What makes a freelancer a professional? If you are defining a professional as someone who accepts money for the work they do, all freelancers are professionals. When I talk about professional freelancers I am talking about the people putting in the work to turn their freelance operation into a thriving business. Most freelancers don’t get to this stage. They use freelancing as a means to an end. They freelance as a side hustle or to support a particular lifestyle. What does a professional freelancer look like?
A professional freelancer is an individual who sets goals for their business. They are in it for the long term and they want to create a business that they can scale. A professional freelancer understands that they can make six figures through their work. They have knowledge on marketing, sales, products, accounting and personal branding. Their business is their passion, not just a means of making a few extra hundred bucks each month. WIth that being said, what does a freelancer need to take their business to the professional level?
Build a Website
This should go without saying but a majority of freelancers will start without a website. A website should be number one on your list of turning your business into a professional operation. Your website is one of the last vestiges of freedom on the internet. You can design your website however you like, put whatever content up that you want and truly present everything that is uniquely you. Your website should be the first stop for many of your clients. Social media is part of the parcel but everything should lead back to your website.
In the beginning you can keep it simple to get things up and running. Add a little about who you are, what you do and what you can achieve for your clients. From there, you can start adding new and interesting things to stand out from the crowd. If you are a video editor for example, add some of your best videos to show off what you can create. If you are a writer, add a blog and write about things your clients will find interesting.
Pick a Niche
This is where a lot of new freelancers go wrong. They start offering their services to anybody who will take the time to listen to them. What ends up happening is that they are competing with the millions of other freelancers around the world, all offering the same services to the same people. The problem with this is that you then have to compete on price. Instead of making $150 an hour, you are making $10 an hour. You are working 60 hours a week but have virtually nothing to show for it.
A niche is a distinct segment in the market. This means you are very specific about who you choose to offer your services to. This might sound counter productive but there are many advantages. You can position yourself as the expert in your niche. If you are creating websites for personal trainers for example, you will understand what needs to be included in their website to make it a success. You will have tons of relatable stories from other coaches, trainers and fitness influencers who have a website created by you. This gives your client the confidence that you are the best person for the job, even if you come in at a higher price point. This means less hours worked for you but higher pay, allowing you to focus on other areas of your business.
Develop a Content Strategy
Marketing is key to succeeding a freelancer. Not only will it help drive more visitors to your website, it can also improve brand awareness and help you connect with prospective clients. Your content needs to address the needs of your target market. Going back to our example of building websites for personal trainers. Many personal trainers might not understand why they need a website or even what to put on that website. As a web developer, you might want to create an ebook addressing some of the questions you feel they might have.
For example a book titled “The Digital Personal Trainer: How to create an automated personal training business” could explore the many ways a website could help a personal trainer earn income passively through products, coaching, courses, online training etc. You then give that book out for free to as many people in the fitness industry as possible. Let the world know about who you are and what you do. You will soon build out a pipeline of prospective clients interested in your web development services.
Where to go from here
If you are starting out as a freelancer and you don’t have all three of these elements, that’s okay. You are just at the beginning of your freelance journey. You might need some help along the way and this is why we prepared the Freelancer Launch Kit to help you establish yourself as a professional freelance business. Included is everything you need such as a website template, templates to target your chosen niche and of course templates to build out your content strategy. This is the most powerful tool for freelancers today, you can purchase your own kit following the link here.