We all become freelancers for our own reasons
It may be redundancy, a desire for independence or more flexibility or simply a desire to achieve more. For me, it was to achieve a work life balance that would work with my young family, and I have never looked back. BUT there are things you aren’t warned about when starting out as a freelancer, so I wanted to put it out their just what to expect and how to become the best freelancer you can be.
“Do something you love!”
How to get work
Whether you are a photographer, graphic designer, administrative assistant or marketer you all have one thing in common. Friends, family, and colleagues. Contact everyone you know. Don’t be shy or hold back. Tell everyone about your services. Even if they don’t need your help right now, they may know someone who does. It could be your distant cousin twice removed that is your first job as a freelancer, and your first step toward independent working.
“It WILL be Hard!”
Online job boards and sites. These are especially for web designers, graphic designers, marketers and administrative assistants. You do need to be aware that these sites are in most cases over saturated. When starting out you may need to bid at a lower rate than you would like while you build up a professional reputation. A great site that helps you build a reputation without winning any jobs is Peopleperhour.com. You can invite people you have previously worked for or with to leave you a reference. This way Job posters will be able to see how you work.
Door to Door. OK, so not in the literal sense. One thing I did when I started as a freelancer was to walk down my local high street. I made a note of what types of businesses were around. Which ones were non franchised businesses and which were locally established businesses. Go in and ask. The worst thing that can happen is that they say ‘no’, but leave a card anyway. If you made a good impression you will be remembered and 6 months down the line they may need you.
“Work won’t come to you. Get out there!”
Networking Events. They are everywhere these days, and in my opinion completely underrated. Don’t go along with the intention of pitching to every individual. Go with the aim of connecting with everyone and exchanging cards or details. You can pitch later once you have made a connection. Although these events may be intimidating to some personality types, when you attend your first one you should remember that there will be others in the same position as you…First day of school syndrome. You will be fine. Just be yourself and shine.
“You’re Selling You. Brand yourself well”
Don’t be a P.I.T.A!
Most important thing I can say when starting out. You may take the worst jobs to build up your reputation and you will have to put up with some infuriating people. As you progress up the work ladder, improving your base of clients, you cannot turn your backs on the ones who helped you get started with a few short words. Don’t cut all contact and don’t leave people in the lurch. Most important of all, no matter how infuriating they’ve been, never give them a piece of your mind. Be professional at all times. If you’re ready to move on, be honest, open and even give notice. You never know who these clients may know, and although they may be difficult to work for, their brother could be the next Lord Alan Sugar and mud sticks. Always treat your clients with the same respect you would like to be treated.
Last words of wisdom
It will be hard. Be prepared for long hours in the beginning and if you are anything like me you will be working till 10pm, or sometimes later, to complete last minute jobs which are necessary to help boost your reputation or to give you the foot up to the next level. At the beginning it’s vital to keep to deadlines. There is no wrong way to do it, so if you want to gradually phase your day job to make sure you have some security, that’s fine. It’s your choice. At the same time it is OK to just jump right in. That little bit of the fear of unknown will push you. Overall, enjoy it. If you don’t you may as well be back doing the 9-5. I still enjoy my work. You will have challenging days but at the end of it you have the satisfaction of knowing you did it all on your own. You are getting the credit and you are your boss.