How to be a successful freelancer

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If you're looking to go freelance or you're already out there running your own business, we've put together these top tips on how to make a success of yourself and your work.

With the ongoing economic downturn affecting all of us; a lack of jobs on the market and more creative graduates qualified and looking for work – the industry is saturated with freelancers. And that's why it's so important to be at the top of your game, so you not only attract clients, you retain them.

And retaining them is key because you'll also benefit from referrals and great reviews. And that can only bring yet more clients. If you make a success of freelancing, you can make a success at anything...

Chasing payments

When you post or email your invoice, remember the 30 day terms. But don't start chasing right away. It's off-putting, unprofessional and can leave a bad taste in your client's mouth. Even worse, it makes you appear desperate and like you really need the money. Instead, build up a reserve to gain some cash flow and only chase after the 30 day period is over.

Don't just take, take, take

A working relationship, particularly one with a larger agency, is all about giving and taking. You give, they take. But if you give a bit more, you'll reap the rewards as your client bends over backwards to help you and keep feeding you a regular dose of work.

Be available

Don't be elusive and difficult to get hold of. Be available! Answer emails quickly to keep your clients happy, even if it's just to tell them that you've received their email and will be responding to their query later that day. If someone calls, answer if you can! And always respond to jobs asap. You'll gain a reputation for being reliable.

Get your rates right

Your day rate is one of the most important things to get right. And it will change dependent on your skills and experience, as well as the client you're working for. Judge how much you think you can charge given the size of the client and always aim high, never low. Remember, they can always barter down your rate. But be warned – if they say yes right away, you're probably too cheap!

Put in appearances

Don't hide behind emails, social media and phone calls. Pop in to see your clients or suggest regular meetings to keep face-to-face communication ongoing. That's whether they're commercial clients or larger agencies who hire you for your services. Nothing beats actually meeting people to keep a relationship strong.

Market yourself every day

Be active with your marketing every day. Get out there to raise your profile. That's whether you use social media, optimise your website for the search engines or send out marketing letters to potential clients. Never give in! It takes time to build a business, but once you're established, the work will come flooding in.

Be professional

If you work from home, try to create a space that helps you to stay productive. Dress for work as well – don't wear pyjamas all day. If you can afford to, get an office and move away from your home environment entirely. It's good to keep home and work separate.

Keep the balance right

Freelancing is fantastic. You're your own boss, can work whatever hours you like – it's complete freedom. But it can also be difficult to control and you might find your work moving into evenings and weekends, which is not good for your health. In which case, try to keep a regular routine, take lots of breaks and leave your spare time sacred. If you're getting stressed, join a gym or go out for a nice walk.

Don't go alone

Freelancing can be lonely, but it doesn't have to be. Get online and use social media to meet other freelancers. Go to local networking events or meet-ups. Do everything you can to get out there and beat the feeling of isolation.

Be happy

Most importantly, enjoy your work and be happy. You're freelancing and that's a fantastic achievement. You should be very proud of your work and enjoy each and every minute. Don't sweat the small stuff and everything will fall into place.