Freelancing is on the rise, with freelancers accounting for 35% of the US workforce.
That’s because millions of Millennials today are seeking location-independent and time-flexible work, and want to become their own boss.
With modern technology, freelance work is becoming increasingly accessible and profitable. The starving freelancer who struggles to find work is a thing of the past; today’s digital freelancer has access to millions of job opportunities around the world with the click of a button.
But it’s a two-way street—with more individuals onboarding to part- and full-time freelance work, businesses have more options in choosing a freelancer to fulfill a given task.
If you’re a freelancer or are considering freelancing, you may be experiencing frustration with the amount of competition. Losing prospective clients to competitors, having trouble retaining clients, and difficulty getting referrals are all consequences of a saturated market.
Still, top freelancers today earn as much as $112/hour, and work fewer hours per week than the average American. With the right strategy, becoming a top-performing freelancer can be extremely rewarding.
So how do you stand out as a freelancer and consistently land high-paying gigs?
This week on the Unconventional Life Podcast, I interviewed an expert digital strategist about successful freelance strategy.
Meet Franceso Gatti, the leader of global digital strategy at ReadWrite, an Internet of Things and connected world publication with over 6M users. Gatti is also the co-founder of Unbits, a curated marketplace allowing users to discover, review, and buy luxury tech products, which was acquired by ReadWrite. Gatti has extensive experience as an entrepreneur, marketer, and online strategist, enabling him to speak to the techniques and skillsets essential for any successful freelancer.
Below, Gatti’s shares three tips that will help you advance your career as a freelancer.
Refine Your Service
What sets apart the best freelancers is an unmatched commitment to improving their craft. Those who are consistently contracting high-paying clients know that in order to have an edge in the market, you must be providing services that exceed expectations and surpass what others can do.
The most effective way to refine your craft is to ask for customer feedback. Create surveys for your customers asking what you did well, what they liked or didn’t like, and how you can improve. The more specific your questions are, the more precise you can be at attuning your offer to your clients’ needs and desires. “Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your clients because without asking, it’s impossible you’ll know how to serve them better,” says Gatti.
Increase your survey response rate by personalizing your requests—address each client by name and reference the specific service you provided for them. The shorter your survey, the better. Only ask questions for which feedback will be useful for you. Offer an incentive for completing the survey, and make sure to send a reminder email.
Build A Relationship
One of the biggest concerns for freelancers is the unpredictability of income. Sometimes, finding work is easy and opportunities are abundant, and sometimes it’s scarce and nearly impossible. So how do you buffer against the uncertainty and secure a more stable source of income?
You create relationships with your clients by building trust and staying top of mind so you become their go-to contractor. Gatti recommends adding your customers to an email list as well as sending them personalized messages. Keep them in the loop about how you’re upgrading your services and any special discounts you’re offering. Follow up with them individually about their experience and let them know you care.
Research shows customer experience is more important than price and product selection. 62% of customers leave their service provider because of poor service. Ensure quality service by being cordial and polite with your customers, responding promptly, and completing your work on time. Offer to make improvements free of charge until they are satisfied. “The key to create longstanding relationships is to make people feel important and listened to,” Gatti says.