What’s the Single Best Thing You’ve Ever Done for Your Freelancing Biz?

Every so often, a freelancer will make a decision that takes their freelancing to the next level.

It could be something that helped them find clients, charge more, get more work done, or become better in their field.

For this post, I asked some of my freelancing friends to identify the best thing they’d ever done for their freelancing business.

I was surprised at the wide variety of answers I received. Most of them, as you’ll see below, had to do with the finding and keeping–or not–of clients. A few others mentioned specific strategies to improve their productivity and effectiveness.

Below are the answers I collected. I’ve categorized them by topic to make them more useful. I hope these answers inspire you to take specific action, or to consider doing something in an area of your freelancing you may never have thought of before.


Finding Clients in Various Places

Some freelancers shared their tips for getting clients. The comments in this category included:

  • Kelly McCausey (@kellymccausey)–I joined Shelancers. A fellow found me (my design company) via Shelancers and hired us for a HUGE project ($10,000+).
  • Kelly Kagamas Tomkies (@kakwrite)–Without a doubt, the No. 1 best thing I ever did which advanced my freelancing career is join the Editorial Freelancers Association. I obtained projects and ongoing work and clients, thanks to their job postings. And I have also had individual clients contact me for work after seeing my profile on their site. It definitely gave my freelance writing, copy editing, and proofreading career a HUGE boost, and when I needed it most.
  • Sue Fleckenstein (@suefleckenstein)–Well, how I got my freelance career going was by joining the Wealthy Affiliate program, where they have an internal job board. I posted my services as an article writer and haven’t looked back. Yes, the work just dripped in, but five months later I am replacing my full time income on a consistent basis. I used the tools provided to hone my skills and it was the best thing I have ever done.
  • Carole Seawert (@Carole Seawert)–I target design agencies and the thing that brought me in a flood of clients was running a simple classified advert in Design Week.
  • Elisa Doucette (@OpheliasWebb)– Networking with other writers and publishers online.  I might be one of those social media dorks but it has opened doors I *never* would have seen otherwise.

Working with Clients

Other freelancers shared tips for working with clients. Some of these tips were:

  • Luis Monteiro (@luismonteiro)–I told my clients that I wouldn’t charge them (or would only charge a symbolic fee) unless they were fully satisfied with the results, and asked them to spread the word. That surely helped raised trust and confidence in my work!
  • Nicolas Miranda (@diverseminds)–I think the best thing I did for my freelance biz was learn how to rate work.  For nooks, that is always the biggest challenge.  Some don’t know how much to charge for a website, a logo, a flyer.  Some don’t know if they should charge a flat rate or hourly.  Once I got that sorted and figured out, it really helped me out.

Choosing Clients and Projects

Many freelancers had some suggestions for choosing the right clients and projects:

  • Angie Nelson (@thewahwife)–The best thing I did for my freelancing biz was to start choosing my clients, and stop letting them choose me. If it’s not an ideal opportunity, don’t settle.
  • Brandi-Ann Uyemura (@2inspired)–I said, “Yes,” only to jobs that were aligned with my long-term freelance writing goals.
  • David Wang (@blogjunkie)–The best thing I did for my business was learning how to say NO. Saying No gives you better job satisfaction. By dropping the jobs I hate, I now have less stress and enjoy more time to spend with my family. I also produce better quality work since the jobs I choose are the ones I enjoy doing. I’ve now said No to 5-figure jobs because I know it won’t be worth the stress. Plus, big jobs tend to drag on so I don’t have time for new projects.
  • Dave Perks (@writegud)–Without a doubt, then one thing I did/I’m doing to help my freelance business is to stop trying to be all things to all people and hold my ground on who I am and what I do. There’s a philosophy out there along the lines of just saying yes to any work request you get, and then learning it as you go if it’s not in your skill set. I tried that for a while. Didn’t work for me. Maybe I’m a slow learner. But for me, now that I just clearly state that I offer marketing and social media strategy, concept development and execution, people know what to expect and I can stand firm on my background and my rates. I’m fortunate in that I can be selective with my clients and if it looks like the person on the other side of the table doesn’t recognize the value I deliver, I can choose to walk away.

Learning from Others

It’s important to learn from others. This comment just reinforced the importance of relying on each other:

  • Arevik Dumikian (@arevik2)–I only started to pay more attention to the posts on freelancer’s sites, and I started to implement advice I read on Freelance Folder (including those from your articles–Thanks!) I also learned to let go when the Buyer chose someone else and don’t worry about that–previously, I worried too much about it.

Using Technology and Managing Time

Technology is also very important to freelancers. Here’s how freelancers are using technology:

  • Sharon Hurley Hall (@shurleyhall)–The best thing I ever did to enhance productivity was invest in Dragon Naturally Speaking so I could dictate my writing. It saves me at least 15 minutes in every hour, giving me more time to work on other projects.
  • Didier Daglinckx–Using Filemaker to build my clients’ database to manage the info I need on a daily basis (instead of using Word and Excel).
  • Carol du Toit (@caroldoot)–My number one best thing so far was coming across “How to Get More Work Done In Less Time.” My time management skills are shocking, so time chunking and the Pomodoro technique have both become close friends… and are really helping!

The Best Think I Did for My Freelancing Biz

As for me, the best thing I’ve ever done for my freelancing business was to join Mom Masterminds, an online forum of Moms who work from home. Mom Masterminds members helped me get started, find clients when I had no track record to speak of, and even tweak my services so that I could charge more.

In Mom Masterminds, I also found long-term clients who have, in turn, recommended me to other clients. The value of this network would translate into the thousands of dollars for me… and counting.

How About You?

Now it’s your turn. Let us know the best thing you ever did for your freelancing. Do share in the comments below.

Image by bingbing

Comments

  1. says

    Becoming a WordPress professional it really got me lots of work, compared with the times when my expertise was only web design and (X)HTML/CSS coding.

  2. says

    Well

    1 . Keaping all biz on one site instead of 4-8 as others try to (i have 300 reviews and this assures me steady biz)
    2 . Allways not compromising my rulles i don’t work without advance payment + milestone /escrow (this saved me for a lot of trouble)
    3 . Keaping touch with past clients

  3. says

    As a programmer, the best thing I ever did to advance my business was to partner up with some quality graphic designers. That way, whenever there’s something requested of them (like a database or flash game) that I can do better, I can step in and help and if there’s something I need that they do better (like design a theme for a website), I’ve already got someone in mind to help.

    This benefits both parties because then we’re able to offer clients more than either of us could by ourselves.

  4. says

    you have done a great job in the post.For the freelancers First meetings are always very important, so try to focus on the main mission of this meeting, which is to understand what the potential client wants. Most designers try to get ahead of themselves by saying yes to everything, but remember it’s more important for you to be very upfront with the potential client because if not, you will come to a dead end along the road.Thanks for the nice post.

  5. says

    Really interesting to hear others’ views – and thanks for giving us the chance to contribute, Lexi. :)
    I certainly agree with Angie that choosing our clients (rather than them choosing us) is the way to go. And also with Dave when he says not to be all things to all people. Clients appreciate it when I say that I’m not really the person to do a particular job. I have a wide network of freelancing contacts, so I find them the person who would be suitable. Then I can focus on what I know are my areas of strength.

  6. says

    so many great tips on this post. useful and effective. these are some of the things that every freelancer should know and practice. it is sites like freelancefolder.com and thesavvyfreelancer.com that really help out the noob freelancers and keep the professional ones educated and on point. great job to everyone.

    and also thank you for the mention.

  7. says

    Great tips, Lexi. There’s a lot I need to learn and do for getting clients, but one thing I have really worked on as a staff writer for a couple of sites is using the automation software. Any time I find myself performing repetitive tasks on my computer, I see if there’s a way I an automate the task so that I can focus more on the writing itself, which can never be done.

  8. Steve Robillard says

    The best thing I ever did was follow my gut and cut short a meeting with a potential client. I thanked her for her time, but said I didn’t think we were a good fit. She is on her third team and still doesn’t have anything to show for it.

  9. says

    I accepted that as a Freelancer I have to do lots of other roles as well as Web Design for example sales, admin, marketing. When I started doing the other things my whole World opened up.

  10. says

    Not sure if this qualifies, but the best thing I’ve ever done for my freelancing business is to become a freelancer. My life has changed immeasurably…

  11. says

    Great post Lexi! I’m learning a lot from the responses on your post and from the previous comments as well.

    For me, the best thing I did for my freelancing career was stopping myself from taking projects from the first company I worked for as a home-based writer. I was working for peanuts there while generating tons of work that could have earned me thrice as much as the pay I was receiving from them. Because of this (and lots of encouragement from people I love), I was able to find work that I really wanted to do and that paid me well. Getting out of there also taught me to market myself and to look for jobs that I really wanted to work on, a.k.a. specialization.

  12. says

    What a wonderful post! Just reading it along with all the comments makes me feel like I’ve learned something today.

    As for me – I used to focus on meeting deadlines all the time. I get regular work from Creative Lipi Then one day, I received a big project for which I had to do some costing and that is how I came across this site. Of course I subscribed to the newsletter right away, and what a treasure-house of knowledge “freelancefolder” has turned out to be for me! It has cut my research time substantially so that I can spend the time more productively. This motivated me to look at other freelance writing forums and I think that’s the best ever thing I’ve done for my work as a freelancer – improving myself on a daily basis. Thanks, again!

  13. says

    We own a web content writing company and we have a large team of freelance writers and editors working for us. We have found that most of the freelancers are not very sensitive to deadlines. I would like to suggest to all my freelancing friends to be punctual and stick to the deadlines. This will help them not only to be able to produce more work but also to get more orders from their buyers.

  14. Mary says

    Interesting comment about Dragon. Quite at odds with my experience. Perhaps it’s because I’m a fast typist anyway, but I found this quite clunky, even for straight dictation, and for editing it’s virtually useless – by the time I’d told it where to go in the page, I’d have been there and corrected it! Not having a ‘standard American’ accent didn’t help either – for all its (similar) faults, Word’s own voice recognition is quicker to learn accents.

    Like Bakari, the best thing I did was learn how to automate tasks – I found writing macros quite hard, but I’m glad I persevered!

  15. Enelia Faithful says

    These are some really great ideas….though the Shelancer advice seems suspect since the site only has freelancers to choose from. I think they’re just trying to get hits for the site.

  16. says

    Hey, this is a fantastic topic! The best thing I did for my career was to write a book about the industry I work in, which is outsourcing! :-)

    The benefits:

    1) I was taken much more seriously.
    2) Clients expected to pay higher rates.
    3) The company I wrote about hired me onto its staff <– huge!!

    -Nicole

  17. says

    I joined a professional association.

    I became a member of the translation association in France called La Société Française des Traducteurs. I’ve attended useful workshops, gone to monthly get-togethers, met other freelancers, learned about current rates, and obtained information about recommended terms and conditions and purchase orders.

    Most members of the SFT don’t see each other as ‘competitors’ but as ‘colleagues’ to network with and help out. I’ll be renewing my membership every year.

  18. says

    The best thing I did for my freelancing business?

    I stopped freelancing for other people and started freelancing for myself.

    I stopped writing for others and started writing full-time for myself. I started contributing to my own websites with content that I thought people would like to read (all dot coms: AimforAwesome; MikeFook; ThaiPulse/blog; JoysThaiFood; ThailandSnakes; etc.)

    I started writing ebooks for Amazon’s Kindle. Sure, it sucks in most ways, but the one way it works is putting cash in my pockets as I begin my writing career.

    Writing for other people – traditional freelancing where you accept a wage for one piece of content – isn’t very scalable. Creating an ebook that sells over and over and for no more money outlay than what you originally spend – is a much smarter way to work.

    Write what you like. Stop writing for other people. Write for you and build yourself something for the future.

    Mike Fook

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  22. says

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