There’s a good reason why freelancing has seen continued growth over the last few years.
When done correctly, it can be a highly lucrative career with plenty of benefits.
However, you’re only likely to find freelancing success if you build a strong personal and professional foundation first.
It’s far too easy for freelancers to struggle because they’re doing things haphazardly.
Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been freelancing for a while and can’t seem to achieve the success you want, make sure you’re creating a foundation that allows you to grow and thrive.
Let’s cover a few tips that can help you build your strengths as a freelancer, both personally and professionally.
1. Create a Strong Networking Base
If you’re just getting started in the world of freelancing, trying to find clients can feel a little overwhelming.
One of the best ways to get your name out there and meet the right people is to get involved in networking as much as possible.
Nowadays, online networking is easier than ever, and offers a great opportunity to build your business and find new leads.
Ask yourself what you’re hoping to achieve through networking and then choose to make your connections with that goal in mind.
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice if you’re a new freelancer. You might be surprised to find that people will be willing to offer their support and expertise.
2. Build a Professional Web Presence
As a freelancer, most of your activity is going to be done online.
It’s where you’ll market yourself, attract clients, do most of your networking, and complete your jobs.
While there are multiple ways to boost your web presence, the best place to start is by creating a professional webpage or digital portfolio of your work.
The good news? You don’t have to be a professional web designer to create a functional website that looks great and is easy to navigate.
There are plenty of platforms that allow you to create “drag and drop” websites with a few simple clicks.
If you want to get a bit more advanced, consider taking a web design class, or HTML courses that will help you learn how to create, style, and manage a website with ease. Your website will typically be the first place people go to learn more about you, so it’s not a place to cut corners.
Once you’ve created a website, branch out and grow your presence on social media.
While a website is necessary, social media is the place where you’ll get to interact with people and show the “human” side of what you do.
You can answer questions, show off more of your work, and get involved in conversations.
It’s another way of networking, but it’s also great for getting to know people before they become clients or customers.
3. Grow Your Skills
Being a successful freelancer requires consistent growth in both hard and soft skills.
One of the most important soft skills you’ll have to continuously improve is communication.
You’ll often work directly with clients, and depending on the type of work you do, you’ll need to communicate with them regularly.
It’s much easier to get each job done effectively and grow healthy relationships with your clients if you’re comfortable with communication. When you foster those relationships, you’re more likely to get repeat business.
When it comes to hard skills, remember that you’re essentially running your own business.
You’ll need to at least have a basic understanding of things like:
- Financial management
Understanding how to use technology to your advantage will also make a big difference.
You don’t need to be a tech wizard, but being able to utilize things like social media and creating a strong digital presence for yourself will help to boost your business.
4. Know How to Budget
Freelancing can be quite lucrative once you build up a consistent client base.
However, when you’re just getting started, you might have to deal with irregular payments. Even if you’ve been doing it for years, there might be some months that aren’t as successful as others.
It’s important to create a budget that works for your lifestyle and your goals.
Start by calculating your net income each month, but allow yourself some flexibility. Even if your income changes, there are some fixed expenses you’re likely to have, including:
- Car payment
While you can’t avoid these fixed payments, you can track your spending when it comes to “extras” each month.
That includes things like entertainment, clothes, and dining out. When you have the numbers in front of you, it’s easy to see where you might be spending too much, and where you can cut back to continue to live comfortably.
From there, you can start building your savings accordingly and budget for your freelance business.
It’s especially important to start contributing to an emergency fund as soon as possible. With uncertain economic waters ahead, it’s important to think like an entrepreneur and have an extra cushion in your finances just in case your client work dwindles as people start tightening their purses.
5. Strike a Healthy Work-Life Balance
You might think that freelancing is the best job possible for a healthy work-life balance.
Unfortunately, far too many freelancers deal with stress and burnout because they don’t establish healthy routines.
Having a schedule as a freelancer is important.
While it can be tempting to sleep in each day and start working whenever you feel like it, that will lead to a lack of productivity and can leave you feeling rushed and stressed as deadlines approach.
Set working hours for yourself and try to follow the same routine each day.
There’s always some room for flexibility, but don’t give yourself so much “freedom” that it keeps you from getting things done. A healthy work-life balance is crucial for your mental well-being and will keep you from getting burnt out or feeling resentful about your career.
Without a strong foundation, your freelancing career is at risk of crumbling.
Whether you’re just getting started or you need to make a change in the way you’re doing business, keep these ideas in mind and stand out from the crowd when it comes to landing the gigs you deserve.