The world is constantly changing. In the freelance economy, one of the most important skills moving into the future will be the ability to accept and capitalize on these changes.
Key Shifts in Freelancing
How has the freelancing industry changed in the past few years? Well, the most noticeable change is the regularity of freelance work.
The past year was challenging as the global pandemic forced workplace models to transform nearly overnight. We had to ask ourselves questions that we may have never considered in the past, like:
● What should stay open?
● Is it safe for me to go out into the world to work?
● Is this something that I can do remotely?
This line of thinking has led many people to wonder if a freelance job is worth trying out. After all, the vast majority of freelance work is remote.
Over the past year alone, the number of people who have tried freelancing in the United States has grown from 53 to 57 million, accounting for nearly one-third of the entire United States workforce and contributing close to $1.2 billion to the economy.
The best part? These freelancers can work from remote locations. According to the Upwork Freelance Forward Economics Report, over 75% of new freelancers report they completed at least some of their work remotely, while over 30% completed all of their work remotely.
How Can Freelancers Capitalize?
So how does this affect you? How can freelancers make the most of the shifts happening in the industry?
First, master your skill set.
Whether you are new to your field or looking for a change in your career, it would be ideal for you to sharpen your skills and become one of the top consultants in your field of expertise.
Freelancers performing skilled services make a median of $28 an hour. To put that in perspective, this is a greater wage than 70% of the U.S. workforce.
So, how can you capitalize on the new freelance economy once you master your specialized skills? While there are many things that you can do to build your freelancing empire, here are five proven ways to land new clients as a freelancer in your industry.
It may sound silly to create content without a big audience to publish to, but ground zero is all about creation. If you are a writer, write. Do guest posts on established blogs in your industry — anything to get your work out there where people can see it. Logo designer? Create samples to build out your portfolio (even if you don't have a client yet). The same applies to each industry: create content that shows off your specialized skill. Flaunt your work. There are many content creation tools that can help you make this process more streamlined. The more eyes that see your unique content, the better off your business is going to be.
2. Leverage Word-of-Mouth Marketing
We can never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. While it is difficult to scale, this form of advertising is one of the highest converting. When you get a new client, go the extra mile and overdeliver — not only in your work, but in your manner, your professionalism, every aspect of dealing with them. Give each new client the best customer experience possible. Once you do this, don't be afraid to ask for referrals. People are much more likely to listen to suggestions that come from a friend or a trusted source. In fact, 92 percent of consumers say they trust a referral over any advertising, and 88 percent trust online reviews as much as personal contacts.
That said, word of mouth is an invaluable way to gain new clients. You can automate the request for new referrals by building a list (of your new customers) and using email automation to create a campaign that automatically encourages new subscribers to refer your services when they share your link.
3. Build a Dynamite Portfolio
Having a strong portfolio is a must. The only difficulty is that it requires time to build with your experience. As you gain clients and win more work, you’ll become more attractive to prospective clients. Speed up your growth by promoting your portfolio. Market it as you market yourself. There are portfolio sites that allow people to search for you directly, such as:
● Journo Portfolio (for writers)
● Behance (for designers)
● Portfolio Box (for photographers)
Find the best platform to showcase your work! Update your portfolio regularly to include your latest projects. Your newest stuff is likely to be your best stuff, and you want that to be on display.
4. Maximize Social Platforms
Social media is not just for keeping up with friends and family. When properly positioned, a social media platform can be the only source you need for consistent client flow. Here's how to do it the right way:
1.) Create an account dedicated to showcasing your craft.
2.) Regularly post content focused on helping people achieve goals related to your service/offer.
3.) Build genuine connections and take the next steps through 1-on-1 conversations with people who are interested in your offer.
5. Network Productively
Last but not least is networking. Many people get nervous when you say the word, but in reality, effective networking is much less painful than people think. Similar to word of mouth, people respond best when there is a human element. The key difference here is that you are selling yourself rather than someone else doing it for you.
Networking can be ineffective and cheesy if you focus on what you can gain. Build a list of people who can benefit from your services and focus on helping them. When you shift the focus to what you can give, your ability to make genuine connections increases astronomically. The fact of the matter is knowing the right people and making the right impression on them can be the difference between a long and difficult road or a faster journey to the peak of your industry. Join groups on social platforms, go to in-person meetups and connect on virtual hangouts; insert yourself into the conversation and allow your expertise to show. Find people who have a need that you can fill and help them.
We are living in ever-changing times, and people who evolve through the changes will win. Capitalizing and creating a brand that outlasts your competition will be possible if you apply these recommendations. Freelancers will lead the change into the new economy and you can be at the forefront of innovation. You can live your dream, working from a remote location and making a significant income. All it takes is the will and skill or two you can leverage.
So, you tell me: What’s your next move?