Being a freelancer is one thing, being an expert freelancer is another. It's true that it takes a long way to get to that point. In fact, it takes time and patience. But time is not everything. To become an expert freelancer in web design, you have to start from a good base.
In your opinion, how long does it take to become an expert freelancer in web design?
Advantages of being a freelance expert
Steps to become a freelance expert
Everyone has their own definition of what an expert freelancer is. To make sure we're speaking the same language, here's my definition of what it is.
To sum up, an expert freelancer has a certain reputation, which helps him/her to never struggle in finding clients.
The main advantage of being an expert freelancer is obvious: no more risk of not getting contracts. But are there any other advantages?
I don't know anyone who doesn't want to stagnate at a certain level for years. Just to let you know that becoming an expert freelancer shows you've made progress. However, here are some other reasons to motivate you even more:
🙊Web jobs have been trending for the past few years. All my friends are getting into it, I need to get into it too!
🙊I can't seem to find a job. I hear web jobs are easy. I'm going to get into it too.
Have you ever thought about things like that? If so, you should know that this is not a good enough reason to embark on this adventure! Contrary to what it seems, it is full of pitfalls that if you are not motivated enough, you may give up at the first obstacle.
That's why I advise you to only start if you are really into it. To find out, I invite you to think about what you want to do first. You want to become a freelance webdesigner? That's great! You have web design skills?
In any case, make sure you really enjoy what you're doing. As long as you're having fun with the assignment, that's great.
Defining your business is just the beginning. It is now that the whole story begins to unfold...
There is nothing more important than the legal aspect of what you do. So, if you are thinking about freelancing, the first thing to do is to find out what legal status exists in your country. Indeed, it is different depending on your country of residence.
For Belgium, you will find all the information here.
Then, you will choose the status adapted to your situation (according to your project, your objectives, etc.).
This may seem like a small thing, but it's the foundation. Your work environment affects everything you do. Because of it, you can be very productive. Because of it, you can be unfocused. The choice is yours! Yes, it's all about choice.
Obviously, in freelance, we generally work at home (especially with this pandemic, we have to!). But be careful! At home does not mean in your room, and even less on your bed. You need to reserve a dedicated and healthy room that makes you feel comfortable.
If you choose to work outside (perhaps in a tea room, library or coworking space), choose the one with the decor you like best.
🔗Fora coworking space, I talk about it in this coworking space guide.
To be completely honest with you, this step is mandatory.
Many freelancers don't do this; they start right away. If some of them still manage to have good results after a few days or months, others are not so lucky.
Not doing a market study can set you back in your business. On the contrary, by having a clear study, you put all the chances on your side. All that's left is to know how to write a market study?
Factors to consider include:
Is it generalized or more specific? That is to say: you address all contractors, or only those who intervene in a very specific field (example: building contractor who works in the renovation of single-storey houses). Depending on whether it is specialized or not, you will automatically have the size of the market. Is it stable? What are the current market trends? Are your services in high or low demand in the market?
Creating a persona helps a lot! This is a typical profile that you create, a fictitious profile that you will address from now on. It would be best to give him a name, his age, his needs, his expectations, his problems, his values, his pain points, his income, his hobbies, etc. This is the only way to personalize your strategy. However, a target is never enough. It is better to be on guard, and thus, to set another one: secondary target. It is only once you have set your targets that you can personalize your communication strategy as much as possible.
It's not about copying the competition's strategy. That would not be ethical or professional. I am simply suggesting that you study it. How do you do that? By counting how many direct and indirect competitors you have, by analyzing the prices they offer and by seeing how they have established their strategy.
It includes many things that I can't list all: the country's economy, politics, new technology... Indeed, these external factors have an impact on your business (both directly and indirectly). Let's just take the example of the pandemic that is currently raging throughout the country!
I will say that you have all the elements that will help you move forward now. Unfortunately, they won't do you any good if you leave them like that. You have to analyze them in order to get the most out of them.
Here's how it's done. From this data, try to define the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your project. In short, use the SWOT method. You will see that you will have to modify some of your initial ideas to better adapt them to reality.
A business plan is a document in which you detail your offer. Throughout your business, it will always be useful, hence the importance of doing it well.
So, more specifically, you'll see in a business plan:
Having a business plan prevents you from making a big mistake:improvising during your interview with a potential client. Not only does it destabilize, but your interviewer will also feel that you are not well prepared.
Let's be realistic! Even if the first three steps are completed, there's no telling how many contracts you'll miraculously win. These are things that are earned. So what can you do to win one (or more)?
You have to work on your communication and marketing strategy, which will depend on the previous steps. Depending on your target and your competitors, you can choose your strategy:
A lot of work and so much patience. That's what you need here. In fact, inbound marketing is all about attracting customers to you. So you don't need to make the first move by sending emails to people you don't know and who don't know you either (we'll see that a little later).
But how do you attract customers to you? The most used method revolves around social networks.
🔗Here isa very detailed article on how to start your network on social networks. By creating a network of potential customers, you're putting all the chances to attract customers to you.
Here's another tip: register on all the directories and platforms that connect freelancers and professionals. Don't hesitate to take care of your portfolio and why not, to create your own website where you will expose your achievements, demonstrate your expertise through blog posts... Sooner or later, these efforts will give results (believe me, I know what I'm talking about).
Outbound marketing is the opposite of inbound marketing, that is to say that you have to contact potential customers first. In general, to find customers, we use cold mailing. You send emails to people who may never have heard of you or your services, tactfully of course.
The content and structure of the email will then be adapted to your target.
You don't become a freelance expert by chance or by luck. There's a lot of effort behind it (from getting your status regularized to finding good clients). Now that you have all these secrets, it's up to you!