Photo by Raphael Goetter.
People often complain about freelancers being too competitive—but that’s not such a bad thing.
As a freelancer competing for jobs, you have to make it a point to stick out from the rest. And as long as you’re professional about things, there’s nothing wrong with maintaining an edge.
Here’s how to—and how not to do it!
Photo by Antediluvial.
With economic conditions rather on the grim side, it makes sense to look for ways to distinguish yourself from the competition, to strengthen your appeal to existing and potential clients. This goes beyond just a general increase in marketing activity. It is a matter of enhancing your value to your customers, of showing them how doing business with you can stretch their tight budgets a little farther.
Most freelancers can add value to the services they offer by tapping an area of expertise they may not realize they have. The fact is that as you work with clients and complete projects, you become more and more knowledgeable about the world your client contacts live in: their constraints, their needs, their preferences, their goals, their habits, their procedures, their biases and assumptions about working with people just like you.
Photo by HAMED MASOUMI
It’s 11:30 pm. My wife has already gone to bed. I was cramming to get an ad
done for the paper the next morning. The phone rings. It’s the client’s assistant.
“So? Is it okay?” I ask.
“She hates it,” she replies.
“Did she say why?”
Frustrated silence. After a fruitless exchange of profanity and exasperation
we get off the phone. My wife is exhausted and livid at this ungodly hour.
So I turn off the ringer and go to bed, knowing full well that the assistant
is still furiously trying to get through to me and leaving messages on my voice
mail. I have a choice here between my wife and my client. I choose my wife.
My web design sucks!
If you’re like me you’ve probably said that to yourself at least once in your career. When you browse through sites like cssBeauty and FaveUp, you are wowed by the beautiful designs, and you can’t help but ask yourself “What am I missing?”
I know some freelancers who come from a development background assume that programmers just can’t design. Others have decided to go back to school to take a course in design. But to be honest, when you are already well invested in your career, it’s often not practical or even reasonable to head back to school.
Photo by gaetan lee.
In a previous article, Managing Multiple Freelance Gigs With Mind Maps, I covered how to use a grid/ mind map to track your freelancing projects and tasks. In this post, there’s a bit more detail about actually working on tasks, not just tracking them. ( See bottom of article for a free MindJet MindManager 8/Pro 7 map template of my work grid, as per some requests in the comments of the last article.)
The freelance task management process is best demonstrated by an example. Since my work is mostly freelance writing, that’s what I’m using here, though you can extrapolate for other types of work. Assume that you have a big writing project and several smaller ones for a given week – possibly with some of the larger projects spanning several weeks. Here’s what you do to manage and work on your tasks.
Photo by kirk.
Since we’re closing in on 2009, it’s time to start doing some New Year’s Planning.
The first item on your agenda should be something that we all love to deal with – taxes. If you haven’t done so by now, make an appointment with your tax accountant so you can get ready for April 15, or whatever the magic day is in your country.
Here’s what to take to your accountant:
The twenty-third episode of Freelance Radio, the official FreelanceSwitch podcast, is now available! This episode, we talk about a number of topics, including making your “asks” better, finding out information about new freelancing fields and handling holiday gifts to clients. Subscriptions to the podcast are available via iTunes and an archive of all podcasts will appear in the podcast section. We hope you enjoy it!
Photo by tarotastic.
“This is about structure,” the therapist said.
I’m sitting across from her because my husband found me sobbing into the carpet of my home office, again, some more. She’s sitting there because I’ve reached the point, now, where I need to pay people to listen to me.
“I thought this was about huge, huge amounts of anti-depressants.”
“No. For the first time in your life, you don’t have outside structure dictating your every move. And it is affecting your writing, and you are very angry.”
Photo by James Sarmiento (old account)
Students in Springbook High School’s Web design classes get a real-life glimpse into being a designer—their teacher is also a freelancer!
Zac Gordon, 26, graduated from this Maryland high school just eight years ago. For the past four years, he’s been freelancing in the design business. Because he’s got a side career going, it’s the perfect platform for his students to see what being a designer is really like. Now he’s created a business platform that will enable him to work with his students after they’ve graduated. He’s still teaching in the classroom, but has found that the benefits of his full-time job have translated into a thriving business.
Photo by kennymatic.
It’s inevitable that many freelancers will watch the people in the companies they work for come and go. You know, turnover. But as a freelancer, you may be the one sticking around while others leave, and the transition can be difficult.
That’s because many freelancers love an ongoing gig—so when you get a new contact at a company, the shift can be unsettling. What if they use another freelancer? Will they communicate as well as your old representative did? What can you do if they’re not performing well? Is it your job to intervene when you’re a contractor?