Whether you’re a recent graduate looking for a starting career in their favoured industry or you’re recently out of work and looking for a new job, you might find that the market is crueller than it seems from the outside. Finding a job, given the current state of the economy, is hard even for individuals with all the right qualifications. There’s so much competition out there, and so many of your competitors have the same, equally-impressive qualifications that you have. It isn’t enough to show off your grades.
A better solution might be to take matters into your own hands. If you know you have the talent to succeed in your industry but employers keep turning you down, it might be time to succeed in your industry alone: you can become the employer. Perhaps the thought of starting your own business sounds daunting, but in the modern age, that doesn’t have to mean renting an office and hiring a team of people. Starting a business can all begin with one person sitting in their bedroom at a laptop and deciding to become a freelancer.
Everyone has a skill, and every skill is marketable to some business somewhere. That’s why you don’t have to join other companies to create a career for yourself; you can cut out the middleman and market your services directly to businesses which will appreciate the work you’re offering as an independent freelancer at the helm of their own self-started business. If you’ve no idea where to begin as a freelancer, here are some tips for beating the companies which have rejected you and becoming successful on your own.
Honing in on your talents
This is a great place to begin. You might be thinking that you couldn’t possibly enter the freelancing trade because you have no business idea, but the whole point of freelancing is that you and your talents are the business idea. If you love to write, then there are millions of businesses looking for marketing copy to be written for them. If you have an eye for coding and creative design, you could look into selling apps to clients, as businesses are always trying to provide the latest and greatest in mobile and technological services. If you can draw, you could be creating logo and adverts for any business on the planet.
At the end of the day, you get out what you put in, even if that is a cliché. It’s true, of course. The more work you put in, the better your business will be than competing freelancers and the more you’ll see that clients choose you over alternatives. The key is to look at your talents and find people who don’t have those talents; that’s your target market. If you can do something which others would pay money to not do themselves, then you’re onto a winning freelance business concept. Don’t be pessimistic about your potential abilities. If you can take the time to turn your small interest or talent into a full-blown skill set, through research, practice and self-education, then you’re on your way to becoming a successful freelancer.
Getting your first client
Of course, the biggest struggle as a new freelancer on the market is getting that first client. You might be incredibly talented and offer a service of the same quality as any other professional in your industry, but, without clients, you have no reputation, and, with no reputation, potential clients are going to find it very hard to trust you or take the leap of faith with regards to investing in your services. You need some form of credibility, and that’s why finding your first client is a bigger landmark than you might believe. That very first review you get will open the door to so many potential buyers who would have otherwise overlooked you.
Networking is the key. You’re going to have to sell yourself hard, as you likely have no references of your work to prove your talent is as impressive as you claim it to be; especially if you’re a fresh-faced graduate who’s only just entered the job market. Freelancing sites such as Fiverr and Freelancer are great places to start, as you’ll be selling yourself based on a short, concise advert which proves your worth. All it takes is the right person to come along, be impressed by your advert and you’ve got your first client, along with your first review.
Consistency is crucial
You need to offer a great service, and you need to do so consistently. Your business depends on its clients, much like any business, but you’re the boss and the employee in this self-started enterprise, which means you’re responsible for the image your solo company presents as well as the work you submit. Freelancing brings freedom, but it also brings the responsibility of running all areas of operations yourself; that is, of course, unless your freelance operation opens up into a small team rather than a solo venture. Whatever the case, you need to keep your standards consistent constantly, as one bad review can damage your business hugely. If you want to prove that you do an excellent job every time, then you need to an excellent job every time. It’s as simple as that.
A clear and concise portfolio is important
When you’ve applied for jobs, you likely focused on strengths and experience which was relevant to the specific role for which you were applying. If it was a job in coding, you most likely wouldn’t talk about your experience in the local coffee shop, unless there was some technological link. In much the same way, when you showcase your portfolio on your website and market your freelancing business, you’re essentially showcasing the “work experience” section of a CV.
You need to narrow and cut down the samples of work you include in your portfolio, as potential clients only want an idea of how good you’d be at the specific work they’re after. For example, if you’re offering a web design or logo design service, portraits of people might be irrelevant to your portfolio, as it’s just excess work which, whilst it does show an element of your graphical element, is not telling visitors anything about your ability as a graphic designer in terms of logo, web and perhaps even brand design.
Understand online marketing
As a freelancer, your entire business will likely exist online, which means you need to understand how to market your services through the most popular platforms on the internet. Online marketing is about so much more than just shoving adverts onto websites and hoping that somebody will see something about your services and click through to see what you’re about. This is one of many methods which may work, but people often don’t opt for the forced approach. If they want a good or a service, they’ll search for it themselves. This is where your business needs to make its mark; through search engine optimisation, or SEO, on Google, Bing and other such sites.
You need to be optimising your website in terms of a responsive design and keywords to ensure that it ranks as highly as possible on result pages. You want businesses to not only come to you first when they’re searching for a potential freelancer to provide them with a certain service, but you want to make a professional impression when they do come to your website. A responsive layout which keeps it content clear, straightforward and uses all the right keywords impresses Google’s algorithm and it also impresses businesses who visit your site.