This article will be focusing on the term freelancer and everything about it. "Is there a future for freelancers?” Why are some freelancers more successful than others?" and "what does it take to be a freelancer?" are some of the questions we shall be dealing with.
What is freelancing?
A simple definition is, a freelancer is one that is available for hire. As a freelancer, you work as an independent contractor that gets paid for every job you execute. You are not too obligated to your clients, and what you do is solely your decision. If you are not ready to accept a project, you are not compelled to take it.
What do successful Freelancers have in common?
A survey by business experts tried to ascertain the common traits successful freelancers share, and what distinguishes them from others.
After viewing success stories of freelancers, they were able to come up with some similar attitudes in the best freelancers:
They see themselves as owning a business and live their lives as an entrepreneur rather than a mere freelancer.
They put more effort in reaching to a higher level.
They don’t see their work as services rendered to the highest bidder. Instead, they see it as a product.
Below are some useful tips on how to cultivate these mindsets, with some advice on how to blend these common traits of the best and most successful freelancers.
1. The Role Switch
A lot of freelancers make a legal switch. What this means is that they swap one employer for multiple ones, one boss for many bosses.
If you take your time to ask anyone who has juggled numerous jobs, you will understand where the problem lies - burnout. You end up giving most of your time to your clients.
You will hear questions like “will you be available for work this weekend?” or “I want you to complete this task in 24 hours - it is possible right?”
It can result in frustration, and you start asking yourself what is actually ‘free’ in freelancing. This was not what you signed up for.
The actual problem here is the majority of freelancers don’t regard themselves as business owners. Instead, they see getting jobs from clients as being hired by a company. They focus on their résumé, their credentials, and their experience.
They don’t focus more on what they have to give their clients, but instead focus more on their role.
Do their clients just need a programmer? Are they web designers? What is the job description for this marketing project?
Outstanding freelancers don’t reason this way. Rather, they see themselves as getting an equal value of what they’ve given out. Money comes in, and business value goes out. There is no unique relationship between a client and their vendor, rather, two parties coming together to engage in a B2B transaction.
Instead of being interviewed for a project, outstanding freelancers are out there helping to determine the viability of two companies working together.
Instead of handling sales meeting clumsily, they own and command the purpose and structure of these meetings.
And instead of firing off a proposal and hoping for the best, the best and most successful freelancers charge what they are worth, write assumption-less proposals, and anchor their prices.
2. The Product Switch
The best freelancers understand what their clients want is not their skills multiplied by hours worked. Rather, clients are after outcomes - they need someone that can proffer solution to their needs. They want to pay for something that will solve their problems in return.
The majority of freelancers don’t have productized services. They are just selling out their time - but that doesn’t mean they can’t sell an outcome.
Nobody has ever paid you for a job before. This is one thing you should internalize after reading this article. Outstanding freelancers are aware they don’t get hired to get things done - they get paid for doing things that are beneficial to their clients. This may sound like the normal thing to expect as a freelancer, but unfortunately, the majority of freelancers miss this or try to ignore it.
The outstanding freelancers are aware the reason they are hired isn’t because of their time - they focus more on the outcome, and keep in touch closely with clients to figure out what is needed to be done to achieve success.
When they pitch and write proposals to clients, they make it known what is at stake. They make sure their proposal covers the challenge the client is facing, paint a picture of possible solutions and come up with a convincing case on how to reach the goal.
They also do not bill. They base their costs against the financial upside of a task, prefer to use value-based pricing to calculate their fees.
3. The Growth Switch
This is the last common trait of outstanding freelancers. They focus on growth. When we say growth, this is the focus on how to grow their business. These kind of people don’t see selling as a phase. It is not something that happens only when there is no work. The underlying problem comes from the world of full-time employment.
Imagine how it will be when you have a full-time, salaried job. You have programmed your mind that you are going to get paid every month. You only start to search for other jobs when you know the company may not be needing you anymore, or when you are unsatisfied with the job. Otherwise, you get contented with what you are doing, and not marketing yourself for better options.
As a freelancer, you must see yourself as a business owner and sales & marketing should be a full-time task. (If your aim is just to work with clients all day, you are nothing different from an employee.) Sales is not just a phase; rather, it's an ongoing process that’s part of your business.
The best freelancers are not just working IN their business, they are also working ON it. They schedule time for tasks that will help them grow as a business owner - either networking with other top-notch freelancers, working on their websites, or managing marketing campaigns.
Also, they always keep track of what’s happening in their business. The majority of them have business diaries that help them stay on track.
Below are some of the things successful freelancers usually measure in their business:
What things are going as planned?
What things are not going well? Why?
What did I learn this month?
How much have I earned or billed?
Getting things in your business diary helps you to refer back to it when things are not working the right way.
You may be asking yourself if you can become a successful freelancer. The answer to your question is an emphatic YES. Don’t let anyone determine whether you are a legitimate freelance consultant or not. Just be focused and follow the tips above, and you’ll surely become successful in your freelancing venture.
What are your thoughts of becoming a successful freelancer? You can share them in the comment box below.