Freelancing has propelled in popularity in recent years with more companies focusing on outsourcing to freelancers due to cost-effectiveness and less HR paperwork. For those of us that are on the other end applying for projects/gigs, it has increased competition and developed a sense of worry in terms of lack of job security. Although can you really have job security as a freelancer?
As mentioned in Forbes “A survey found that 50.9% of the U.S. population will be freelancing in 10 years if a current uptick in freelancing continues at its current pace.” Sounds worrying right? As a freelancer, you don’t really have anything that ties you to a company therefore, you are indisposable and should be worried. This is without touching on the subject of freelancers working for pennies and driving fees down for other freelancers.
I am not saying this to scare anyone or put them off freelancing, if anything if you haven’t yet entered the freelancing world, you probably should before it becomes saturated. In fact, the reason I am mentioning these facts is to warn you and encourage you to prepare.
I have been freelancing for over 2 years now and have learned some things the hard way but have also been very lucky. One platform that I have had the most success from is Upwork and you can find out how to be successful too by reading this article:
For those of you that may not know, Upwork is the largest freelancing platform and the competition can be fierce. This is why I had to work on building a reputation and trust to portray myself in a good light for other contracts and stand above the competition.
For a period of time, I also ran “gigs” on Fiver which is another popular freelancing platform, only this time the employers or clients, choose you! This makes it even harder to stand out. Although, I have landed 2 full-time projects from doing gigs for clients on Fiver and they paid pretty well.
So what is the “Golden Rule” of freelancing?
Golden Rule: Fast Communication
You might think that it’s a pointless rule but I can guarantee you, it will make you stand out above 90% of other freelancers. I have found great success by developing my e-communication skills and ever since my rule has paid off. I’m not saying that it works every time, nothing ever does, but it definitely sets you above the competition.
Let’s take applying for freelance projects and look at the examples below if you were hiring and received these as applications:
I would like to apply for the job because I am very good at talking to customers, I can write fast and I work hard.
I came across your project and after reading through your requirements I thought that I would be the perfect candidate to apply. One of your main specifications is communication which is one of strongest areas due to a lengthy career of 4 years in a customer service role. In addition to this, my work ethic is exceptional and I complete my projects with 100% focus, accuracy, and dedication.
There are many other skills and traits that I possess which make me the perfect candidate and I would love to discuss these further with you. Please do not hesitate to contact me and I would be happy to share more information.
Have a great week/end and I look forward to hearing from you.
Now, obviously applicant 1 is terrible and out of 100 applicants, you can guarantee that the hiring individual would not even take a second look at their application.
Applicant 2 however, stands out from the rest with a strong and confident introduction, not too lengthy and encourages the hiring manager to contact the applicant for further details. This is essential because it doesn’t waste the time of the person hiring, by giving them a 7-page essay about every job they have ever done, instead, it highlights the most important requirement and allows the hiring person to find out more if they are interested.
Less Than 1 Hour
Another point to make about communication when applying is to be fast in your responses. If a potential client has messaged you for any reason, you should do your very best to respond within 1 hour. I know that it’s not always possible and you might have other commitments, but you should make this a priority, especially when you are starting out.
In today’s world, we all live with the need for an “on-demand” service. That’s why freelancing is becoming more and more popular because it’s so easy for people to hire freelancers within minutes. With it being so easy for people to hire freelancers, clients will look for an instant response and if they don’t get one, the likelihood is they will move on to the next freelancer who does reply instantly.
Therefore, I would suggest that you always have your online status set to “online” and you install the freelancing app/emails onto your phone/tablet, or whatever device you can access. Give yourself every opportunity to access messages and reply instantly.
You never know what a project will lead to. You could do a project for $100 and it may lead to a contract or another project worth $10,000. Never miss an opportunity by being a slow responder. I have actually received feedback from 2 clients previously who told me that although I didn’t have a great deal of experience, they would give me an opportunity because of my speedy communication.
It’s vital that you continue to communicate throughout any project or client that you are working for. It might seem like a really obvious point to make but you will be surprised how many people fail to communicate efficiently. It also ensures that you provide a positive experience throughout which is always beneficial.
I have hired freelancers for projects that have taken over 4 weeks to complete and gone through the whole length of the project without hearing a single update. This is increasingly annoying when you receive a message the day before that project is due with some excuse as to why the freelancer needs longer to complete when it’s obvious they haven’t managed their time properly to complete the project.
Think about it from both points of view, as a client you want to relax knowing that your project will be done on time, especially if it’s vital to your business. Hearing updates throughout, even if it’s just one, makes that experience much better for you. If you are a freelancer, you want to ensure your client has the best experience possible and would hire you again in a heartbeat.
I am not saying that you should message your client every day to tell them that you have finished a section but you should update them on major milestones. For example, if you have a project that comes in three parts, update the client every time you finish one part of that project. This gives the client an opportunity to check the work and even use it earlier than expected and it also allows you time if the client requires any changes or amendments.
You might not agree with my golden rule for freelancing but I can assure you that it has always been successful for me.