Poppy has been a freelance editor, writer, and teacher for several years.
As more and more folks transition to working from home and traditional jobs become harder to come by, many people are opting for freelance work, a lot of which is done online. Freelancing provides many advantages—you can set your own schedule, you can take a break whenever you need to, and you can control your own rates and workload.
I started freelancing full-time in March of 2020. Since then, I've learned a lot about how to be a great freelancer, get returning clients, and make decent money without working too many hours.
Are you thinking about getting into freelancing? Perhaps you've just started. Great! Whether you're a graphic designer, video creator, writer, or artist, these tips will help you become an awesome freelancer.
1. Be Professional
I can't stress enough how important it is to be professional with your clients whether they're potential clients inquiring about your services or returning clients you've known for years.
I've hired freelancers for this and that before, and let me tell you—sending someone a message and having them be super informal or short with me is a huge turn-off. Remember, even a freelancer is working in business. If clients are going to be giving you their money, they want to know they're dealing with a professional.
Use proper grammar and spelling, and avoid using slang or emojis. Thank them for their time and effort and exercise patience when dealing with difficult clients. They will appreciate that they're dealing with someone who knows what they're doing.
2. Be Available
It's important to create your own schedule for your freelance work, but it never hurts to be available as much as you possibly can. If the website you use for freelancing has an app, install it and switch on notifications so you know right away when you receive a message.
Check your emails and messages daily and be sure to be available as much as possible. Of course, we all need sleep and days off, but you're more likely to be taken seriously if you respond quickly and are available as much as possible. A lot of clients are shopping around for freelancers to compare, so if you respond first, they're more likely to hire you!
3. Set a Deadline (and Deliver Early)
Here's a tip—clients love getting work delivered early! If you agreed on a week, deliver it in four days. If you agreed on five days, deliver it in two. Don't kill yourself to finish early and certainly don't rush your work, but know that your clients will be pleasantly surprised to receive their projects a little earlier than they expected.
To avoid this backfiring (clients expecting speedier delivery time in the future, for instance), state clearly that your deadlines are the same for everyone in case work piles up.
4. Go Above and Beyond For Your Clients
This isn't to say that you should do a bunch of extra work for free, but when you deliver an order for your clients, do a little extra for them to show them that you care about the project. This will vary depending on your field, but it's a good idea to go a little further for them to show them you're someone they can trust to do a great job.
Of course, there's a fine line between voluntarily going the extra mile and being taken advantage of. Gauge your clients accordingly to know who's going to appreciate your effort and whether it will positively affect business in the long run.
5. Start Small
When I first started out on Fiverr, my prices were low and I offered free samples. Once I had some stellar reviews under my belt, and more and more clients started appearing, I increased my prices. Now I don't offer free samples at all, and my prices are over triple what they were at the beginning.
Keep in mind that at first, you might have to do some work for cheap or free. Do this on your terms, of course. A client who chooses to work with someone with zero reviews is taking a risk, so you want to make sure that they don't regret their decision. Lay down some rules about what you're comfortable with, and once you start getting great feedback and building your portfolio, you can start increasing your prices.
6. Don't Be Taken Advantage Of
Although most clients are pleasant to work with, there are people out there who will try to take advantage of freelancers to get extra work or discounts they don't deserve. Here are some guidelines to help you avoid being taken advantage of.
- Stick to your prices and politely refuse discounts (unless you feel they're fair).
- Ignore and block people who say things like "I'll give you a bad review unless you give me extra work for free."
- Always be polite and professional and never break the terms of agreement of the website you're using (if applicable).
There are always more clients. Don't break your back working for ungrateful or entitled people! Time is money, after all, and you won't want to waste your valuable work time on projects that aren't worth it.
Where Can I Freelance?
Some freelancers like to have their own website, but it can be difficult to get visibility this way. Many people use freelancing websites to get more clients; the downside is that these websites take a percentage of your fee. Here are some freelancing websites where you can get started.
Popular Sites for Freelancers to Find Work
- Fiverr: Fiverr is my favourite because it's got an easy-to-use interface and can connect you with thousands of potential clients who come to you. They take 20% of revenue.
- Upwork: This takes a little longer to set up, as you have to fill in a resume-like profile. You also have to apply for jobs yourself instead of waiting for clients to come to you. They take 5%, 10%, or 20% depending on the amount spent by the customer.
- Freelancer: Freelancer is one of the most famous freelancing websites out there. You have to "win" projects by bidding against other freelancers. They charge a 10%-20% commission.
Freelancing is a fantastic way to work from home and set your own schedule, though it can be stressful at times! If you have a skill that you can do on a computer, there's never been a more perfect time to start freelancing. With the tips above in mins, you'll be well on your way to being a successful freelancer.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2021 Poppy
Poppy (author) from Enoshima, Japan on February 11, 2021:
Thank you so much, Liz!
Poppy (author) from Enoshima, Japan on February 11, 2021:
Thank you, John! I didn't know you were on Fiverr too :) Really appreciate you dropping in!
John Hansen from Queensland Australia on February 11, 2021:
Poppy, I have been a freelancer on Fiverr for six years and agree with all the advice you give. You need to keep your prices low when you start until you build up a collection of five-star reviews then gradually increase your prices. Being professional, delivering early, and giving a little extra are the keys as you said. Good article.
Liz Westwood from UK on February 11, 2021:
This is a helpful and well thought out article. Thanks for sharing your experience to help others.