Freelancers have it easy, don’t they? They can manage their time as they see fit, pick only the finest of gigs and laze around all they want… is what most people who have never engaged in freelancing think. The truth is completely different.
Freelancing is hard work and way more competitive than traditional job seeking. The gig economy is, in fact, the fastest-growing segment and is predicted to keep expanding. Add to that the ongoing pandemic and all the people who have lost their jobs and you will see how difficult things can be for freelancers.
Not to mention that competition is — the entire world. People from poor countries look for better job opportunities online and they also drive the rates down. Overall, the situation is far from being “easy.”
To truly excel as a freelancer and to actually enjoy the lifestyle it can bring forth, you’ll need to keep improving your skills continually. Unlike office workers, remote workers also need to master a number of soft skills as communication mainly takes place online and, in many cases, there are international teams to take into account.
1. Be Culture-Sensitive
Hence, the first thing freelancers should learn is to be culture-sensitive. Even if you’re planning to bid only for individual projects, sooner or later you’ll find yourself in a team — if you’re looking for well-paid gigs, that is.
Just think of a scenario where you are collaborating with a Japanese, an Indian, a Saudi team member and you’ll see how important this point is. Different cultures communicate in different ways and the job must be done regardless.
That’s why you should keep your eyes and ears open and learn on the go. That’s what remote work is all about. As virtual meetings become the norm, make sure to follow proper etiquettes when interacting via video call.
2. Be Resourceful
To be able to land the best-paid gigs, you’ll need to be highly competitive. Seeing as bidders from all around the world are your competition, you’ll need to make an effort to stand out.
Don’t be afraid, though. There are many freelancers around who just look to make ends meet without putting in much effort. Even if their services come cheap, professional employers will always look for quality — they know that cheap workers will cost them more in the long run as they’ll need to hire additional people to do the job right.
That’s why you should keep learning. Be mindful of the trends, apps, and tools. Never allow yourself to be surprised by the requirements. Even when employers have their own tools, if you’re knowledgeable, you should be able to learn the basics fast. After all, all task management tools are similar.
3. Master the Skill of Schedule Making
Here we come to the most problematic of issues. The whole point of freelancing is to allow you to live your life on your terms. If you’re stuck with endless tasks all day long, you’re doing it wrong.
Make a schedule for the next day, including free activities and other obligations. Don’t cheat — stick to it through and through. In addition, you can use productivity tools to help you work faster and manage time better. In time, you will learn to be disciplined and, hence, more efficient, which will leave you with more free time.
4. Be Persistent and Build a Client Base
Freelancers always looking for the next gig cannot plan their finances properly. For many gig workers freelancing equals riches one month and zero profits the next. That is just to be expected when you are starting out, but make it your goal to build a client base.
Satisfied clients always come back for more. After all, it is extremely time-consuming to browse through an endless list of freelancers and test their skills before deciding on the best match.
The best way to secure a stable clientele and build customer relationships is to always give your best when performing a task. Never ever slack off or do things half-heartedly. Some people call the doctrine professionalism, but there’s actually more to it. It is determination mixed with knowledge, spiced up with resourcefulness.
Go one step further and offer your client more than they asked for and you will certainly secure future contracts. This can prove to be especially important when it comes to freelance digital marketing, content creation and email marketing.
5. Learn to Negotiate and Manage Your Finances
Lastly, freelancers don’t have the benefit of HR staff making better deals for them. Freelancers are a one-man show. They simply need to know everything — from negotiating to doing their job to managing finances. Most of the time, they’ll also need to send invoices and let the employer know how to pay them. The latter can be rather tricky as banks charge outrageous provisions for payments from abroad and online payment services can be rather expensive.
For starters, learn to negotiate. Offer fair rates, but never settle for being a cheap workforce. Skilled people should be paid for their knowledge and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Also, keep in mind that initial communication with clients, as a rule, starts with email correspondence. It can be quite tricky to get the message across as going non-verbal can be challenging in numerous ways.
Next on, set a reasonable rate and stick to it. Learn to present your point so that the client will realize it’s beneficial.
Do you still think freelancers have it easy? We thought not.
However, if you are persistent, tech-savvy and eloquent, you should be able to succeed in the long run. Be realistic and keep learning: that’s the winning mixture!