Updated: Apr 24, 2020
2020. It’s the dawn of a new decade - a decade that just happens to be the best time in history to begin your freelance career.
Maybe you’re sick of your current job and are looking for something new. Or, perhaps you have an entrepreneurial spirit that just refuses to be ignored. You could even long for the globe-gallivanting lifestyle that you’ve heard is possible with a freelance career.
Regardless of your reasons, you’re probably at least a little bit curious about how you can become a successful freelancer in 2020.
Let’s take a look at the four keys that will help you unlock the door to freelance success!
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4 Keys To Becoming a Successful Freelancer in 2020
1 - Define Your Freelance Business
Before you can start on the path to freelance success, first you must define EXACTLY what you do, who you do it for, and why you do it.
Here are a few things you can do to help you get started.
A. Pick a Freelance Niche
This is where you conduct an honest assessment of your skills and talents to determine how you can provide the most value to others. It’s important to leverage any personal interests, talents, and experience you may have from previous jobs.
There is a virtually endless list of freelance career opportunities:
Social media marketing
The Golden rule of freelancing: Specialise and find your niche
When picking your freelance niche, remember that more isn’t necessarily better. People often believe they should provide a number of different services to their clients, however, you’ll likely find greater success by specializing in just one.
That’s because it’s difficult to contend with the top competitors across multiple disciplines.
“It’s better to be really good at one thing than to be average at many.”
B. Decide on Your Ideal Client
Determining your freelance business’s ideal client can be an extremely valuable practice early on in your career. Do you want to work with startups? Entrepreneurs? Large corporations? Governmental organizations?
Not only will this help you have a laser-like focus in your marketing efforts, but your prospective clients will also take comfort in knowing that you specialize in helping businesses similar to theirs.
After you have established yourself within the industry, only then should you think about expanding your services to other areas.
For example, here at Jolt_, we began by creating engaging content for startups, helping them to quickly scale their businesses.
Since then, we’ve realized our services are also great for freelancers, marketing professionals, and other business owners who need help with content marketing and branding.
Tell your story- Be_Known
Get Your Story Straight
While it’s important to provide top-notch service, prospects are often just as interested in your “why” as they are with your “what.”
Businesses with an inspirational startup story will be more successful at capturing the attention of an audience than those who don’t.
According to Hubspot, a leader in online marketing research, stories help:
-Solidify abstract concepts and simplify complex messages - If someone is considering hiring you as their freelancer, chances are it’s because they don’t have the expertise to do the job on their own.
If that’s the case, it’s helpful to have a clear and simple story that explains exactly how your business can help them. Avoid using industry jargon and complex language when creating your freelance story.
-Bring people together - When told correctly, stories can strike an emotional chord with a large audience, helping them to relate to you and your business. For example, most people have fond memories of their childhood or the holidays making references to these things extremely effective when included in your business’s story.
-Inspire and motivate - Generating an emotional response from prospects is one of the most powerful aspects of sales. If your brand tells a story that does this, prospects will be much more likely to remember your business and pursue your services in the future.
Keep these things in mind when determining your story and I promise you’ll be glad you did!
It's a great big world out there -- The possibilities are endless
2 - Acquire Clients for Your Freelance Business
Now that you’ve defined exactly what you do, who you do it for, and why you do it, it’s time to address the question that so many freelancers have struggled with over the years:
How do I find clients for my freelance business?
In 2020, a myriad of answers can be found to address this question. Let’s take a look at some of the best strategies you can use to successfully market your freelance business and land high-paying clients!
Outbound marketing usually involves proactively putting your brand or business directly in front of the eyes of your prospects.
For example, T.V/radio ads, direct mail, sales emails, billboards, networking events, cold calling, and trade shows are just a few of the many types of outbound marketing used today.
Before trying to decide which of these methods best matches your business’s goals, first, you need to consider your skills. Are you an excellent salesperson? In that case, an infomercial, cold-calling, or in-person networking events might be right for you.
Finding something that works takes patience. You might not make the right choice the first time around, but as long as you’re not afraid to keep trying, you’ll find an outbound strategy that will bring you success!
Push and pull marketing can be a team effort- Let JOLT_ team do the heavy lifting
When done properly, inbound marketing brings prospects to you, rather than you going to them. That’s because its value-centric approach involves creating informative or entertaining content that they actively seek out.
Because the focus here is value, inbound marketing helps to “warm” prospects up to your business, making them much more likely to purchase your services when you eventually ask them to in the future.
Also, some inbound marketing strategies provide an excellent way to showcase your skills to prospects.
For example, if you’re a freelance writer, you might consider creating a blog. Not only will you be able to use this platform to include links that direct readers to your website’s service pages, but you can also use it to show off your writing abilities.
Some of the most popular inbound marketing strategies include:
Social media posts
The key with most of these strategies is to figure out how you can provide real value to your audience.
Inbound marketing has the potential to reach a much broader audience when compared to outbound methods. According to Statista, in 2018 alone, social media platforms were used by more than two and a half BILLION people worldwide, and this number is only getting larger!
Where are your clients - Be where they are
When deciding which marketing channels you’ll use to attract quality freelance clients, you should also remember to be agile and open-minded.
What worked last year might not work this year, and vice-versa.
3 - Deciding How to Handle Client Work for Your Business
Assuming you were successful in using some of the marketing strategies mentioned above to land some clients for your freelance business, now you need to consider how you’re going to do this work for them.
Here are a couple things to keep in mind:
A. Managing Your Time
Create a Routine - a routine is a great way to give your day direction and ensure you complete all the essential tasks required of your business.
It’s important to create a routine based on your individual work preferences. For example, do you find that you feel more creative in the morning, or at night?
Regardless of your unique situation, an effective freelance routine should include four main blocks of time:
Client Work - this is where you work on projects for paying clients.
Marketing - promoting your business through inbound or outbound strategies to generate new clients.
Administrative tasks - email, invoicing, etc…
Creative pursuits - as a freelancer, creativity likely plays an important role in your identity. It’s important to set aside time to nurture this aspect of yourself and let your mind run wild. This could mean scheduling time to write your blog, working on an art project or a number of other creative pursuits.
You’ll notice some of these responsibilities will be more fun than others, and that’s the exact reason why it’s necessary to have a routine to keep you disciplined when chasing freelance success!
Batch Similar Tasks Together - Author Tim Ferriss is famous for his book titled The 4-Hour Work Week, which is filled with practical tips on how you can reduce the amount of hours you work each week while still making the same amount of money.
One of the ways he recommends to increase productivity is by batching similar tasks into a certain time frame. For example, instead of opening your browser to check and respond to emails five, six, or even seven times per day, try cutting this number down to two or three.
Often, it’s the little things that are required to get ready to perform a task that end up taking the most time.
Batching can pay huge time dividends, especially for freelancers. That’s because freelancers will often find themselves completing repetitive tasks like email, invoicing, and others that can easily be batched together in the interest of saving valuable time and increasing productivity.
How much are you worth?
B. Deciding How Much To Charge
This topic is the root cause of an enormous amount of anxiety for freelancers.
You don’t want to ask for too much because you're afraid that people will think you’re greedy, yet, you don’t want to ask for a pittance because then you’ll have to work tirelessly just to barely scrape by.
How Much Should You Charge Your Freelance Clients?
The answer here depends on the service you’re providing and your experience in the industry.
Sites like payscale provide average earnings ranges for many freelance careers all over the world. For example, when searching for the average income of a freelance graphic designer in the U.S, you can see their salary can range anywhere from $14.97/hour to $62.12/hour.
You can then use this information to set your rates based on your experience. For example, if you’re fairly new to graphic design, you might decide to set your starting rate at $20.00/hour. As you continue to grow your skills and master your craft, you can inch closer to the $60.00/hour mark.
Another way to decide how much you should charge is by doing a Google search for “Freelance (your skill) for hire.”
This will direct you to the websites of your top competitors within the industry. Once on their site, you can browse through their service pages and see how much they’re charging clients.
Also, you don’t necessarily have to charge clients by the hour. Depending on your freelance service, you may decide to charge on a retainer basis, using commission, or by the project.
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4 - Taking Your Freelance Business to The Next Level
This is where the employee becomes the employer, the student becomes the teacher, or - for those of you who have followed the recent conclusion of the Star Wars saga - where you graduate from padawan learner to freelance Jedi.
Here, you begin to put the measures in place that will help you ascend to the top of the proverbial freelance mountain.
How Do You Do This?
Start Building Your “A” Team
By now, you’ve come to the realization that you can’t do everything on your own and you need to surround yourself with a solid team if you want your freelance business to continue to grow into the future.
One way to start building your team is to check out one of the many sites that exist to help freelancers/business owners hire other freelancers to help lighten their workload.
Fiverr, Upwork, and Toptal all allow you to browse through lists of freelancers with varying skill sets available for hire at an affordable price. If you’re just starting out, this might be the best option for you.
However, as you grow, it’s important to understand that these sources for freelance work may lose their appeal.
For starters, anyone can post their services on these job boards so you need to make sure that the quality of work the freelancer can provide aligns with your business goals.
Secondly, these sites offer their services individually, so large projects that require the collaboration of a number of different freelancers may be difficult to organize.
So, what should you do to avoid these two problems?
One option is to employ the full force of a marketing agency. The nice thing about taking this path is you’ll be able to find all the services you need in one place.
Instead of having to create a number of different freelance job postings on sites like Fiverr, you can just explain to an agency exactly what you are looking to accomplish for your brand or business, and they’ll do the rest!
For example, Jolt_ provides clients with a range of services, including content creation (video and blog), logo design, website design, social media marketing, and more!
This means that a team of videographers, graphic designers, and marketing professionals work TOGETHER to create a blueprint of each client’s vision and see it through to the end.
The point here is, once you reach a certain point in your business, time becomes all-the-more valuable, making it necessary to find ways to be more productive. Outsourcing some of your work is just one way to do so.
Begin with the end in mind - Where are you trying to go and How will you get there
As you begin to see success and continued growth in your freelance business, it’s important to remember to continue to set goals.
Goals Keep You Motivated and Excited
Marilyn Monroe was once quoted saying, “Dreaming about being an actress, is more exciting than being one.”
After you have achieved a certain level of success in your freelance endeavours, you might find that you agree with her. It’s normal to experience a sudden feeling of deflation when you’ve finally reached this point. You’ve achieved what you set out to do, now what?
Goals help to provide a target to shoot for to help keep you motivated, engaged, and excited about your work.
Goals Provide a Clear Measure of Success or Failure
If you set a clear goal using the SMART framework (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) there are only two possible outcomes - either you achieve the goal you set, or you don’t.
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There’s no black and white.
This is helpful because it allows you to assess where you may have gone wrong in the event that you failed to accomplish your goals, and gives you the opportunity to make the appropriate changes in your business.
On the other hand, goals provide you with lots of positive feedback from the times when you were successful in achieving them, reinforcing your belief that you’re headed in the right direction!
Looking to Become a Successful Freelancer in 2020?
You’re in luck!
There’s never been a better time to begin your freelance career. To become successful on your 2020 freelance journey, remember to consider the four keys mentioned in this post:
1 - Define Your Freelance Business
Pick a Freelance Niche
Decide on Your Ideal Freelance Client
Get Your Story Straight
2 - Acquire Clients for Your Freelance Business
3 - Decide How to Handle Freelance Client Work
Develop an effective routine for client work, marketing, administrative tasks, and creative pursuits.
Decide what you will charge.
4 - Taking Your Freelance Business to The Next Level
Build a solid team around yourself.
Set future goals
For more helpful tips on building YOUR successful freelance career, digital marketing, and more, feel free to check out the Jolt_ social pages or browse some more of the great content found on our website!
By Ivan Boychuk for JOLT_
Hubspot - Inbound marketing
Statista - Worldwide social users
Payscale - Hourly wages