When you work for a big corporation in a salaried job, things are pretty straightforward. You do a fair day’s work for a (slightly less than) fair day’s pay, and you know what to expect in your pay packet at the end of the month. But this is a luxury that most wage slaves pay for whether they’re aware of it or not. In an era of corporate wage repression there’s a good chance that your employer isn’t paying you what you’re worth just to protect your bottom line. They may also be keeping your from the training and development you need to further your career or dangle carrots of promotion and recognition that are forever just out of your reach. When you’re a freelancer, there are some patches on the other side that are greener, but there’s also no shortage of quicksand. Freelancers get the freedom to choose their own hours, be their own boss or take a day off whenever they feel like it, but they’re unlikely to ever again enjoy the kind of job security or stable and reliable income that they used to take for granted.
While many freelancers swear that they would never go back, it would be irresponsible to suggest that the world of freelancing was a non-stop parade of smiles and sunshine. Like any business, it requires your constant care and attention and a reliable base of happy clients who can provide consistent work and eliminate the risk of dry spells. While dry spots can be blessings in disguise, allowing freelancers an opportunity to review their practices, hustle for more clients and hone their skills, too many of them can be ruinous to a freelancing career. With this in mind, success in freelancing requires, perhaps more than anything, an absolutely sterling reputation. Here we’ll look at the importance of reputation in the freelancing world as well as looking at some practical and actionable ways you can boost yours to ensure that you receive regular work from clients who’ll pay you what you’re worth.
Your Reputation is Everything When You’re Freelance
When businesses look to outsource freelancers to fulfill functions that they’re not equipped to handle they need to know that they’re getting their money’s worth and that the person they’ll choose will generate a significant return on their investment. Just like you, they’ll have a brand and a reputation to maintain. They’ll need to ensure that the quality of the work they receive will be in line with their brand values and reflects the standards to which they hold themselves. Thus, they won’t be looking for cheap. They’ll be looking for good. They’ll also be looking for tried, tested and proven since no business takes a risk of any sort of they can possibly avoid it. Here’s how to show them that you can deliver.
Bring Personality to Your Online Presence
Even clients with the most specific briefs in mind will want to hire freelancers whose work sparkles with personality and has its own idiosyncratic charm. Moreover, who doesn’t want to do business with someone who is engaging, personable and charming. Thus, it’s essential that you build a sense of personality into your online and social media presence (while still remaining consummately professional). Use blog posts and video content to show prospective clients exactly what skills you bring to the table. If you need a hand creating professional video content, check out Lifetime Media and browse our portfolio. Posting regular content will not only boost your reputation, it will give your search engine visibility a boost and drive more traffic to your website.
Charge What You’re Worth
There’s a temptation, especially right at the start of your career, to undercut your competitors on price in the hopes that being the cheapest game in town will give you a competitive edge. Unfortunately, this is likely to have the opposite effect and put the best clients off. Remember that unlike private individuals, the businesses and corporations who will be your clients are unlikely to be making decisions based on cost. They’ll want quality and they’re happy to pay for it. If your fees are significantly lower than those of your competitors, they’re likely to assume that the reason why is simply because you don’t offer the same quality. Don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth. If you’re genuinely unsure of how to calculate your hourly rate, this article may be of help to you.
Stick to Your Deadlines
Nothing will compromise your reputation more than missed deadlines. The businesses that outsource you will have deadlines of their own to contend with and if you cause them to run late, it could end up setting them back significantly and potentially costing them a great deal more than they paid for you.
Never agree to a deadline if you have even the slightest worry that you’ll be unable to meet it. Negotiating on deadlines at the start of a project is far more agreeable to clients than letting them know that you’re behind right at the 11th hour. If you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, it may even be worth outsourcing to another freelancer whom you trust (which is why networking is one of the most important skills a freelancer can have).
Perform a Thorough Social Media Audit
If you use Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook for promotional purposes, it goes without saying that your behavior on social media must be beyond reproach. React to every comment on your posts and handle compliments with grace, gratitude and humility. Steer clear of politics and religion. While you are entitled to your own personal views, you can’t risk damaging your professional reputation by alienating prospective clients. Speaking of whom, you should avoid discussing your clients. Do not mention them by name and certainly avoid openly mentioning your fees.
Finally, use your social media presence to network and give your clients and prospective clients alike an insight into your personality. Do not use it as a platform to spam businesses with ads or hustle for work. It’s quite simply bad form.