Chapter 6 – How To Advertise Yourself: Creating A Portfolio?
Having a high-quality portfolio is essential to being a successful freelancer. As well as showing your clients what you can do, your portfolio is a great way to add value to your business. It is the best, and strongest, advertisement for your services.
First, what is a portfolio?
In the modern age of technology, a portfolio can simply be a website that shows elements of your work. It is a freelancer’s version of a resume (and, it can include elements of one). It should show your skills and education, as well as your experience. You can use things that you have done in the past on here, too.
Building a portfolio
Clients will not want to work with someone who cannot verify the quality of their work. It will need to include examples of your work, Having examples of your work is a fantastic way to offset any lacking experience. While you may have less experience than other freelancers if the quality of your work is better then it will be incredibly advantageous to your business.
But how do you fill a portfolio with little experience? The simple answer is to get some. Working for free is one, often suggested, method of doing this. But, it is not for everyone. If you can financially withstand the free labor, then do so. However, in the future, remember that exposure does not pay the bills. Others believe that working for free can devalue the perception of your work—but it is undeniably a good way to get your name out there. Working for a lower fee is something that you will probably have to do. You could pick up smaller projects on freelance gig sites, to gain some experience. Also, just do some passion projects. Do some projects that you are excited about so that your passion can show through in your portfolio.
What should you put in a portfolio?
Your portfolio should show examples of your work, as well as your skills, education, and experience, and what your business actually is.
Your freelance portfolio does not have to have a billion completed projects. This could be overwhelming to clients, and chances are, they will not look at them all. It should focus on select, high quality completed projects that show the depth and scale of your services. Additionally, you can include excerpts of projects. This will, again, show your skills, yet not take too long to do.
Profiles on websites
When signing up for profiles, particularly freelance work platforms, it is essential that you fill out all of the information. Any boxes or forms that the website has that you can utilize to showcase your skills, experiences or examples should be comprehensively filled out. Clients will be checking these extensively, and likely comparing you to your competition.
As well as examples of your work, your website should also have your contact information. It is also worth noting that you should not neglect your prior experience. While some new freelancers feel the need to prove themselves in the freelance sphere, including relevant past job experience will always highlight you in a positive light. Some freelancers elect to have their rates and packages available on their website. This will make it clear to future clients what they can expect from your work.
Important sections to have on your website include: about, services, portfolio, testimonials, and contact.
You should also have a social media presence. As, obviously, almost everyone is on social media; having your own accounts and using them to interact with your industry is a good method of getting your brand out there. If your service is something that you can share, for example, something graphic or visual, you can showcase on Instagram, do that. Starting a blog to share your content is also an effective portfolio building (as well as marketing) method. You should cross-share your content, including Tweeting links or sharing on Facebook. It does, of course, depend on what your business is and how “online” your audience is.
In essence, find the platforms that your clients use and create a presence on those sites. Making yourself easily found online and having an accessible portfolio is key.
Chapter 7 – The Importance of Valuing Your Work And Your Time
Pricing can be something that is difficult for freelancers to determine. You will want to value your time appropriately, yet, still be affordable for your client targets. Clients often expect you to deliver the moon yet are only willing to pay for a garden rock. This is a bad analogy, but some clients will demand that you go to the moon at back for them yet will not pay you enough to fuel the rocket. Is that any better? The essence of the analogy is that some people will try to take advantage of you.
There are a lot of freelancers out there, and clients often want to pay the least amount possible for work. Unfortunately, chances are, someone will always be willing to do something for less than you. Nevertheless, it is important to choose a price that you feel is fair, and comfortable. At the end of the day, you have living expenses and you deserve to be compensated for your labor.
Choosing a niche
Sometimes, budding freelancers seem to think that by being less specific about their work, it will get them more work. This is not always the case. For example, saying general content writer vs saying finance content writer. It makes you sound more professional and will instill more confidence. Having a niche means that you can charge a premium price for a specified service. You do not have to define your niche right away, but it is something to do when your business grows.
While this can seem like a no-brainer, time management is essential to successful freelance work. Naturally, time management will play a part in your pricing. It is, of course, vaguely unreasonable to charge your clients for the cost of your procrastinating! Charge your clients in such a way that it makes sense for you, yet still aim to be as productive as possible.
There is a risk of taking too much advantage of the flexibility and using it as an excuse to relax and procrastinate. Having dedicated days off and setting clear times to relax or have leisure time is the best way to increase your productivity. Some freelancers choose to do an hourly rate, whereas others do a project fee; it is completely up to you (just like everything else!). Think about the hours of the day that you would ideally be working, and stricture your income and working hours to suit this.
You also need to be motivated and disciplined. There are many different time management and organizational techniques that can be implemented. Lists and calendars are no brainers. Setting deadlines for yourself, as well as giving project updates to your clients is a good way to stay on task. Having a clear structure for your day, dividing your tasks into subtasks, and setting timers are all small ways to manage your time better. Figure out which times of day you are most productive. Is it right after your morning coffee? If so, do your high energy tasks that require the most effort then, and then do less intense tasks in the mid-afternoon lull.
In essence, however, find what works for you. There is no one size fits all approach to freelance work; you get back what you put in.
Value your time
As the expression goes; time is money. You deserve to be paid well for your work. Do not undervalue your services. Make sure you have done some research into what your similar competitors are charging, and even look into what “regular” workers would charge for the same product. If you are spending extra time on your projects, and doing things outside the scope of your work, then you should negotiate payment increases.
If clients approach you asking you to work for less (or for free), use your best judgment. You do not have to, you have no obligation to work for any less than you feel that you are worth. At the end of the day, you are an expert in your field, and you have valuable skills and experience, and you deserve to be paid for these things. Don’t forget to think about your long-term financial goals, too.
Chapter 8 – The Next Adventure: Scaling Your Business
A misconception about freelance work is the idea that it is somehow not a “real” business. While, to begin with, it can seem like you and your laptop against the world, your business can grow. It is important not to jump into too much too quickly. If you attempt to take on too much, you may end up failing. To begin with, focus on consistency and finding your feet.
But, once you are comfortable and confident, you will be able to grow your business. It will take time to plan; do not just jump into something. This chapter will outline some ideas for scaling your freelance business.
If you are starting off part-time, and having already made the switch to fulltime freelancing, it is worth waiting until you are secure in your clients, work, and income level before you leave your old job. So, perhaps your first adventure will be committing to a full-time freelance lifestyle.
Hiring a team
You can hire others and build a team. Being freelance does not mean you have to be alone. You can hire others to work with you and for your clients. Perhaps you could expand your business offerings, or simply have more people doing the same kind of work as you.
If you do not want to hire others to work for your business in the content creation or service providing, you could instead outsource other elements of your business. Perhaps you need help with your business admin or organization. You could hire a virtual assistant to deal with marketing, emails, or contacting your clients. Alternatively, you could hire an accountant or someone else to help with your taxes.
You are able to subcontract numerous services, and this could free up time for you. Time you could use to spend working, or relaxing—the choice is yours.
By narrowing your freelance service down to a niche, you will be better suited for your clients. For example, a client who is looking for a finance writer, would rather hire someone who is a defined finance writer, rather than just a writer. Additionally, you are able to charge more for a specialized service.
Building a brand
Once you are more established, you should make an effort to create a cohesive brand. This is a huge value-add to any business; it makes you reputable and authoritative. It is not essential for all freelancers, but it is something that a potential client would find themselves attracted to. Often, when clients hire a freelancer, they want to work with a person, not a random business—so make sure they see that. New services Another form of business expansion could be adding new services to your business. Perhaps you could add new elements to your package deals or focus on different elements of your industry.
Your business should never be static. Make sure that you are keeping up with the kind of services that your clients are demanding.
At the very least, once you have more experience, and more skills, you should increase your price. You have worked hard, you deserve it.
In conclusion, there are several important things to consider when you are starting a freelance business. Of these, creating an outstanding portfolio should be at the top of your list. Ultimately, your portfolio will be the strongest form of advertising.
Effectively, to begin a successful freelance business, you first need to figure out your service, and your audience. You need to make sure that your audience can find your business and that your services are relevant and attractive to them. Take on projects (even if they are not ideal, or as well paid as you would like) in order to build your skills, experience, and credibility.
Do not forget to focus on the business side of your business, and make sure that you are operating as a legal machine. And, once you are ready to start working full-time, work out where the best places to find your clients are. Frequent them and advertise properly. Learn how to manage your time and maximize your productivity. You have the flexibility to work however you choose and you should take advantage of that.
Once you have a strong foundation for your business, scale it up! You are the boss, and you get to decide how and when it operates.
Most of all, enjoy your business. Freelance work is tough, but the benefits are truly unparalleled. There is no other kind of work where you will get to live the life that you choose.
In all honesty, as long as you pay attention to your industry, keep up to date with trends and monitor your progress, your freelance business will have longevity. If you plan your freelance business and update your plan as your business evolves, then you will probably be successful in living your dream life. Freelance work is some of the most liberating and rewarding work out there; but it is not easy, put in the effort to ensure your success.