Perhaps the greatest aspect of freelancing is freedom. Freedom to work for whoever you’d like, whenever you like and on terms you find amicable. For many freelancers, these pros greatly outweigh the biggest con of freelancing. What is the biggest con of freelancing? Instability. You need to get rid of most of that instability in order to become a successful long-term freelancer.

While young, instability isn’t a huge concern. You’re probably not overly concerned with saving for retirement. You’re perfectly fine living with a houseful of roommates because getting a mortgage is a little tricky. You also probably don’t have any dependents. But over time, you will likely find value in consistent pay.

Furthermore, many clients like you to think long-term. Clients want to know you’re there for the long-haul. If you’re just freelancing until a full-time opportunity comes up, they won’t be as likely to do business with you. Good companies seek long-term value from their relationships.

Here’s how to think long-term as a freelancer:

Think Big

As a new freelancer, it’s great to get any job at all. You take jobs – no matter how small. Though you will soon learn, if you want to make good money, you’ll need to focus on finding large clients. This is how you get your dollar-per-hour rate higher. Connecting with Fortune 500 companies offering long-term contracts is like hitting the jackpot.

Define Your Goals

Thinking long-term requires goals. It requires definiteness of purpose. Create goals for yourself. Set them at whatever interval you would like. I prefer monthly and yearly goals. Make sure to write them down. Besides this being a long-term benefit, these goals will help you do better right now.

Reinvest in Your Brand

When you see someone, how do you size them up? By their appearance, of course! Upon first seeing someone, that’s all we have available to draw a conclusion. We need to know right away if this person is a friend or a foe. It’s okay. Everyone does it. The same holds true when someone sees you online.

Spend money hiring a proper web designer. Hire someone to take professional head shots. Amp up social media profiles like LinkedIn to help give you an attractive (and prominent) web presence. Do what you can to make the best impression possible. Remember, you’re not spending money, you’re reinvesting it in your brand. How will you look to potential clients?

Consider hiring a social media manager to take care of your brand. Have them set up and manage various social media profiles. Set up Google Alerts for feedback about yourself and your brand. A lot of people struggle with finding a balance between being the face of the organization and getting the work done. Most people can’t manage both so learn which to outsource. The answer for most people is obvious. Read this post for more information on how to hire a part-time employee.

Repetition is your reputation. With that said, make sure you’re consistently doing good work. If someone wants you to put out a rush job for a quick buck, kindly decline. A quick buck is not worth damaging your reputation. Think long-term.

Let Your Clients Know

How will your clients know how dedicated you are to your craft if you don’t make it obvious? Make sure to tell them you’re in this for the long-term. Tell them you’ve set up aa LLC. Or tell them a few of your long-term goals. Offer to write a long-term contract instead of just using a verbal agreement. This will keep them coming back to you. You’re reliable.

Make sure to keep your word. If you’re a freelancer worth your salt, you will be head hunted. Companies will want you to work for them full-time. Before you tell your clients you’re in this for the long haul, be in it for the long haul. Know that when a full-time gig arises (it will) that you will decline. Clients don’t want you to go running into the arms of another company when it offers you a full-time role.

It Can Be a Career

If you employ these tactics, you ensure your freelance career is just that – a career. One that can last decades with proper management. One final tip. Evaluate your past six months. Chances are, they have been more stable than you may believe. This will make planning for the future easier, as you’ve already been doing really well. Keep it up and scale it up!

 

William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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