10 Steps to Make it as a Freelancer
In 2017 I decided that I wanted a less traditional way of making my salary in the marketing industry. I thought to myself I wonder if I could break into the freelance marketing market. I spent a few days reading various online articles and I decided my first step was going to be creating a website exhibiting my skills and portfolio.
Wait! what if google doesn't load my website on its first page, I don't really want to run a Google Ads campaign to promote myself at this stage in the game. I decided that I would create a blog and attach it to my portfolio to bring in some organic traffic. The same thought crossed my mind, what if google doesn't organically load my blog on the first page. So I decided i would start to build an online presence for myself on Twitter as a marketing specialist. CoSchedule was my first follower and I must say, I was very happy about that!
So, I had built my website, portfolio and blog. I had created a twitter account to help promote that but how was i going to actually land my first freelance client. I was already familiar with People Per Hour as i had used it as a buyer for my previous business so I decided this would be a god place to start.
I spent an obscene amount of time re-writing my bio and posting jobs that I could do. I am a perfectionist so anything self-related becomes a nightmare! I wanted to come across as professional as I could at an affordable rate.
What is affordable?
That was my next task, I had found marketing consultants, specialists or freelancers (they all offer the same service with different titles!) charging up to £65 ph. Which they suggested was an affordable alternative to using an agency worker. I didn't feel as though my expertise were quiet at the £65ph mark so I went back to People Per Hour and decided to browse sellers offering the same service as myself. I found that the price varied between £10-£35 per hour.
Choosing your rate can be a difficult task but I came up with what I think is an easy and fair algorithm. I took my annual salary from my current position and worked it out on an hourly rate. This would now be the lowest I would work for, nobody wants to go backwards. I gave myself a £6k pay rise and came up with my hourly rate. This seemed like a fair starting point and i was happy with the figure. As my business grew, my portfolio of clients grew so my hourly rate grew too.
Now back to the beginning, my People Per Hour profile was up and running all I had to do was wait for people to buy my services. This didn’t happen! The emails didn't come flooding in. People Per hour offer it's freelancer a proposal system. You receive 15 free credits per month which you can use to contact employers/sellers that list the services they need. You are charged between 1 and 3 credits per proposal, it depends on the urgency and price of the job posted. I dedicated 2 hours per day to writing proposals and reaching out to prospects and In the first 12 weeks I had taken 7 clients from PPH which exceeded my expectations. Don't get me wrong they wasn't huge gigs, some of the clients were 1 off tasks like creating copy for a Facebook Ad or another client owned a bridesmaid dress business and wanted me to create copy for a professional promotional email to wholesalers. Never the less they were still my clients.
As I started to build up clients I wanted to take on more clients on more of a long- term basis. I changed my approach in how I handled my clients, instead of just doing the task at hand I started to ask questions about their brand’s marketing, I would offer free consultations and offer my advice on how I think they should be doing things. I would sell my skills to them and more often than not clients would ask me to do extra things and I would end up working with the client for a longer period of time. I invested a good few hours in creating a PowerPoint presentation of the work I have done for clients and I find that this has really helped me land new clients.
In the first 6 months of freelancing I had around 10 clients and was making over £4,000pm. I’m not a millionaire yet but I’m also not broke! I take my hat off to anyone that can wake up in the morning and earn money on their own merit. Offering services that benefit someone else is an achievement and you should be proud regardless of the figures in the bank.
2 years later, lots of hard work and dedication and i have a monthly salary that exceeds my old salary, it also exceeds my £6k pay rise by a further £17k. This is proof that it can be done but please don't be fooled. This hasn’t come easy, I have spent many hours writing my blogs, tweeting stats, sending proposals trying to win jobs, having video calls, phone consultations that have resulted in me not landing the client and hours on hours of research in different industries to perform the best I can for my clients, BUT this is proof that hard work does pay off.
There you have it, that is how I made my way into the freelancing world and you can do exactly that by following these 10 steps:
1. Create a personal website so when clients search for “freelance marketing consultant” they can find you
2. Find a way to drive organic traffic to your website. I created a blog and a twitter account to promote the blog
3. Join an online community where clients list jobs they need doing I didn’t mention the other places I joined because I didn’t have any success with them, but your luck may be different: Fiver, Task Rabbit, Quora, Bidvine, Freelancer, Guru and People Per Hour which has been amazing for me.
4. Define your desired salary. Give yourself a minimum you will work for as not all clients will be high earners. Often clients are start-ups or single business owners with smaller budgets. When you are starting out you want to be able to win clients o build that portfolio so be prepared to negotiate.
5. Be prepared to put in hard work. Clients will come to you from all industries and you will not have any knowledge of their sector. Do your research before you consultation with them so you know what they are talking about.
6. Offer free consultations and subtly promote yourself in the process. When discussing their needs tell them about your previous client’s needs and how you successfully met them.
7. Make sure the client feels you have their best interests at hand. Do not tell them they need 30 hours of your time if they only need 10. Your reputation is everything and you want to make contacts that would refer your services to their professional peers.
8. Do not take on more than you can handle. Marketing clients are not in the industry of waiting around. Often deadlines are tight, and you don’t want to let clients down and damage your reputation.
9. Create a PowerPoint presentation of the clients have you successfully managed this will be handy when clients want to visualise your proposal.
10. Once you are comfortable start to reach out to people you know or local business offering your services. Send them your PowerPoint presentation or schedule a meeting and talk them through it in person. Be confident, polite and knowledgeable. Do as much research on the client as you can to show your dedication.
Marketing is fierce and fast, But there is a really big market for freelancers. Good luck :)