Many freelancers have met success. Living with great freedom and flexibility in work schedules, workplaces and client management, freelancers have truly enjoyed the fruits of their success.
Yes, this may sound tempting but they haven’t gone where they sit (or stand) right now out of sheer luck. No. It wasn’t because of charm, either.
Then, what is the secret formula in becoming a successful freelancer? Or should how does one spell freelance success?
The secret formula in being a successful freelancer is nothing.
Like the Stinson’s Hangover Fixer Elixir, there is no secret formula to becoming a sure-shot successful freelancer. Otherwise, I would have drank (or ate, or did) whatever is in that formula. Then, how do successful people become what they are now?
The answer to that constitutes a series of things which entail a lot of hardwork, back pains and headaches.
Freelancing is not a walk in the park. No. It’s a run, nay, a marathon.
In freelancing, you just don’t go fast at first and burst down at the middle. It is not a sprint. You need to keep your pace; your energy should be increasing as you pave your way to the finish line.
Successful freelancers have trained to prepare for this marathon. They did a series of steps and understood a few concepts and maybe suffered a few nicks and bruises before they earned their medals.
Now, let’s see the training plan:
As a freelance web designer, you wear at the same time. Marketing oneself is one of these functions. You should be able to make people come to you for web design. This could be a daunting task at first. But with the right amount of guided effort, it is pretty doable. How would you market yourself? Well, there are a lot of ways.
- Build Microsites
- Create Freebies
- Purchase business cards
These ways are further discussed here.
Have a Plan
When I was in college, I followed a maxim:
Plan Your Work, and Work Your Plan.
Planning your time as a freelancer is the smartest thing to do. When you become a freelancer, you earn a great amount of freedom and flexibility. That means you hold your time.
You can work and rest whenever you want. But it also gives you enough opportunity to procrastinate. Yes, procrastination helps you at times, getting too much of it destroys your productivity. You spend too much time accomplishing nothing and in freelancing, no accomplishments mean no money.
What can you do in order to plan your work and be productive?
- Monitor how much time you spend in distraction websites.
- Limit your time on these websites.
- Decide that this day will be productive.
- Plan your day ahead
- Play it safe; give time allowances
Learn to Say No
One of the mistakes newbie freelancers commit is saying yes to every client. Most of them learn this lesson in the hard way. Because most of them just want to make money right away, they fall prey to clients who are difficult to handle.
Newbies often end up with great amounts of headaches and wish that the world will just end. However, this is a problem not exclusive for newbies.
In fact, some experienced freelancers find declining a client very difficult- and it is. It would mean that you are turning down money, but you have to understand that, in freelancing, money isn’t everything.
You need to realize that you should take projects where you will have fun doing. That is the reason why you quit the corporate job you had and turned into freelancing, right?
To be successful, you should learn to say NO. Here are a few articles that may help you:
- Freelancers: Learning When to Say No To Clients
- How to Say ‘No’ to a Client: Four Sticky Situations and Four Ways Out
- 7 Tips for Turning Down Freelance Work (The Right Way)
- Let A Client Go: 4 Signs Why You Need to Fire Clients
Build a Sound portfolio
Have noticed that a lot of blogs include building a great portfolio to their hacks-to-freelancing articles? Well, having a great portfolio is a great way to make your clients and future clients hire you.
When you put out your portfolio out there, build with the right content. Also, optimize it for search, because you are basically leaving your very own advertisement. Making them see your portfolio will give them a great headstart on identifying what kind of web designer you are and what can you contribute to their goals.
Here are a few articles that may help you:
- 10 Steps to the Perfect Portfolio Website
- 6 Steps to Creating A Knockout Online Portfolio
- Building a Great Web Design Portfolio – 10 Best Tips & 40 Examples
One of the great methods to be noticed is to get noticed. As a freelancer, you have to shout at the Internet, “Hey! I exist.”
But shouting will probably leave you in serious throat pains, so let me give you a shortcut- aside from having a portfolio, you also need to have a blog. Either you want it to be personal, or niched, blogging will surely help you as a freelancer:
- It will make you noticed.
- A blog will relieve you from stress by letting you vent your problems out.
- You get to impart your knowledge to others.
- It can serve as a source of extra income.
Interested in our little tip? Would you now want to start a blog? We can help you!
Tweet, Post, Recommend
Social Media has been really a great help for freelancers because of its popularity. Using social media, freelancers can connect to each other and exchange ideas, inspirations, techniques and strategies. After all, freelancing is never about burning bridges.
Yes, we are all competitors in the field, nevertheless, we should also be friends. Why you may ask?
Well, first, freelancing can be a very lonely profession and if you don’t start making friends, you will feel the psychological blunts of this solitude.
Second, of course, freelancers learn from two things: their clients, and their competition. If you can understand how the successful ones handle their business, then, you will have an easier time threading your needle in this field.
Social media can also be great in expanding your opportunities. Because it’s popular, social media has become an avenue for sharing and letting other people know what you are currently working on and what you are planning to do.
However, there are a few things you may want to remember:
- Be responsible. Remember, .
- Use separate accounts for business and personal use. Remember, you should have a different life outside work. If you mix the two together, you’ll have a difficult time.
- Never complain using your business accounts.
- Show the passion on your work
- Stay in touch with your past clients.
Learn to Save
Money is important for everyone, and even more so for freelancers. Remember that, in freelancing, you don’t earn money on a monthly basis. Sometimes, projects come in bulk and you feel rich because you got paid a lot.
However, there are also droughts where you cannot get clients or close deals and that is part of the career path you chose. Just because you earn a lot of money during good times doesn’t mean that you spend it all up with an overpriced pair of shoes. No. You have to save for the rainy days.
As a freelancer, you have to make sure that you have enough savings to supply for the times when projects don’t arrive. Now, this is where saving and being thrifty goes into play.
How can you save money?
- Be am minimalist. Remember, you should only live for the things that matter.
- Be price conscious.
- Have other sources of income, just in case.
- Use money tracking apps.
- Keep your records properly.
- Use your credit card(s) religiously.
Be Nice to Clients
Niceness is a quality most people fail to remember they have. Yes, the world can be a vicious place and nice guys often get cheated on.
Preserving a positive mood for freelancers, and being nice to both your clients and to others is one great step to becoming a successful freelancer.
Why should you be nice?
- People will treat you well if you treat them well too.
- Remember, the Golden Rule?
- Clients can refer you to other possible clients if you are both great at your job and dealing with people.
- The world would be one person happier if you become nice.
Learn New Things
“What is the difference between a living thing and a dead thing? In the medical world, a clinical definition of death is a body that does not change. Change is life. Stagnation is death. If you don’t change, you die. It’s that simple. It’s that scary.” ― Leonard Sweet
Change is constant. Every day the world keeps on changing and changing, and the Internet is probably the fastest changing thing in the world today.
Because of that, new information, techniques and trends arrive at a very immensely fast rate. Sometimes, you can’t keep up, but you have to.
As a freelance designer, you have to expand what you know, learn new things and be open to change. The world where you live in is a fast-changing world. Choose: do you want to evolve and survive or do you want to stay stagnant and just die?
Here is an article that could help you:
Look and Be Professional
Most of us probably work at home, and for many, it’s a great thing. Working from home gives you certain perks:
- Less expenses on food, transportation and clothing
- Less hassle on traffic
- Better flexibility in time and workspace
However, despite being a stay-at-home freelancer, you still have to act as if you are working on a corporate entity. Remember to look professional and be professional.
Here are a few tips:
- Be on time with meetings.
- Dress accordingly.
- Speak with finesse and intellect.
- Write emails professionally.
- Be mature in making decisions.
Find Inspiration Everywhere
When you take walks, in a park or in the mall, maybe, remember to bring a pen and notebook. Your inspirational “Eureka” moment may come any time and you have to be prepared. As a freelancer, you have to make sure that you have enough inspiration that would last for a lifetime. Because you deal in the creative aspect of the work, you have to be inspired with your designs to make you better.
Here are a few tips:
- Subscribe to blogs.
- Look at other freelancers’ portfolios.
- Go to art museums, concerts, read a book.
- Give yourself a ‘thinking time’ where you just contemplate on random things.
Finding success in freelancing can be a great pain in the ass. You just don’t become successful with the flick of a wand. You have to work and sweat for it, even be pained from it. Because it is in these things that you understand what you need to do, and who you need to become. After all, no job in the world is a walk in the park.
What are your personal tips for your co-freelancers? Sharing is caring!
Rudolph is a geek. He loves reading: books, blogs and even nutrition facts found at the back of products. He also loves basketball. Since joining 1stwebdesigner last year, Rudolph has written several articles that concerns Typography, Wordpress, Freelance Lifehacks, Graphic Design and Showcase of Beautiful Web Designs. He also write poems, movie reviews and he puts them in his blog together with rants and some daily life updates.