3 out 10 workers in America are freelancers. Working as a freelancer is not just a fantasy anymore; it’s becoming a popular choice for a lot of millennials who feel they can get a better chance at maintaining their work/life balance this way. Office work, while it provides stability doesn’t always meet the need of a modern, fast pace and dynamic workforce. Flexible working options, a peaceful working environment and less pressure from either office politics or even colleagues are some of the main requests of millennials. That’s precisely why the independence and freedom of the freelance lifestyle seems so appealing to this generation. However, remember that as a freelancer, you are essentially a business owner. To make it, you’ll have to work harder than an employee. Technology and remote work spaces seem to embellish that type of work but do not be deceived. Freelancing poses also a lot of challenges for newcomers who may not be trained in the art of making a living as an entrepreneur. After all, most studies are designed to shape you for future corporate roles. How do you approach an independent career for success when there is support platform to provide guidance?
Finding your niche
Freelancers have to deal with a lot of competition, coming both from other freelancers and from corporations. Needless to say that if you want to enjoy the warmth of a roof over your head you need to differentiate yourself in such a way that you can get noticed. To refer to the business jargon, you have to define your niche, the area where you can stand out as an expert. Ultimately, it’s fair to say that ‘average’ would not make the cut. Targeting a specific audience is key to establishing your niche. From a client’s perspective, a niche expert is someone who understands their needs and their market. While it limits your clients to a sector, it also means that you are less likely to struggle with overwhelming competition.
Creating a recognizable brand image
Your niche is only the tip of the iceberg. You also need to be distinguishable in the marketplace. You need a brand and an identity that differentiates you from other players. When it comes to your visual image, depending on your approach to freelancing, you can choose to create your logo or you can find a designer to do the hard work for you. A lot of freelancers in the technology field for instance exercise their uniqueness by building their designing skills through tools such as frequent InDesign training because the process of branding is tightly connected to their business strategy. They say that you don’t truly understand your business idea until you begin to create your brand, your culture, your identity, your image. So, it’s fair to assume that a hands-on branding project could be an essential part of a business launch. Considering a slogan? Take a look at Ubersuggest, a keyword research tool that can help you to perform granular searches.
Understanding how business works
Did you know that in the UK 70% of SMEs harness freelance talent (SME=Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) in Europe? You can find similar trends in the US too. Small and medium companies prefer to work with freelancers for projects that require skills they don’t have in-house. Yes, technical skills and expertise are essential but your ability to negotiate, communicate and sell your brand is what will bring in the high dollars. As a result, it’s crucial that you understand how to handle a business conversation with these SME managers to get your profile on top of their list. It’s not only a matter of showing them that you’re a good fit, but you also need to show that you are ready to PARTNER with them. A partner is much more welcomed than a contractor.
You can’t to do it all on your own
Let’s be honest. You’re an entrepreneur. While this means, you don’t have an employer, it doesn’t imply that you should do everything by yourself. As your business grows, you will find that an accountant is better suited to keep you in line fiscally. You definitely do not want the IRS on your tail. A lot of freelancers forget that they don’t have to do everything on their own. Do you need help to design an elegant, attractive and professional website? Reach out to an expert within your means. Outsourcing lets you focus on what you do best so that you don’t waste time on other tasks.
Dealing with the stress of being self-employed
Last, but not least, freelancing is a stressful life where there is no guarantee that you’ll find your next client. In fact, freelancers are under as much if not more stress than employees. And you don’t have the luxury of taking a sick day to relax. You need to define your own coping mechanism. Spend more time in nature – a countryside walk can do wonders to the mind – and schedule regular exercise, read daily as these simple changes can help you maintain your mental health.
There is no magic formula on how to make money as a freelancer. But it’s fair to say that getting in the right mindset before you launch your freelance business can make a great deal of difference in the long term. If you think like a successful entrepreneur and make the right decisions, you’re more likely to become one.
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