Freelance work has become more and more popular in today’s age as a way to generate sustainable income versus the traditional job. With the growing ease of remote work and the increasing urge to work for oneself, it makes sense. This is especially the case given that skills like software engineering and design are so valued in building companies for the future.
One large challenge for people who freelance is how to make the transition to full-time remote work. It is not as easy as one would suppose.
It is a scary prospect to quit one’s job or head into the working world without a secure income. It is tempting, though, due to all the benefits that freelancing offers.
Keep your day job.
The helpful reality is that to start, you do not need to quit your job to begin freelance work. Instead, you can begin gainly your clients slowly. Once you are comfortable with your income levels, you can drop other revenue streams. You can learn from those that have come before you, and follow pre-defined steps to maximize success.
Here are six specific tips that the best freelancers follow to get you off the ground and make sustainable income within your first year of freelancing:
1. Develop a personal brand from the onset.
While it might be tempting just to get to work, especially if you have a project on hand, it is equally (or more) important to also begin establishing your personal brand.
As a freelancer, you have to convince others to hire you as opposed to anyone else out there. This is particularly challenging when you are in a crowded space. That makes it critical to building your personal brand.
Create a website to showcase yourself and your work. The site should be a direct reflection of yourself, as well as something clean and creative to attract customers. On your site, you can also begin to collect client testimonials. After finishing projects, even your first ones, you should ask for testimonials. These will establish more faith in your work and help attract future customers.
2. Do good work at a fair price.
In hand with your personal brand is your quality of work and the price you set. While it can be tempting to slack on projects or charge extra because your client is uninformed, doing so will hurt you in the long run.
Great work and honesty.
The best freelancers succeed because they do great work and are honest. Otherwise, it will catch up with you. Even one bad review can damage your reputation significantly. Plus, you never know who is paying attention to your work and the opportunities that could arise in the blink of an eye.
In a world that is increasingly public and easy to share information, your brand is infinitely more important. Doing good work for your clients will lead to positive reviews, can give you high-quality work to showcase, and will increase the likelihood that you get referrals in the future.
3. Be open to all types of work.
When you are starting to freelance, the offers that you receive may not be as lucrative as you initially imagined. No matter your expertise, though, you sometimes have to take on smaller or more simple projects to start.
You have to first create a reputation for yourself. Otherwise, it is difficult to ask others to trust your work on more important projects. Working on smaller projects to start is a great way to get into the swing of freelance work. They tend to be lower stress, and less time and will teach you about working with clients.
4. Focus intently on your networking.
The best freelancers have strong networks. They are well respected in the communities they do work within, and it pays large dividends for them.
One of the best ways to get new business is through referrals or recommendations from others. In those cases, you will be getting inbound messages for jobs instead of having to find them yourself. When people see you as a professional, they will recommend their friends to you.
There are always people looking for freelance work, and the more others know about you, the more likely you will get referred to projects.
You can grow your network by doing things like attending conferences and meet-ups, getting yourself out into the community, and meeting other people who do similar work to you.
Not only will it help you find new business, but it will allow you to grow as a freelancer and meet new, interesting people. You can learn a great deal from others in the same space. In a quickly-adapting world, the best freelancers are always picking up new skills and staying up-to-date with the latest trends.
Learn beneficial networking.
Even if you are living abroad or in an obscure location, there are ways to grow your network through social media groups, Twitter, and cold emails.
5. Find business through as many channels as possible.
You also have to set up strong revenue streams for yourself and be aware that those might change over time.
The more channels that you have to find new business, the more you will be able to earn. Beyond organic referrals, this can include joining freelancer sites, doing cold outreach, and putting advertisements in clever locations (like entrepreneur-heavy cafes, for example).
Some of the best cold outreach techniques involve finding a particular niche of people or companies that you know you will be able to help.
For example, if you are a designer, then businesses recently accepted into a top early-stage accelerator are a great target. They are soon to be receiving capital inflows and tend to be in need of design support.
6. Establish and maintain strong customer relationships.
Beyond doing good work at a fair price, you should focus intently on customer relationships. This will create recurrent revenue streams that are extremely valuable to have.
Nurture client relationships.
Maintaining relationships with your customers over time and trying to get them to sign onto recurring deals is a great route for sustainable income.
You already went through all of the work to find the client and convince them to work with you. Consequently, you should work hard to maintain that relationship and income source for as long as possible to create that sustainable income.