Hey, do you feel undervalued? Constantly being shorted changed for your hard work? Are you a Freelance inbound marketing SEO specialist? (Or Ivan from the USSR) well it may be time to take a real look at you, your business and how you deal with clients. As a freelancer, you have to take personal responsibility for every aspect of your own business, so if you’re having to plead for $50 on a 500 word post about cheese… Then you – maybe the problem.
Now before you write me off simply as “mean” hear me out. Keep Occam’s razor in mind, when I ask the question: “Which is more likely A. Every client you’ve had is a cheap skate, or B. you need to rethink your marketing process?”
Now reworking your marketing strategy can often seem a daunting task, however am hoping to show you that once you rip the band aid off, it’s actually a relatively simple task. Keeping with the Occam’s razor motif, we’ll break it down to the simplicities of 10 points of interest:
Marketing plans (or why I quit sites like Elance)
You wouldn’t keep doing something if you knew it was bad for your business, so why then, would you keep using sites like Elance/Freelancer/Odesk if you could only ever make small amounts business from it? You time would be much better spent creating a marketing plan and sticking to it. I highly recommend creating an active social profile on Twitter/Facebook/Google+/ [insert your choice of social platform here] and using that as your marketing jump point. Additionally, if you offer services such as SEO, content creation, web design or digital marketing, it’s also well worth your time to set up a blog in order to showcase your work – For this I highly recommend WordPress it’s quick, easy to use and free.
Not all experience is “Good” (or why being able to pay rent is good)
Out of the gate, charging much less than your competition is a good way to find work and build your portfolio of completed projects. However, at some point you need to start charging more (you have bills to pay) remember, if you’re good at something – never do it for free, or remember your skill has value.
Not a full invoice? Then not a full article (or why it’s ok to pull stuff off the table)
When a potential client states they can’t pay your full asking price, your initial reaction will be to walk away (and it should be, a point I’ll make further on) but instead, you might be able to make the best out of a bad situation. Simply take work out of the project till you can match the clients price range, this way you still get your time worth’s (without discounting prices) and the client still gets what they paid for.
Finding your niche (be the person people automatically go to for information on your topic)
Everybody has that one topic or field they REALLY understand or know everything that’s worth knowing about. This, should be the foundation of ANY inbound marketing plan and if you’re creating content yourself, then it should also be the focus of your own work. The aim here is become the go-to person for not only the service you provide, but also for information on that service.
The power of “No” (or why a prospects budget problems, are not yours)
Is a potential client asking you for everything at a 50% reduction to your standard fee? Then politely say “No” it can be hard, you’re actually saying no to honest cold hard cash (it’s the antitheist of freelancing) but it’s a step you will have to take.
The only thing you honestly “own” on the Internet, is your reputation (or why case studies can help in a big way)
Case studies, testimonials and an up to date shiny portfolio are the best ways to show how you’ve actually helped your clients. The value of your skill set will increase dramatically, if you can constantly show A. you do good work, on time and go the extra mile and B. that people actually enjoy/like the work and services you provide, or to put it plainly – that people who pay you, get their money’s worth.
Having a niche is good, having a paying niche is better (Or why you shouldn’t be afraid to move on)
Sometimes you can do everything right, and still get paid peanuts. When this happens, it could be the field your focusing on its’ self-that’s the problem. Consider doing some detailed research into what people are actually paying for similar work – if you find the average over all is low, then don’t be afraid to move on. Remember you have to do what’s good for you and your business.
Talking helps (Or why – Talking about it, helps)
Freelancing can, and will be – stressful as such, it often helps to have somebody you can talk to all about. Be it a mentor, friend or somebody else who freelances. Explain why you’re increasing your rates, why you’re being pickier with who/how you work. Things become less worrisome once it’s out in the open, and if the other person is a freelancer – they could relate and even offer advice.
It’s not me, it’s your budget (or why you HAVE to say goodbye to low paying client)
They may have been with you from the start, but at some point you’re going to have to walk away from low paying clients. There’s only so many hours in a day – as such, you have to make room for higher paying work.
HMRC slapped me with a tax bill longer then my phone number (or why you SHOULD have an accountant)
There’s a number of hurdles on the bookkeeping side of things for freelancers, keeping accurate records, handling your tax and avoiding an IR35 investigation, this all takes time – time you could be out earning more money and expanding your brand. As such, I highly recommend to any freelance/contractor to consider the option of an accountant.
So, to summarise – Take one good, solid look at you, your business and the direction you’re taking with it. The aim being to identify what is actually holding you back, what is it that stops you from telling client clearly how much your standard rate is? Why can’t you seem to let go of that one client, despite it actually costing you money by continuing to work for them? And why haven’t you set that blog up yet? All these questions need to be honestly addressed and answered. Take responsibility for your business and its direction.