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The One Man Band, Life of a Freelancer
by Matt Krautstrunk Thu, 04/21/2011 - 11:02
Freelancing. Why do it? What’s the benefit? Well, for starters, you can sleep in as late as you want, and wear pajamas all day if you honestly wanted to. I think this scenario is what initially attracts people to freelancing. You get to be the boss, and do things on your own terms—but is this true in reality?
As a freelancer you have the flexibility to work on your time, and take what projects you want to take. But at a price—if you don’t operate during somewhat office hours how will you communicate with you clients? Bottom line is you are running a business, a one person business, but a business it is.
Once you become a freelancer you have not only decided to take on the role of web designer (or other field) but also marketing, accounting and sales. Taking your freelancing job just as seriously as any other job is the key to success—and allows you to do things, your way.
Marketing- How are you going to market your services? Do you have a website? Are you going to use social media? The first thing you need to do for your marketing plan is to outline what you want to do, and how you will measure your success. There are a million different marketing techniques out there to choose from—find what techniques work best for your services.
Social Media- Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are great tools to get your message across—and it’s FREE. We all like free stuff, if we didn’t, make-up counters would stop giving out free gifts with purchases. But the fact remains, these channels won’t work if your audience isn’t engaging on them.
If you are tweeting a message about your site, set up a specific landing page to measure how effective your tweet was. There is some science involved in tweeting and other social media tactics. For example, is tweeting a blog post in the morning more effective than in the afternoon? It’s a little bit of trial and error at first, but once you know what works best for your audience it should foster customer engagement. Not to mention brand exposure and loyalty.
Email Marketing- Did you know 88% of people have only one inbox for personal and business email? I didn’t either, but according to Dan Zarrella, Social Media Marketing Scientist at HubSpot, the best time to send out your emails is on the weekend—a much higher click through rate.
The trick to a great email blast is to have something informational for your audience. How many newsletters are you subscribed to? Now, think about how many you READ. Chances are the number is lower than the amount you are subscribed to. Why is that? Most likely because the few you do read is because you know you are going to learn something valuable.
Don’t send anything you wouldn’t want to read. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes—what benefits them by reading the information?
Accounting- You might not be a master in finance, but freelancing means you will be taking care of billing and collecting funds from clients. How much is your service worth? How will you bill your clients? What if they don’t pay on time? All of this needs to be planned out before starting your freelance work.
PayPal is probably one of the easiest ways to bill and accept payment, but there are many other services available. Some software programs are able to track your hours on a project so you can bill appropriately.
How much you charge is also tricky at the beginning of your freelancing career. You don’t want to charge too much, but at the same time you don’t want to charge too little. One way is to find an industry standard for your services. Price out other web design companies to see what they charge.
Sales- Sales and marketing go hand in hand—which is why most are in the same umbrella at companies. Being able to find customers and make a sell is imperative to freelancers. You have to know how to close a deal with big and small clients. Spend some time crafting the perfect pitch, this will empower you to sell your services to clients more effectively.
If you are afraid you are going to hear no, you need to grow some thicker skin. Some people might even be a bit rude, but at the end of the day the more you pitch, the more you will find clients. If you think about it, what does the word no really mean? Not much, just move on and pitch the next.
With that said, make sure you are pitching the right audience. Make sure they need your services, and can be of help. If you are pitching someone who just had a website redesign, you are barking up the wrong tree.
Being a freelancer can be great and rewarding—but make sure you are diving into the freelance world with your head on your shoulders. You have to wear multiple hats and treat it like a business, but it can be very rewarding in the end. What tactics have you found useful as a freelancer? Let us know in the comments below.