More businesses than ever are waking up to the fact they can hire freelancers online to complete the things they don’t necessarily need or want to do themselves. I haven’t got any impressive stats on the value of this industry but I can tell you that on just one website where I offer my services, there are currently 11,000+ jobs up with openings.
As some of you may know I recently started offering WordPress blog development services through various online channels. The work has been coming in steadily and as such I’ve managed to make a few observations that I thought I would share for people considering getting into or just starting the freelance game.
- It takes money to make money – Even when offering services you are still going to make an initial investment. Some of the things that may help you out are listed below. Although you don’t need them all, more is better:
- Professional Website Showcasing your Skills & Services Offered
- A Topical Blog Showcasing your Knowledge Within Your Area
- Business Cards (Only if also working for offline clients)
- Paid Membership to the Major Freelancing/Outsourcing Sites
- Choose a Niche to Focus On – If you’ve followed my interest in Internet Marketing you’ve probably heard that choosing a niche is an important part of your business planning and it’s no different for freelancing. As an example I have been mainly working with people developing WordPress Powered Membership Sites and setting up fresh Optimised WordPress Installations with follow up tech support. Is this the only thing that I can do? Not at all, I can program all sorts of websites using a mixture of PHP, xHTML & CSS borrowing ideas from my marketing experience, however when you have a specific focus it will allow you the following:
- Build a Targeted Portfolio Very Quickly
- Keep up to Date on The Latest Developments in Your Niche
- Save Time by Running Very Specific Searches
- People want to trust you – The Wild Wild Web can be a daunting place especially if you are looking to hire someone online to work with your business. You are essentially letting someone into your dreams and relying on them to create your vision. With all the spammers and people looking to make a quick buck, you can easily stand out above the crowd by actually taking your time to read through clients requirements and responding to them personally. If they mention a specific piece of software why not link them to some work you’ve done with it in the past. I’ve even linked potential clients through to reviews that I’ve written of the very software they are considering using. You just need to demonstrate that you are serious about your job and want to do the best by them.
- Apply for More Work than You Want, but Less than you Can Handle – Whilst I’m sure we’d all love for every proposal that we submit to be accepted this will likely never be the case, especially when working through outsourcing sites with hordes of bidders on multiple projects. This part of the job is definitely an art that takes a little time to perfect. You need to send out so many proposals that you will acquire at least the minimum amount of jobs that you need to get by. Whatever you do though, you simply cannot apply for more jobs than you can actually handle. If you wake up to see all of your proposals have been accepted and you just don’t have the time, you are in dangerous territory and risk losing that hard earned trust.
- Select your Clients Carefully – When I look at a job description I am not only looking at what they need but the way this information is put across. Even in something as ‘neutral’ as a job description a lot of a persons personality and work ethic will shine through. Trust your intuition on this one and if you get a bad feeling when reading a project there is usually a good reason.
- Show That You Understand the Project – This not only builds trust but will ensure that you do actually understand the project and that nothing has been lost in translation. Whenever possible I will not only repeat back to the potential client in my own words what I believe they require me to do but also sometimes offer them solutions that they may not even have thought of. Occasionally they may go with someone else and get them to use the very ideas that you shared but often this act of interest even if it’s decided against will be the thing that makes someone decide to work with you.
- Don’t Under-Value Your Time – This was probably my main set back when I first started working through these outsourcing sites. When there are people all around you offering incredibly low bids it can sometimes seem like you should be matching them. This is wrong! You will not only be very skilled in your area of work but also be heavily invested in the niche and always up to date on the latest developments. Although you may wind your way through a WordPress installation like a walk in the park, people are paying for your experience, time spent communicating back and forth and sometimes even the urgency of a project. It’s important to remember that people will want variations. Certain needs that they’ve overlooked may become apparent only half way through the project, it;s important that you are both knowledgeable and flexible. If this means that the client pays a small premium for peace of mind, the majority of people won’t mind.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few of the more prominent things that will perhaps help new freelancers get into the game a little smoother. It will be a learning experience for sure and there will undoubtedly be ups and downs but you probably will find yourself growing and developing through the experience. It’s not an easy role of responsibility to take on but it’s most definitely a rewarding one. I wish you all the best!
Got some tips you’d like to share with the world? Why not leave a comment below…