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How to become a successful freelancer

Nov 29, 2020
(updated: Feb 14, 2023)
Max 5 min read

Being a freelancer is not easy. It requires dedication, effort, and, of course, talent. To help you in your freelance career, here are some tips on how you can become a successful freelancer.

1. Specialize in a given field

As there is no shortage of freelancers, you must find your differential. To stand out from the crowd of freelancers and be offered the best jobs, the smartest thing to do is become an expert in a certain area. Have in mind that the more competitive the area of your choice is, the more you will need to specialize and have high-quality offers.

But don’t panic. Start where you are. If you are planning to specialize in something “distant” from that which you're currently doing, analyze its niche and gather as much information as possible to find out if you have an affinity with it before you even start. The more identification you have with the area, the more you will be motivated to learn and the better results you’ll have.

Once you know which direction you'll take, look for courses, books, workshops, and all sources from which you can learn more things and become a better professional. With so much free and affordable content out there on the internet, there really are no excuses. You can also find graduate and postgraduate remote courses if you find that would be necessary or add value. Whatever your choice may be, get organized so that you can carry out your specialization without damaging your bank account.

2. Manage your time wisely

One of the secrets of a successful freelancer is the ability to have an organized and disciplined routine. If you wake up late and start working without planning anything, you will waste a lot of time and energy. 

Making strategic management of your time is also essential, especially when you are working full time so that you don’t become a “slave” to your obligations. With a balanced agenda, you won't have to give up leisure, rest or being with loved ones.

Wondering how you can start managing your time efficiently? We’ve recently written a piece with hot tips for you to manage your time as a freelancer that will set you in the right direction.

3. Plan yourself financially 

Freelancers always have to deal with the intermittency of their income, which is why it is so important to have financial planning involving monthly expenses, work rates, and an emergency reserve fund.

It is also necessary to count on possible late payments. To avoid that, perhaps program automatic billing messages to remind customers in a more subtle way. Although reminder sending tools are usually paid, in some cases it’s worth it.

Care with finances is also what allows freelancers to be selective when choosing projects and not work desperately to pay the bills. If you are organized and have a good reputation, one day you will be able to only choose the customers who are more aligned with you and pay better.

4. Know how to sell yourself

As a freelancer, it’s necessary to make your name/products/services visible to the world. Working on your personal brand by creating a website to advertise your freelancer portfolio is a good tip to take into account. 

Another one is to be on social media. It sounds like an obvious suggestion, but the truth is that many freelancers continue to dismiss this one. Having a presence on the “right” social media channels (which means the right ones for your niche), is essential. 

Do your research and find out whether your ideal clients are more likely to be active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. You may want to hire a digital marketer to help you if social it’s not your thing or you’re finding you’ve got no time left for it. 

Don’t make the mistake of trying to build your presence across many social media channels at once. Focus on one, two maximum, and once you have a solid audience, you can start to expand your presence.

Finally, email marketing. Yes, that’s still important. Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective digital marketing strategies up to this day as it allows you to increase engagement, deepen the awareness of your brand, find clients and connect with old and returning customers. Besides that, email marketing gives you the opportunity of gaining valuable customer data that will help you create more engaging campaigns.

5. Apply for different jobs

Be proactive. Good freelancers don’t sit and expect great opportunities to fall into their lap. Especially at the beginning, finding work can’t be a bit challenging. So it’s crucial to actively look for work in different places such as freelancers' websites, Facebook groups, through your network, etc. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with so many options and freelance work websites, our article about 5 effective ways to find freelancing jobs will certainly help you gain clarity. 

Finally, we've added a few extra tips that will help you be a successful freelancer:

Be available online and contactable

This one is quite simple: be available online and with the phone at hand. A new job can appear at any time. If you do not answer, the work may pass to others.

Know your potential clients 

Not all customers are trustworthy. A good freelancer must be able to discern the good from the “bad” clients and refuse the less reliable. This is a skill that you’ll gain with time, but if you’ve started freelancing recently, get to know them enough before you close a deal and, of course, trust your intuition.

Keep a positive attitude

A freelancer must be above all optimistic. There are millions of freelancers around the world, but many of them do not maintain a positive attitude in their freelance careers, eventually giving up. Have a clear vision of what are the next steps to take as well as what your long term objective is. This defined goal will keep you motivated and get you through the obstacles along the way.

Get started today!

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