When you go freelance and you assume responsibility for your own workload, how do you ensure that the work keeps on coming?
1. Establish your own personal brand
To successfully pursue more freelance work, it can be incredibly important to craft and secure a firm sense of personal identity (for you and the work that you do). This should be demonstrated in your online presence, in your marketing, and in the work that you do – with visual and verbal components. Sometimes people think that having such a brand just means having an eye-catching logo and a memorable catch-phrase, but you need to push further and build an effective website/online portfolio of work, developing your elevator pitch to be succinct, clear, and effective. You want to be seen as professional and this is what your brand can deliver. It can show clients that you have the necessary skills and attention to detail and on this basis it can instil in them the confidence to hire you!
2. Keep marketing. Again and again with the marketing.
It is always important to have a focus on what is coming round the next corner and what the future holds for you. Marketing should be ever-present, you should always be thinking about where the nest project is coming from. There can sometimes be a temptation to take on so much work that there is no longer a need (or time) for marketing, but once some of that work dries up it can be alarming to realise there are no new projects on their way to you.
When you make a plan for how to spend your time, marketing should always be factored in. You need to realise that as a freelancer – when the responsibility for finding new work to pay the bills sits firmly on your shoulders – this is and always will be an ongoing process. Even when everything is going well and your workload means you are currently turning down some projects which come your way, a small amount of time should still be dedicated to reaching out prospective clients for future projects. And, of course, staying in touch with current clients…
3. Turn existing work into more work:
Pre-existing clients are your best source for new freelance work, whether that is new projects with them or with people they know when your name comes up in conversation. The key to creating more work from past work is simple, do a good job and be a nice person. People want to work with people they like and they will want you to work with them again if they think what you create is great (and great value for money).
If you keep your clients happy, they are more likely to keep being your clients. Reflect on old projects with them, does anything need updating? Could you be of use in a similar role again? Is there a new role you could fill for them? Satisfied customers will come back to you with further projects and your name will be passed on by word-of-mouth to other connections and colleagues.
Stop being a Jack-of-all-trades and start to specialise. This might sound odd, as though this is drastically cutting down your potential pool of clients, and that is probably why so many freelancers fall foul of this mistake. A lot of freelancers will take this all-rounder approach in the hope that this is the best way to land new clients, but sadly this tactic is often way off the mark. Listen to the market and listen to what prospective clients are saying; think about their business challenges. Can you spot a common need? How can you fill that need?
The fact of the matter is you’re far more likely to secure clients when you market yourself as a specialist and you’re also more likely to be able to charge more per hour. Being ‘a bit of everything’ makes it difficult to differentiate yourself from what else is out there, meaning you have to compete with everyone else’s rates as well. When you specialise you can clearly fulfil a role (albeit, perhaps less roles than someone trying to do everything) and you can argue that your experience demands higher rates. Put it this way, if you wanted to hire someone to help market your brand, would you go for the person with a depth of experience in helping freelancers market themselves, or someone who has a host of experience ‘in marketing’ quite generally? You’d pick the specialist, and that’s why you need to be the specialist.