Freelance work has become incredibly popular over the past few years. Radical shifts in the job market during the pandemic gave workers more free time and flexibility to pursue intendend interests. For many, they turned to freelancing as a way to leverage their knowledge, skills, and experience to earn extra income during their own time.
Even if you’re already employed full-time, freelancing on the side can allow you to supplement your income on your own terms. You decide what jobs to accept work for based on what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at. Whether you’re a graphic designer or uniquely skilled at setting up Shopify accounts, there’s likely a profitable freelance niche that you can start pursuing today.
As freelance work has become more competitive, it’s more important than ever to find ways to differentiate yourself from the crowd. If you’re considering freelancing, here are some top tips to help your gigs stand out.
Identify Your Unique Knowledge and Skills
The first step on your freelance journey is to identify what you’ll actually be selling. Think about the work you’ve done in the past. What are you particularly good at? Don’t limit yourself. Even something as seemingly mundane as setting up an Excel worksheet can be sold as a freelance gig if presented in the right way. In addition to your skills and experience, what do you actually enjoy doing? Remember, you’re committing to selling your time, so you might as well enjoy what you’re offering.
The next step is to identify your target market. If you’re selling graphic design services, for example, your target market may be small business owners looking for logos. If you’re talented at photography, your market may be individuals looking for wedding, engagement, or family photos in your area. Identifying who you will be selling your services to will ultimately help you craft a unique offering and know where to network and spend your time.
Promote Your Services Far and Wide
So you’re ready to start selling your services, but how will people know you’re offering them? Now’s the time to start marketing yourself. Many freelancers start with family and friends. Let people in your in-person and online networks (e.g., Reddit, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) know that you are now offering freelance services and invite them to recommend people who may be interested. Ultimately, this will help you grow your network as word-of-mouth is a uniquely strong marketing tactic in the world of freelancing.
You should also strongly consider developing your own website or profile on a freelance site. Once you have a prospective client, you can point them to your page to help them better understand your background, what’s included in your services, and what your rates are. You can also “show and tell” by sharing or uploading a portfolio of work you’ve done in the past. This can help prospective customers understand your unique style and what you will ultimately be delivering to them once they purchase services from you.
Find and Pitch Work at Every Opportunity
There’s a world of people out there looking for freelancing services (even outside your own network). One opportunity is online job platforms such as ScaleFront. Individuals and organizations large and small are constantly hiring freelancers to work on short-term projects or fill temporary roles. Start by browsing these job markets for freelance work in your niche. Usually, you can simply apply with just your resume and be hired quickly by recruiters. Some job portals even allow you to post your resume to help recruiters better find freelancers with your unique skills.
At every opportunity, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Take time to practice your pitch. What will you be offering, what makes you unique, and how can you help your clients achieve their personal or business goals? Once someone has indicated they are interested, never sell yourself short. Be sure to negotiate pricing and terms for your work as you feel comfortable. Your time is valuable. Although sometimes it helps to keep rates low initially to attract work, never compromise on a price you don’t feel comfortable with.
Continually Learn and Improve
Like any professional opportunity, success in freelancing is a direct result of your knowledge and effort. Regardless of your niche, always find ways to improve your skills and expertise. Stay on top of trends and take time to learn new things in an effort to expand your offerings. For example, if you’re a programmer, perhaps consider learning an additional programming language. If you’re a graphic designer focusing on logos, expand your offerings to website design or advertising. Investing in yourself will help you grow as a freelancer, allowing you to attract a wider pool of clients and grow your income at the same time.
There are even freelancing communities and organizations that you can join that are devoted to supporting individuals like you. Freelancers Union, for example, offers networking opportunities, mentorship, events, and support to help freelancers grow and develop themselves as solopreneurs. There are even organizations that offer health insurance to freelancers who have left their full-time roles in pursuit of freelancing.
If you’re considering starting work as a freelancer, there’s no better time than the present. By reaching out to your immediate network and establishing your own online presence, you’ll land your first clients and be on your way to establishing a successful side hustle. Over time, investing in yourself as an individual and broadening your skillset will allow you to expand your offerings and make your freelance work even more fulfilling.
If you’re looking for a short-term freelance assignment now, online tools are available to help. One popular option is ScaleFront, an online recruitment platform that utilizes a unique referral network. Simply register and search for opportunities within your skillset, and you’re sure to find a flexible, short-term assignment that meets your immediate freelancing goals. Get started today!