Freelancing is a fairly new line of work for a lot of people. If you’re used to the world of employers and employees, of being beholden to some authority, you can get some bad habits stuck in your mind. It’s still a buyer’s market as far as labour goes, even in the freelancing world. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have some control. To exercise that control right, you just have to make sure that you always put the client experience first. At least, as far as they can see.
Know where to not find them
If you want clients to the right standard, then you have to look in places with the right standard. There are a few hugely popular sites on the internet that will have you bidding with a lot of other freelancers for jobs on the market. Make no mistake, those sites tend to be a race to the bottom for both parties. Not just a race to the bottom in terms of the price you can offer with each contract. But a race to the bottom for the client in terms of the kind of quality they can expect. Don’t waste too much time on those websites. Be a bit more discerning with where you find work.
Control your reputation
For one, you should really focus on making clients come to you more. Clients who want a professional standard and are willing to pay for it are going to look specifically for the services they need. They will use the same methods as everyone else. They will search the internet and see if they can find any recommendations. This is why you need to work on inbound marketing methods like building a site that lays out what you do and gives a decent portfolio of work you’ve done in the past. It also makes sure that your site is one of the dominating answers that come when someone queries about you online. With search engine optimisation, you can ensure that it appears before any irrelevant or out-of-date information that may give a client reason to think twice about hiring your services.
They’re customers, not employers
With that in mind, you should recognise that you’re not going to be finding most of your work opportunities by approaching them like employers. Rather than getting in touch with anyone you might think needs your work, you can to focus on methods that build a broader brand. You have to think like a digital marketing agency and brand yourself as a business, not an employee. What is the value you have to offer? Who has the most need of you? What makes you an attractive package, not just someone who’s going to do some work for them? Focus on the impact of your services, not just yourself.
The contract needs to benefit both parties
Never do freelance work without a contract. It’s as simple as that. On your contracts, make sure you include some clauses that are essential for your own business. It should include your rates, but make sure that you are open to talking about rates before talking to potential clients. Consider offering a flexible rate system that involves different levels of service based on their demands, for instance. Scheduling is vital, too. But don’t just focus on your payment schedule. As well as that, make sure you have a schedule for deliverable results as well. Make clients a lot easier to deal with by spelling out the benefits of a single contract clause. It clears up confusion for you by avoiding the issue of getting different instructions from different members of a team. That doesn’t just keep your work a little more stress-free, but it ensures that your work remains consistent for the one doing the hiring. A mutual kill fee agreement is important, too. That way, if they cancel their need of you, they’re required to pay you for your time, anyway. But make it more attractive by including the alternative. If you can’t finish the work you’ve started, they get a partial refund.
This shouldn’t be much of a surprise. If you want clients to have a good experience, make sure you have a professional approach to your work. Learning some time management skills in handling the different aspects of the business is crucial. But the next point helps just as much.
Outsourcing work can feel like rolling the dice sometimes. People don’t always know whether the services they’re paying for are underway. A freelancer who wants to win more clients is going to give some reassurance in this field by laying out a process map of what exactly they do for their clients. A process map showing how you work isn’t just good for the client, either. If you want to nail how you manage your workload, separating it into different steps in a process makes it a lot easier to track and ensure a proper timeframe for you to work within. The employee will like the transparency and the fact that you can stick to what you promise.
Don’t be afraid to say no
The client experience matters but that doesn’t mean you have to provide the best experience for every potential client. You don’t have to take them on and you shouldn’t be afraid to say no. When it comes to negotiations that push beyond the boundaries you can comfortably work in or the level of pay you’re willing to accept, firmly (yet politely) show them the door. You don’t want to be wasting your time on leads that aren’t all that profitable when there could be much better ones around the corner. If things are slow, you might need to rethink your pricing strategy, sure. But if it’s working well for you most of the time, don’t engage in exceptionalism.
You can get the pay you want from freelancing and you can get the kind of working schedule you want. You just have to be willing to couch it in terms that make it work for the client.
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