When you are a freelancer—and especially when you’re a freelancer just starting out—it can be tough to build up a client base. It’s not uncommon for people new to freelancing to think they might never get enough work to make a living, but in fact there are some solid things you can do today to help make yourself more attractive to clients, and they don’t all involve working yourself crazy.
Here’s how to make yourself a more attractive freelancer:
Get a mentor.
Finding a mentor is a silent but solid way to learn the ins and outs of freelancing from someone who has either been there or has enough knowledge about the way the business works to help you out. Getting a mentor isn’t something that your clients will necessarily know you are doing to help your business grow, but hopefully the advice you get will be something both you and your network can benefit from.
Take some classes.
If you’re in a business that’s rapidly growing, there are probably some areas you might not be familiar with, especially if it’s been a while since you graduated or held a staff job. Taking some courses to cover those gaps is a great way to show clients you’re serious about keeping up to date on the latest advances in your field.
One of the perks about freelancing that often draws people in is the ability to pick your own schedule, but when you’re first starting out or are trying to grow your customer base, allowing for a little flexibility can really go a long way. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to work on Christmas morning or answer phone calls at 2 a.m., but if you get notes from a brand-new client that seems great to work with and pays well and they want the changes back ASAP, it doesn’t hurt to drop whatever else is on your plate and get those changes over as quickly as doing them well allows.
Join a group.
Being a freelancer can sometimes be a lonely gig, and you might find that often clients don’t have the time to walk you through changes or decisions they make pertaining to your work, which means it can be difficult to learn. Joining a group of like-minded people (like a writer’s group, for example), is a great way to get feedback and grow your skills with people who share in your goal to be the best you can be at your job.
Learn when to say no.
As your business starts growing it can be tempting to take on every new project that comes your way, but this might not be the best idea. Taking on more than you have the time to handle only means you’ll be more likely to turn in shoddy work that isn’t up to your (or your client’s) standards. Instead, be thoughtful in the work you decide to do and be as sure as you can that whatever your workload, you can turn everything in on time.
As you work to make yourself a more attractive freelancer, keep in mind that it takes time to build a solid client base, and the more projects you get under your belt, the better you’ll be at your job.