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5 Tips for Freelancing Online

in Business Ideas,Featured,Freelance,Online Business

Photo from flickr 

My name is Grant Draper and I’ve been writing articles as a freelance writer for three years now. I started my business life with an extreme sports e-commerce store (and actually went on to own another), but freelancing has been a big part of my day to day activities. After closing my business to pursue my studies, I was approached by a small marketing agency to produce some content and my freelancing has snowballed from there. I now run several forums to keep myself involved in the business scene, including my Bartering Forum. I post articles like this regularly. Hopefully this one will help people that are struggling with their work, or are just starting out as a freelancer!

#1 Using discipline to work efficiently

As a freelancer, discipline is going to be one of the hardest things to implement on a day to day basis. One day I can get twice as much done as I did the day before, simply because I’m much more focused and work with strong discipline. Things that help me to keep focused include:

  • Music – I listen to CDs rather than the radio, as the general chat on the radio tends to put me off.
  • Milestones – For me it is 1,000 words, for others it might be 2 banner designs!
  • Breaks – Take them regularly to ensure you are working at your best.

Getting distracted when freelancing is incredibly easy, and can ruin your hourly/daily earnings! Try and find things that help YOU to improve your discipline and work more efficiently!

#2 Organising your week

Keeping up to date with projects can be difficult. Most freelancers assume they can work 40 hours or more per week; some can, but some can’t. As people get to know that you work from home, they assume you are available. They might call on you for important favours, or suggest going out. In fact, you might find your computer gets hit by viruses and goes out of action for 2 days or more at a time. You need to plan for this by suggesting realistic deadlines to clients. I generally have 3 days work or more at a time. That being said, if a client offers me 2 days work (which I should have finished in 5 days time), then I’ll give myself a buffer to ensure that it is never late or rushed. Generally, I put a lead time of 7 days on all of my projects. I do lose out on a few clients in the short term, but in the long term, I have loyal regular clients that know when I say I’m going to get work done by a certain date; it will be done.

#3 Market your business

Marketing is going to be the key to your success; without it, you’ll have no clients. Building up a regular loyal customer base will ensure that business starts to flow regularly. In the early days, I just promoted myself on webmaster forums, although I adopt a few approaches nowadays. Luckily for me, I work full time because of the client base I slowly built up. There are ways other than forum promotion that can be implemented though…

  • Twitter & Face Book – Start networking with people that may be interested in your services. Add them, follow them, and engage in conversation, you never know where discussions might lead.
  • Website – Develop a website to show off your portfolio; it will make you look professional.
  • Blog – Develop a blog that compliments your website. If you are a web designer, write blog posts like “How website design can increase conversion rates” to attract potential clients.
  • Forum Marketing – This worked extremely well for me, although with a lot of companies deciding to outsource offshore, the prices that can be achieved on forums have plummeted.

The list goes on…

#4 The money is in the list

If you take anything from this article about freelancing, make it this; building a list is the best way to have a regular flow of work. Every project you complete, every client you interact with, incorporate them into your list. I’ll give an example of what I do, but make sure it fits into the way you work…

  • Open an excel spreadsheet.
  • “Save As” and call the file “Clients”, “Work” or what ever you deem appropriate.
  • Set up two worksheets “Clients” and “Potential Clients”.
  • Each worksheet should have columns such as name, contact information and notes (“completed $250 project on 11/11/2010” for instance).
  • Use this list when you want to obtain a larger work load.
  • Use this list for special offers if current clients refer new ones.

On the weeks where work is slow, I now have access to 100s of potential clients. Even the weeks that I have lots of work, I try building my list by forum posting, using Twitter and so on. The money really is in the list!

#5 Pricing

One of the main downfalls of my forum marketing is that there are LOTS of people that offer their services cheaper than me. They might not be as high quality in terms of content generation, or reliable. The fact is though; the majority of people will go for the cheaper option. They realise after that they made the wrong decision, but by then, they are wary of freelancers for life! You may have weeks where you feel your pricing structure is too high and you are losing lots of work for that very reason. Think of forums as a way to generate long term leads, not to pick up the rubbish underpaid work. Keep marketing and build your list; one great paying client at a time. Don’t fall into the trap of offering your services for nothing because before long; you’ll wish you didn’t start freelancing in the first place! Check out my other business related articles at the Bartering Forum.

{ 1 comment }

Michael Fokken September 1, 2011 at 5:04 am

I like the list idea. One thing to do also is find the time that you work the best. Some people it my be two hours before lunch. So make sure that there are no interruptions during that time from friends or family.

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