Freelancing is inherently competitive. No matter what industry you work in, being a freelancer means you only get out of the experience what you directly put into it. Many are sole proprietors, which means they are a one-man show kind of affair. A business made up of me, myself, and I means you handle your clients’ work as well as management, accounting, marketing, and every other little detail.
That’s a lot for one person to handle. But it might not be enough. I know, I know, your plate is full already. But trust me, this one extra thing can make all the difference in your level of success.
Freelancing is hard. And it’s even harder if you don’t put in some double-time work to make your business stand out from your competitors. Before you sigh at the thought of adding something else to your to-do list, hear me out. Making your freelance business stand out doesn’t have to be overly difficult. Case in point? I’ve put together five ideas for separating your biz from the rest.
Make an Eye-Catching Website
Everyone knows you need a website if you stand a chance of succeeding as a freelancer but what you may not know is that any old site just won’t do. In fact, if your site is unattractive or difficult to use, it could actually hurt your reputation. I mean, freelancers make their living by building a solid rep so it would be borderline ridiculous to let something as vital as your portfolio count against you.
Did you know that 3.5 out of 10 people don’t complete even the simplest of tasks on a website because of poor usability factors like poor organization, small text, too much clicking, or too much scrolling?
This just can’t stand. Instead, you need to make every effort to make your website stand out in both form and function. It needs to look great, include all the information a potential client would need to consider hiring you, and be user-friendly.
The user experience is everything when it comes to building a well-designed website. Flashy gimmicks might capture attention but solid functionality is what will win the day for your business.
Be Confident (But Not Cocky)
Anyone who owns a business must act as his own best advocate. But this applies even more so to freelancers. If you don’t get the word out about what you do and why you’re the best in your industry, no one will know. And if you don’t talk a good game and even indulge in a little hype, no one will care.
That’s why you can’t beat around the bush when it comes to promotion. You have to stand tall, speak loudly, and demand that people listen. You must be confident in your abilities. If you come across as unsure, why on earth would anyone take a chance on your services? Let people know that you’ll get the job done better than any of your competitors.
You don’t want to come across as cocky, but you very well might to some. And that’s just a risk you’re going to have to take.
Share Your Expertise Whenever You Can
This falls in line with appearing confident. You also need to make an effort to share what you know about your industry with anyone who will listen. This means maintaining a blog where you share tips, insights, or general knowledge about your industry. It means being an active social media participant by posting regularly, contributing to groups, and answering people’s questions.
Another thing you can do is sign up for a service like Help a Reporter Out. You’ll be sent emails twice a day with stories journalists are working on categorized by industry. If you read a pitch to which you feel you could contribute, all you need to do is reply to the reporter directly. If you’re selected, your quotes and bio info will be included in a published article in print or online. How’s that for free publicity?
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Be Selective in the Work You Take On
This one is really difficult to combat. I know I struggled with it for a long time. When you have bills to pay, it can be tempting to take on any and all work people are willing to pay you for. But this is misguided. Yes, you might make more money in the short-term but if the pay rate is too low, you’ll spend all of your time scrambling to finish it all.
It’s very easy to start missing deadlines in a situation like this. Quality also suffers. And both of those things are very bad for your reputation.
Plus, you’ll be so busy trying to finish all of your work that you won’t have time to seek out better opportunities, maintain your website, or market your business. You wind up stuck in a rut. It’s a much better idea to invest your time on a few select projects and really knock them out of the park. When you start being propositioned by big time clients, you’ll be glad you were patient.
Gain a Reputation as The “Go-To” Person for a Specific Topic
This tip falls right in line with the idea of sharing your expertise with anyone who will listen but it’s a bit more specialized. While offering up advice or insights on your industry on social media or your blog is great, being a generalist won’t take you very far. It’s much better to be known for a specific aspect of your industry that its entirety.
I mean, if a part of your strategy is keeping a blog to promote your home renovation consulting business, it’s a better idea to zero in on one aspect like DIY projects or renovation on a budget than on the broad topic of “hardware.” Why? Because it’ll make you stand out in people’s mind. They’ll remember you for your specificity and anything that can set you apart is a good thing.
These are just a few ideas for making your freelance business stand out from the crowd, but there are many more to consider as well. In fact, I’d love to hear from you. What do you do to stand out? Or, if one of the tips here appealed to you, how do you plan to implement it into your business?
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