Starting as a freelancer is not easy at all. Nobody knows you and you probably don’t know where to find potential clients. Just that can be very discouraging.
In fact, when I signed in to Workana three years ago, I knew that I liked writing and that I wanted to leave the corporate world; that was it.
I did not have any type of experience in commercial writing, I had no idea about what the clients needed and I couldn’t even give a congruent definition of key terms such as “content marketing”, “inbound” or “lead magnet”.
My only weapons were an impeccable orthography and a clean writing. I learned everything else along the way.
Today I accept quite complex projects about digital marketing, I give specialized consultancies and I am a writer responsible for more than ten corporate blogs, besides being a proud collaborator in Workana’s blog as well.
If someone were to ask me how I made it, I would say the evident in first place: with hard work and a pinch of obstinacy. But, that is not the only secret for success; there are many talented and committed professionals who don’t get enough clients on their own.
Why? Well, because they don’t carry out an appropriate personal marketing.
In this article I will tell you how I managed to promote my abilities and get my very first clients. Then, in a second part (which we will post very soon) we will deepen into personal marketing strategies targeted to more experienced freelancers.
It doesn’t matter if you are just starting or if you already have some time in this, consider all the tips I give you, I am sure they will be very useful.
How to promote your work when you are starting as a freelancer?
When I signed in to Workana, the platform had a little more than 500.000 registered users and it was in full growth. The first four months I was unable to get a single project even though I was sending all the bids I could.
But, I was firmly convinced and, through test and error I found a series of strategies that helped me win my first project. After only three months I had received enough to quit my job and dedicate myself 100% to freelance writing.
I recommend you follow these seven tactics to speed up your beginning as a freelancer.
1. Optimize your profile
A very frequent mistake that I see among new freelancers in Workana is that, they basically attach their resume to their profile and expect to draw clients just with a list of companies they have worked at before.
The reality is that those clients looking for freelancers are not interested in reading a very long resume. They want specific abilities and to see a great disposition for a job well done. But, when you still don’t have any project reviews it’s quite difficult to earn their trust.
In the beginning, you literally depend on what you say on your profile. And, every word counts: you need a powerful introduction that goes straight to the point and that keeps the attention from your potential client, as well as a list of abilities that showcases exactly what your knowledge and expertise is.
For example, when I started I only put “orthography”, “writing”, and “text correction” as my abilities, and my description said something like this:
“Hi! I am Assul, a psychologist by profession, and passionate about writing. I am looking for the opportunity to show the quality of my work and to begin gaining reputation as a freelancer. What I offer you is an impeccable orthography, a fresh and persuasive writing style and, an unlimited learning disposition. If you are looking for a trustworthy collaborator to begin with simple writing and editing projects, I assure you that I am an excellent alternative.”
Today my profile is very different because it has evolved with the abilities I have learned along the way. To be honest and straightforward, it was definitely a fundamental element that made my first client give me the project.
Workana also has a free ability certification center. Take advantage of them to certify yourself in your area of expertise and to have an additional backup towards the client. You can also read this article to find out the keys to build a good freelancer´s profile in Workana.
2. Invest in a Workana membership
Yes, I know I sound like a salesperson, but I say this with absolute honesty. Those 4 USD I invested in my first month of a plus membership helped me send many more proposals, certify abilities and to access the chat service with potential clients, which is very useful and makes communication a lot more efficient.
In fact, I got my very first project just a little after that, because the 20 extra proposals per week allowed me to tilt the statistical balance in my favor. I think I would have still won projects sooner or later without the membership, but it would have definitely taken longer.
It will always be your decision if you want to make this investment or not. But just consider that it would be less money that what you would spend in two coffee drinks at Starbucks.
There are more complete memberships; the professional and the Premium, but I recommend those memberships to freelancer with a bit more experience, and we will talk about them in the second part of this article.
3. Don’t be afraid
The fact that you do not perfectly master a particular subject should not stop you from still bidding on a project that you are really interested in and that implies skills you do have. The important thing is to have the permanent capacity to learn and to investigate. Nowadays, everything is on the internet.
I am not saying that we should invent knowledge we don’t have towards the client in order to win a project. What I am trying to say is that if you have the main required skill (for example: writing), you can acquire the surrounding skills along the way (for example: writing about a specific subject). It worked for me.
Remember to be always honest in regards to this. You can say something like: “I have plenty of talent writing and, even though I don’t have experience writing about this specific topic, I consider it’s a topic that I can investigate and learn quite easily”.
Your client should always be aware if there is any part of the project that you do not know perfectly. In this way, he will be able to give you enough time to research about the subject and offer him the solution he needs.
4. Remember that each connect is very valuable
On the other hand, it is also very important that you take care that your connects are professional and viable. A connect in Workana is a contact with a new client through the proposal you sed fot their project. Remember that depending on the plan you have, you have a certain amount of connects available per week, so you should seize them to the fullest.
When I quit my job to become a full-time freelancer, the concern of having enough work took me to bid in an irresponsible way to projects where I had neither the proper tools nor the experience.
One of them ended up being mine and even though at the end I delivered everything in a timely manner, developing it implicated mental and emotional energy that did not compensate with the pay at all.
Avoid bidding to projects that are definitely out of your specialty areas or that exceed your current capacities, because, in the best scenario you will make the client waste time, and in the worst scenario, you could end up with a penalization or a bad review.
5. Keep a record of everything
After contacting all the clients that seemed interesting, you finally win your first project. Congratulations! No matter how small it is: always keep a backup to start building your work portfolio.
I made the mistake of sending the deliverables without saving evidence of the work I had done, and then I couldn’t find the URLs or they were taken down and I had no way of using them to demonstrate the quality of my writing with finished projects.
I soon realized that when a client is interested in your profile the first thing they ask you is: “do you have any examples of your work that we could see?”. After that, I obviously began keeping a record of everything.
With time, I had enough examples to build a presentation according to the client’s needs, which drastically increased my probabilities of getting the project.
6. Look for a sensei
One of my first clients was a writer with plenty of experience in the commercial area and whose amount of projects was now exceeding his work capacity.
So, he decided to start working with new writers like me: in exchange of a preferential price which allowed him to stay with a small commission, he always had work for me and he shared a lot of knowledge and tools of great relevance.
It really isn’t a bad idea to look for someone with more experience to learn with while you are still growing. Just make sure that it truly is a work relationship that benefits both of you.
7. Encourage long-term relationships with clients
Finishing a project with a five star rate is very satisfying, but even more satisfying is that the same client is so happy with your work that they keep looking for you over and over again.
As a freelancer, you achieve long-term relationships by:
- Delivering quality work in a timely manner.
- Charging a fair price.
- Being flexible, communicative and attentive.
- Always giving an unexpected “extra” to the client.
On their behalf, Workana helps to keep long-term work relationships through their system of staggered commissions, since the more you work with the same client, the lower the commission rate will be for both.
This is a big motivator for a client to keep hiring you, because in the long run they can invest just 5% of the commission while still enjoying of all the guarantees of the platform, and so do you.
Even though the beginning is never easy, with the appropriate self-promotion strategies and a huge disposition to learn, you will start to open the doors you need to create a reputation as a freelancer and to reach more potential clients each time.
Every month more than 100.000 freelancers sign up to Workana, and the platform is currently close to 2 million registered users, which shows without a doubt, that the freelance lifestyle is now a reality for many.
I recommend you read this article and also this one if you want more valuable tips to gradually begin your autonomous career.