The Do’s And Don’ts Of Becoming A Freelancer


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Do You Want To Become A Freelancer?

Freelance work brings with it many benefits: greater flexibility to arrange your own work schedule, the possibility of eliminating long commutes and, of course, the opportunity to be your own boss. Of course it also has its drawbacks: increased insecurity, possibility of isolation and the need to become a business ‘all-rounder’. Yet, for some, the freelance life provides the exact mixture between autonomy and specialized use of their talents that makes it just the right fit for them. So if you do think you fit into this category and are thinking of taking the plunge here are some do’s and don’ts to set you out on the right path.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Freelancing | Freelance Friday Ep. 13

How Do You Market Yourself As A Freelancer?

So how should you go about getting people to know about your business? Well, here are seven steps for marketing your freelance translation business:

  1. Tell everyone you know that you are a freelance translator. Nobody will ever know if you never open your mouth to say anything about it. Make sure that when you do tell people that you are confident about your abilities. Act like you’ve been doing it for a long time and people will trust you more with their work.
  2. Contact local businesses and let them know about your services. There are a ton of local businesses that could use translation services every once in a while. These businesses do not often deal with translators and so when the time comes that they need one, they go to the phone book or they find someone they know. Be the person they know.
  3. Volunteer. There are a ton of volunteer opportunities either in your community or online where you can provide translation services for free. This will get your name out there and eventually give you more exposure. Check with your local United Way or other non-profit groups in the area to see if they know of anybody in need of a translator.
  4. get online. OK, you knew this one was coming. If you’re not able to find enough work in your local area, you might need to expand operations. Get online, create a website and let people know you’re there. This article isn’t about getting online, but there are plenty of articles written that can help you with that.
  5. Ask former clients for referrals. If you’ve done a good job for a client and they were happy working with you, try and hit them up for either more work or the name of somebody that might need some work done. People are willing to pass your name on as long as you’ve been professional with them.
  6. Get a business card. This goes along with the first couple of tips. You can tell people until your blue in the face about your new freelance translation business, but when it comes time for them to find a translator; they’ll have forgotten who it was that was telling them about their translation business. By always carrying your business card, you can give something concrete to people, and they will have something to refer back to.
  7. Don’t stop. A lot of translators might do a couple of the steps outlined above, get some translation work, and then stop marketing themselves. As a translator, you should spend part of your time each day marketing your freelance translation business. The minute you stop doing that is the minute you start losing translation contracts. Better to spend a few minutes each day marketing rather than try to play catch-up every couple of weeks.

By using these tips, you’ll be able to increase the amount of work you’re getting as a freelance translator and build your freelance translation business.

14 Tips To Becoming Successful As A Freelancer

  1. Do have a plan
    • In any job, particularly one you don’t like, it can be very tempting to quit and embrace the road less traveled and all the adventure it promises; however, your chances of success in the freelance world, particularly in the first few months, will be greatly improved if you have a strong plan to work to. Having a plan should include having work lined up for as long a period as you can; creating a realistic budget for the oncoming months and having as much paperwork, as is possible, completed to ensure a smooth transition from a company employee to independent freelancer. With a strong foundation, you have a much greater chance of withstanding any potential pitfalls which threaten to destabilize your first steps on this new path.
  2. Do network
    • No matter what your field and area of specialization is, once you start to work for yourself you immediately must take on the role of your own personal marketer. This can range from the traditional methods of attending networking events and introducing yourself to potential clients to creating your own digital presence but the sooner you adopt the idea of ‘personal branding’ the better. A simple oversight a lot of freelancers make is not informing all of their friends and family about their new venture. You never know where you might meet a great client so, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you, look on it as another skill to develop and learn to love the hustle.
  3. Do make use of the marketing potential of social media
    • Yes, there are more freelancers operating in the market today than ever before and most of that is internet driven. Never before has the potential existed for sole traders to advertise their services so effectively at so little cost. We live in a digital age so, again, even if this isn’t your area of expertise it has to become it. If you do need to inform yourself of how to market yourself digitally then that should be part of your preparatory plan before setting out on your new Endeavour.
  4. Do set boundaries
    • Becoming a freelancer will require you to replace the boundaries that your traditional work environment imposed upon you with boundaries of your own choosing and judgment.
      • With friends and family
        • It is important to draw clear lines with your family and friends around your work times and your need for isolation to complete your jobs during those times. This can be a particular problem for freelancers who work from the family home and leave themselves open to constant small interruptions which, when added up, resulting in significant time lost. A freelancer has to develop certain diplomacy when saying no even to those closest to him/her.
      • With yourself
        • With great freedom come great responsibilities to paraphrase the old saying. Freelancing allows you the freedom to choose your hours but ultimately the work must get done. The easiest way to send a clear message to yourself and those around you is to set a routine and stick to it.
      • With clients
        • It can be difficult to find the sweet spot when setting boundaries with your clients. You don’t want to be walked over but neither do you want to come across as abrasive and scare them off. Here are three pointers that if stated clearly from the start has the potential to save you a lot of time and frustration.
          • Do be specific about your clients’ needs.
            • You may feel you are pestering them if you repeatedly ask for subsequent details so try to develop a comprehensive question list that will enable you to provide your clients with a tailored service. Nevertheless, if you have to go back for more clarification do so. Don’t start work until you are sure you know what the client wants and expects from you.
          • Do remain polite in the face of criticism
            • Even if you are dealing with a client who is being unreasonable and insulting don’t engage in the same practice. You never know what pressure people are under on their end and anyway it doesn’t serve your cause to fight fire with fire. Remain cool and try to resolve the situation.
          • Do be direct and clear about pricing
            • Know your worth in the market and ask for it. Don’t go unnecessarily high with clients who you think you can get away with it as your best work will be repeat clients and overcharging won’t help you form those necessary positive relationships.
  5. Do a search for and develop your own voice
    • What will ultimately mark you out in any field is your ability to offer a unique service. So don’t be too quick to conform to every standard that has become habitual. Look for a niche. Whether this is your writing style as a copywriter or the fact that your bespoke language teaching courses offer English through drama classes whereas the others don’t, be continually searching for your own voice in the market.
  6. Don’t forget to prepare for failure
    • This may come across as quite a negative point but it is important you consider what will happen if everything does not turn out the way you envisaged it. This is particularly important if your freelance enterprise involves investment on your part or involves a degree of risk for the clients which could leave you open to legal action if things don’t go as planned.
  7. Don’t procrastinate
    • Don’t fall into the trap of spending hours of ´research that ends up involving watching YouTube videos of Tibetan monks chanting their way to Nirvana. I’m sure spiritual enlightenment is wonderful but finish your projects first.
  8. Don’t expect it to be easy
    • Going freelance brings with it greater freedom and different challenges. Expect and prepare for the challenges. As you won’t have the benefit of your colleagues’ expertise you will have to become an all-rounder. Invoicing, payment and taxes: they all come under your remit now. There will be lean times. Expect them and enjoy the free time they provide while still keeping one eye on pursuing new business.
  9. Don’t romanticize it
    • We live in the age of the do what you love brigade. Instagram posts of digital nomads who rule their digital empires from a hammock on the beach. Don’t believe the propaganda.  Personally I can’t imagine anything worse than working on a beach but that comes down to choice. One thing I am sure of is that the camera can deceive. Freelance work remains just that, work, with all the difficulties, pleasures, stresses and gratification that that word implies.
  10. Don’t use up all your energy and time on difficult clients
    • You can’t please everyone and you will run into clients who are never satisfied. Cut them as soon and as diplomatically as you can. Don’t turn yourself into a busy fool for clients who will never recognize or reimburse your Endeavour.
  11. Do get a contract. Almost every freelancer who has been in the biz for a while has a sad story of the client who didn’t pay. Whether they were dissatisfied with the work of running a scam from the get-go, the end result is a freelancer who was left empty-handed. Protect yourself with a contract.
  12. Do know your value. Understand how much your services are worth compared to others in your industry of similar skill level and charge accordingly.
  13. Don’t be afraid to fire a client. It is okay to part ways with a client. If they are a constant source of stress or anxiety for you, they probably aren’t worth the money. Work on forming long term relationships with respectful clients who value you as a person and a professional.
  14. Don’t assume that you are succeeding. By keeping track of your finances, you can actually verify whether or not your business is growing at the rate you want it to. If you just assume that you’re turning a good profit, you might not notice that you are actually working for minimum wage when your time is worth so much more.

Going freelance is not for everyone but when entered into with a clear head, realistic expectations and the necessary preparation it can be ideally suited to some who feel the environs of the traditional workplace have begun to feel confining.

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