Becoming good at freelancing is no easy task. Like most things in life, getting good at something comes after trial and error. I’m not good with girls, for example, but that’s not because of me, per se, but because I’ve never invested time and effort into learning what to do when you’d ask a girl out. It’s my fault, sure, but it’s also about perspective.
With freelancing, I had to go through 2017, the worst financial year of my life, to be able to come out at the other and in 2018, the best financial year of my life. It was hard. Actually, 2017 was hard as hell. But then again, it was nothing but a series of tries and fails, and the teachings of those happenings.
I learned that, in order to be a good freelancer, you have to have a series of three ideas figured out down to a science:
- consistently get better at what you do;
- never undercharge for your services;
- be patient about meeting the right clients.
Consistently get better at what you do
No, this does not mean just get down and do your work and then go out for drinks. This means, especially when you’re starting out, getting to learn everything that you can learn about your craft. With content creation, this is done by reading, as well as writing.
Start a blog, for example. I started this writing challenge at the beginning of 2018 and, frankly, it has become a sort of a drug for me. I sit down and write every single day. It opens my mind for the day ahead, as I’m mostly writing these article early in the morning, and helps me see progress.
You know Grammarly? Well, back in January my Grammarly would go nuts sometimes over my article. It would turn half of my writing into errors that I’d have to edit. Nowadays, I can actually see my progress in writing because Grammarly is mostly on vacation for my articles.
Next, enrol in some writing courses. They can even be general freelancing courses. There are plenty of them online. I did the CNN writing course, and it was amazing. I also did some Udemy courses on writing, psychology, money management, marketing and website building. You’re not just a writer when you’re a freelancer, but also a business owner.
Also, don’t forget to read a lot. Read whatever you like. It can even be children’s books. It can be the Twilight saga if you’re into that. Read, and then also watch movies and TV series. They’re also a great source of inspiration and grabbing some new phrases and words.
Never undercharge for your freelancing services
This is a mistake I made at the beginning of 2018. I was still under the impression that I was worth the $5 per 1000 words that Fiverr taught me it’s a good price to ask my clients for. I was wrong. I was working my ass off for peanuts and, while constantly improving and delivering good content to happy clients, I was never having any money around.
Then, I discovered Upwork and changed my prices from $5 to $30 per 1000 words. Nothing happened for a few days, but then a client reached up to me and offered me my first big project. I made the same amount of money I did in 2017, in just a few weeks in January of 2018.
I’m not asking you to oversell your services or overcharge your clients, no. I’m simply asking you to take a closer look at what you value yourself at as a freelancing professional. You’re selling value, not words. You’re bringing value in the project of your client. That’s your product, not just words or logos or anything else.
Be patient about meeting the right clients
When you’re starting out, you’ll always want to earn something, even if it’s nothing. You want to see progress, which will make you accept menial jobs for $10 which will pay for your coffee, but not much else. These clients are the type of clients you’ll only work once for.
You want to go for good clients, but that needs you to be patient. I had to wait for more than a year to reach my first big client. It was hell, of course, it was. But I constantly reminded myself that it will come. That if others could make it as a freelance writer, I could make it too. And yes, the client showed up. And then, another one showed up, and so on.
Being patient with freelancing, that is the most important quality you have to develop in order to become a successful freelancer. It doesn’t have to do with your skills, your portfolio or your fancy website. No, it has to do with being patient, with feeling your client and making sure he or she is the one to go with.
You want clients that you can click with, that you feel connected with. You want clients that stick around, that value your work and that, of course, pay well and on time. But most importantly, you want clients that you can rely on. And these clients only come once in a while. Which is why you have to be patient and wait sufficient enough in order to meet them.
Trust me, it’s well worth the wait.
Article first published on Medium.