It doesn’t take a lot to be a successful freelancer.
You need your prospects to know that you have the experience and the know-how of the job.
When talking to a new client, show them what you have done. Show them what you can do for them. Write a cover letter geared to their business. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy letter listing your achievements since high school. In fact, a shorter one gets read quicker.
If you’re new, you might have to compromise on your rates. But be selective. Choose work that will help you grow or help you get new clients. Working for your grandma for free probably won’t.
Give your clients what you are promising, and do it on time. Adding something extra once in a while will help you get more work.
If I’m working as a blog writer for a client, I offer them suggestions for their social media pages. The chances are they will offer you more work if they like your suggestions. Repeat work from the same clients is the best way to get more work because, with each new client, you are spending extra time building rapport and developing a communication system.
Ayesha is a freelance content writer—learn how she made the leap to remote work while building her blog and raising her family
Read full interview from Interview with Ayesha, a freelance writer that gained early clients through her blog.
I do have a few tips to share with aspiring remote workers. These could come in handy for somebody who’s mulling over whether to take the plunge:
Deb made the jump from full-time software developer to freelance sales copywriter—learn how he made the transition.
Read full interview from Interview with Deb, a sales copywriter who transitioned from software development.
Hard work and luck, being in the right place at the right time.
Alexandra is a freelance fashion designer who works remotely while traveling and building her own brand.
Read full interview from Interview with Alexandra, a freelance fashion designer building her own brand.
A lot of effort needs to be put into it.
It’s not just diving in head first and expect work. You have to go for the legal side of it as well.
Most jobs under a certain amount just aren’t worth the effort cause if someone doesn’t pay you $100 you can sue in small claims but you’d waste more money than you would get in return.
I only take small jobs that take me an hour maximum usually unless I feel the client is a sincere person. Also, they need to have a very good track record—do the research on anyone you work for on big jobs.
Read every piece of a contract, I’ve had a contract state that I would have to rework anything for free for up to 6 months in very fine print before. Technically if it took me a week to finish I would have to work for free for 6 months after it was turned in.
Keep a trust to a very small circle. Have a client earn your trust and vice versa, this way you and the client get a better feeling of how to work with each other and create a more respectable workplace.
In the event a natural disaster happens inform your client so they can be prepared, but if they want you to travel in the middle of a hurricane or mudslide the money just isn’t worth it your well-being is more important.
Networking is very important as well, I’ve helped a few people from college get some work when it was plentiful to me, and some of them have told me about jobs that are posted early to help me get a quick foot into the interview section.
Michael is a freelance visual effects (VFX) artist, creating 3d models, mockups and videos while working remotely.
Read full interview from Interview with Michael, a VFX artist that works remotely.
I'm an Upwork freelancer with the Top Rated badge for a while in the past.
But last month, two of my contracts were ended by the client because I found I'm unable to deliver the work within given time frame (I've just started them and didn't get any payments) and I told them.
Then my job success rate dropped hence no top rated badge. This is a painful lesson for me.
So if you want to be a successful freelancer, be sure to do the job you can definitely complete.
Otherwise, don't waste time applying them. You won't get (full) payment for failed projects and that might ruin your freelance career.
So now before starting a contract, I need to figure out everything including what the clients' expectation are, what is the deadline, etc. These are very very important in order to satisfy the clients.
For important thing to my work/productivity, like what I said, we should keep in touch with the clients. That's the best way to make the job successful.
Hanling started working remotely as a student and now does freelance machine learning and data analysis for clients all around the world.
Read full interview from Interview with Hanling, a data scientist that works remotely on machine learning.
It is important to have platforms like Upwork for freelancers as you get a contract and this way you make sure you’ll get paid when you submit the work. I have previously worked on other projects outside of Upwork and always made sure to ask for a down-payment. I once worked for a whole day on a project which the client eventually did not pay for but fortunately, I at least had the 50% down-payment.
I always discuss projects thoroughly with my clients first so as to make sure we are on the same page. Being in the design sector, sometimes we can have different views on a design. I might like something that the client hates. So it is crucial to discuss the project well so as to prevent endless revisions.
I have also learned not to take every comment personally because sometimes I might have designed something I think is great but then the client does not like it. Some clients might not have a design eye and I try to give my point of view. But not every client will listen. So I try to design according to the client’s idea while also giving my input.
Having said that, I will not design something I do not believe in. I have previously refused some jobs because I did not believe I could design something nice while sticking to a specific brief given by the client.
Nelvina is a freelance fashion and graphic designer that works remotely while working with clients all around the world
Read full interview from Interview with Nelvina, a fashion designer who designs bags and clothing.
In order to get more job offers, it is very that you treat your clients well.
Be friendly, be more responsive and meet deadlines.
Because once a client is satisfied with what you’ve done, and plans to have more projects in the future, this will help assure that you would be one of their first options.
Wilbert is an ESL (English as a Second Language) Teacher that made the jump to remote work to gain more freedom from his office job.
Read full interview from Interview with Wilbert, an ESL teacher that remotely teaches English to kids.
In order to be a successful freelancer, the key is to communicate.
The client and the freelancer alike need to be in constant communication. If something comes up, or there is a delay in getting the work done, most clients are sympathetic as long as they are aware of what is going on.
Another key to being successful is to ask questions and take notes. Make yourself a cheat sheet for common issues or questions so you can refer back. The skill of organization is also imperative, as mentioned above.
Chloe uses the flexibility of freelancing to her advantage—see how she successfully manages multiple projects at one time.
Read full interview from Interview with Chloe, a customer support freelancer and multi-project expert.
In a word, discipline. Ultimately, that's what it all comes down to. Ideally, it'd be nice to have talent regarding whatever profession you choose or whatever service you strive to deliver but, even then, the discipline still trumps talent.
You need to be diligent and have the discipline to keep to your schedule, to adhere to your lists, to update your lists regularly, to do the work and to get it delivered when it's due and at the highest level of quality, you can achieve.
You need to have the discipline to study and learn on a regular basis, to keep your skills up to date, to stay informed on the trends in your chosen industry and to be aware of the latest standards in technology relevant to your field.
As I think about it, tenacity is also important. You need to have the tenacity to stick with it, to keep searching, to keep pushing, to keep getting better at your craft. But then, depending on how you look at it, tenacity can also be a result of discipline.
If you discipline yourself to constantly practice these principles then, from the outside, it will most definitely look like tenacity. And maybe, in a way, that's what tenacity, at its core, really is: Discipline.
Vernon is a freelance software technical writer that uses lists to organize his hectic freelance schedule—see how he maximizes his time throughout the workday.
Read full interview from Interview with Vernon, a freelance technical writer .
I think there are a whole lot of different things that can go into being a successful freelancer. Ultimately, I think the most important thing to do is to figure out how you work best. Whether you are working remotely or are a full-time freelancer, you have to be your own boss.
So, if you can figure out when you’re naturally more excited to work and when you struggle, you don’t always have to be fighting yourself to get things done.
I also think that you need to spend some time planning both in the short term and in the long term. I’ve found myself only focusing on what jobs I’m working on right now, and then all of a sudden realize that I have no plan for when the projects are over.
With all types of projects and goals, I like to make sure I’ve mapped out a plan to keep myself on track.
Erin is a videographer who carved out a successful freelancing niche—see how she optimizes her time and plans for the ups and downs of freelance work.
Read full interview from Interview with Erin, a videographer who found her freelancing niche.
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