Setting Yourself Up for Freelancing Success
Not everybody is cut out for freelance work. You must be stalwart in the face of rejection, for one. Your brand will not align with every client that approaches you for work. Sometimes your best is just not what they had in mind. That doesn’t mean that your contribution wasn’t any good, however. It just means that it wasn’t a good fit for that particular client.
You need to be able to keep it professional and shrug off the misses. A willingness to think and work outside the proverbial box to connect meaningfully with your client’s goals can catapult you beyond the competition.
It takes a disciplined approach to hit the mark on clients' expectations while still meeting sometimes tight assignment deadlines. Some wiggle room is often possible when working with freelance websites. However, excellent time management and top organizational skills are essential functions that both independent clients and freelancing sites expect from their independent contractors.
Ask yourself how well you work independently without the supervision of bosses and the company of colleagues. Some freelancing gigs allow you to structure your work time so that you can knuckle down when conditions are optimum for you, e.g., the quiet overnight hours when your family and neighbors are fast asleep.
Realize, too, that every freelancer at times gets problematic clients. Scope creep—where a client continually expands the scope of a project past agreed-upon parameters—can be a major issue for freelancers because they are eager to please their clients and want both their repeat business and also word-or-mouth and online referrals.
Keep in mind that, in order to be a successful freelancer, you need to set boundaries and not feel pressure to give in to unreasonable client demands. That's all part of "the customer is always right" facade. Because, in reality, customers are not always right. Some clients will try to wrest every extra service they can from hapless freelancers.
To avoid falling into this trap, one must know their value as a freelance professional. You must be your own advocate when dealing with difficult clients and refuse to be treated shabbily.
Learn to negotiate the highest rates and best terms for each project. Introverts who are more comfortable behind a screen can negotiate digitally via email and messaging.
Sometimes, however, you will need to FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype with clients. If that is a foreign concept to you, find a friend willing to roleplay a few typical client-freelancer scenarios that apply to your industry. Do this until you feel comfortable with the camera and proficient with the process.
Communication is essential in the freelance world. If you are unsure about expectations, clarify these immediately as they arise. If something unexpected occurs that will cause you to miss a deadline, let the client know ahead of time rather than breezily blowing past the deadline. This is one of those situations where it is definitely not better to ask for forgiveness than permission. You have no idea what people or processes your tardiness adversely affects.