A freelance career has advantages that working in the corporate world does not, which is why so many students are eager to freelance alongside their university studies.
For some, freelancing is the perfect opportunity to create supplementary income. For others, freelancing serves as the first step up the career ladder to landing a dream job down the road.
Here are 15 tips to grow your freelance career.
1. Define your expertise
Before jumping into the freelance arena, it’s essential to define your expertise. What do people ask you for help on? What would you feel confident talking about to a room of 500 people? Having an expertise in a highly sought after niche market also carries financial perks as you essentially have say in what you are being paid.
2. Get your name out there
Create a freelancer account on established freelance hotspots like Upwork, Elance, and Fiverr. Next, upload examples of your best work and monitor your inbox for inquiries. No luck with requests? Check your competition and see what they are offering that you aren’t.
3. Create A personal landing page
Having a personal landing page tells a potential client right off the bat that you are both professional and experienced. Many personal landing pages are currently being made with Squarespace due to their endless amounts of customizable widgets, but there are a variety of other services such as WordPress that too can get the job done.
4. Understand Parkinson’s Law
Parkinson’s law states that however long we are given to complete a task, it will take us exactly that long. Don’t do that. Why? Because you will end up wasting value time on nothing, which overtime will amount to a huge amount of time wasted. Stay focused enough to complete tasks in the time that it actually requires you to complete them. Eliminate “safety nets” and build up the discipline to complete tasks in the time required rather than the allocated time given. You will thank yourself in the long-term.
5. Block out distractions
Blocking out distractions goes hand-and-hand with understanding Parkinson’s law. When you constantly check your Facebook tags, Snapchat notifications, and YouTube subscriptions – you are taking your mind off the assigned task and not finishing it in the time required resulting in lost opportunities for other work. Don’t sit down to do something unless you plan on finishing it.
6. Timing is everything
Be responsive, work hours your competitors won’t, and always finish the clients task before the agreed upon deadline. In the 21st century, companies with spectacular customer service are the ones winning. Ever wonder how Zappos continues to thrive in the shoe market despite having competitors like Amazon and eBay eager to eat up their customer base? Call Zappos and tell them you’re in the market for a new pair of hiking books, and then you will find out how.
7. Separate work and free time
Separating work and play is a time management skill not many young people are able to conquer even throughout their college years. The reality with freelancing is that it often means you are working from home, which means you are now subject to endless distractions and desires to leisure that wouldn’t be found in a corporate office setting.
Having the ability to separate work and play time will make your work feel more complete and your play time more enjoyable.
8. Master online tools
The digital world is a whole lot easier to navigate in 2016 than it was at the dawn of the Internet age. Online writing tools like Ginger and team communication platforms like Slack are here to make your journey more pleasant. Need to make sure there’s no accidental plagiarism in your work? Here’s Unplag to help you. Need to share a file? Dropbox has you covered. Fortunately in 2016, free online tools are a dime a dozen.
9. Utilize online forums and social media
In the digital age, social media is the best way to spread and obtain information. Ever wonder how the world’s most popular image sharing site Imgur was founded? Through one individual experimenting with online forums. If you’re looking for a freelance job, it would certainly help to read up on how others landed their first gigs through online forums like Quora.
10. Keep account of all finances
It doesn’t matter if you work full-time or prefer part-time freelancing – it’s always smart to keep an account of your finances using an excel sheet or notepad. Though it is often maddening, this might be the single best way to see where you can cut spending down the road and monitor all your transactions to see which months (if any) are best for work. Check out this personal finance software called Wave.
11. Negative feedback is the best feedback
Your clients, colleagues, and anonymous online users are going to leave feedback and comments on your work. Use this to your advantage in order to see your strengths and weaknesses. Be thankful for all types of feedback – especially constructive criticism and always keep in mind that nothing radical ever happened on this earth without someone challenging the status quo.
12. Stick to a professional style
Don’t be that millennial who pouts and moans every time someone tells them they are not the best or that they did something wrong. Take criticism and use it to your advantage. Professionalism also presupposes a great deal of manner, communication, and having a positive outlook on life.
13. Find time for self-development
The freelance economy is one that requires adapting to from time to time. This means that you need to be spending at least one hour a day on expanding upon your expertise. Being in the top 1% of your expertise can and will provide you with opportunities that you never knew existed. Keep in mind that nothing worth having was ever acquired overnight, but rather through a tough rollercoaster ride.
14. Seek the best mentors
Seeking out the best mentors in your field will save you tons of trial and error especially when you’re just starting out. Mentors should be people who have actually seen success in your specific field – not “motivational speakers” or people outside your expertise.
15. Reach out to help others
Part of the process of growing a network of people who can help you down the road in life is making the initial step to reach out to help others. If you feel you have something of value to share, don’t hesitate to reach out. Freelance beginners are always seeking to find helpful information on how other freelancers built their networks and found their paths, so be that person with the helping hand.