How To Fail As A Freelancer

If you can’t do this, you won’t be able to retain your clients

There is a key mental shift that is required if you want to be a freelancer. To provide a valuable service to your clients, you need to be able to assign yourself tasks.


A freelancer is not a full-time employee. Even if the project leads to similar hours spent working, the key difference between working as an employee and as a freelancer is that you can’t rely on your client to know what tasks need to get done. You have to lead the client in the right direction, that’s why they hired you.


If they wanted to manage someone, they would have hired an employee to complete routine tasks. Instead, they took a risk in picking you to help them.


Consultants are great at client retention and although a consultant and a freelancer approach projects differently, there’s a lot that can be adapted to freelance work.


Think like a consultant: what are the unknown tasks?

25% of a consultant’s work is done BEFORE they even propose a project to a client. They have to first create a project proposal for the client, which justifies their services. The only way to truly justify the cost of a consultant’s services is by showing the client that:

  1. There is an unknown problem that they need to solve in order to sustain themselves or gain a competitive advantage,
  2. The consultant can provide a novel solution to this unknown problem.


This proposal can only be successful if the consultant is willing to take their own risks and assign themself the task of helping a company essentially for free, in the hopes that they will be hired for implementation of the project.


A freelancer doesn’t need to assume the same risks but, the same consultant approach can be applied during a project.


Freelancers have the advantage of leveraging platforms to help them source qualified clients. Unlike the research requirements needed to obtain a consulting project, a freelancer needs to create profiles on several freelance platforms, see a list of client projects and requests on these platforms, and notify the client that they would like to work for them.


If successful during the proposal and interview process, the freelancer can then begin working for the client. Yet, where most freelancers fail is after this stage of the process. The true value that they can provide is wasted as they expect the client to be the taskmaster during the project.


In most cases, the client actually ends up discontinuing the project because the costs of maintaining a relationship with the freelancer outweigh the benefits.

A freelancer must foresee and sell future tasks

If you want to be a successful freelancer, you must not only accomplish the goals of the initial project but, go above and beyond expectations by delivering work for tasks that were not requested. A client will only continue a relationship with you, if you demonstrate that the relationship has more beneficial outcomes than costly ones. If you want to be a freelancer, you have to be a self-starter.


If you can successfully assign yourself your own tasks, ideally before a client even knows that those tasks need to get done, you will be seen more as a partner in their business journey—rather than an additional burden. Doing this will not only help you retain your clients, it helps you get an increase of referrals when you request them.


If you have experience as a freelancer and have experienced a client discontinuing their relationship with you, ask yourself, “Did I accomplish more self-assigned tasks than expected ones? Did I do more than what was required?”


It may seem unreasonable to consider doing extra work without getting paid for it. However, when you consider that this extra work benefits your reputation and your chances of continued work in the future—it goes without saying that a client will hire the freelancer that goes provides more value than the one who simply does the minimum work required.


 you want to fail as a freelancer, don’t work harder, don’t consider the unknown tasks, do what’s expected of you, and just focus on the minimum.


Your competition will be focused on what matters—providing value.


Related: Finite and Infinite Games


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Here’s The Best Way To Know If Your Freelance Marketer Is Worth The Money

Have they asked you any questions?

If you don’t have the budget to hire a full-time marketer for your small business, finding the right freelance marketer can cause a lot of stress. Whether you’re hiring this marketer to help you with your social media advertising, to manage your blog, create a logo, or to do market research for you—you want to make sure your money is going to the right person.


There are many articles and Youtube videos online talking about how to “Hire Freelancers Without Losing Your Mind” or “The case for hiring a freelance marketer.” However, these posts only gloss over the reason why you need a freelance marketer. Chances are, if you’re already searching for someone to help you with your marketing, you already know that you can’t do it on your own and that there are several ways a freelance marketer can help you grow your business.


What you really need is an easy solution to know whether or not your potential hire is up-to-snuff. The easiest way to know whether or not your time and money are going to be wasted is to note what questions the freelancer is asking you.


The right questions lead to the right solutions

After vetting several marketplaces and individual freelancers, you’ll eventually come upon two to three that seem capable of solving your marketing problems. When you’re interviewing them, take note of the questions they are asking you.


Of course, they will most likely start by giving you a background of their skills and why they’re qualified for the job, but if they are being interviewed by you—you already know they are qualified. What you really want to know is if they are attentive enough to get the job done without any miscommunication.


If all the candidate does is boast about their skills and expertise, warning sirens should start going off in your head. You will want to hire a freelance marketer that asks you:

  • Who is your target customer (age, gender, location, job role, etc.)?
  • What do you want people to do when they visit your site? What is the #1 thing?
  • What are the key features of your product or service?
  • Describe your current process of making a sale to your ideal client, right from prospecting through to completion of a deal. Be as specific as possible.
  • What are your current content assets?
  • Do you have direct competitors that you want to outperform?


Depending on the specific tasks you want to give them, the more direct these questions are to the problem at hand, the more confidence you can have in your decision to hire them. The wording might end up being different, but questions like these are what you should be looking for before asking for an invoice and a contract.


Image Credit: Unsplash


Don’t Price Your Services Too Low

You are seen as a risk if you cheapen the value of your work

When pricing your services, it is extremely vital that you don’t provide a low price point because you’re afraid of losing the prospect. Yes, sometimes clients shop for price—these aren’t the people you want to serve. You want to work with clients that are shopping for value, that are willing to pay for the result of the work rather than the time it takes to get it done.


When you provide a low price, you cheapen the value of your work. You tell the client, “my work costs this much because I’m not confident that I will be able to succeed.” When you charge a premium price you are telling the client, “you are paying for the revenue that this work will get you.” This doesn’t mean that you can guarantee that you will bring your client more revenue, but the price does allude to the success you’ve brought to previous clients.


Can they afford your work?

When pricing your services, always make sure you have an estimate of their total budget. This budget includes the pricing of your services and all of the other costs involved in hiring you. In marketing for example, if you’re charging $2,000 a month to manage ads, that may be too high a price if the business only has a monthly ad spend budget of $300. If however, they spend $10,000 a month on ads then your services are reasonably priced.


There is a lot of thought that most go into how you charge your clients, but you should always try to avoid pricing your services by time spent. The only moment charging by time is relevant is if your physical presence is required for the job (or if the client’s brand is so big that working for them will elevate your own brand). 


In most cases, if you are doing your work remotely, you’re a creative vendor, or you provide consulting services—you should charge by value and intended results rather than by time. And make sure the price is relative to the size of the client and how much revenue they make.


Image Credit: Unsplash


How To Charge A Client: Time, Creation, Or Results

Unclear Pricing Doesn’t Get You Clients

A freelancer’s hardest task is getting clients. You can be the best vendor or consultant in the world, yet if you cannot attract and retain a clientele, your work doesn’t matter. Part of gathering clients is determining how much you will charge them. You can only calculate how much to charge a client by using three methods of measurement:

  • Through time spent working
  • By what you’ve created for them
  • Or by using measurable results.


You may use a mix of all three of these methods but, there will always be an anchor. The anchor will be the main method by which all negotiation revolves around. In my field of copywriting, I charge by what I create. Instead of charging for my services by hourly rate, I charge by article or word count. I could charge by the time it takes to write an article or by the number of page views an article generates, but I personally don’t like those pricing models. The exact method you use is large in part, determined by the type of services you are providing.


Always Keep Your Pricing Flexible

When pricing your services, consider the exact dollar amount you will use as a starting point in your negotiations. You always want to be open to negotiating the price, as clients often provide you with more than just money in exchange for your work. A client’s value also comes from their network, as referrals are often the best way to grow your business and your reputation. A client’s value can also come from the project they are inviting you to contribute to, as certain projects are better for your portfolio than others.


Regardless of which of the three methods you decide to use, it is important to experiment with all three of them. Certain clients will only hire you if they can clock your hours, while others will only care about results and charge you a commission from actual revenue made. If your services necessitate it, you may want to include a retainer fee in your contract.


The retainer fee is a percentage of your services that you will charge before working for your client, which is used as proof that the client is committed to working with you. The price is usually between 5-10% of the total service fee but, you can charge more if your reputation allows for it. Some clients don’t accept retainer fees and you should use your best judgment when deciding to work with them. I would only work for a client without a retainer fee if they have a big network that I could leverage in the future.


Having a clear pricing model and a way of showing this to your clients before starting your work for them will always save you time in future discussions. You always want to make sure that your clients understand what it is you are doing for them and why they are being charged the price you are setting. If either of these are vague, you are doing your client a disservice. If you are shy about this topic of conversation when sending project proposals and setting initial client calls, there is a way to tackle that fear.


Questions Are The Best Starting Point When Explaining Your Pricing Structure

The best way to become more confident in talking about your fees is by showcasing your ability to understand your client. Instead of selling before naming the price of your fees, ask as many questions as possible. This will provide you with information necessary to tie your fees to their needs. When describing why you are pricing your services using your time, output, or results — bring the topic of conversation back to what the client needs from you.


If a client truly needs your services and if you are able to demonstrate how your services will clearly solve their problems, the conversation of setting your price will be easier to navigate. Hopefully, you will be able to communicate that you are charging not only for your services but, for an ongoing relationship with the client. You are charging to solve their current and future problems.


Lastly, finding the right price for your clients comes with experience. Additionally, you don’t need to leverage your own experience. Researching the advice of expert freelancers in your field can give you a ballpark figure to start working with. At the end of the day, play with the numbers.


If you find that prospective clients aren’t receptive to the current prices you are setting, perhaps you are charging too much or you need better clients. Experimentation will be the only way to determine which of these two scenarios is the real one.

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