Are you considering entering the world of digital freelancing, either part-time alongside your current job or full-time?
It’s understandable that you might be feeling overwhelmed with the abundance of information available and the need to organize your thoughts.
Assuming you have already read about freelancing trends and our creative articles (links provided at the end of this article), you’re aware that we write from the perspective of freelancers who understand the market.
This article goes beyond surface-level insights and delves deep into the subject matter. Let’s dive in!
Overpromising or not taking action due to a lack of credibility or experience
Can you achieve success as a freelancer without prior experience? Absolutely!
However, it’s crucial not to make grand promises to clients that you may not be able to fulfill. This mistake becomes particularly important in point 3, where you’ll see that referrals play a significant role in acquiring clients.
As a freelancer, you are essentially an entrepreneur who solves problems. The key here is to build a strategy and determine how you can authentically provide solutions, even if you’re new to the field.
Honesty is a valuable trait. You can approach clients by saying, “Hello, I’m a newcomer in the market, but I’m eager to learn and provide excellent service.” Oftentimes, beginners outshine more established professionals because of their enthusiasm, willingness to learn, and dedication to delivering quality work. Larger professionals may already be burdened with other responsibilities, making it difficult for them to assist newcomers.
One approach to impress clients is to offer a trial product or service in your area of expertise.
For instance, you could register on an affiliate site where you earn a commission for bringing in customers.
Create a campaign for a specific service, such as a video as a videographer, an advertising article as a copywriter, or a promotional page. Drive traffic to this campaign and use it as a case study and reference. Keep it simple; you don’t need to create something as elaborate as an eMag reference right from the start.
In countries like the United States, freelancers often reimagine or execute scaled-down versions of big brand campaigns, showcasing their creativity to convince clients.
For example, if you specialize in newsletters, instead of launching a full-scale newsletter campaign for a major brand, write a case study analyzing the steps involved. By demonstrating your expertise and processes, you can attract clients.
Becoming a jack-of-all-trades
You might find yourself pondering whether to become a generalist or a specialist. It’s essential to understand that the majority of freelancers become independent because they possess a crucial digital skill and offer it as a service to clients (e.g., SEO, copywriting, advertising management, website creation, integrations, and automation).
As a rule of thumb, specializing in a specific digital activity or service makes you a specialist.
Generalists tend to be project managers or consultants who handle a broader range of tasks. However, marketing consultants, for example, often focus on creating marketing plans rather than executing them.
In the domestic market, based on our experience, there is more demand for specialists. This is because many entrepreneurs have limited knowledge and expertise and are looking for immediate results.
While some individuals can handle multiple sub-areas like website development, copywriting, SEO, and design, it’s more advantageous to be a specialist. Companies also understand that hiring multiple individuals for each sub-area is impractical, giving freelancers who specialize in niche areas a competitive edge. Specialists are also harder to replace.
For example, if you only create websites for local stores, you can establish efficient processes since you consistently perform similar tasks. The same applies if you exclusively build webshops. As a copywriter, you focus solely on crafting compelling texts. Refer to our article for a comprehensive list of specialist activities.
Idea: Master marketing systems and attract customers! Your freelance career can soar to new heights if you acquire expertise in these (digital) areas. So, get ready…
Spending unnecessary time on marketing
As mentioned earlier, becoming a specialist is highly likely. Consequently, I suggest investing your time and resources in your work and existing clients rather than extensive advertising.
If you’re a generalist (consultant or project manager), make the most of social media and blogging.
Specialists, on the other hand, should concentrate on two key areas:
- Getting referrals: Approximately 80% of freelancers’ clients come from referrals made by their existing clients. Develop a robust referral process that outlines when and how to ask for referrals and what incentives you can offer. Instead of spending your budget on marketing, direct those funds toward special offers. For example, provide a discount on the next service or offer an additional service as a gift. The latter option is even more enticing!
- Run continuous advertising: However, a couple of landing pages or promotional pages are sufficient. Continuously advertise your services, periodically updating the text and image. Allocate a daily budget of $10-20 for this purpose. Check out our article titled “Getting customers and leads. Here’s how to do it online” for detailed guidance. Additionally, we have a comprehensive 48-page resource on customer acquisition strategies for freelancers, including a downloadable PDF.
Sending a quotation and waiting passively
Now, here’s where other savvy freelancers gain an advantage. The key is to approach the quotation process differently:
Before sending out a quotation, prepare a presentation that showcases your services. This presentation will not only cover pricing but also address problems, handle objections, answer frequently asked questions, provide testimonials, and encompass all relevant aspects. It acts as a valuable tool during negotiations and guides the discussion.
Rather than simply sending the price offer, present it live to the client. We recommend using Canva.com to create professional presentations that can be saved as PDFs.
Implementing this approach has shown a significant increase in the acceptance of offers during negotiations. Freelancers who adopt this method often secure higher prices (based on statistics from our clients and freelancers).
Dealing with endless unpaid tasks and modifications
This brings us to the client aspect of freelancing. You may have concerns about being trapped in an endless loop of modifications or constantly being bombarded with additional requests that are not covered by your agreed-upon payment.
To mitigate these issues, design your service offerings in a way that avoids such situations. A useful solution is to establish specific processes that leave no room for ambiguity.
Here are a couple of examples:
If you provide marketing services for landing pages and promotional pages, focus on preparing the landing page and accompanying text for a single product or service.
Avoid getting entangled in the intricacies of the client’s existing pages, domains, or previous marketing efforts. Additionally, offer 4-6 Facebook ads and posts based on the landing page content, along with relevant images. If necessary, you can even include ad set-up as part of the package.
By providing a streamlined and comprehensive service, you eliminate uncertainties and reduce dependencies.
Suppose you specialize in videography and primarily create advertising videos for companies. Rather than getting caught up in excessive requests or aimless shooting, establish a framework.
Commit to producing five specific videos: two YouTube ads (15 seconds and 30 seconds) for testing purposes, two videos presenting products or services for the client’s YouTube channel (embedded on product or service pages), and one frequently asked questions video or a video addressing common mistakes.
This clear structure allows for a better time and cost estimation while preventing the client from introducing constant changes.
By designing your service palette with well-defined processes, you minimize the likelihood of unpaid tasks and modifications.
Remember, freelancing is a journey filled with opportunities and challenges
Embrace authenticity, focus on your specialized skills, leverage referrals, optimize your marketing efforts, and establish clear boundaries with clients. With these strategies in place, you’ll be on your way to a successful freelancing career.
Venturing into digital freelancing can be an exciting and rewarding path. However, it’s crucial to approach it with careful consideration and strategic planning. By avoiding common mistakes and following effective strategies, you can set yourself up for success in the freelancing world.
Firstly, don’t make the mistake of promising more than you can deliver
Instead, focus on building credibility through authenticity and honesty. Embrace your status as a beginner and emphasize your enthusiasm and willingness to provide excellent service. Impress your customers by offering trial products or services and using them as case studies to showcase your capabilities.
Secondly, find your niche and become a specialist rather than a jack-of-all-trades
Clients value expertise and specialized skills, so focus on mastering a specific digital skill and providing it as a service. Specialization not only sets you apart from the competition but also allows you to streamline your processes and deliver high-quality results consistently.
Thirdly, invest your time and resources wisely in marketing
Rather than extensive advertising, prioritize generating referrals from satisfied clients. Develop a referral process, incentivize referrals, and nurture your existing client relationships. Additionally, run targeted ads using a few well-crafted landing pages or promotional pages, constantly optimizing and updating them for better results.
Fourthly, change your approach to quotations and negotiations
Instead of simply sending out a quote, prepare a comprehensive presentation that covers not only pricing but also addresses potential objections and frequently asked questions. Present the offer live to the client, showcasing your professionalism and understanding of their needs. This approach significantly increases the chances of acceptance and allows for better negotiation outcomes.
Finally, establish clear boundaries with clients to avoid endless unpaid tasks and modifications
Design your service offerings with specific processes and deliverables, ensuring that both you and the client have a clear understanding of the scope of work.
By setting expectations from the start, you can minimize misunderstandings and focus on delivering value within the agreed-upon terms.
Embarking on a freelancing career requires dedication, continuous learning, and adaptability.
By implementing these strategies and learning from the experiences of successful freelancers, you can navigate the freelancing landscape with confidence and maximize your potential for professional growth and financial success. Good luck on your digital freelancing journey!