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Clients From Hell Podcast

The Clients From Hell podcast is equal parts humorous and helpful as it explores the modern life and times of creative professionals.
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Feb 27, 2017

Learn how to put your best foot forward when you decide to start freelancing. This is easily our most common Freelance FAQ. 

Do you have a question of your own? Shoot us an email

Want to support the show? Leave us a review on iTunes!

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Freelance FAQ: How do I start freelancing?

KAI

The basic answer is ‘find someone who wants to pay you money for a service you provide, then provide that service.

The longer answer is:

  • Identify a target market you want to work with (The Positioning Manual by Philip Morgan is a great resource for this)
  • Identify an expensive problem -- “We aren’t getting enough leads!” -- that the target market is experiencing
  • Create a service offering that helps the client resolve the problem (“We aren’t getting enough leads”) and moves them towards their dream outcome (“We’re getting too many leads!”)

I started by picking a hobby-skill I had (wordpress development) and finding people who needed WordPress websites. Over time, I identified more valuable problems to focus on and updated my positioning, my target market, my expensive problem, and my service offerings.

But to start, create those ‘rolodex moments’ -- have a strong positioning statement (“I’m a THING who helps TARGET MARKET with EXPENSIVE PROBLEM”) and see what referrals and reaction you get.

BRYCE

What you need to start freelancing

All you really need to freelance is:

  • A Good Mentality (e.g. self-confidence, a willingness to try, etc.)
  • Action (e.g. self-discipline, actually doing the work).
  • A skill that can provide value
  • A plan (e.g. self-reflection, meaningful goals, etc.)

Selling and positioning your skill so that it appeals to clients -- and building a plan around that -- is the real secret to freelancing successfully. Typically, this is referred to as finding a niche, which is something a freelancer should do as soon as possible.

A niche reduces competition and increases specialization. Niche experts can earn more and they’re more attractive to clients with problems their niche experience helps solve. It provides direction and focus.

You’ll want to find some sort of niche ASAP. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help:

  • What industry do you actually use products from or enjoy?
  • What industry hires freelancers with skills like yours?
  • What industry would you enjoy networking in and actually being a part of?

Finding those first three good clients is the first barrier to overcome.

With those first clients (and future clients), you’ll want to:

  1. Find a client’s problem and know how to solve it.
  2. Target the correct market
  3. Pitch the client by...
  • Address the problem: The client’s issue, objective, needs, goals, etc.
  • Offer a solution: Your strategy, plan, or unique positioning that makes you the answer they’ve been looking for.
  • Fees and timelines: I wouldn’t go too far into this initially, but you’ll want to lay the groundwork for fees and realistic timelines. A client shouldn’t feel blindsided by this stuff down the line.

After those first few client interactions, you should reassess your plan before moving forward. Is your skill offering value to clients? Did you enjoy working with these clients? Are there areas to improve?

If those first few client interactions went well and you want to do more work with them, pursue referrals, build case studies, and focus on refining your service as much as possible.

-- 

Questions? Episode ideas?

Talk to Clients From Hell or Bryce Bladon on Twitter. Or shoot us an email

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