With content mills offering freelance services for pennies, it can be difficult to see how a freelancer can make any money. Yet there are plenty out there working full time and living comfortably. Do they charge pennies? No, and yet they somehow still get work. If you want to create a lasting business, you cannot expect to do it with tiny fees. You might get plenty of clients but if you’re making less than minimum wage then what’s the point?

Many freelancers undercharge for their services because they’re afraid clients will go elsewhere. It’s true that some will, usually the ones who will only ever pay pennies (yet expect a premium service). These are not the kind of clients you want to attract anyway. They will not grow your business.How to compete with cheaper freelancers

So how do you charge more when someone is willing to work for next to nothing? You add value. People are willing to pay for quality. Value for money does not mean the cheapest option. It means more money for more value, a fair exchange. You have to prove that you have more to offer than the content mills.

How to add value

Expert knowledge and experience

Businesses are unlikely to find a reliable, experienced freelancer, who is an expert in a specific industry and is also happy to work for £5 through a content mill.

Clients will generally prefer a freelancer who understands their industry and has had experience working in it before. You don’t just hire a freelancer for the physical work, you hire them for their specialised knowledge and experience.

There are clients out there willing to pay a fair price for quality work. It’s in their best interest especially if your work is going up on their website. They want quality work which reflects their brand.

Choose a niche or two to focus on, something you have knowledge or experience with. Lots of freelancers try to do everything, but you’re more likely to be hired and well paid if you’re a specialist.

Better quality work

In order to make money from a content mill, freelancers have to blast through work. They have to work quickly and take on as many jobs as possible in order to make anything close to a useful amount. As a result, the work is bound to suffer.

If a client wants good quality work, they’re going to have to pay good quality prices. For higher prices they get the freelancer’s care and attention. Freelancers can give more of a personal touch by asking detailed questions about what the client wants so that they can produce the best possible work.

Extras

You could offer extras to clients as a way to stand out. For this, you should check out your competition. See what other freelancers are doing and offering. If you’re a blogger, you could also offer quality photos to save the client’s time sourcing them. You could include SEO, social media management or professional editing too.

How to show your value

The first thing you need is a good online presence. This means a professional website, a regularly updated blog and engaging social media profiles. Everyone does their research online now and you need to be there for people to find.

Website

Your website should look professional, clearly laid out and have good consistent branding. You should also have a portfolio containing the best examples of your work. This gives clients an incentive to hire you. It also gives clients an idea of what work they will get from you and then they can decide if you’re the right fit for their business needs. You should also try to get testimonials from clients and display them clearly on your website.

Blog

You should ideally blog about your business or your industry to show that you’re an expert in your field. People don’t want sales pitches, they want free, quality content. A blog can make you and your business a valuable resource of information that people will come back to. Should they then need a freelancer, they will turn to you first. A blog can also help with SEO, engaging with potential clients and building a support network of other freelancers.

Branding

Think branding is just for big companies? No, branding has become important for freelancers too because you are essentially a small business. Branding needs consistency, think logos, colour schemes, graphics and fonts. Hire a designer if you can, maybe another freelancer and make a contact at the same time.

Social media

Think about having separate profiles for personal and business use so that you have the freedom to post pictures of nights out if you need to without alienating your customers.

LinkedIn is almost essential nowadays. You can have a profile of your business, include details of past work, connect with clients and write articles. Many people find work through there so you should definitely try it out if you haven’t already. Twitter is good for sharing quick facts, links and updates. Pinterest has become useful for creating a visual portfolio and easily shared links that catch the eye.

Don’t feel the need to have a profile on every single platform. You’re better picking a couple and then focusing your efforts on them. When you’re choosing which ones to use, think about your target market and where they’re more like to hang out.

Have you struggled to compete with other freelancers? How do you add value? Share your thoughts in the comments.