Make Yourself a First Choice Freelancer

There’s a growing demand for freelancers, but there’s also a (possibly faster) growing number of people moving into freelancing. With the gig economy set to become more competitive, here are our six tips for making clients choose YOU.

1: Network, promote yourself and be accessible

Clients won’t come calling if they don’t know you’re there. Make connections in your industry or affiliated industries that have a use for your skills. Join groups, both online and groups that meet in person. Join forums and societies. Be active on social media. Ask for recommendations, contacts and testimonials. Keep in contact with clients once your work for them is done, so you’re still on their radar when they have another project.

Knowing you’ve done a good job for others is great for clients; they can hire you with confidence. Clients like to work with people they know and can rely on, so if you meet their requirements first time out, they’re not likely to look elsewhere.

2: Learn about your clients goals and preferences

Learn as much about your client and their company as you can. This will allow you to match your work more precisely to the company’s ethos and branding, and it may also flag up other areas where you could offer your skills. It shows enthusiasm and dedication on your part too.

3: Be honest about everything

It goes against the grain for freelancers to say they’re unable to do something or they can’t meet a deadline. Often they yes when they should say… no? NO. Don’t say yes or no if a client asks you to do something you can’t handle. Instead:

  • If the task needs skills you don’t have, do some quick research to see if you could learn enough to meet the challenge in the timeframe, or consider if you could bring someone else in on the job
  • If it’s the deadline that’s not feasible, start a discussion. Explain you can’t finish the whole project by that deadline, but that you’re really keen to take on the task. Is there any flexibility? Is part of the project more urgent than the rest? Perhaps you can agree to deliver the most urgent elements by the deadline and complete the rest of the work for a later one.

Whatever you do, don’t promise you can deliver something that you have no way of finding the expertise or time for. You will be massively stressed and your client will be unimpressed when you can’t deliver—or when the work you do deliver is late, substandard or both.

Finally, if there’s something in a brief or contract that’s not clear, ask about it straight away. Don’t just guess because you’re concerned you’ll seem stupid for not understanding. Clarify things at the start.

4. Communicate; not too much, not too little

Keep communications friendly but concise when work is in full flow. Try to save several queries for one email where possible, rather than leap in to ask each question as soon as it occurs to you. Find out how often the client wants updates on your progress and stick to that schedule.

5: Deliver great work on time

Sounds simple? It is. If you’ve taken on work that you have the time and expertise to complete, and clarified any points you weren’t sure about, you should be deliver what your clients want for the date they need it.

6. Go the extra mile

If you can see how something could be improved or extra value could be added, make the suggestion. We’re not suggesting you do a ton of extra work for free, but rather that you point out what could be done—and ask if the client would like you to quote for the extra work.

Finally, be nice. Be polite, keep your temper, and always be a friendly professional. That’s the type of freelancer a client wants around.