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Seeking Business for Freelancers

By: Alison Daniels - Updated: 10 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Seeking Business For Freelancers

As might be expected during an economic downturn, the freelance marketplace is becoming crowded as people find themselves without regular employment. This has made the market more difficult for some freelancers due to an increase in competition and a flood of new entrants.

Popular freelance fields such as writing and the arts are dogged by clients who want work for free, and people prepared to work for nothing just to see their name in print. That said, good reliable freelancers who provide quality services and reliable delivery continue to flourish and can make a decent living, providing they spend the time and effort to build their businesses.

Keep in Touch

It’s essential for a freelancer to have a fairly wide pool of contacts they can draw on for regular work. It’s all too common to fall out of touch with potential clients because you have a major project which will take up all your resources for a few weeks or months and then be too embarrassed to go back to them. It’s best to keep in constant touch if you can. A regular call or e-mail, or even a newsletter can all work well and needn’t take up too much in the way of time and resources.

Set Time Aside for Business Building

When you are planning your workload, make sure you set some time aside for building your business, to ensure a steady stream of work. Try not to leave your looking for new customers or seeking new work from existing customers until you have no actual work to do. It’s better to dedicate a few hours a week to building your business, than to cope with peaks and troughs in your income flow.

Networking is the Way Forward

Networking can be one of the most effective methods for freelancers to build business. Make a point of attending business and industry events, product launches etc. Speak at industry events and build your media profile. Your job is to reach as many potential buyers of your services as possible.

Use Freelance Sites

These sites have made finding freelance projects much simpler. Unfortunately, they have also made the market more accessible and increased the competition, so that suppliers far outnumber buyers. Keep in mind that you may be up against many other bids so seek out those projects that pay well, that might offer a steady stream of work and which match your skills and experience well. Don’t work for less than your daily minimum unless you have an empty work schedule.

Keep Up to Date

As a freelancer, it is important that you keep both your knowledge and skills up to date. This is true for anyone selling their services as an expert and should be regarded as an investment rather than an expense. Your accountant will be able to advise you about costs that can be set against your business.

Keep in touch with industry developments through your trade association and other websites, talk to your customers and network when the opportunity presents itself. Keep your computer skills up to date. Upgrade your software where appropriate and take advantage of local colleges for inexpensive training. If you have time and believe there is sufficient demand, then learn new skills to add to your portfolio.

Plan Ahead

Try and keep a rolling monthly or quarterly calendar of all projects, milestones and deadlines. This makes it easier to see where you have room for additional work and can start to plan to fill the gaps in good time.

Bill promptly and Control your Costs

One of the most common problems freelancers face is not keeping on top of their customer billing and business costs. Remember that it can often take a couple of months for a payment to be made, and that some companies only make payments at a set point each month. It’s vital that you bill as you complete each project. If you don’t get paid when you expect to, then don’t be afraid to politely chase payment.

As well as ensuring you have a steady stream of revenue flowing in, it is also important to make sure that you keep tabs on the amount of money you are spending on the business and to minimise this where possible.

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