Build the business you love, live the dreams of your life. If you’re not online you’re saying no to the business.
In this article I will share my secrets (for the very first time in my life) to becoming a successful freelancer. Before you read on let me warn you, I have tried and it has worked for me but I do not know you. I have no idea how you work and how committed you are so there is no guarantee of 100% success but what I can assure you is, follow these steps and you get in a fair chance of tasting success with freelancing online.
So to begin with working freelancing means “WORKING”.
In case you are a beginner and do not what is freelancing then this video explains everything you want to know and convinces you to makeup your mind.
Who am I and why you should listen to me?
Watch my TED talk where I talk about my journey to freelancing. Silver lining is, the closest to the computer education I have ever got to was a three days DOS course and that is it, no formal computer education what so ever all my academic life.
All I had was a resilience and determination to prove a point that there is a life in the e-world and I can make a career in it. Bottom line is, If I can do it – you surely can do it too.
Let’s talk business. There are some simple secrets steps to becoming a successful freelancer. If you do the basics right, follow your bliss -I’ve seen people quitting their full time jobs and start a Freelance career.
It all starts with having a plan and sticking to it. In Pakistan the freelance playing field has been leveled and Pakistan is getting fair recognition as one of the world’s strongest freelancing countries. If you Google “Top Freelancing Countries” you will see Pakistan ranks in number 4th which means there is a good wave of people preferring freelancing over full time jobs.
Your first few days could be hard, challenging and are most likely to test your patience, determination.
Enough on the ground setting. Let’s just jump to Dos and Don’t of Freelancing now. Here is my 6 points cheat sheet for effective freelancing and getting started the right way.
1 – Creating Efficient Profile
The 1st thing which your employer notices when they arrive on your freelance profile is they watch your picture. It’s worth taking the extra time and effort to ensure some clients see you as potential winner who can get the job done.
I have put a case of two pictures of mine here, one is a casual looking photo (not zoomed in, not professional) and other is a professional picture in suit (upfront, close with a smile). Let me tell you why putting 1st picture (with cricket bat) in your freelance marketplace profile is a bad idea over the second picture.
- Background distracts attention so it should be avoided
- Closeup Picture gets better attention
- Smile in a picture. Always smile it is “Sunnah”
2. Do not Sell, give a value so employers find a reason to hire you
Imagine if you are in a parked car and someone comes and try to sell you a perfume, the stats say there is 3% chance people will buy it. If you need to buy a perfume, you will go to a perfume shop and if a salesman is smart enough and can add a value proposition, he can sell you more instead of one.
The case study here is similar to the freelance marketplace. Employers come to freelance marketplace because they want to get a job done (co-relate: you want to buy the perfume). Only the best freelancer who can give a value gets into a better chance of getting hired for the job. Advise to freelancers is, don’t try desperately to sell your services, instead give a value to the employer for their requirement and you will be a front runner in the competition to win a business.
Here is what matters the most:
- Be Nice to the employer
- Do not BEG, talk on equal terms
- Do not try to sell
- Respect the employer
- Try to know the employer
- Talk to the employer as if you are meeting them in person
3. Do not be too Cheap
Low cost does not get you hired. As a matter of fact it often (if you ignore value proposition and prefer low price for the job thinking that is the best way) gets your proposal refused right away. Shocked?. well that is the fact!.
Good clients do not mind paying good if they get what they are looking for.
It is often seen that employers do not know the actual cost of a project therefore they put an estimated price range when they post their project. It does not necessarily means their final budget. If you as a freelancer know your worth and you also understand that the project price is higher then client’s estimated budget then do not feel shy in giving your best quote. The hack here is “back your pricing with a reason”, which means why have you essentially quoted a particular price for the project over client’s estimated budget range and what value you can give to your employer.
Same stands true if the employer estimated budget is higher and freelancer bids low thinking they get in a chance of getting attention. That does not work. Period!
4. Do not use Canned response in your BID proposal
Freelancers make mistake of sending too many proposals in a short time. That is only possible if you pick one template and send it to different project placements. It does not work either because by not reading the client’s requirement; freelancers are letting go an important chance of even getting noticed. Employers can spot a canned response even if they are half way through reading the proposal.
IMPORTANT: Canned responses do not “SAVE” time, they “WASTE” time.
Canned response tell employer that:
- You are not interested in the job
- You have not read the project
- You are carefree (no one wants to hire an ir-responsible freelancer)
- You lack communication skills
My take on canned response is
You are giving next BID of a Freelancer a better chance of getting attention because you just let go an opportunity as your canned response is spotted and your bid is ignored.
5. Experienced/Vs In Experienced
Many freelancers contact me on my Facebook worrying they may not be able to do freelancing because they are in experienced and it is hard to compete with experienced, seasoned freelancers.
What I have realized from my experience is “Years of experience” tells employers nothing about the quality of work you offer, which by far is all they want to know and care about. I have personally experienced this in my bidding too. When I tell employers about my ten years of freelance experience and my profile earnings (I usually do not even get a response) but when in my bids I talk about the value proposition and try not to sell – I get a response.
All employers want to know is what you can do for them, not how experienced you are.
6- Proof read your Proposal before you hit “SUBMIT” button
You have done all the hard work of writing a proposal but tiny spelling and grammar mistakes can seriously tarnish the impression you want to build with your employer. Advise is, always proof read your response before you send it to the employer and begin by carefully ensuring you’ve put periods in their places, you’ve used the correct version of commonly confused words, and you haven’t accidentally misspelled something that spell check doesn’t recognize.
Remember in freelance marketplace “You do not get a second chance as it is tough competition”
Freelancing community in Pakistan is getting popular and this trend is on the rise. The researches have shown that freelancers are not only here to stay but they are giving a boost to our recovering economy. As more people realize the benefits of utilizing the advanced technologies to start their own businesses, this section of the workforce is expected to drive the economy even further.
Although freelancing trend is increasing but these independent workers are still facing hurdles for sustaining self-employment. As many more people are expected to join the freelancing activity; government must update policies that reflect this evolving workforce. All Pakistanis should have access to technologies that they need to succeed in the workplace, affordable and reasonable broadband must be provided also to the undeserved areas of the country.