It takes more than free time to succeed at freelancing.
People usually say that freelancers enjoy more flexible schedules than regular employees working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sure, as a freelancer, you can work from the comfort of your bed or sofa. You set your own working hours and freely plan your life. But it is important to stress that free time alone won’t make you a successful freelancer. Below are 6 important ingredients of freelance success worth considering.
As a freelancer, you are paid to provide services external expertise. And “expertise” goes far beyond a mere diploma, because a diploma in Literature does not automatically make you a good creative writer. The same applies to other freelance fields, including web design, translation, programming, etc. Being an expert is a key advantage over the competition. So, in a drive to achieve – and maintain – that status, make sure you seize any continuous professional development (CPD) opportunity coming your way: seminars, webinars, online courses, books/ebooks, etc. Attend industry events (conferences, trade fairs, book launches, etc.), meet like-minded people, connect and exchange experience (as well as business cards). It is quite important to be part of a community (or several as a matter of fact). Freelancing can be lonely oftentimes and having people to share with as well as learn learn from is gold! Check professional associations – both local and international – to join in a drive to boost your expertise. Share, engage, learn and grow – with your peers.
Every business needs a plan. Freelancing is no exception. Stop calling yourself a “Freelance X”. You run a small business and provide great service that help others succeed. So, make sure you reflect on how you will deliver these awesome solutions, crush the competition and stand out as the go-to professional. Draft a business plan and review/adapt it on a regular basis to ensure you are still on track. By so doing, always anticipate where you want your business to be in the next 5/10/20 years.
I know you have been – at least once – in a situation where you wished you had some tools/resources/knowledge in order to complete a specific task. If you had the requested/desired tool/resource, I guess you would have worked faster/smarter. In fact, in every field, there are must-use tools which complement your expertise and boost your productivity. Since you are your own boss – responsible for both your success and failure – take necessary measures to be on the safe side: power banks, UPSs, online backups, external hard drives, etc. To learn more and get posted on the freelancer’s resources, you might want to learn from these 10 established freelancing sites or consider this list of 100 resources for freelancers and entrepreneurs.
Here is a simple test: type your name in Google and hit the Search button. Take a few minutes to review what shows up: how many results are listed? What is your name associated with? How happy are you with such results? Do these paint the best as far as your professional profile is concerned? Now you may see how popular/visible you are in the Internet universe, but most importantly, you have a sneak peek at what people see about you. It is a fact: the worldwide Web has made it possible to reach thousands/millions of people from all over the world. To leverage the power of the Internet and use it effectively, however, you need a proven visibility plan. For a detailed process, check out this award-winning article that shows you how to gain more visibility in 6 simple steps.
As controversial as this may seem, constructive criticism is a key ingredient of freelance success. Whenever you complete a project, kindly request a feedback. This will help you humbly acknowledge your weaknesses (as part of your SWOT analysis) and look for ways to improve. You surely know that “No human endeavor is perfect”, but always make it a principle to provide a better experience to your clients, colleagues and partners, based on their criticism.
As toptal’s experts put it :”If a client isn’t satisfied, take the time to figure out what went wrong. Not only will this help you to improve your work for future engagements, but it’s critical for maintaining healthy client relationships.”
Mark McGuinness tells us how to handle criticism and rejection as freelancers. But, you should distinguish between constructive feedback and personally-targeted & condescending criticism (“Your whole work is crap”, “Are you really a professional?” “What kind of producer/translator/designer are you?”). The latter is only useful as it helps you know people you should stop working with.
The saying goes that “Nothing good comes easy”. Freelancing is no exception. You have to be patient in order to achieve long-term freelancing success. Keep on working hard and make sure every project is an occasion to show how great you are.
To round up this post, remember that Freelancing is a way of life and, most importantly, a business path. Success is not reached overnight, for sure. But it depends on careful choices, dedicated risk-taking and much resilience (as success often results from lessons learned out of past failures). Hungry for more? Kindly read this thorough guide by toptal (Thanks, Kathlyn.)
Do you think there are other ingredients that make up a good success sauce? Feel free to let me (and other freelancers) know in the comments.