By Hetvi Shah
How do I advance in this business? Is this the right career choice for me? How do I grow my freelancing career? These, among others, are questions that every freelancer asks himself/herself at some point in their career. Many people dread the mundane 9 to 5 routine. These are the people who like to work at their own pace and prosper with autonomy. If you belong to this category, freelancing might be the perfect solution for you. However, many people often take this path, but are eventually not able to succeed, which leaves them frustrated.
What one must realize is that working as a freelancer is a different ball game altogether. You have to function as a one-man-army; you are your own enterprise. After all, being your own boss comes with its own merits and demerits. You need to strategize your every move and with hard work, you can succeed as a freelancer and make it your full-time career.
In this article, we enlist 5 extremely effective strategies that can help you take your freelancing career to greater heights.
5 FREELANCING STRATEGIES
1. FOCUS ON YOUR NICHES AND SKILLS
The first step you should take as a freelancer is to identify and establish your niche. A niche is an area in which you excel and is a market that is filled with opportunities. Target a field and see the requirements of the niche. You can know more about it by following various experts of that niche, or by reading blogs and getting industry insights.
Once you select your target market, you also need to prepare yourself to serve that market and focus on building the relevant skills needed. Therefore, it is crucial to understand yourself better in alignment with the requirements of the niche. Identify your strong skills and your area of expertise. Begin with working on your top one or two skills. However, to sustain in the long-term, you will have to learn additional skills.
As mentioned by Stephen Covey in his book, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, you need to “sharpen the saw”. This means that the next step to grow your career and widen your opportunities, you need to focus on self-development. As you get to know the requirements of your niche better, invest more time and effort in improving and enhancing your skill-set.
2. DIVERSIFY YOUR PORTFOLIO
As you progress in your freelancing career, you need to increase your service offerings to attract more clients. To diversify your portfolio, you can add specializations to your skillset and widen your horizons as you expand your area of expertise. This will help you in getting new work, as providing additional services or a complete package can be a deciding factor for clients. Once you are able to offer a wide variety of services to your clients, they will not have to go somewhere else to get their work done.
You can start offering your varied services into a package along with your current services at an affordable rate to the new and existing clients. Select these services on the basis of your level of specialization. You will get an increased number of referrals, testimonials, and ultimately grow exponentially with the help of your in-depth knowledge. The clients will eventually start to identify you as a brand.
3. GO FOR LONG-TERM OR RECURRING PROJECTS
For a freelancer, the uncertainty of getting work and therefore financial instability is one of the major concerns. Continuously finding leads and working towards converting them requires lots of effort and is a time-consuming task. As one project ends, you will have to go through the whole cycle again. Due to this, you might be overworked in a few months, and out of work the next few. It is therefore much beneficial to look for long-term projects or to seek clients that are going to offer you more than one project. This will ensure stability in your career and a recurring income.
Identify opportunities where you can work on a contractual basis in the long run, or you can provide a follow-up service. Even for the short-term projects that you get, think about how you can get continuous work out of it. You can simply ask your clients if they have any long-term project for you. Clients also do not want to go through the hassle of finding freelancers again and again.
Another way is to let your actions speak for you; show qualities such as reliability, and stability. If the clients are impressed and satisfied with your work, they will definitely come back to you the next time they have any requirements. Try and maintain good relationships with all your previous clients.
4. DO NETWORKING
As a freelancer, although you work alone, you need to interact with as many people as possible on a daily basis. Networking, online as well as offline, is essential to growing your freelancing business. It can be a wonderful starting point if you can leverage your existing network to get work. The goal is that everyone in the business should identify you and think of you when they need a particular service. In order to build this network, you need to establish your presence out there (online and offline).
Use various platforms including Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and others that you like and are comfortable with. Push content via social media to attract customers and viewership. People will start noticing you and with the right social media strategy, you can build your presence across geographies. You can also sign up on various online freelance marketplaces like Refrens.com, Upwork, Freelancer.com, etc.
On the offline front, you can attend events, conferences, and workshops. These are ideal places where you can meet various people from the industry. Make sure to carry your business card and offer it to anyone who you see as fruitful for your network. You can join various local clubs or work from a co-working space to meet similar kinds of people. After all, you never know where your next opportunity will come from, so always try to build your network.
5. BUILD STRONG RELATIONSHIPS
Strong relations are the key to ensure the longevity of your career. When you work for any client, ensure that your name is etched in their memory and they return to you for all their requirements in the future. Freelancing is about building effective and meaningful relationships with your potential and past clients.
Ask for a testimonial or unconditional feedback from the clients you have worked with. This is personal branding and also shows that you are serious about your work and are open to improvement. This also increases your value and shows reliability. In your race to get to more potential clients, never forget to maintain the relationship with already existing clients. Talk to them every once in a while. Securing good relationships is the key to a successful long-term freelancing career.
Along with these 5 tips, a strong marketing plan and providing quality work will help you boost your freelancing career.
You do not have to start with all these strategies at once in order to grow. Start small and gradually make the shift. It is all about strategizing well and figuring out what works the best for you and your business. Plan well and follow it religiously. With a positive attitude and greater dedication, you will have a long way to go.
Hetvi works as a Product Associate at Refrens.com – a powerful platform for freelancer’s finances and growth. She has worked for some renowned companies as a Brand and Digital marketing associate.
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