Freelancer tips & tricks

22 Tips & Tricks for Freelancers

1. Be amazing at something

Most masters think that it takes at least 10,000 hours or more to be an expert at something, and even longer to be the BEST. I believe this depends on the learning skills and the abilities one has, as well as some other factors. It also depends on the fact that each person is different. It may be possible to master something within a few years if you have the abilities, but the most persistent people will keep going for 10 years and will always try to be the best.

Don’t try to attain perfection or be the “best”, but try to learn to excel or master your craft, and success will come on its own. You are still learning, to this day, and you will still be learning for the rest of your life.

2. Take some risks

What’s keeping you from freelancing success? Sometimes, lack of opportunity isn’t the culprit.

The sabotages aren’t the only ways that freelancers hold themselves back. There’s another big problem that keeps many freelancers from succeeding. In fact, this problem is so common it deserves at least one post dedicated just to it.

That big problem is FEAR. We’re afraid to succeed. We’re afraid of failure. We’re afraid of taking chances. We’re afraid of rejection. We’re afraid of over committing. The list goes on and on.

So, we stay where we are. Not learning new things. Not taking chances. Playing it safe. Certainly not growing our freelancing business. Paralyzed by fear.

Is fear something you struggle with? If it is, this post is for you. You can start to overcome your fear of risk-taking today.

3. Have your own website/portfolio

Your website serves as a canvas for your best work. Literally speaking, a website is what showcases your experience and skills in your niche. Don’t let potential customers wait to see samples of your work. Direct them to your website and let it do the talking. Showcase all the services you have to offer and include glowing testimonials from happy clients. These act as a guarantee of the quality of your services.

There isn’t anything more valuable in digital marketing than credibility. The higher your trust factor, the more options you have to expand your business and make money. Having a website can do wonders for business growth because every action you take on your website will strengthen your online presence. This will help you earn the trust of customers, giving potential clients more confidence in hiring you.

4. Write a blog

There are so many business benefits to blogging that it only makes sense for most web designers and other freelancers to take part. The benefits of blogging far outweigh the disadvantages.

Yet, it seems like every so often someone influential makes the statement that they think blogging is dead. They claim blogging is no longer a good idea for small businesses. It’s a waste of time, they say. Social media is all the exposure you need, they go on to say.

Few benefits you’ll have from writing a blog:

  • Relatively Low Cost. Yes, blogging costs a little money and takes a little time. However, it’s still a relatively low-cost way to promote your design business–especially when you compare it to paying for advertisements.
  • Controlled by you. It’s true that social media is a free way to promote your business. But don’t rely too heavily on social media. You don’t own the social media sites.
  • Builds authority. You can use your freelance blog to show off your knowledge in your area. To do this, create and share high-quality content that is relevant to your specialty.
  • Grows relationships. The best, most authoritative, blogs tend to have communities that grow up around them. These communities consist of regular commentators who interact frequently with the blog’s authors and readers.
  • Provides fresh content for search engines. It’s well-known that the search engines tend to favor sites that frequently publish new content. What better way to add new content than with a well-written blog post?
  • A source of work samples for writers and web designers. Your blog can serve as a sample of your work. What better way to show them what you can do than with your own blog?
  • Shows off your skills. Your skills aren’t always evident in your portfolio, which only shows the end result. In your blog, you can connect the dots and tell prospects how you worked behind the scene to make that project a success.
  • A place for your unique voice. No one approaches the design business quite like you. No matter who you are, you have a unique slant on the industry. With your blog, that uniqueness gets a voice.

Freelancer tips

5. Keep learning

Whether you’re a full-time freelancer or just looking to boost your side hustle, you might shy away from learning on your own. Perhaps you don’t have the fondest memories of school or don’t consider yourself a great student. Or you can’t see spending time learning when you could be working billable hours.

Don’t let those thoughts take over. Think of learning as another regular part of building a business, right up there with delivering client work, that will give you a competitive advantage in a crowded field of freelancers jockeying for projects.

To connect with educational content that will equip you with real-world skills you can apply to your work right away, you’ll want to compare online learning platforms and find your fit.


6. Take advantage of pre-designed templates and plugins

Web templates are easy to use, easy to set-up; they have low prices. You can choose from thousands. Themes have built-in functionalities and reliable updates. They might be perfect for your web design freelance business.

7. Develop your brand

Good branding makes any business memorable. Talented freelancers can benefit from being remembered, more than most. There are many skilled designers, photographers, and writers who call themselves freelancers these days, so you will need to brand yourself in a unique way, in order to stand out from the pack.

Whether you’re just getting started on the road to building a freelance career, or you’re a seasoned pro, here are some actionable steps to taking the guesswork out of what makes a memorable personal brand, and how you can start putting them into practice today.

Your personality is your brand.

The first step in the process is defining the unique personality of your brand.

This goes for all businesses, but when you’re a freelancer, guess who’s personality you get to use? That’s right, it’s one of those rare occasions when your business can be unabashedly all about YOU. After all, you are the brand, so to present a false front to the world would be unnatural, and ultimately very difficult to keep going.

8. Nurture clients relationship

First things first, you should understand why it is essential to build amazing relationships with your clients. Unless you, at your core, know and hold true that this is essential, reading this article (and a thousand other ones) won’t serve any purpose.

If you build great client relationships, your projects will flow smoothly. Your mental load will be incredibly reduced and you will actually be excited to get work done. You won’t dread client meetings; on the contrary, you will be excited to meet them and show them your work. And if they don’t like it, you won’t be mad and the relationship won’t be damaged – you’ll be prepared to work around any issues and actually enjoy the process.

If you build great relationships, your clients will return to you when they have new projects. If their friends need to hire someone, they will be happy to reference you because it was such a great experience. They trust you and they believe in your work and if you need something, you’ll be able to count on them too.

You won’t dread reference check calls anymore.

If you build great relationships with your clients, you won’t tweet that being a freelancer is actually pure suffering and modern day slavery, because if you really dedicate yourself to it, being a freelancer is an amazing journey.

9. Have a dedicated workspace

So, whether you choose to rent a cubicle, share workspace or create a space at home that’s all your own, here’s what we recommend you invest in:

  • A room you can control. Whether it’s music you need or total silence, you have to be able to create that ideal environment to be at your most productive. Having a place where you can shut the door and shut out the world is often the key to controlling your focus at work. If you don’t have a room at your disposal, consider converting a walk-in closet or part of a garage. Get innovative with what you have to create the space you need.
  • Proper lighting. For most of us, at least the tiniest bit of a window and some natural sunlight would be a bonus, but more important than that is lighting that will not contribute to headaches and eye strain. The lighting needs of a graphic designer, working with colors and photographs, may be different than the lighting needs of a writer who is typing black words on a white background all day. Know what you need and light your space appropriately.
  • An organized work area. Cluttered doesn’t function as well as clean. It just doesn’t. Those with cluttered and messy desks may spend an average of an hour and a half a day just looking for things. It adds up. Stay organized so you can enjoy your space.

10. Invoice Faster

Invoice faster to get paid faster. The faster you send an invoice for the work you’ve done, the faster you will get payment. That’s why you shouldn’t postpone sending an invoice.

11. Plan for Taxes

If you have never been self-employed before or worked as an independent contractor, then you may be unaware of just how important it is to save for taxes. You won’t have to pay these upfront, but you will have to pay them in the long run, so it is necessary to start setting aside a portion of your payments for taxes.

12. Treat Yourself and Your Work as a Business

One of the greatest tips that I could receive as a freelancer would be to start treating themselves and their work as a business. Be professional in your communications and be diligent in your work approach. Too many freelancers treat freelancing as a hobby and it is difficult to run a business effectively that way.

13. Send promotional emails to your prospects

In a nutshell, email marketing is a way to build relationships with many of the people who visit your website who might not be ready to hire you right away. By capturing their interest and encouraging them to sign up for your mailing list, you’ll be able to stay in touch with them, build interest in the value you offer and eventually turn many of them into paying clients

14. Send festive/New Year wishes to your prospects

If you’re using Gmail (or Google Apps), there is also an extension called Toolny Gmail to MailChimp which aims to help freelancers like yourself save contacts in MailChimp directly from within Gmail. This streamlined process aims to provide convenience and reduce your time spent on managing your lists within MailChimp.

Freelancer tips

15. Start it as a side project

To minimize cash flow worries while you work out if your big idea has legs, why not start off small in your spare time. It’s going to take a fair bit of research, brainstorming, and trial and error in the early days, so try to make headway in the evenings and weekends, without the pressure to deliver before the money runs out.

16. Network like a pro

Nurture your network: Without the support of a co-founder or team around you, your network is even more important to bounce ideas off, ask advice and get intros to the right people. So make an effort to nurture and maximize all your existing contacts, while also spending time finding new ones by attending events, groups, and online forums. Even if somebody isn’t immediately useful, you never know where they’ll be in the future – plus you might be able to help them out in the meantime!

17. Find a mentor or coach

Isolation is the biggest enemy of the solopreneur and while a strong network is a bonus, it’s nice to have somebody who’s dedicated to listening to your concerns and problems. Working with a business coach or mentor allows you to air the issues you’re grappling with and work through a solution, giving you the confidence to make big decisions and move forwards. So have a think about whether anybody you know fits the bill.

18. Hack your skills

Lacking an important skill you need for your business? There’s no need to invest in an expensive training course. Whatever it is, chances are you can find loads of free guides and advice online to get you started, whether through YouTube videos, articles or by asking around in relevant business forums. A few hours dedicated study time and you’ll be an expert in no time, potentially saving your business a fortune, while adding new strings to your bow.

19. Join a co-working space

 Co-working has revolutionized the lives of solopreneurs everywhere, giving you a ready-made network for support, collaboration and to win new business. Many co-working spaces also offer mentoring, training and events, plus there are loads of good value packages designed with solo workers in mind.

20. Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket

Having a main contract or project that provides you more than the 50% of your current income is not a good idea. You will get used to that ‘comfort’ and that’s the worst thing it can happen to your ‘freelance instinct of getting new projects‘.

21. Help others

If you have too many projects, delegate them. Other freelancers will be thankful to you and surely they will return the favour in the future.

22. Pro bono work for non-profit

Everyone pays. That needs to be your first rule. But there are more ways to be paid than simply cash.

  • Resume building – If you are a writer, a byline in a newspaper is gold. Volunteering to cover an event so that you can add a newspaper article to your resume/CV makes a lot of sense.
  • Customer reviews – Getting comments or reviews from customers can get you a lot more customers. Offering to work for a great review is excellent.
  • Being responsible – Adding volunteer work is a great way to show that you are a good citizen. Being a website builder and creating a website for the local food bank is a great thing to do.

Some things to look out for:

Don’t volunteer for someone just so they don’t have to pay. – Lots of unscrupulous fools will ask you to ‘volunteer’ to help their company. Volunteer to help your own company first.

If they ask, be wary. Unless they represent an actual charity, they shouldn’t be asking.

Don’t volunteer when there is work to be done. Some people can volunteer themselves right into poverty. Don’t do it!

A non-profit isn’t going to be able to pay a lot but can provide you with some great portfolio pieces if you’re willing to help them out with a reduced price or even the occasional piece of free work.

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Pavel Malos

Creating Digital Experiences @ BootstrapBay