Are you just starting out in your freelance career?
Annie Manning, regular Work Your Way contributor, freelance writer and marketing consultant, gives us a few tips on how to step out in the right direction.
1. Identify your skills
Decide exactly what service you can offer and focus on a niche offering – something different to give you that unique selling point.
Do be prepared to discuss a client’s requirements in full, as you may be able to, for example take on the admin part of the role to secure the project.
However, one word of warning – you can’t be all things to all men!
TIP: Don’t pretend to possess skills that you don’t have.
2. Identify your sector/clients
Identify the companies within your sector of expertise, dependent on your skills. So for example, if you would like to work within the Charitable Sector, visit The Institute of Fundraising at www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk
Nowadays, it has never been easier to research information on the internet. Your local Council or Chamber of Commerce will also be invaluable for researching small businesses in your local area.
Don’t underestimate the value of networking, training courses or seminars – and trade associations often offer reduced rates for members.
There are pros and cons to attending networking events. If you have time to spare, then they can prove to be fruitful at a relatively low-cost.
Do plan your time wisely – there can be a tendency to attend the same event, with the same people without benefiting from referrals.
4. Organise your promotional material
Keep your Resume and promotional material up to date, including business cards, letterheads and flyers – and keep them to the ready when you attend those conferences and trade shows.
5. Market your skills
When you’re new to freelancing, you soon realise that you have to be your own employment agency. Just as an agency courts organisations to find opportunities for their clients, you’ll have to do the same to find your own.
This means approaching them well in advance, and keeping in touch by way of friendly reminders – letting them know that you’re still around should they need your services.
If you feel you lack marketing experience, take advice from an expert.
Becoming freelance is often about self-development and retraining, so if you cannot afford to go on a marketing course, don’t be dismissive of the many self-help books or online courses out there.
TIP: Training and research is tax-deductible – so keep those receipts!
6. Ask for Testimonials
It’s so important to ask for positive feedback to be used as a testimonial whenever possible.
This helps us to improve our game and of course, can be used on our website and promotional literature for our next marketing strategy.
I never hesitate to provide fellow professionals with testimonials as a way of saying thank you, and it really is rewarding when a client takes time to provide me with feedback or a testimonial too.
If like me, you’re a freelancer with a constantly evolving client list, and taking on new challenges, then testimonials are vital in helping you to secure future assignments.
Don’t be afraid to ask your clients for feedback when you complete a project. Even negative feedback gives hidden clues to enhance your skills.
7. Keep your portfolio up to date
Remember to include your achievements, especially if they’re measurable.
Even training which you may have attended (and thought very little about) might be just the credential a new client is looking for.
We often think of ‘self-development’ training as personal, or even recreational, but once again, it shows a potential client that you have a keen desire to enhance your skills and that you’re willing to commit and apply yourself.
8. Keep learning
I’ve personally completed several counselling courses to enhance my own communication skills and writing. Read about my latest here.
My course work helped me focus and produce two books on bereavement and I was delighted when my tutors nominated me for an Adult Learning Award.
I was thrilled to receive my certificate of achievement in recognition of my commitment to learning – that feels good at any age.
9. Remain focused and positive
Running your freelance business can be a hard slog. Saying focused and motivated when you’re working in isolation is not always easy.
To make you all feel better and to stop feeling guilty when you feel as though you are swimming against the tide – remember even us positive marketing types have off days.
If you ask around, you will find fellow freelancers hit a tired spell from time to time.
Keep positive and re-read those fab testimonials to remind yourself why you are doing what you do… and how you manage to do it so well!
Featured image: Unsplash