41 Tips to be a Successful Freelancer

Freelancing is becoming a career choice for many across North America.

It was reported last year that approximately one-third of the workforce in the United States is comprised of freelancers.  In Canada, one-fifth of Canadian workers are freelancing.

The numbers are only getting bigger. As young professionals decide to ditch the tie and the 9-to-5 lifestyle, a great number of millennial and Generation Z workers are deciding to freelance and be their own boss. This is commendable because it takes a lot of temerity to attempt to be successful in this tough business.

Whether you are choosing to freelance as a way to supplement your income or if you want to freelance full-time, there are numerous things that you must know in order to survive and thrive. Before you plunge head first in this realm, you will need to plan, research and prepare yourself for this kind of lifestyle. It won’t be easy at first.

Here are 41 tips to be a successful freelancer:

1. Have state-of-the-art equipment, a reliable Internet connection and the necessary software.

2. Launch your own blog and show off your skills, past experience and services.

3. If you don’t have any examples of your work then produce something that you specialize in, such as writing articles on a subject you’re passionate about or creating some sort of graphic design.

4. Do some pro-bono work at first in order to build your portfolio and expand your clientele.

5. Establish social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and others.

6. Always conduct yourself in a professional manner; refrain from swearing online,  and be sure to always be polite to everyone you meet.

7. When you start out freelancing, you have to offer your work at discounted rates.

8. Constantly search for work all across the web (Freelance Writing Gigs, Upwork, ProBlogger Job Board, Craigslist and many others). This should be done every day.

9. Be ready for downtime, but don’t panic. When you have free time on, for example, a Wednesday then work on your personal website, hone your skills or look for work (see tip No. 8).

10. Never panic when you don’t have enough work to fill your day.

11. Always save your money. Whether you are inundated with work every day for months at a time or you are spending more time hitting F5 on job boards, you have to live within your means at all times. The recommended number for freelancers is 20 to 25 percent, which does not include what you have to put away for taxes.

12. At the end of a three-month job, remember to ask for a reference or a testimonial to put on your website for future clients.

13. Be active on social media by sharing insightful news, updating your network that you are available for work or connecting with others in your industry.

14. Look after your health. This is sometimes difficult because you could be chained to your desk from 8 a.m. to noon without even realizing it. When you’re freelancing, time is money, and every time you’re not working you’re not earning money.

15. When you are working, do not wear your pajamas or beach attire. Instead, you should definitely be wearing your professional clothing.

16. Concentrate on quality rather than quantity. If you are working on 50 blog posts for a client in a two-week time span, it can be easy to sacrifice the quality. But you must never get stuck in this rut because you risk losing a client or eroding your reputation.

17. Never outsource or sub-contract your work. Your clients have hired you and only you. Plus, you are risking losing precious dollars and you are perhaps sacrificing quality.

18. Change your scenery once in a while. If you are freelancing on a full-time basis then it can be pretty boring to work at the same desk in the same part of your home every day. Moving forward, every once in a while take your laptop and work at a coffee shop.

19. If you are accepting payment through PayPal then you will have to factor in the fees in how much you charge.

20. Throughout your newfound career, take the time to either update your skills or learn something new. When bitcoin became a trending topic, I taught myself as much as I could in order to garner writing gigs in this field.

21. Before you are finished for the day, take the time to create a plan for the next day. This should essentially consist of a checklist of tasks and chores you need to get done tomorrow.

22. Close the email and social media tabs on your web browser when you are working on an assignment. You should only check email once an hour – if you receive an email from a client then respond to it right away.

23. Be appreciative and grateful for your clients,  especially the ones who pay you on time and respect your work. This means always being courteous, respectful, understanding and accommodating at all times.

24. Speaking of clients…prepare yourself for clients from hell. It is true that 98 percent of the clients you come across will be stupendous, but it is the other two percent that will be difficult for no apparent reason – they will expect the world for $2 an hour.

25. If you worked with a client a couple of months ago, follow up with them and see if they need any tasks to be completed by you.

26. Unless you are writing for an ultra popular website, where articles generate on average 10,000 views per day, only accept a fixed-rate payment. If you have spent an entire afternoon working on a 2,000-word article, you don’t want to risk only earning pennies.

27. Take breaks to rest your eyes, to fill your stomach with healthy food and to get your legs moving.

28. Spend about 15 minutes on Sunday evenings to check your email so you know what is in store for Monday.

29. After your first year or two freelancing, it would be fiscally prudent to start raising your rates to keep up with price inflation. If you charge $10 for a 500-word article then raise it to $12.50.

30. As the years go by, you will be more in demand, and newcomers will want your advice or websites will want to interview you. Whenever you get the chance, share your wisdom with the rest of the world, particularly if it is a video interview.

31. If you’re a freelance writer and your hobby is writing then you should also find another hobby (does reading count?). This could consist of playing an instrument, acting on stage or filling empty gin bottles with tiny boats. Do something other than writing.

32. Check out this list.

33. Use gimmicks to get more clients and make more money. For instance, you can offer clients a five percent discount if they pay within 24 hours or you will offer a flat rate of $100 for a batch of 10 articles related to Christmas.

34. Start a referral program. Let’s say that your client, John Smith, referred you to another client, Jane Doe. If Jane orders a minimum of $100 worth of work then you will give John 10 percent off his next order.

35. You could be a freelance photographer, designer or writer. Whatever field you specialize in, you must be anal when it comes to your spelling and grammar. This is imperative, and it will certainly help you stand out from the crowd in this global economy.

36. Do you speak another language? Offer your freelance services in German, French, Mandarin or Russian.

37. Once you start freelancing full-time, you have to form the best family-friendly schedule. Sometimes 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. doesn’t work, and neither does 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. If you have a husband or wife and kids then maybe you can break up your days: 9 a.m. to noon and then 6 p.m. to 10 p.m, or perhaps a couple of hours on Saturday mornings.

38. Working with editors? Never be at odds with them.

39. Drink plenty of water throughout your day, snack on vegetables when you’re hungry and avoid too much coffee (that’s hard!) and fatty and sugary snacks.

40. Listen to classical music during your day. You will find that you have better concentration when you do. Here is a great compilation:

41. Have fun, be happy and be grateful that you are earning an income working from home as a freelancer. If you practice enough gratitude then you will be rewarded with even more clients down the line (it’s the law of the universe).

Do you have any other tips? Please leave them in the comments section below!

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