Diane Hall - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelancer, Entrepreneur and mother of two...

7 freelancer lessons on winning more freelancer jobs and work

As a new eager freelancer, I started my freelance career with ambitious intentions, leading to some foolish decisions and ‘wrong moves’.

When considering these errors, I realised that the importance isn’t so much so the fact these supposed mistakes were made, but what I learnt from them, or how I picked myself up from them.

For anyone just starting out, the following ‘lessons’ are things I wish I’d have known over a year ago:

1. Market research is as important as they say…

I thought I knew better, and now, on my third ‘overhaul’ of my services and business direction, I realise that I should have just done the research in the first place, instead of finding out the hard way what customers do or don’t want.

2. Only very rarely can you run your whole business online…

Even for those purely virtual businesses, knowing your local market and local business contacts is crucial. Being able to ‘sell’ to people in person will always win out over the more impersonal online method. Its not an either/or – having both an online and offline strategy is crucial for 99.9% of freelancers.

3. You never know what a contact may bring…

I didn’t value meetings with clients in my early days, especially if it seemed that they were all take, take, take.

Now I see that my main aim should be about what I can do for them – each time I’ve taken this approach, the contact in question has opened up their address book and allowed me access to their network. I may not have got huge business from said primary contact, but it’s been more than worth my while for what they’ve been able to introduce to me.

4. Things don’t always go to plan…

Even if you’ve a huge market; even if you’ve a product/service that’s greatly in demand, there’ll always be leaner times around the corner.

The reason people say that being self-employed means experiencing peaks and troughs is because it’s true. Once you’ve experienced a ‘trough’ it makes you more determined to build a Plan B into your business for when it happens again. I had a trough 5 months into my freelancing journey and this year I won’t go into panic mode and think I’ll never get work again; instead, I have some other opportunities in the pipeline I plan to take advantage of when the inevitable lean period arrives.

5. You have to walk before you can run…

As someone whose business seems to have ADHD, I’ve definitely learned the hard way that you have to focus on today before thinking of tomorrow.

If that sounds cryptic, it’s not; businesses take a while to build.

People don’t always know who you are or what you do just because you have started trading. Raising awareness takes time, and once you’ve achieved a certain level of sustainability, only then should you ideally move on to your ‘next big idea’. Juggling two, three or four businesses/brands is exhausting and means none get your full attention or devotion – as I’ve found out.

6. You don’t make ‘errors’….

Really, you don’t.

Because technology, people’s tastes and lifestyles change, no company stays the same forever, meaning people like Richard Branson and Duncan Bannatyne are forever on a learning curve. Your errors were just part of your journey, and sometimes it’s only when you’ve taken what you’d consider a wrong turning, that you can see the right path.

Everyone does something they’d probably change if they were starting their businesses or freelancing careers again – so don’t worry that you’ve made a huge mistake – you’re just taking the next step in your journey.

7. You’ll never regret working for yourself…

If the previous six lessons seemed a bit tough, the seventh is definitely not.

Even after everything I’ve said, taking the leap to work for myself is amongst the best things I’ve ever done. Sure, there are days when I could stay glued to the mattress, and days when I say to myself that I’ll “jack it all in and go get a job”. But once I remember the freedom of choice, the pride, the skills I’ve gained, the stimulation and the variety of freelancing against the monotonous, unappreciated, stressful role I held when employed, the ‘jack it in’ feeling soon fades.

The current economy and your finances may influence your decision whether to freelance or not – but if these issues are not insurmountable I’d recommend being a freelancer to anyone and following these 7 freelancer lessons will help you win more freelance jobs and project work – sooner!

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Written by Editor on September 26, 2011 and filed in Featured, Frazzled Freelancer, Freelance Jobs, Freelancers, News, Opinion , , , ,

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