freelancing

How to secure yourself as a freelancer?

According to a survey, freelance life can flag up a number of unique challenges, that you won’t find in a typical 9-5 job, from getting paid on time to finding more work. If you’re looking to make the jump to freelancing, you’re likely wondering what the most difficult part of freelance life is. Is it the constant struggle to win more work? Is it the stigma that might come from your friends and family?

Before starting, let’s talk a little bit about freelancing. Before December 2019, freelancing was not so popular. When corona shut down world markets, then people began to opt for digital skills, and have never turned back to a full-time job, or made an effort to look for one. It is estimated that only 13% of people went back to a full-time job, as they could not cement their place as a freelancer.

Despite the fact that you are your own boss if you want to succeed you need to follow certain rules. There’s no one looking over your shoulder checking to see if you are adhering to these principles, so you need to be self-aware. Periodically stop, and think about whether you are achieving your goals and what’s holding you back.

Work Freedom

Freelancing gives you freedom. Being self-employed is an amazing experience as you do not have to get up early in the morning, drive your way to work through jam-packed traffic, and sit at your desk for eight continuous hours with very little space of doing things the way you want.

The best thing about freelancing is that you get to choose your own hours, but it’s also easy to work much less than you should. If you work at home, household chores distract you, and family and friends think you are free for all kinds of favors. Even in an office or coffee shop, it’s easy to be distracted by social media, long phone conversations, and everything happening around you. Keeping a strict record of hours worked will help you see whether you are putting in the time necessary to satisfy your clients and bring in new business.

If you find you are easily distracted, consider turning off your phone, using blockers for social media sites, and closing your office door firmly. Make it clear to others that you are working and not available to babysit or walk their dog. And schedule your own errands for after regular work hours whenever possible.

Choose Work Hours

With freelancing, you choose your own work hours, decide your pace, and are in full control of how much freelance work you can do. More the work, the better the money.

The other side of the coin is that freelancers tend to work when they shouldn’t. Working in the evenings instead of spending time with family and friends takes away from your work/life balance. And staying up late to work means you can’t get started at a reasonable time in the morning. Then your schedule is all out of whack and you are not available to your clients during their work hours.

Decide in advance what your work hours are and make it as close to 9 to 5 as possible. Although there are always exceptions, if most of your work is done during these hours you will be more productive and succeed better at satisfying your clients.

For such freelancers, online project management tools are very important and should be used to manage time effectively and get their work done.

Art of Negotiation

As a freelancer, you have the freedom to set your rates, and your earning potential is uncapped. But, freelancers are often troubled by the question of pricing.

When charging clients or hiring employees and freelancers, you will find yourself in need of stellar negotiation skills. In order to succeed in business, you have to charge what you are worth and not work for less. You can start a bit lower than you want and raise the rates gradually with each new client. Quote new clients more than you would like to receive so you have some room for negotiation. And learn to say no when the client asks to pay a rate that is really too low.

If negotiation is not one of your skills, hire a negotiation coach or read articles and books about how to negotiate.

Learn Everyday

Everybody is impressed by freelancing opportunities but few are willing to learn new skills and new trends. Without updating and upgrading yourself, you are a soul without a heart. Learning new skills is very important. There are many websites offering free and paid online courses to learn new skills.

Some of your working hours should be devoted to staying on top of the trends and new research in your field. In order to distinguish yourself from the competition, you want to be ahead of the game as a leader and not the one bringing up the rear.

Read professional literature online and offline, participate actively in professional groups, events, seminars, and meetups with colleagues informally, and on make your presence on social media.

If you know what the newest trends are, you can offer your clients extras, they can’t get from most of your competitors. And you can position yourself as a leader, in the niche, providing important information, and insights clients will appreciate. Customers will flock to the “experts” and leave the stragglers in the dust.

Communication and Customer Services

Communication is one of the biggest problems freelancers face every day. Because of poor communication skills, they did not communicate well with clients and thus they lose their job and the money they could earn. I believe, that communication skill is the most important attribute of successful freelancing. If you aren’t able to understand the client’s requirements or explain your ability and strength, your competitor will win the job.

Sometimes clients can be difficult to deal with. Some are demanding, others want great results for a small investment and still, others decide not to work with you altogether. It’s easy to get emotional and get into altercations with clients. But a good business person treats clients and potential clients courteously at all times. Even if you and a client ultimately part ways, it’s important that you remain professional and polite, so your reputation doesn’t suffer.

In case something goes wrong between you and your client, make sure to control the damage. An apology can go a long way toward smoothing feathers. Sometimes when necessary, offer a refund or provide an extra service for free. Treat your client just like someone treats a boss since the project depends on them.

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