When you first start freelancing, apart from your relief at never again having to drag your lifeless body to the black hole of your former workplace, under that suave veneer you’re probably feeling a teensy bit nervous. What if you can’t make this work?
Whether you’re a mere hatchling in the world of self-employment or have successfully escaped the cubicle police for good, here are ten things you should do to keep yourself in business.
1. Always Be Hustling
The biggest thing to get used to when you make the transition from employment to freelancing is that your success is often proportionate to the amount of self-promotion you engage in.
When you have to fend for yourself, snagging a new assignment could mean having electricity and running water for another month. This means you have to come up with a marketing plan and stick to it, at least in the early days.
2. Prepare Good Marketing Materials
Even if you’re on the same level as your grandma in terms of tech savvy, you need to somehow put together a website and a business card. Put your portfolio up online and if necessary get some samples in print to show clients when you meet them in person.
3. Use Contracts
Getting your clients to sign a contract is something almost nobody does at the start, until one of these clients start ignoring your calls and you’re left feeling like a psychotic ex-lover.
4. Tell Everyone
Gone are the days when you could be modest and retiring about your job. Even if you hate talking about work during your downtime, at least let everyone know what you do instead of mysteriously letting on that you “work from home”.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn are no longer there just for show, at least not once you realise you can get actual jobs through them.
5. Know What To Charge
In the early days, there’s the temptation to take on jobs so poorly paid you would have to work 3,000 hours just to buy enough bread to keep yourself alive for a month. Find out what market rates are like for your services.
At the start when you’re struggling to find clients, you can afford to do a few cheap or free jobs, but after that make sure your clients are willing to pay you what you deserve.
6. Go The Extra Mile For Your Clients
For many employees in Singapore, doing the bare minimum in order to not get fired is a job well done. When you freelance, clients suddenly start looking a lot more desirable, to the point where you would at times prefer a nice, juicy client to a wagyu steak.
To keep your clients coming back, focus on always giving them a little more than 100%. Go the extra mile for clients by throwing in extra advice or freebies and they’ll be likelier to remember you the next time they need help, or at least recommend you to a friend.
7. Hone Your Skills
At a typical Singapore corporation, everyone’s so busy dodging arrows that people actually brag about how narrow their skillsets are. As a freelancer, you want to actually get good at what you’re doing, and to expand your abilities in areas that can benefit your business.
If you’re a graphic designer, learn web design. If you’re a math tuition teacher, maybe it’s time to actually find out how to do those sums without checking the answers.
8. Get Out There
Now that you work in bed, it might be tempting to see just how many weeks you can go without brushing your teeth. Resist the temptation and try to get out as much as possible, because the world is unpredictable and you find clients in the most unlikely of places.
9. Follow Up With Past Clients
Unlike your exes, it’s never quite over with past clients. Follow up with people you’ve worked with now and then to see if they have any projects they might need help with. If a client likes your work, ask nicely if they can leave you a review on Yelp or a testimonial for your website.
10. Have An Invoicing System
You don’t expect your clients to pass you your fees in an ang bao, do you? Then issue proper invoices and keep track of them or hire someone to do it for you.
Do you have any pearls of wisdom to share based on your own freelance career? Let us know in the comments!
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