Tips to become a better freelancer (Second Part)

3. Don’t be afraid to say “no”

Saying no is hard, especially if you’re like me—you’re generous and want people to feel happy working with you. You don’t want to disappoint anyone, so you offer to help any way you can, not really considering the strenuous load it’ll put on you.

No matter what you do, you’ll disappoint someone. Whether it be the client because you’re unable to deliver halfway through the project, your family because you’re working long hours, or yourself because you’re so stressed with the work you’ve chosen to take on. So you must get comfortable with turning down work if it’s ultimately not for you or your availability. To help determine if you should take on a project, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I specialize in the work that’s needed by this client?
  • Why am I taking this project on? Is it a commitment I should be making?
  • Why am I adding that project onto my plate?

The worst thing about taking on everything that comes your way is that your plate may end up full, but with all of the wrong commitments. You’re stressed, anxious, and the worst part, now you’re left with no room to take on that golden opportunity. You can’t say yes to your ideal client if you never say no to the wrong ones.

4. Focus your freelance business

If you’ve followed my writing for a while now, you’ll know I share quite frequently about focusing your freelance business and the importance of it. I continue to share this tip because I regularly get message after message from freelancers who seem to be stuck. They can’t find enough work and they struggle getting their name out there.

By focusing your brand identity and the type of projects you take on, it’ll make everything much easier for you—from marketing to doing the actual design work.

Pick one or two services to specialize in, and only take on work that falls into those categories. Then turn down the rest.

Once you’ve decided on the services you now specialize in, be sure to translate that in your brand. Reword everything on your website to those keywords and phrases, only showcase that type of work in your freelance portfolio, and start producing content around those services to prove your expertise. All of this is a byproduct of marketing, which in turn will drive traffic and new freelance projects your way.

5. Showcase the work you want to take on

This tip goes hand in hand with the previous tip of focusing your freelance business, but I think is a topic worth elaborating on.

Many freelancers make the mistake of filling their portfolio with work just to show that they have some sort of skill in design. But most often, the work just comes off as all over the place, and will only do your portfolio a disservice.

There’s a difference between a freelance business portfolio and a school portfolio. Your freelance portfolio should only contain the work you specialize in and want to continue accepting via client work. The work can consist of past client work or even personal work.

Let’s say you specialize in logo design—if that’s what you want to be known for then you should only showcase logo projects in your freelance portfolio. That’ll be what attracts and helps future clients decide to go with you over another freelance designer whose portfolio might be all over the place.

6. Be transparent with your clients

As a freelancer, your business is just you running it inside out. That’s something you must be proud of, so don’t hide behind a facade. Be the name and face of your business, because your business is you.

From a client’s perspective, if I were to hire you to provide a service, I would want to know who I’m giving my money to. So be sure to inject who you are into your brand. You can shape that however you’d like, but the key is to be personable.

Also, when a client is interested in working with you, be transparent in conversing with them. If they’re going to hire you, explain to them how your process works. Show your interest in them and their business, then break down what they can expect by working with you step-by-step. This helps build trust and confidence, and can be what seals the deal in a proposed project.

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