start collaborating.
The first step in making competition in freelancing irrelevant is to stop competing and start collaborating. In other words, you need to change the way you think about competition.
Take the financial blogging community as an example. We celebrate each other. We recommend each other for opportunities. We give each other relevant media leads. We share each other’s content. When one of us is launching a big project, the others are helping them get the word out.
This is in stark contrast to other niches where I’ve seen people in Facebook groups tear others down simply because they celebrated a win. It’s mind-boggling to me that people would shoot themselves in the foot this way.
Here’s the reality of the situation: A rising tide lifts all boat.
The more you work with people who are seen as your competition, the more you all win.
A few weeks ago I celebrated the fact that my colleagues were speaking all over the country, launching bestselling books, getting interviewed by the likes of T.D. Jakes and livestreaming from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
The only reason we’ve been able to accomplish any of this is because we’ve made competition irrelevant within our own community. We’ve all got each other’s backs and it helps us all grow our businesses.
Focus on your unique brand and story.
I’m going to show you can example from another industry in order to explain how your own unique brand and story can help make competition in freelancing irrelevant.
Those of us who are also in the business coaching world have noticed something in our Facebook feeds: the coaching industry has become overly saturated.
A lot of people coaching isn’t necessarily the problem because quite frankly, there are far more people who need coaches.
The problem is every coach looks and sounds exactly the same. The same stylized photos, the same ad copy and the same six-figure dreams. I seriously can’t tell any of them apart at this point.
In this case, then yes, competition is a bad thing and it’s leading to a saturated market. However, those coaches who actually have a unique brand and story will be able to wipe the competition off the map for the mere fact that they are different from all the others.
The same thing happens when it comes to competition in freelancing. Writing, designing and coaching are all skills that millions of people have and a skill alone may not get you hired.
Having a good story and brand, on the other hand, can help you stand out from the pack. For example, I often get hired to write about millennials because I’ve made a brand out of speaking to millennials about money.
In fact, I even have the stereotypical millennial story of having graduated during a down economy, moving back home and dealing with stagnant wages.
Where my story takes a turn is when I decide I’m going to teach myself about money in an effort to never be that broke again. As I’ve since come to realize, not many people come to the same conclusion I did. This puts me in a position of having a unique angle which helps get me hired for writing gigs and speaking gigs.
Produce high-quality work on a consistent basis.
Do you want to know why there’s a stigma out there about creatives being irresponsible flakes? It’s because, for the most part, it’s true.
With that being said, that’s good news for you because knowing this information will help you make competition in freelancing totally irrelevant.
If you produce high-quality work on a consistent and timely basis, it will eventually start speaking for itself. For example, I haven’t had to prospect for new freelancing clients in almost a year because I in addition to the points I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been consistently putting good work out there for years. And by “good work” I mean both good work for clients as well as high-quality content I put out there on my own in an effort to build my own brand.
This good quality work eventually led to high-quality clients which has led to even more high-quality clients over time.
Stop focusing on the skill and start focusing on becoming a subject matter expert.
As I previously mentioned, millions of people have a specific skillset which is a part of why competition in freelancing seems so fierce.
The mistake I see a lot of creatives making is they insist on focusing on the skill instead of becoming a subject matter expert.
It’s one thing to be a writer. It’s another thing entirely to be a financial writer, or a health writer or a home improvement writer.
The former means you’ll likely get nothing while the latter ensures you’ll get paid. Why? Because you’ve made the jump from generalist to subject matter expert.
Having made that jump myself helped me negotiate a rate that was three times higher than what a prospective client had initially offered me. The reason I was able to negotiate this is because no one else had established themselves as an expert in what they were looking for.
While it does seem like there’s a lot of competition in freelancing and that the market is oversaturated, there are several ways you can stand out from the crowd. By implementing these strategies consistently, you’ll be able to overcome a seemingly saturated market.