By nature, freelancers balance various projects to make a livable income. Some freelancers may concentrate on building a large and steady client base, while others may charge a competitive rate.
Driving new business can be tough for beginners, and balancing brand goals and sales can present a huge learning curve.
Luckily, there are numerous ways to make money as a designer without years of freelance experience. Below are a few helpful tips to get you on the right path.
How to Improve Your Freelance Career
1. Find Your Niche
Many professionals begin freelancing with a broad focus (sometimes with no focus.) You may have talents in writing, graphic design, or even programming, but a jack of all trades doesn’t always get clients. By developing your portfolio toward a specific niche, you have the opportunity to showcase a number of works in the same field. More experience allows a higher rate, adding value to your overall business.
For example, a freelancer may have a number of talents, but a company looking for social media graphics will be interested in social media graphics. Having a niche focus allows you to market to a specific (and often advantageous) audience. Develop your brand, then charge accordingly.
2. List Your Dream Team
Have a niche in mind? Good. Now you have the ability to list businesses/clients working in that sector.
Having a list of business prospects will give you targets to approach. More importantly, you’ll be able to create work with these prospects in mind. Once you have a list, get familiar with the companies on it. As you build your portfolio, these will be the companies with which you network. You’ll have the opportunity to gauge their mission and build toward that aesthetic. Shortlist your top 50 dream clients, and use this as an ongoing “contact” sheet. Aim to contact 3-4 of these a day to keep a steady response.
As you build a brand for yourself, you may consider showcasing your skills through a social media presence. Not only will you encourage a following, but this could provide future options to you as well. Social media can be a fantastic way to demonstrate your knowledge, attract clients, trade information, and build friendships with other freelancers.
A freelancing friend once told me, “Networking on social media is always a surprise, because you honestly never know where it might lead.” If you haven’t begun networking, now’s the time to comment, tweet, snap, and insta.
4. Sell Yourself
Being afraid to sell yourself can be a classic mistake. Potential clients exist in numerous social circles: friends, colleagues, even past clients. Making sure you have the courage to offer your talents can be truly beneficial to your business.
If you haven’t yet advertised yourself, contact 20-30 of your close, professional contacts. Ask if they know anyone who might benefit from your services. For those who refer you, be sure to show your appreciation through a personalized gift. This is a great way of investing in your clientele.
5. Stay Informed
If you’re freelancing, chances are your clients have varying goals and personalities, meaning you’ll need the ability to transform for each gig. Remember, keeping a client happy is an undervalued trick to driving more income.
Staying up-to-date on the latest news, trends, and opportunities will help you communicate and brainstorm effectively. Being informed is also a great way to push yourself—you’ve heard of healthy competition, right?
When you see a style you like, you should determine how it can be used to influence and improve your own work. Brush up on Apple News or Feedly during the day. Read as much content as you can. Soak up information, then go make something!
6. Get Connected
While you may be in healthy competition with other entrepreneurs, don’t forget that other freelancers can actually be a huge asset to you. Advice from one freelancer to another can be invaluable; your peers may share thoughts on process, tools, professionalism, and even energy levels.
Real-life experience can be so useful for freelancers looking to increase income. While no two freelancers will have the same story, advice and networking can go a long way. Use Eventbrite and Meetup (apps) to stay up-to-date on the latest meetups, and make sure to attend (with a business card in hand.)
7. Tool Up
Manage your projects with time-saving tools, like Trello, Asana, Nozbe, and more. These services offer in-depth organization, helping you enjoy the freedoms of freelancing. (Get it?) You may also consider business analytics tools to process data. These tools ensure you’re reaching your target audience. Organizational services can be one of the best ways to save time and money.
There are a number of ways to improve yourself in the world of freelancing, but we hope you find the tips above both easy and effective.