How to Succeed as a Freelancer

by Sherry Heyl

Are you ready to make the leap to being your own boss, working on projects you choose, and setting your own hours?

According to the report, Freelancing in America: 2017, the freelance workforce grew at a freelancingrate 3x faster than the US workforce overall since 2014. At its current growth rate, the majority of the U.S. will be freelancers by 2027.

I have been freelancing for 13 years and have coached a number of other freelancers. Below are the top 3 considerations I have identified over the years that determine if a freelancer will be successful 

Decide if you going to be a contractor or a consultant.

This is the first question I ask everyone when they tell me they are going to start freelancing. The difference between a contractor and a consultant is that a contractor is hired to do a specific job as directed by their client such as create a logo, write a white paper and so forth, whereas a consultant is hired for their overall expertise to guide the client on what needs to be done to meet stated objectives.

There are benefits to both and the decision you make will be based on the type of work you want to take on as well as your experience.

This decision will guide how you market yourself and the type of ongoing training you will focus on. As a contractor, your marketing will be focused on filling specific needs and your training will be focused on tools and trends related to your skill set. As a consultant, your marketing will be focused on overall business efficiencies and effectiveness within your area of expertise and your ongoing training will be broader rather than in-depth.

Get comfortable with being a salesperson.

Freelancers who have said they have maintained financial stability have an average of 4.5 clients per month. Although many clients hire freelancers on a long-term basis, most assignments on short-term projects. This means that selling needs to be an ongoing process.

The mistake I see freelancers make most often is to focus on sales when they need work and then completely stop the sales process when they have enough work. This leads to a cycle of feast and famine.

Technology has simplified the sales process by helping you stay top of mind of your contacts when you share relevant articles, comment on their posts, or provide daily tips and tricks. These activities will increase the volume of work that is referred to you which are always the best leads. But even with warm leads, you need to be ready and comfortable to go through the sales process of identifying the client’s need and how that need impacts their business currently, be able to layout the solution you offer and show the positive impact of hiring your services.

Be thankful every single day.

Going out on your own is hard.

There will be days you have no idea where your next paycheck is coming from. There will always be people who know more than you do and make you wonder if you have the right skills to succeed (you do). You will have clients fire you for many varied reasons. There will lose deals you were counting on. People more junior than you will flood the market with lower rates.  You will work too much. You will get burned out. You will discover that you have gone weeks neglecting yourself or the health of your business. You will feel like you are on a hamster wheel without a defined career path.

I realize none of that makes freelancing sound appealing. I can assure you that the hard stuff is hard and will happen. But it is at those times you have to focus on being thankful that you live at a time where being a freelancer is a viable option. Be thankful that you have the courage to design the life you want. Be thankful that you have talents and skills that will take you far. Some days you may need to just be thankful that you have a roof over your head, electricity, and food for the day.

Focusing on being thankful is what will pull you out of the dark days that will come. Also by focusing on what you are thankful for you will set your focus on what you want more of and use your energy to create a strategy to get more of what you want.

I truly believe that freelancing is not only the most rewarding way to manage your career but if done right, offers more stability than working full-time for a company. Not only does being a  freelancer offer freedom and flexibility, it provides you with a blank canvas to recreate yourself. You can change careers, increase your skills, work harder or work part-time. You get to align yourself with a team of people you enjoy working with and learning from and you get to focus on finding work that is meaningful to you.

Perhaps this is why freelancing has become such a rapidly growing trend.

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