Wondering if technology is right for you?
Based on your strengths, should you be a designer? Web developer? Or even a digital marketer?
Since I started freelancing just over a year ago, I've had the opportunity to work with nearly a dozen high-growth startups and world-class experts. Plus, I've never had to negotiate the high rates I charge for my IT and web marketing services.
Because I've done such an effective job of starting with defining my value propositions, branding myself as an expert in my field, and getting my content out to new target audiences. I now have a 3-6 month waiting list for new clients.
However, this certainly did not happen overnight. My rapid success in the freelance world is the result of a lot of strategic positioning, hours of hard work, good timing and the right choice of digital platforms to offer my services.
11 tips for a successful freelance career
1. Choose a niche
If you're new to freelancing, you might feel ready to take on ANY paid job you can get your hands on. But as you get deeper into your freelancing career, you'll need to start being more strategic about the types of work you do and the clients you take on.
You might be wondering, how can becoming picky about my freelance work help me make MORE money?
Because when you specialize, you become an expert in a specific area, and experts can charge more for their specialized services.
In my opinion, the age-old debate of whether you should be a specialist or a generalist when starting your freelancing career isn't even worth thinking twice about.
If you were a client and needed an IT freelancer to develop your website, fix your email marketing so people actually sign up, write ads that convince people to buy, or just put update your outdated website, would you rather hire someone who is a handyman, or someone who is a pro at doing the job and doing it well? You choose the specialist every time well.
And when it comes to my own experience, choosing to specialize as an IT and content marketing consultant was the best decision I made with my freelance business. Because I have built my reputation with clients as a talented specialist freelancer over the past few years. I was able to rise to the top of my niche in a relatively short period of time.
Aside from my blog and referrals from existing clients, the second most consistent source for attracting new clients has been business owners seeking help from specific experts through Google and especially through digital platforms. Several forms of freelancing are offered to you. For example in France, you can create your micro-enterprise, create a one-person company or even go through a wage portage company .
Wage portage is a new form of employment legalized in France in 2008. Wage portage allows a freelancer to offer his services to clients by using the services of another company to manage all his administrative, financial and legal. The freelancer does not need to create his own business. Which is a huge gain for freelancers.
This concept is very well known in France. Moreover, in 2020, the country has nearly 300 wage portage companies managing more than 90,000 self-employed workers (Freelancers). This represents a figure exceeding one billion euros ($1.5 billion).
So to extend this example to other areas, imagine you are starting out as a web developer, you can enter a niche like migrating blogs to WordPress. This means that when someone searches for “Help with blog migration to WordPress”, they can find you.
If you choose the right niche, deciding to specialize and putting effort into branding yourself as an expert within your niche can really pay off for years to come.
2. Be clear about your service offerings
An important decision you have to make early in your freelancing career is what you want to do and what you don't want to do.
The more specific you are about the services you offer, the better. Not only will this help you stand out, but it will give you control over how potential clients perceive you and give you the opportunity to continue to grow your portfolio in the direction you want to move in.
If you want to focus on becoming a sought-after, highly paid Ruby on Rails developer, you shouldn't even consider contract offers to customize WordPress themes or design the user experience for an upcoming app. While the short-term benefits of a steady job are tempting (and sometimes necessary), taking on projects that don't get you closer to your ultimate goal of becoming the best in your field will only distract you and set you back from making big moves. significant progress.
3. Define what your ideal client looks like
Before you can go out and start looking for clients, you'll need to develop a clear picture of your ideal client that you want to work with.
Do you want to build websites for small business owners, help develop new features for high-growth tech startups, or secure longer-term deals with larger companies? Making these clear distinctions between who and what type of business you are targeting will be key to effectively presenting your services.
4. Create a high-quality portfolio site
It goes without saying that one of the best ways to demonstrate your technical skills is to have your own well-groomed portfolio site. If you want to be taken seriously as a new freelancer, you'll need a website that:
Showcases your expertise.
Highlights relevant past experiences.
Show who you are.
Includes your contact information so potential customers can easily find you.
Also, an exceptional portfolio can really help you if you don't have a lot of work experience to prove that you know your stuff.
The purpose of your portfolio is to educate, pique interest, and convince potential customers that they will want to choose you for their technical needs. That's why it's worth investing some time to decide what to include in your portfolio and how it will be displayed, before you start looking for new projects.
5. Start Freelancing Before Quitting Your Regular Job
Starting a freelance business while keeping your regular job is a huge challenge.
Besides the fact that creating a high quality portfolio website, building your personal brand and adding to your portfolio naturally takes a lot of time, it's a good idea to have a few regular freelance clients. on your list before quitting your job. It is for this reason that many French people currently go through umbrella companies to simplify their life as a freelancer .
I recommend increasing your side income to at least 50-75% of your total current income before quitting your full-time job, depending on your risk tolerance.
The other benefit of choosing freelance clients while you're still working full time is that you can be selective. You probably don't need that money. This puts you in a position to turn down a job that doesn't pay enough to justify your time investment or that doesn't really interest you.
These are two points you will need to be vigilant about if you want to be happy once you are full-time freelancer.
6. Improve your skills
The best way to justify higher rates? Make sure you have awesome skills that are in high demand.
Practice using your new skills by building the kinds of projects you eventually want to get paid to work on. Whether it's WordPress websites, mobile apps, or any other IT or technology service, the more you can differentiate yourself among a sea of competition with cool side projects and examples that will attract potential customers, the better. will be.
7. Build your credibility
There are many ways to build your credibility within your industry. In addition to creating high-quality blog content and collaborating with notable influencers in your industry, you can write an eBook, create an online course, and host conferences to start increasing your visibility within your niche.
These credibility boosters can help you add to your list of accomplishments that you can highlight on your portfolio and simultaneously demonstrate your knowledge for more potential clients to see. The more you spread your message, the more influence you will have within your niche.
8. Determine your rates
While deciding how much to charge for your freelance services is a major step in determining perceived value, you need to make sure you're charging enough to earn a sustainable and comfortable living. Most clients won't hesitate to pay higher rates for a freelancer who gives them a good first impression and demonstrates the ability to deliver high-quality results.
As long as I continue to deliver consistent value to my clients (beyond their expectations), I have no problem setting and maintaining high rates for the services I provide.
Before setting your rates to the bare minimum, you should charge to meet your financial needs, consider the actual value you would create for your potential customers, and make sure you are not leaving money on the table. You can always increase your rates in the future and hope your customer stays on board, but if you start at a rate level you're already excited about, you'll be that much more likely to overdeliver and keep increasing your forward value.
9. Leverage your network for introductions
One of the most effective ways to get better, higher-paying freelance work is to leverage your existing networks. Whether it's offering freelance help to friends and former colleagues or using their connections to make warm introductions to companies you want to work with, it's a great alternative to cold contacts with potential clients. .
10. Blog frequently
The purpose of a website showcasing your skills is to attract new customers. The best way to increase the number of potential new customers on your website is to create high quality blog content that positions you as a top expert in your field?
In the beginning, try to create one or two in-depth blog posts per month, aimed at providing really useful solutions that your potential customers might be looking for. Note: this means that you will be writing for an audience of your clients, not other people in your field.
Once they discover your content and get some free value from you, you will naturally come out on top if they are willing to hire a professional like you.
11. Post relevant guest posts
Once you have a website that highlights your abilities and clearly communicates what services you offer, one of the most effective ways to increase your online visibility is to post content on the blogs where your customers potentials spend the most time. Marketing guru and consultant Neil Patel frequently shares huge deals he lands for his company by posting over 100 guest posts a year.
Although you're starting on a much smaller scale, don't underestimate the immediate benefit of getting your content to appear on blogs and publications that can drive hundreds or even thousands of new visitors to your website.
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