Best Freelancing Tips
These freelancing tips can bring you to the top-level freelancer.
What Do Your Clients Really Want From You
When you’re a freelancer, there’s an excellent temptation to try to be everything to everybody and to be called skilled in every area. You’ll soon come to realize, however, that not only is this a very difficult act to achieve, but also it isn’t what your clients actually want.
What clients want are experts in whatever service they currently seek. They don’t want a “we do anything, anytime” (to borrow a phrase from The Goodies) person, who is average in many fields. They want someone who specializes in web design, web development, user testing, project management, or whatever it is you offer. (Best Freelancing Tips)
Become a Specialist
If you’re naturally good at design, development, and just about everything in between, that’s great. But you should concentrate on what you are very good at, and what makes the most money. Over time, you can refine your growing business from being broad to very specialized.
By evaluating your own skills matrix, listening to your existing clients, and understanding what your perfect client wants, you can develop a more finite services offering, which takes into account both what you’re actually sensible at and what your clients really want.
Don’t hesitate to partner up with other freelancers with complementary skills; between the two or three of you, you can work as a team to deliver the project, sharing the resources and responsibilities.
Asking Prospects What They Want
Now, let’s deal with the other side of establishing what it is you offer. Determining what your prospect wants sounds so simple and obvious, and it’s hard to believe more people don’t treat this as the starting point it is. The best way to gain an insight into the mindset of your customer base is to simply ask them. You can ask them one on one, at the start or close of a project (bribe them with a free coffee), or set up a simple web-based survey, asking key questions to help refine your offering.
This is an amazing way to do some very cheap market research into a brand new product or service offering that you’re considering moreover. A simple survey with a few questions followed up with an email of gratitude does two things. Firstly, it gives the recipient the feeling that their views and opinions are important to you; secondly, it gives you some fresh angles and ideas with very little effort or cost. (Best Freelancing Tips)
Two web-based survey services each offering a limited free plan are the very slick Survey Gizmo4 and eSurveysPro.5
Creating an “Ideal Client” Profile
Creating a profile of what you consider to be an ideal client is a very interesting exercise, and can provide great insight as to what direction you should be taking in business. The run-on effect is that this process can help you become choosier about the prospects and clients you wish to deal with, as your business grows.
If you have existing clients, with any luck you can point to several of them and say, “They are my ideal client.” An ideal client comprises:
- A client who wants your services
- A client who can pay for those services
- A client who will work well with you
Let’s look at these three statements in some more detail.
A Client Who Wants Your Services
First, you want clients who actually want your services. You can spend extraordinary amounts of energy attempting to influence someone who doesn’t believe in the Web that they need a website, but at the end of the day, you’re all too likely to be wasting your breath. (Best Freelancing Tips)
Let’s define this further. Who actually wants your service? Well, not most of the population, I’m afraid. We can refine the question to apply to people or organizations that actually need websites. Can we refine it further? Sure! It’d probably be safe to say small-to-medium-sized businesses and organizations looking for a new website.
You may want to refine this even more by focusing on those small-to-medium-sized businesses within a certain geographic area, which could be your town, city, or even state. This won’t rule out the occasional international project; however, it’ll facilitate bringing some direction and concentration to your sales efforts.
A Client Who Can Pay for Those Services
Looking back at the rates we calculated in Chapter 3, who can afford you? It’s fantastic to have a long list of prospects; however, if they can’t pay, you can’t eat. You’ll need to qualify prospects, and ensure they can actually afford your services or product—and do this early on.
You can qualify a client’s expectation of budget during the first meeting by asking if the company has a budget set aside for this work, or suggesting an average budget range and watching for a reaction, or even being up-front during the first phone call and stating something like, “My projects generally cost an average of $5,000,” for example.
This approach potentially saves you and the prospect time, as it weeds out those who aren’t prepared or are unable to pay professional rates before you’ve spent a lot of time working together to define the needs for your proposal.
Perhaps you’ve chosen a fairly healthy billable rate. In this instance, we may want to define the ideal client further now, as “not price-conscious and happy to pay a premium price for the quality.”
A Client Who Will Work Well with You
Last in this equation is a harder expectation to define—clients who will work well with you. We all have those nightmare clients now and then—no matter what we do, they’re never pleased and we’ll never see eye to eye. It’s times like these when you may be tempted to get out that jousting outfit; however, if we can simply avoid those types in the future, we’ll all be happier.
Now, unless you have a crystal ball or psychic abilities, you won’t be able to absolutely define clients who will be a dream to work with but learn to trust that gut feeling you experience after the first meeting or two. If you have a feeling that a prospect is going to be more trouble than they’re worth, consider strategies to avoid that project, some of which we’ll discuss shortly. (Best Freelancing Tips)
When you consider any marketing activity, or indeed when you complete the sales process, compare your likely leads against this ideal client profile, and then do your best to win the ones that match closely to your ideal client.
Reviewing Your Competitors
Actually determining what your competitors are offering is an often-overlooked step in defining your own offering and researching what the market needs.
This task may sound difficult, but with a little time, it’s usually fairly trivial to get an understanding of what your direct competitors offer. Start by defining your nearest competitors, and visit their websites.
Look through the content and do your best to try to understand who they are targeting, and what services they offer. If you can, look at some of their folio of work to gain a better picture of the types of clients they work with.
If this tactic doesn’t work through lack of information on their site, be cheeky and call or email them (use a pseudonym, obviously—this is where Gmail, Hotmail, and other web-based email services come in handy) and ask them what services they offer. If this sounds dodgy to you, you should realize that just about every larger business performs this trick regularly to obtain an understanding of their competitor space. Another way of collecting this information is to ask people you know who have previously engaged competitors to build their websites for their feedback on the experience—they will probably be happy to share the proposal or the final costs with you.
Armed with this information, you can make better judgments on what your competitors are doing right and what they’re not doing so well. These insights may allow you to see opportunities in the market to target. If anything, this knowledge should help you determine your Unique Selling Proposition.
Developing Your USP
A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a powerful way of describing your business in a few short sentences. The concept behind a USP is that it quickly ascertains what distinguishes you from your competitors.
You can start developing your USP by answering a few key questions:
- What is unique about you, compared to your direct competitors?
- Which of these differences are most important to your prospective clients?
- Which of these differences can be easily communicated to your prospects?
- Can these differences be used to build a great USP?
Say you have focused on the not-for-profit or charity market, and have extensive experience in building successful websites for this sector. You could use that experience, and the fact you are a solo worker to your advantage; you could develop a USP that states something along the lines of:
I build websites for charitable organizations, utilizing my experience and knowledge in not-for-profit areas, coupled with my personalized service and attention to detail.
A USP will help to answer questions from your prospects, develop your own confidence in what you do, and help provide direction for you into the future. Remember, a good USP clearly explains what makes your services unique; it isn’t meant to be a mission statement.
This post contains the content of the book The Principles of Successful Freelancing By Miles Burke below is a link of the complete book The Principles of Successful Freelancing