Freelancing can be an incredibly rewarding career, allowing you to earn a living while doing what you love. However, knowing how and where to get started can be intimidating and tricky. Valerie Freeman, CEO and Founder of Imprimis Freelancers, has years of experience knowing what businesses look for in a candidate and has compiled some best practices to help freelancers stand out.
Here are her four steps to ensure early success as an independent contractor.
1. Define Your Service Offerings
“Most freelancers are clear on their skill set. When most people go into business for themselves, it’s doing something they enjoy doing and do well,” said Freeman. “However, independent contractors often struggle to define their service offerings from the perspective of the client or buyer.
“So, when starting, they should research both their target client and that client’s pain points and buying considerations. This allows freelancers to highlight how their skills both fill specific needs and fit holistically into an organization when interacting with potential clients. It’s a way of framing your skills, so the client clearly understands what you bring to the table and how you can best help their business.”
2. Cultivate Your Client Base
The goal for every independent contractor is to be so busy that they must turn away clients. Unfortunately, new freelancers frequently find themselves in the opposite situation where they struggle to build a client base.
“One of the best ways for independent contractors to acquire new clients is through referrals from prior clients and colleagues,” said Freeman. “Of course, for that to occur, they first need to have clients and colleagues. So, new freelancers should turn to job platforms such as ours that are tailored to ease of use, reliability and specialty skills/knowledge. There are hundreds of platforms available. Some are broad and deep, while others are narrow in focus.”
With so many job platforms to choose from, freelancers must select carefully. Freelancers should search for platforms that that cater to their target client, offer support and services for a reasonable fee, and understand the value that freelancers offer. The ideal job platform provides direction on how to get work, delivers quality jobs, helps to perfect a profile, matches the right jobs to the right contractor, and makes it easy to interact with clients.
“You may have to propose a lot in the beginning to build your brand,” said Freeman. “That’s normal. But to really stand out, spend your time wisely and do a great job on fewer proposals. Taking a ‘cut and paste’ approach may seem like the best way to get yourself out there, but clients are often hyperaware of these types of proposals. They send a message that the client is not worth investing time in a tailored proposal. Stand out to be found, and always follow up with a thank-you note, if possible.”
3. Build Your Credibility
Once hired, the primary way for freelancers to build credibility is to approach every job from a place of service. That means not just delivering on expectations but exceeding them in meaningful or unexpected ways.
“I think there is a trend toward the ‘professionalism’ of freelancing. Many freelancers are also small business owners themselves and dedicated to their craft. Clients like this because it shows an entrepreneurial mindset, commitment to a profession, and that you’ll be there to serve the client in the long run,” said Freeman.
“A good way to do this is by showcasing your skills with a good LinkedIn profile that includes a services summary and recommendations. While there are numerous social media platforms, my advice is to go where your target client goes. I recommend LinkedIn because it’s everybody’s digital business card. It’s also a place you can own your recommendations and ratings and link to your website or portfolio site.”
4. Establish a Price Point
Another sticking point for freelancers (including some long-time freelancers) is determining their value and establishing a rate to charge clients.
“This starts by knowing what you should be paying yourself,” said Freeman. “Once you determine that, research the current market rates and see if they align with your goals. If not, reevaluate, assess your business economics, and set your prices accordingly.
“To be a sustainable business, you need to be profitable, so your time is well invested. Accurately pricing your value or worth leads to building your business’ confidence and stability. If a client won’t pay what you’re worth, likely, they’re not your target client, and the relationship won’t be sustainable.”
“After you’ve built up your business, reexamine your rates. Also, if you can demonstrate your value by showing clients what they get for x, y, and z, offer packages focused on that value delivered instead of billing hourly. Efficient workers can earn more by offering package rates. “
Start Your Entrepreneurial Journey
Breaking into freelancing can be a creative, iterative, and sometimes frustrating process. Utilizing a platform like Imprimis Freelancers, a division of a full-service professional staffing firm that provides both flexible and permanent staffing solutions, can help. Our partnership with talent curation and freelance recruiting platform ResultsResourcing, enables us to further our impact. With years of experience helping independent contractors make connections that grow their businesses, together we’re ready to help you be successful. Connect with Julie Stephens to learn more about the process and get started today!