What was once a practice confined to moonlighters in ‘geeky’ professions used by companies on an ad-hoc and somewhat infrequent basis is now a mainstream phenomenon. A whopping 1/3 of the working population in the UK and US are now freelancing according to national statistics.
Leading marketplace PeoplePerhour.com has developed some useful tips on best practice, and the things to avoid. Yes – most of them sound obvious – and indeed they are. Yet not often followed.
1. Make your profile personable
As a freelancer you will probably not meet most of the clients you end up working for. Making your profile personable and individualistic can go a long way in conveying your personality and winning a client’s trust. Do not fall in the common trap of trying to make yourself look bigger or more ‘corporate’ than you are. In most cases that’s what clients are trying to avoid when resorting to hiring a freelancer.
2. Invest some time to take accreditation tests
On some freelance sites you can take accreditation tests for most skills – both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’. This is an incredibly valuable investment as it helps clients form an objective evaluation of your skill level.
3. Create a portfolio of your work
Investing in a portfolio of work you can exhibit visually can make a big difference. Whether you are a designer, a writer, a coder, a digital marketer, the chances are you can think of a creative way of visually displaying work you’ve done and engaging the client.
4. Build your feedback
Freelance marketplaces operate on the principle of accountability through feedback so being able to showcase how other clients have rated your work is paramount. PeoplePerHour even allows your previous employers to refer you, therefore giving you a head start if you haven’t won any work on the site as yet.
5. Write detailed well-structured proposals
A lot of freelancers fall in the trap of thinking that pitching for work is a volume game so they end up under-investing in the time they take per pitch. Creating a detailed and methodical proposal with well substantiated arguments is consistently the number one criterion to winning work. Clients want to see your thinking so lay out a structured proposal explaining your rationale and how you would tackle the job.
6. Don’t try to be an expert in everything
We often see profiles that are trying to be “all things to all people”. But the reality is, however brilliant as you are, you cannot be good at everything. Creating a profile that shows your true strengths and competencies is crucial to winning the client’s trust.
7. Be realistic and firm on pricing
A big and very common misconception is that freelancing is the sought option for getting the cheapest price. This is not true. The data collected through PPHEconomy shows that over 93% of the jobs get awarded to dearer proposals because they are more credible. It is important that you quote a realistic price, but be firm – clients get dubious if you quote too low or lower your price too eagerly to get the work.
8.Make sure you send the client a service contract
Especially for small freelance jobs the client is eager to get started and the freelancer is eager to win the work. This often results in loosely specified spec which can result in a dispute. Once you’ve agreed, it is good practice to outline what you will deliver in as much detail as possible and in what timescale. Get the client to sign that off before you start.
9. Set milestones and stage payment
Freelance jobs are popular with small businesses with often limited or no credit record. A down payment will help you establish the creditworthiness of the client. We advise you to take a 50% down payment. If the client is reluctant to send you the money before you start, you can use an Escrow facility like the one on PeoplePerHour.
For larger projects it’s always a good idea to define milestones you will hit in the project and what payment you want at each stage. Again you can use an Escrow facility and ask the client to pre-fund each milestone, ensuring that you will get paid for your work. This also reassures the client that you will not run off with his money unless you complete the work.
10. Always under-promise and over-deliver
Over 50% of freelance jobs lead to follow on work. If you exceed the clients expectations, this will happen more readily. So avoid the temptation of promising the world to the client in order to win a contract. Be precise and detailed but under-promise as much as possible and chances are, you will wow the client in the end. Remember, actions speak louder than words!