You can get clients and make money as a freelancer without these five things. But having these will make it much easier.

I’m writing this both as a freelancer (18 years and counting) and as someone who frequently hires freelancers (for my own projects and for client work).

1: Your own (owned) space on the Interwebs

You need a website. Your own.

Please.

Please make one. Please have one. Please put all your freelance stuff on it and please, pretty please, stop sending me to your Linkedin profile because you don’t have a website.

I want to know more about you than Linkedin will tell me. And I don’t want to have to run around the worldwide web to find it.  Yes, I’m going to search your name and check out your online reputation. But I don’t want to have to visit five different sites to learn the basics of your expertise and how you might be able to help me.

As a freelancer, here’s why you want your own space:

Here are some ways to get started:

WordPress is reliable and full-featured and it’s been around for a while. Yes, there are alternatives (Square, Wix, etc.) but these are babies compared to WP. Remember that many Internet-company-babies do not survive into adolescence.

2: A biography, in several versions

Nobody really enjoys writing about themselves, but it’s an essential part of being a freelancer.

You’re meeting most people—potential clients, colleagues, collaborators, etc.—online, rather than in-person. You have to provide enough information to fill in the gaps that exist when we’re not physically present with someone.

The biographies you need:

3: Your core services and rates

You don’t have to put these on your website. Many freelancers don’t publish their rates online (to my everlasting frustration).

But you should—at the least—have a list of your core services and the standard rates you charge for these services. Here’s mine, if you want to take a look.

Then, when you receive a client query—or want to pitch a new potential client—you have your services and rates ready to send.

Here are a few things to remember:

4: Your No list

This is a simple but powerful list.

It can be known only to you. It is a list of the services you do not provide, the projects you do not take on, the work you will not do.

It will help you focus and specialize. It will raise your standing in the eyes of your clients, because saying no is something you can do only from a position of power. It’s not about being arrogant or unapproachable: it’s about knowing what you’re good at and what you want to offer. You’re the only one who has the right to make those determinations, so start making them.

If you’ve done a certain kind of project and absolutely hated every minute of it, put it on your no list. Use your brain, of course, and figure out what it was that is a No for you. Maybe it was just a needy client; in that case, it’s not the type of project you want to avoid, it’s a particular type of client.

Define what you will and will not accept. Define what you will and will not offer. Write it down, and stick to it.

If it feels aggressive or unhelpful to make your No list public, don’t. Keep it handy, where you glance at it daily and can refer to it as needed.

However, do consider that you can use a No list as a simple way to filter out the clients, jobs, and offers you don’t want. I’ve had a No list on my website for several years and a few of my favorite clients approached me specifically because of it: they liked my clarity and thought we would be a good fit. And they were right.

5: Proof of your skills

A general rule of thumb that I’m making up right now is this one:

If you’re providing expertise in a certain topic, prove your expertise with your writing or completed projects.

If you’re offering a specialized service, give me a way to see something similar that you’ve already completed.

The more advanced and expensive the service, the more proof you need to provide that you’re able to do the work and do it well.

You can also offer testimonials from clients as proof of your skills, but I consider those secondary. I don’t trust everybody’s judgment. Your Client X may have been super happy with your design work, but their standards may be way different than mine. Provide testimonials and positive feedback, sure! They are powerful. But also provide actual proof of the work you’ve done: links, screenshots, even written descriptions are powerful.

Of course, the best place for all this material is your website! Aren’t you glad you have one?


Photo by Richard Bagan on Unsplash

July 29, 2019