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How to Become a Successful Freelancer

Freelancing has a romantic look about it for people who would rather be their own boss, but it also has its challenges- unless the freelancer knows how to land gigs and keep them coming, he or she could wind up being frustrated with the whole thing. It’s vital for anyone who wishes to go down the freelancing path to get their act together and plan for what could be a rollercoaster ride of the ebb and flow of business that this way entails.

If you intend to become a freelancer or are already launching into the sphere, you should start off by taking the following steps.

1. Acquire relevant skills.

Of course, you’re not going to be freelancing if you don’t have the expertise to do so. If you’re going to become a freelance programmer, you should know how to write code- it goes without saying. Depending on what you want to do, having a background in a formal establishment might be an advantage.

2. Tell everyone you know.

Tell everyone you know- yes, everyone –that you’re planning to get into the freelancing business. Let them know what services you will be offering, and when you intend to begin doing so. What this does for you is open up fronts through which you can get valuable contacts and references. Your first clients might come from your contact list, or be someone who is led to you by someone you’ve told about your plans.

3. Research the freelance turf for your area of expertise.

Is there a market for your services? Be sure to research the availability of a market for what you have to offer. If you want to become a freelance writer, are there people and businesses where you are (or in the area you operate in) that need your content? If you run a business consulting service, are there companies that can do with your assistance in this respect? The viability of your freelance pursuits depends on whether there is a demand for your services.

4. Have a plan detailing your charges, and other important things.

How much will you be charging your clients, and on what basis? How do you intend to land gigs? These questions should be answered before starting off on the freelance journey. You might also need a business plan which will serve as a financial resource blueprint for your work, something you’ll be able to refer to as a yardstick for measuring your progress as a freelancer.

5. Build your personal brand.

Businesses need a brand to make them stand out. Because you’ll be setting out on your own, you will be your own brand. Let your online profile reflect the work you do, especially on social media. You can learn more about how to build your personal brand by reading the article Six Steps To Building Your Personal Brand.

6. Display your work.

Talk about the work you do on social media, and display samples (if it’s the kind that allows for this). Have a portfolio that includes the sort of service you specialize in delivering, so you can refer to it when you are trying to get a potential client on board. If you’re a writer or designer for instance, you can have a personal blog that showcases these things. It’ll serve as a convenient means for people to have a look at what you do.

7. Keep tabs on your figures.

Whatever you do, just be certain that you know what your business figures are. Take more than a cursory look at your revenue figures; examine them in detail to see where your revenue is coming from, so you have an idea of what the trend really is, and what aspects of your business you should be building or improving. If you run a website, find out where the traffic comes from, and think about how you can use the information you obtain from the analytics to better what you do.

Finally, don’t neglect the need to be plain and honest in your dealings with your clients- your reputation can be built on your transparency, or marred by your untrustworthiness.

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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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