Becoming A Successful Freelancer: Know Your Worth

how to become successful freelancer know your worth freelancing

Freelancing has an almost romantic appeal. Watch an advertisement for any of the leading freelancing platforms and you are sure to see images of people “working” from a chair on the beach, perhaps with a drink within arm’s reach. 

It is not usually like that when it comes to real freelancing or entrepreneurship. 

However, freelancing does have its freedom. The ability to work from home. Set your own hours. Work for the salary you hope to earn. These are some major perks for aspiring freelancers.

Certainly, it is not for everyone, but with the right strategy, you can live a successful life as a freelancer. In this article, we take a look at how to succeed in even the most competitive of marketplaces. Read on to learn how to acquire the skills necessary to boost your career as a new freelancer. 

Determining Success 

It is important to keep in mind that success is a highly relative word, particularly in the context of freelancing. Something of an unexplored employment frontier, freelancing lacks a baseline. Whereas a salesperson can compare her efforts to those of the other people working in her company, a freelancer can only measure success relative to what milestones they have accomplished toward their own personal goals. 

Maybe the freelancer wants to be able to support themselves full-time. Maybe they want to be able to work from anywhere, make a certain amount of money, afford private insurance, expand their business and hire new people. 

These are all perfectly valid metrics of success for freelancers. Before you start freelancing, think about what you want to accomplish, and filter each decision through that lens. Will doing x help me achieve y? If not, you may be better served to direct your attention somewhere else as a freelanced professional. 

Started At The Bottom, Now You Are Here 

The world of freelancing is different from traditional employment in that you usually won’t work on any single job for very long. 

This means that, while you will accumulate experience, you might not develop references in quite the same way that you would with a traditional employer. This means that scaffolding success can take a little while longer. It’s hard to leverage writing a few landing pages for The Abbey Coffee bar, into a full-time freelance position at a content creation agency. 

You will build your reputation slowly, which means that in the beginning, it may be necessary to take on smaller jobs. The more lucrative work will come eventually, but until then you are going to need to log your time in the beginner trenches for a while. 

Know Where To Look For Work 

Naturally, the internet is a great place for sourcing new jobs, but you need to know how to use it wisely. There are scams everywhere you turn your head, and even legitimate “opportunities,” that you would be better off walking away from. 

In the beginning, you may want to look for freelancing platforms like UpWork or Fiverr. These sites do extract fees, usually in the form of a percentage of all your earnings. However, that money buys you peace of mind. 

All of the clients are already vetted, and the jobs are supported by the platform itself. In the event of a conflict, the platform come in, review the situation, and make sure that it reaches a conclusion suitable to both parties. 

Often, this involves payment assurance: the guarantee that an hour worked is an hour paid. Eventually, as you make connections and learn how to vet clients on your own, you may decide to move away from platforms (and probably save yourself at least a few hundred dollars a month in fees). Until then, however, they are there to help get you on your feet. 

Also keep in mind that platforms tend to have a high concentration of jobs, saving you time looking for work. 

Know What You Are Worth 

We mentioned earlier that you may not be pulling in enterprise-level clients the moment you list yourself as open for business on the internet. This is true, but it’s also true that you need to be careful how you set your rates. 

It is good to get work fast, but if your schedule fills up with lots and lots of low-paying work, you may settle into a routine that leaves little room for upward mobility. Instead of growing in your trade and searching for higher-paying work, you keep your head down and settle into a routine that pays the bills but leaves no room for expansion and growth. 

If you are not careful, things can easily stay in a rut like that for years to come. You want just enough entry-level work to keep you financially comfortable. With the rest of your time, you should start looking for higher-paying contracts. 

Once you have a set of stable clients, it becomes easier to negotiate more aggressively on future contracts. You know you aren’t dependent on them to keep the lights on, so you can afford to be bold. Setting your rates is an art form that can only really be honed with experience. 

You can get an idea of what to charge by looking at what top freelancers are bringing in but even this strategy is of limited use. After all, they aren’t you. They don’t have your skills, they don’t have your experience. 

Figure out what you are good at and leverage it as much as possible. 

Specialize 

Most freelance jobs have their own niche categories. There is writing, then there is technical writing. General writers may be able to pull in a decent wage, but tech writers can charge even more because they can do things other people can’t. 

The key is to figure out what you like and what you are good at and use those things to market yourself in the most effective way possible. 

Maintain Contact With Previous Clients 

There is definitely a right and wrong way to go about this. You don’t want to bombard everyone you have ever met begging for more work. However, if, a couple of times a year you touch base with people you have had a good working relationship with in the past, you may find that it produces more work. 

Maybe the client is considering launching a new project and your nudge puts your name at the top of their list. Maybe they recently had a fallout with a freelancer and they are looking to add someone new to the team. You won’t know until you ask. If you don't ask, you don't get in the world of freelancing business! 

Freelancing Future Fortunes 

You may not become an industry leader overnight, but if you stick around long enough, you’re sure to find that the world of freelancing is not only inviting but actually rewarding. It’s all about growing, both in professional skills and in your abilities as a business person. 

Don’t let yourself stagnate while freelancing. Learn new things to grow as a professional and push yourself constantly to new heights as a freelancer.

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