So you’re a freelancer. Maybe you’ve just started out and can’t seem to get the clients on board, or maybe you are more experienced but find that it’s not enough for you to live on. Freelancing is never an easy route for anyone and you will inevitably run into problems. Whatever your situation, here are a few reasons why it might be going wrong.
Some freelancers think that they can get away without marketing, or they set up a website and expect the clients to come running. This doesn’t work. You need to market yourself or hire someone else to do it for you. That doesn’t mean you have to take out a newspaper advert or hire a billboard to plaster your face on. You have to think about yourself as a brand, you are selling your services and you need to present yourself in the same way as any other business. You need to be on social media, you need to send out proposals, network, blog and get your business out there.
This is particularly common amongst new freelancers. You’re too scared to charge a lot because you think the client will go elsewhere or maybe you simply have no idea what to charge. It is very easy to get into the habit of charging next to nothing and learning to accept that for way too long. It doesn’t have to be that way. You are offering a service, you are adding value to someone else’s business and you should be able to confidently name a price. To some clients, a low price rings alarm bells. It says that you’re inexperienced and that they’d be better going with someone else.
Taking on too much work
It’s an easy enough mistake to make. You take on too many projects at once, lose track, do sloppy work and then make sure your clients never hire you again. New freelancers will likely end up doing this at some point and some might see it as a necessary lesson to see how much work you can handle at once. Don’t make a habit of it. Learn what you can from your mistakes and then avoid them. You want your clients to be happy, to come back to you for more work and recommend you to their contacts. If they’re not, you’re only going to be hurting your business in the long run. Bad reviews are hard to ignore.
It’s the appealing flexibility of not having an office or a boss that also brings about the downfall of many freelancers. It’s a particular problem if you work at home where there are a huge amount of distractions, most of them involving the Internet in some way. With this flexibility it becomes incredibly easy to tell yourself you’ll do something later on, because you’ve got all day. Then that thing is quickly forgotten and the day has been and gone. You need structure and self-discipline.
You don’t have a niche
A company who wants a blog about accounting isn’t going to hire just anyone. They are going to look for someone who knows what they’re talking about. They will hire someone who has done work in this industry before. This is why you must decide on your niche, pick something you can specialise in so that you become known as the person everyone turns to when they need work in this area.
If you generalise too much, you’ll be in that large pile of (largely unsuccessful) freelancers who also generalise. It’s difficult to pick someone like that over someone who knows their niche well. It may be that you start out general and as the work comes in you can learn to specialise due to experience and/or interest. That will make the clients come to you rather than the other way round.
Lack of confidence
Arguably all of these points can be a result of a lack of confidence. You don’t charge what you’re worth because you don’t feel you’re providing a valuable service. You don’t market yourself because you’re scared of what others think, whether it’s your family or potential clients. You procrastinate because you’re not confident you can do or finish the work. Maybe you can’t pick a niche because you don’t think you can call yourself an expert in any industry. Maybe you are worried about putting other clients off.
When you have a clearer idea of what exactly is holding your business back, you can approach each problem and start to work on them. It is important that you are always analysing your business, website, marketing plan and portfolio to address any areas for improvement.
Have you experienced any of the problems above? How did you work on them, or are you still? Let us know in the comments.