Welcome to the freelance world, a place where hustle and talent can pile up. Everyone is your competition, and the industry is over-saturated. Bad news, we know. And therefore, now more than ever, you need to figure out what strategy can make your voice be heard. Even if you worked hard to create them, referrals, email chains, and portfolio sites don’t provide you with the support you need to stand out among the millions of hungry freelancers who’re waiting for an opportunity to steal your clients. If you want to grow your business, then listen up! You need to come up with a new system, one that will be effective even in 2021.
Employers view the process of hiring a freelancer like a guessing game because there are many to choose from. When someone is contacting you, they’ve already checked your portfolio and don’t want you to brag about your work. They want to hear your story, and you have less than 15 minutes to convince them you’re the right specialist to hire. They want you to show them how you work so they can match you with the right job.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to survive as a freelancer in 2021.
Communication is your most precious skill
Every employer will mention communication when hiring, no matter the tasks they assign. To understand why it’s an essential skill, let’s break it into three areas.
Pre-project communication – employers want a rapid response when they’re looking for a specialist to hire. When someone messages you, respond them in maximum an hour, and if possible, even earlier. If you start a conversation with a potential employer, ensure you’re available to finish it, or you’ll lose the project. Use Grammarly to check the response for errors, even if the project doesn’t require English writing skills.
Throughout the project communication – most times you don’t speak directly with the client, but you instead communicate via messages or emails, and it can make challenging to manage a complex project because miscommunication can affect your performance. Read over the emails before you send them, and double-check the tasks to make sure you clearly understand what they require from you. Ask for clarifications when you receive instructions, you’re not sure about. Do all project communication in one place, send your clients updates on the project’s evolution, and never disagree with their requirements.
Ongoing communication – continue to speak to your client even after you complete the project. It doesn’t mean to try to become friends with them, but to send them follow-up emails to ask them how they received your work. Also, send them a follow-up email two months after sending them the project to casually check on their business and inform them you can help them again if they need.
Create a winning freelancer profile
Even you’re a freelancer; you need to build a brand around your business. Your profile is the best tool to show your skills, talents, and job experience. Your profile should also include excellent graphical elements to stand out from the crowd.
Here are some essential elements your freelancer portfolio should include
– Your real name
– A professional profile photo
– A descriptive job title
– Relevant qualifications and skills
– A portfolio of previous projects you completed successfully
– Rates and estimates for your work
Set a functional working space
The good news is that you don’t have to rent an office to work because you can convert one of the rooms of your house into a functional space. But you still need a home office to be effective at completing projects, and this may require investing some resources. Don’t panic if you don’t have enough funds to furnish the space and buy equipment; there are many solutions to finance your freelancing career. Check a list of essential tools for freelancers if you need support to set up your business.
The physical space you use where you work can impact your motivation, focus, and productivity. If before you could work in the park, at the local café, or the beach, now it’s best to isolate at home, and therefore you need to create an office that encourages creativity and productivity.
Show possible clients what you can do
Your best chance to convince employers to pick you for their projects is to show them you have unique skills and talents they can use to grow their businesses. A presentation video can help you introduce yourself to possible employers. Film yourself while you complete a project, and use the opportunity to tell the viewers what your hobbies and talents are. Show to your potential clients how you can turn an idea into a product, work with feedback to improve it and make revisions to deliver the best outcome. Post the documentation video on your official website and other websites you use to reach clients.
This can save you from exhausting extended interviews with employers who need to figure out if you’re the right choice for them. You’re not answering calls and hustling into video conferences. You show people what you can do, and let them decide if they need your skills. Your resume tells them what you’ve done, you tell them during interviews what you can do, but you have little opportunities to show them what you can do.
Your profile tells them zero things about the way you work. Most employers are looking for people who can adapt to the changing needs of the market, but they cannot figure it out from an interview. They cannot tell if they’re good at more than completing their job, have secret talents or hobbies that may prove useful. But if you show them how you work, they can decide which of your qualifications serve their purpose.
How can you show people what you can do?
– Shot videos
– Write blogs and articles on your area of expertise
– Ask former clients for testimonials
– Teach others
– Present your work at all stages, not just the final product
This is how you can survive the harsh environment the freelance world is expected to become in 2021.