Becoming a freelancer in today’s digital world is easier than ever, and it’s a great place to start a home business. We’ll go through some quick steps of becoming a freelancer and how you can grow an effective business very quickly regardless of industry.
The biggest thing is to get as much exposure as you can. It sounds simple, but it’s very easy to focus on a single revenue stream and forget to expand. When I first started freelancing, I did everything through Elance. It was my “go to” for new clients. I developed a quick 5 star rating, was submitting enhanced proposals to get my proposals a better look from clients, and was doing ok for myself. But then I went through a period of about a month where “good” jobs just stopped coming in. I quickly found that it was something that goes in phases. When you sign up and get going you can get lucky and find a couple clients very quickly, but can then go 3-4 weeks without any real leads. The biggest lesson is that you always need to be increasing your exposure.
The five best freelancer sites right now are:
You should get accounts on all of these sites, and any other site that you think allows you to offer your services. To maximize this, keep multiple browsers open on your desktop and simply refresh them every so often to see new jobs as they appear. The more exposure you get across the web, the more opportunity for a continual stream of clients.
Do Anything to Build a Good Reputation
My first jobs on Elance were jobs that I should have bid for about $250 – $400 per project…I bid $30 & $40. I got both jobs, received perfect 5 star ratings and that launched everything. After slowly increasing prices, I was 5 jobs in with a perfect 5 star rating and all of a sudden I was charging more than I originally wanted to make.
But that isn’t where it stops…
Once you do a job for someone and they give you whatever reviews and praise that you deserve, don’t be afraid to ask for more. Don’t be afraid to ask a client if they’d be willing to write a recommendation on LinkedIn, or give you a glowing review on Facebook. As a freelancer, your reputation is your business and you need to do whatever you need to do (including performing projects at cost) to build that reputation.
There is no such thing as a “One-Time” Job.
This is the single biggest lesson you can learn. You need to record every client you ever work with. Make sure you keep their name, phone number, address, website, and basically anything you can think of. When I finish a project I actually write a quick paragraph with a brief summary of the project.
Why would you do this?
Because its “low-hanging fruit” for the freelancer world. It takes virtually no time at all these days to put together a virtual Christmas card, or another holiday letter that you can send out to all of your previous clients. You can tell them about your business and/or discuss rate changes or special discounts for the following year. In short, this is a nice way to ask your previous clients if they need your services again. Once you build up a database of 30-50 previous clients, you might find that every year you get 2-3 to come back for repeat business just by sending a Christmas card.
Your Reputation does NOT end with your Freelancer Profile
As a freelancer people are not going to see you like they would a regular company, so just accept it. Most people still think that big companies are reputable and freelancers are risky investments until proven otherwise. I’m saying this because they are going to Google you, search through your social accounts, and really dive in and explore who you are. Your Freelancer profiles can be as professional as they could possibly be, but if the rest of your digital presence isn’t, you aren’t getting the job.
Make sure that everything from your social accounts, personal websites, guest blog posts, and your freelancer accounts are all consistent with what you want people to see. If you are a freelance writer who writes for lots of companies, then you might want to think about writing with a pen name to avoid your articles being found by other potential clients. You might want to make sure your social accounts have the appropriate privacy settings attached.
In short, you need to understand that they are going to search much more deeply than if an agency or big company were taking on the project.