This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.
Freelancing isn’t a job or career. It’s a lifestyle choice. The more you make freelancing about the lifestyle you desire, the more successful (and happier) you will be.
Freelancing is the new “job for life.” (See #1)
If you don’t know what “B2B” means, Google it.
Customer lifetime value is the most important metric in business. Understand how it works, and why it matters.
Speaking of business, you are one — even if you work from home in your pajamas. Act like a business, or you will go out of business.
Integrate the four cornerstones of business — product development, customer service, marketing, and branding—into your freelance business.
Product development is what’s referred to in the freelance world as “honing your craft.” Always be learning and improving.
Customer service is how happy you make your clients. Under-promise and over-deliver.
Marketing is the process of creating value and staying relevant in the minds of your ideal clients until they are willing, able and ready to hire you at the price you want to charge. Develop a basic-but-effective marketing strategy that allows you to be top of mind when your ideal clients are willing, able and ready to hire someone who provides your services.
Branding is the process of developing a desired image in the minds of customers, in order to maximize perceived value and worth. Figure out what you want your ideal clients to think and feel about you, your services and your field, so that you can maximize their perception of your value and worth. (See #15)
Understand your ideal client (also known as a “buyer persona”), and ignore clients who don’t fit this mold. Don’t be everything to everyone.
Learn how to say “no” (e.g. to clients, to projects, to anything that doesn’t make you happy). You can do anything, but not everything.
Your skills are not the most important skills. Self-awareness is the most important skill. Do a self-awareness inventory to ensure you are maximizing your strengths and passions.
Figure out if you want to be a Cowboy or an Indian, and then stay in your lane. (See #15)
A personal brand matters. If people will buy $300 jeans instead of the same fabric for $30, people will hire someone for $300 an hour instead of $30 an hour for the same services. Again, a personal brand matters.
Unless you aspire to build a company (e.g. an agency) that outlives and outgrows you, stick to your name for the name of your business. Learn how to sell yourself; it’s a great skill to have, even if you don’t end up freelancing for life. (See #17)
Clients care about two things: how to make more money, and how to save more money. Everything else is noise. Eliminate the noise from your sales pitch.
Nine times out of 10, never agree to work for free. It doesn’t matter how much experience you do or don’t have. No one will value you if you don’t value yourself and your time. Make people invest in you, even if just a little at first. Know your worth.
Be confident in your ability to learn and grow on the job. Then, when you get the opportunity, learn and grow on the job. (See #20)
You don’t need a bedtime, morning routine, passion project, journal, mood board or any other trendy practice to be successful. If it makes you happy, do it. If it doesn’t, then don’t.
There is no such thing as a hack (also known as a “shortcut”). As John Wooden said, “If you spend too much time learning the ‘tricks’ of the trade, you may not learn the trade.” This applies to everything, including but not limited to: personal and skill development, business acumen, sales, marketing, personal branding, everything.
Find a mentor, even if it’s from a distance.
You don’t sell services; you sell time, since services take time to provide. Understand the difference, and how it impacts your pricing.
If you’re not sure, try. If you’re still not sure, keep trying. When children learn how to walk and fall down hundreds of times, they never think to themselves, “Maybe this isn’t for me.” Better an oops than a what if. Every strike brings you closer to the next home run.
Test, learn and respond. (See #26)
The first step of change is to become aware of your own BS. Act accordingly. (See #15)
Don’t call yourself a freelancer when talking, directly or indirectly, to clients, and refrain from using titles like “expert,” “ninja,” or “guru” as well. Your bio should state the problems you can solve for clients. (See #19)
Don’t use words like “services” to describe what you do. Services are commodities. Commodities aren’t worth a whole lot. You want to be an asset, because assets are valuable. Clients will pay good money for something they deem valuable. It’s basic psychology.
When pitching clients, always include the “so that you can” phrase in your sentences. (See #19)
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Supply and demand determines how much you can charge. (Supply is the amount of available time you have, and demand is how many clients want to work with you at any given time.) When demand increases, supply decreases. When supply decreases, you can raise your prices. Figure out how to increase demand for your time. (Hint: It’s not word-of-mouth.)
“Just let go. Let go of how you thought your life should be, and embrace the life that is trying to work its way into your consciousness.” — Caroline Myss
Failure is feedback, and the obstacle is the way. Embrace it. “The person who fails the most, wins.” —Seth Godin
It’s never too late to start doing what you want. See opportunity where others see impossibility.
You are what you eat. Eat well.
Good is not enough if better is possible. Channel your inner epic.
Embrace your weirdness — what makes you different and unique. (See #17)
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Choose wisely.
“If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.” — Kevin Spacey
Check out part 2 tomorrow!
Josh Hoffman runs Epic Freelancing, where he helps people build a freelance life they love.