If you're freelancing, you know that it's not always easy. You have to worry about getting paid, finding new clients, and keeping your skills sharp just to name a few things.
However, there are many tips you can use for freelance success.
With a few established and effective ways, you can make it easier for yourself while you do freelancing.
Here are some powerful freelance tips that'll change the way you do #freelancing forever.
Always Screen Your Clients
This is a big one. The #freelancing world can be full of scams and fake clients, so you have to be careful who you choose to work with.
There are some ways that help keep your freelancing career safe, to lower your stress levels, to avoid getting scammed, or to prevent headaches of any kind:
Establish screening processes. If you are on a site like Fiverr (where you put up gigs -- services, sold as products), highlight a line in your gig that says "Please contact before placing an order". On other sites such as #upwork, you'll thankfully have a way to talk to your potential client first (Upwork has a video calling feature built right inside).
Set up an onboarding call first. In the first call, get a "feel" for everything -- the kind of business your potential client is in, work requirements, work expectations, and even the clients themselves (as people).
You don't want to work with absolutely everyone (even if that means you'll lose $750,000 in 10 years as a grand total in assumed opportunity costs).
Make sure Your Pricing is competitive in the market
First, your location is a moot point. Don't price yourself according to where you stay as a freelancer.
Second, if you're freelancing, it's important to make sure that your rates are competitive in the market. You can do this by surveying what other freelance professionals charge for similar services or looking at industry averages.
What is the average hourly rate for freelancers in your niche? What are your skills and experience? Look at what other freelancers charge for similar services and make sure you're not undercutting yourself.
Third, price your freelance work in a way that makes sense to the client and is still sustainable for you.
For instance, if clients are accustomed to paying $500 per hour, don't calculate prices like an eighth of their usual hourly rate (why would you do that?).
Do your research and be prepared to show expertise in a specific area. It will help you get more clients with the skills, experience, or budget that best suit your needs.
You'll also know what other freelancers are charging for similar services so you can avoid undercutting yourself.
Learn more about the psychology of pricing, how pricing affects your actual pay, what you need to keep in mind about the dynamics of hourly pricing Vs fixed price rates, and more in my freelancing course.
Don't be afraid to negotiate with potential clients
Make "negotiations" your middle name. As a freelancer, your success directly depends on the prices you set (and you'll often keep changing these prices -- increasing, decreasing, and tweaking them as you deem fit).
However, regardless of the price you set, negotiations are the heart of every freelancing contract.
There are books on negotiation. There are courses on how to get what you want.
Here are simple tricks to negotiate better:
Don't be afraid to make counter-proposals. Accepting what's on the table is meek. It shows that you don't deserve respect. It tells the world that you don't stand up for yourself. You propose. Client proposes. You counter-proposes. Do this until you get what you want.
Be prepared to walk away (take it or leave it). Often, this negotiation tactic is only recommended if you have the power to work from a standpoint of abundance.
Use questions to frame negotiations. Jessica Stillman of Inc proposes a simple question like, "How am I supposed to do that?". You can use the question to frame your negotiations. For example, a client asks for a website design. You'll already have fixed expenses to make it happen (including your time, the tools you need, and more). Let's say the client undercuts your price below the bare minimum you quote. You ask, "How Am I Supposed To Do That?", followed by "My expenses to deliver this project are at least $300 per month".
Be the authority; not a glorified worker
It's important to train yourself for freelancing success with a particular frame of mind. Start by being the "authority" on what you do.
If you are a graphic designer, you know a lot more about typography, design, colors, layers, and how it all comes together than clients ever do.
Are you into digital marketing? Then, you know everything there is to know about content strategy, how content marketing brings in ROI, how social proof works, and all about landing pages or sales funnels.
A pro at web development? You then know precisely what web framework fits the clients' needs best.
The point is this: it's not enough to know or be skilled at something; you have to show authority.
I am not asking you to be rude, aggressive, condescending, or downright abusive.
I am asking you to show your experience, skills, and knowledge in a way that helps clients "think", "reflect", and agree.
Lead from here and you'll have an easier time working as a freelancer.
Don't offer guarantees (there aren't any)
When you're a freelancer, there are always unanswerable questions. There are always grey areas.
You'll never know all the answers for sure.
It's your job to provide quality work for your clients but it's not your job to know all the answers.
Don't play God.
Clients will ask things like: "How long does this take?", and "What is the Guarantee that this works?". These are fair questions to ask.
Remember that since there are no guarantees, you say exactly that.
"I'll do my best to deliver what I can",
"I'll guarantee world-class services for you, and that much I guarantee".
You don't take on your clients' inherent business risk on yourself. Period.
Seek Clients. Avoid Clients from Hell
While you have to seek clients constantly to succeed with freelancing, you'd also have to actively weed out bad clients.
There are several red flags that you can note before you start a contract. Sometimes, you'll miss those. Or maybe the clients will show their true colors after the contract is active.
The biggest red flags are:
The business idea, the project, or the tasks are against your values
Bad communication skills, including not emailing you back for weeks.
Not respecting your time (e.g., constantly late even after a reminder)
Discrediting your work
An unrealistic budget or scope creep.
Clients asking you for work that doesn't match their stated (or implied) needs.
Anytime you do feel that you just earned yourself a "client from hell", make plans to fire the client.
Learn more about how to manage clients and how to deal with clients from hell in my online course on freelancing.
Need more tips, inspiration, and help? Get access to my free resources, get my free eBook "10 Rules of Freelancing", watch free videos, and more.