Open nearly any business publication, and you'll read about "the rise of the freelance economy." More and more people are pursuing freelance work, either full- or part-time. Companies are increasingly hiring freelance or temporary staffers, whether to fill talent gaps, bring in expertise not available internally for key projects or to gradually add capacity.
In short, it's a great time to take on freelance work. Whether you're new to the independent workforce, or you've been freelancing for a while, you know it takes persistence and hustle to keep new projects coming in. To help with that, here are four tips for landing your next freelance project:
1. Establish your own personal brand
To successfully pursue more freelance work, it's essential that you craft a strong personal identity – with both visual and verbal components. Building your own brand as a freelancer includes creating a personal logo, building an effective website or online portfolio, and developing your story – the "elevator pitch" you use to describe your freelance work when you're networking or meeting with prospects. A strong personal brand signals professionalism. It lets prospects know you're attentive to details and gives them confidence to hire you.
2. Keep the marketing going
Many independents make the mistake of slowing down their marketing efforts when their freelance workload is heavy. Once a major project ends, they discover they don't have a pipeline of new gigs coming in. Recognize that marketing yourself as a freelancer is an ongoing process, and allocate even a small amount of time when you're busy to reach out to prospects and stay in touch with current clients.
3. Develop specialized skills
We live in an era dubbed "the specialist economy" because companies are increasingly seeking (and paying well for) employees with niche skills (think: social media manager or mobile designer). As you pursue freelance work, listen to clients and prospects as they talk about their business challenges. Can you spot a common need? Could you pursue online training and develop skills to fill that need?
4. Turn existing work into more work
Existing clients are your best source for new freelance work. Periodically take your best clients to lunch, and listen as they talk about their business. What needs can you fill? Can you reconnect with past clients to reflect on a previous project and determine if an update is necessary? Ultimately, the key to turning existing freelance work into more work is simple. Do a great job, every time, for every client. Happy customers will return to you with additional projects and will refer you to their connections and colleagues.
Remember, there's plenty of freelance work out there, and with a thoughtful approach to your own branding and persistent marketing, you'll find the projects you're ideally suited for.