Working as a freelancer is not always easy, especially if you’re at the beginning of your freelance career. If you’re ready to be your own boss, there are a few things you need to know in order to be successful but maintain your independence. Being a freelancer myself, I wish I knew the following motivation tips when I was first starting. Applying them, I’ve seen major progress and I hope you can pick some value from them, no matter where you’re at with your freelance career.
- Brand yourself
Focusing your freelance business is the first important thing. I know many freelancers who are stuck struggling to get their name out there, but can’t seem to find enough work. It will be much easier for you if you focus your brand identity and the type of projects you accept. Pick one or two services in which you’ll specialise and only accept work that falls into those categories.
Once you’ve decided what you specialise in, be sure to make that your brand. Start producing content around those services in order to be able to prove your expertise to clients.
When you first start working as an independent contractor, no one knows you. What you’ll need to do is networking – it is the key to thrive. Send emails, call potential clients, go to events where you might meet new clients. Whats more important is doing it constantly. It’s never too late to expand your network.
At the beginning it wasn’t easy for me either. I didn’t feel comfortable approaching and selling myself to others, but I soon realised it was necessary. The quality of your work speaks for itself to a certain extent but even if you’re a successful freelancer, your outreach will go much further if you keep yourself fresh in people’s minds.
- Always plan
Never underestimate time taken to plan. If you’re at the beginning of your freelance career, develop a personal business plan that includes financial requirements, goals, how many projects per month you will take on, how much you will charge, the best way to find clients.
Also, make a daily to-do list with small tasks you can easily complete by the end of the day. If you start working one step at a time towards your goals following your plan, the sooner you’ll be there. Progress is the key to success.
- Set up a virtual office
Being organised is always important. In order to be able to focus and take care of providing your clients with professional services, the last thing you need is to be struggling with getting things in order. We all know that this can get tricky, especially if we work from the couch.
Setting up a virtual office is an amazing tool that certainly helps you manage your time and your work. More importantly, it saves you a lot of money.
You have a variety of options to choose from to set up your virtual office. Whether it is using cloud based tools to create a virtual filing cabinet, do finance tracking, virtual answering services or creating a professional mailing address, your virtual office will be a much cheaper yet professional alternative for an actual one.
- Consider a separate freelance office space
Many freelancers complain they find it difficult to separate work from leisure. This eventually causes problems with motivation and productivity. In order to avoid such issues, it’s important that you have a separate office space.
After struggling with a lack of concentration, the best solution for me was to go to a co-working space. It is the best combination of both worlds. By finding a co-working space, not only will you maintain your independence as a freelancer but you will also benefit from sharing an ideal working environment. You get to separate your work from home but more importantly, you are in an atmosphere where you can concentrate and meet other people (which is perfect for networking!)
- Use a contract for every project
Many freelancers underestimate the importance of contracts but they will help protect you and your work.
At the beginning you can draft a general agreement that will cover the most important terms for you and your clients to establish: the work you produce is original, the client’s information is confidential, your payment terms, the right to terminate the services and under what conditions. These points will help you get started and then you can develop and adjust the contract for different situations.
- Don’t be afraid to turn down an offer
I understand that this is a difficult decision, especially if you have just started working. You don’t want to disappoint or lose clients, neither did I, but you have to consider the consequences that come with accepting every project offered to you.
Being stressed with the work you’ve chosen and end up delivering late (or not delivering at all) influences the quality of your work and your brand. You may also end up saying yes to the wrong opportunity and miss a great one. That’s why it is always important to first ask yourself why you want to take up the project. Is it a commitment you should be making? Is it in the field you specialised in? Consider every opportunity, but make a conscious decision and that is how you will become successful.