What does it take to get regular, well-paying jobs as a freelancer? It takes talent, a willingness to work hard, an outgoing personality, constant pitching and a lot of networking – but perhaps more than anything else, it takes reputation. When you freelance, your name is your brand and you need to make sure people have heard of you. You also need to make sure they’ve heard good things. This can be daunting to those who are just starting out, but there’s a lot you can do to nurture your reputation and help it grow.
Building your reputation
The first thing you need to do is get your name out there. This doesn’t mean agreeing to work for anybody who offers the opportunity, unpaid, in exchange for ‘exposure’, but it could mean filling in gaps in your schedule doing relevant voluntary work for a charity whose name will then appear in your portfolio. It could also mean building up social media profiles where you talk about subjects relevant to your work. One approach that’s proving successful for a lot of people is posting work-related advice videos on YouTube. This can help establish you as an expert, and videos like this tend to reach much wider audiences than written articles.
As you get more established, you should try collecting references and testimonials from your clients. Word of mouth is always important for freelancers, but you can also use these references on your LinkedIn profile and on your website, where they will help make a good impression on visitors. Get some professional photos taken to use alongside them, because people remember names and reputations better when they associate them with a face.
Creating a professional image
When it comes to getting the best clients, your reputation isn’t simply about what others think of you; it’s about what you have proven yourself capable of. This means you should showcase your academic qualifications, honours and awards, and make it easy for people to see examples of your work. You should ensure that you fully complete your profile on promotional sites (including job sites) and that your own website has an up-to-date design and a clear, well-organised layout.
One way to establish your professional credentials more quickly is to work through an umbrella company that itself has an impressive reputation. Atlantic Umbrella is a good example, looking after finance on behalf of its clients so that they can concentrate on what they do best. Employers like the fact that Atlantic Umbrella is a familiar name and makes pay relationships simple for them, and they expect the people using it to be capable professionals.
Things to avoid
Just as it’s possible to grow your reputation, it’s also possible to damage it, so when you’re working as a freelancer, you need to be cautious about what you say and do online at all times. Creating a bad impression by complaining about your work, losing your temper or just fooling around too much could significantly dent your income.
Marketing yourself as a freelancer may be hard, but ultimately it’s part of the job. Get it right and it will be well worth your while.