N.B. This week’s freelancing guest post is brought to you by Erica Moss, a fellow writer who is also a well-seasoned freelancer. You will surely learn a lot of new stuff about Freelancing if you’ll continue reading her article below. – EOD
Being a freelancer is a very rewarding path for creative and self-motivated people. You’re not tied to a mind-numbing commute or the same drab office day in and day out. You work on different and exciting projects, and meet new people all the time. Those who choose the freelance lifestyle are generally pretty happy with their choice, but finding new clients and new projects can sometimes be the most challenging thing they do.
The one thing that a freelancer should always dread is getting into a rut. If things aren’t improving, then sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of why you even became a freelancer in the first place. It can be extremely beneficial to your career and your well-being to break through these plateaus.
One of the biggest advantages of being a freelancer is that you have control over your destiny, but sometimes it can be nice to have some help. To that end, here are five simple tips to help get out of a rut or over a plateau and to generally improve your freelancing career:
Increase Your Rates as You Gain Skill and Experience
While it may have been okay to charge rock-bottom rates when you were trying to break into the field, your compensation rise should reflect your skill and experience. There is a human psychology element to premium pricing: Those who charge more and have the skills to back it up will often land the job over the cheaper but less-experienced person.
Don’t sell yourself short! You are really good at what you do, better than you used to be, and your rates should reflect that. Try not to let longstanding clients bully you or guilt you into keeping your rates low, either. You need to upgrade your tools and skills over the years, and they secretly know that. And on that note …
Upgrade Your Tools and Skills
Whether it’s learning a new version of the software you use or upgrading your hardware, tools or materials to reflect changing trends, it really helps to keep on top of things. Announcing that you now use a new version of a popular software package or have upgraded to a new device that can help you express yourself better can actually bring in new clientele.
Think about people in your field who are stuck in a rut and keep churning out the same thing over and over again — you don’t want to be that guy. Trends change, and you need to change with them to stay relevant.
Invest in an Online Portfolio
There are so many great online portfolio sites out there that no matter what you freelance in, there’s bound to be a perfect site for you. Many of the high-end portfolio sites have free basic services, but to really connect with others and make it worth the time, you should probably invest in the premium paid service.
If you’re an artist or designer, for example, Behance offers a premium service that can put you in front of serious prospective clients. Photographers might want to try selling their work on 500px or Smugmug. No matter what you do, having the right portfolio site might be the difference between a slow month and a busy one — and sometimes you have to spend money to make money.
Take Your Social Media Networking to the Next Level
Whether you love it or hate it, social networking was “the future” of marketing a couple of years ago; now it’s the present. You’ll have a very hard time finding new clients online without the important connections that social media provides. At the bare minimum, having a current and modern website, Facebook profile and Twitter account is required. If you cannot or will not make these profiles and use these services, it might even be worth hiring someone to do it for you.
For every kind of freelancer, there is a valid and important social network. Image-based networks such as Instagram, Flickr and Pinterest can be incredibly beneficial for artists and photographers, while Facebook and Twitter are tremendously important for bloggers and writers — freelance journalists, for example, are expected to have active Twitter accounts at this point. No matter what your discipline or social network of choice, putting effort into your social media outreach will only benefit you.
Find a Mentor
There is nothing like a kick in the pants from someone you respect to get a fire lit under you. Sometimes only that human touch can get us to snap out of a rut. Find someone who is successful in your field or someone you respect and reach out to them. Ask them for advice; be humble; thank them. Remember that some day, someone might ask the same favor of you.
Hopefully these tips will help you stay on track. Remember: You are a freelancer, and the world is your oyster!
Photo above is used under Creative Commons License. Credit.
About the Guest Author
Erica Moss is the community manager for Georgetown University’s online graduate nursing programs, which partners with Nursing License Map to provide valuable nursing license information. She enjoys blogging, TV, pop culture and tweeting @ericajmoss.