A common misconception about freelancers is that we’re in between jobs. Some people think we’re just taking on contract work to earn extra income until we find a full-time position. However, that’s simply not true. Many freelancers (including myself) earn a comfortable living through self-employment and aren’t looking for 9-5 jobs. In fact, freelancers are expected to become the workforce majority in the US by 2027.
Unfortunately, because of the stigma that being a freelancer still carries, we have to work harder to prove ourselves. Here’s why maintaining a high level of professionalism is so important for freelancers, and what you can do to impress potential clients.
Why Freelancers Need to Be Highly Professional to Succeed
Sadly, many business owners have had bad experiences with freelancers. They’ve dealt with contractors who have missed deadlines, produced bad work, and communicated poorly. This may lead them to believe that freelancers are less professional, committed, and engaged than regular employees.
Although research has shown that freelancers perform just as well as salaried workers, these myths are still pervasive. Even if a potential client hasn’t had any bad experiences with freelancers, you’ll still have to fight these negative perceptions to secure high-paying work.
So how can you show clients that you’re a true professional and land lucrative contracts? Here are some ways to position yourself as an expert in your field so you can win over clients.
Improve Your Portfolio
The quality of your portfolio is one of the main factors clients consider when deciding whether or not to hire you. Your portfolio is a collection of your best work, which means there’s no room for mistakes like typos and grammatical errors. As you grow your skills and improve your craft, you should update your portfolio to ensure it reflects what you’re capable of.
As much as I hate to say it, it’s also important to have pieces commissioned by well-known companies in your portfolio, especially if you’re a writer. Being associated with big-name brands and publications will boost your professional image and impress potential clients.
Even if you prefer helping small businesses like I do, you should still work with big fish every now and then to advance your career. Speaking from experience, it’s much easier to land gigs and charge higher rates when you can tell clients you’ve been published in respected magazines like The Atlantic.
Position Yourself as a Consultant
One of the main misconceptions business owners have about freelancers is that we’re not as invested in their company’s success as an employee would be. You can turn this assumption on its head by positioning yourself as a trusted consultant and partner for your clients.
Instead of just offering writing services, learn how to advise businesses on strategy and develop a content plan that gets better results. If you can help your clients generate more revenue, you’ll become an invaluable part of their team and prove your commitment to their growth and success.
Go Above and Beyond
Earning good testimonials and references is also crucial if you want to prove your professionalism and succeed as a freelancer. The best way to get glowing reviews is to go above and beyond. I do this by aiming to become the go-to person for my clients.
I always try to accept and accommodate assignments from my regular clients, even if they need a tight turnaround time of 48 hours or less. I’ve even completed assignments on Christmas Eve because I knew other freelancers wouldn’t be available to help out.However, I’m not suggesting you copy my approach. If you hate working on tight deadlines or on holidays, you don’t have to accept rush work.
My advice is to find your unique selling point—the thing that sets you apart from competitors. Mine is that I’m willing to take on last-minute projects, but yours could be something completely different, such as turning in work well ahead of the deadline or offering clients free strategy sessions. Finding ways to go beyond the call of duty for your clients and offer high-touch service will improve your professional reputation.
How do you show clients you’re an expert in your industry? What do you do to set yourself apart from other freelancers so you can charge premium rates? Share your tips in the comments below!
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.