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How To Win a Freelance Job In The Interview

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Many freelancers, who have profiles on marketplaces like oDesk, Elance and Freelancer at times have to go through interviews by clients who are considering to hire them. Getting through them, and winning the job, can however seem like a very different task than writing a convincing cover letter.

However, that does not mean it is any less challenging. Some freelancer feel uncomfortable being put on the spot. Others find it hard to “improvise” when they are not really sure what they can be asked. Also, at times preparing too much can get in the way of giving a natural impression. You can almost be too robotic.

Here are a few tips to win a freelance job in the interview:

  • Be willing to lose it. This might sound a little odd, however at times, wanting to win too much, can come across as desperation. It can also increase your stress levels, to a point where it can hinder your performance. Therefore, when you prepare for an interview, try to remember to define it as “an opportunity” to prepare for, not as “the interview”.
  • Prepare when you apply. Particularly when you apply for freelance jobs, at times you have the opportunity to write replies to what is requested, that can be a good starting point for the interview. Therefore start by reading the initial brief, and your initial reply.
  • Create a list of questions. With your initial research write at least 5-10 questions. Usually there are unclear areas of job descriptions that you can use to your advantage. It can not only help you clarify what is requested, but also allow you to come across as caring about what the client is after.
  • Review your strengths and weaknesses. You can expect that the client want to know why you would be a good fit for the role. You might have weaknesses which you could be asked about. Ideally you should identify the largest ones, and know how you can use your strengths to mitigate the weaknesses. That can help you come across as thoughtful.
  • Do a few test interviews. If you do not know anyone who works in HR, try to get a friend to ask you questions. Try to make the conditions identical to how you expect the interviewing situation to be like. So if you expect the interview to be on Skype, make sure your friend is doing it on Skype as well. That way you can get more valuable feedback from your friend.
  • Listen and give your most thoughtful answers. It can be a common mistake among freelancers to say “yes” with confidence to any request or question the client might have, regardless of how right the answer is. Try to break that by clarifying questions you do not fully understand, and try to give as descriptive answers as possible. Also clarify important areas you think needs more attention, and areas where you are uncertain of, or need to research more.
  • Learn to say “no, however”. There can come moments in the interview where you could be asked questions about, in particular, areas you might not know about. Then you ideally want to point towards other things you know that could be relevant, showcasing that although you might know have the asked skills, you could still have comparative skills.

You might not win your first job right away. Accept that. You are training a skill. So try to look at each job interview as a learning experience. Reflect on what worked, and what you can do better. Then with time, as your skills improve, your hit ratio will improve.

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How To Make More On Web Design

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Particularly on freelance platforms like oDesk, Elance and Freelancer there is very fierce competition for web design work. In addition to that, there are lots of companies in India that are bidding, effectively reducing the price of simple wordpress sites to just a few hundred dollars. This can be particularly frustrating to freelancer who want to charge at least 4 figures.

However, the good news is that it is definitely possible to charge more for web development. It does however mean changing the goal of creating a website needs to change. You need to not only commit to deliver a higher standard of work, but also change how you define that to better suit the clients needs.

Here are a few areas that can be important in making more on web design;

  • Focus on conversion. Most designers focus on design. Clients however, need something that works, to achieve their goals. Most of the time, the goal is to get potential customer to take the action they want on their website. That can be to fill in a contact us form, call them, or download a file.
  • Have a system for error checking. It can be very frustrating for clients to go through the work of a graphic designer, only to find lots of errors that needs to be fixed. It reduces the trust in the freelancer’s work, and increases the error checking period. Therefore, it is important for you to have a step-by-step method you can, not only use, but also improve as time goes on.
  • Deliver superior design. This means mainly having a superior portfolio that impress clients. However, there is another serious aspect of this. A lot of designers can improve how they use typography in conveying the text they are given. Try to see your job as being a visual communicator that needs to “translate” the words you are given, in a visual language, that is effective in achieving the clients goals.
  • Offer copywriting. A lot of designers have to deal with clients, who deliver the words to a website after the design. It directly affects the quality of the website. Therefore, it can be worth working with a copywriter who can make the text for the website, alongside the development of the site. A good copywriting partner can be someone who is also able to contribute directions for how the words can be used.
  • Communicate effectively. Some designers have the tendency of not asking all the questions they need, before they start the work. Most of the time, this happens because they do not have a system in place that “check the boxes” of what needs to be asked. Ideally, you want to ask 80-100% of the questions you need before you start so you can just focus on the work, rather than getting back to the client repeatedly for clarification.
  • Offer traffic services. Some clients, who might never have had websites before, believe that traffic to their new website is included in the price of building it. Or more specifically, that they will be found on Google. Because their real goal can be “presence” not “having a website”. To them you can offer paid advertising services, or long-term content strategies.
  • Offer split-testing. If you have managed to sell traffic services to your clients, the next step is to test, and improve, the website to make the most of that traffic. Ideally, you want to establish a long term relationship with the client where you sell the site, drive traffic and improve their website, over time, to maximize their return on investment.

You might realize that you do not have the skills needed to execute the services above. This can either be an opportunity for you to learn, or ideally to network, to create an extended team. You can choose to make informal partnerships, or create a company. Either way, if you manage to create a product offering, as listed above, you can find it easy to stand out from designer who “just” deliver a website.

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How To Speed Up The Hiring Process

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One of the largest time-wasters that a lot of clients struggle with, is looking for talent when it is needed. If you want to be professional about it, you have to create a detailed brief, and trawl through at times 50-100 different applications, most of which can be nowhere near addressing the requirements.

However, despite that, at times you have to go through the process of finding people. The good news is that if you are strategic in the way you hire, you can prepare many future hires as you try to fix the current one. It might require little bit more discipline, however the long-term benefit more than balance out the extra effort.

Here are 7 small tips to reducing the hiring process;

  • Maintain a talent sheet. Whenever you come across people you work with, that has been good to you, make it a habit to write down their details, and comments, for working with them. An excel sheet, or Google docs file, can do the job. Over time, you might notice, that the talent sheet can become the most valuable asset in your business.
  • Share your talent sheet with others clients. On Google docs in particular, you have the opportunity of sharing the document with others. This can be a good opportunity to also access the talents that others have tried. Just make sure that you share the sheet with people who are equally interested in sharing with you.
  • Create a document for all your briefs. Ideally, you want to put all your briefs in a document, that you can use as a reference, for similar jobs when you get them. You might notice that you frequently outsource the same assignments, which is an opportunity for you to systemize them into templates. The template document becomes part of your internal business systems.
  • Treat your freelancers well. This might sound basic, however treating freelancers as people, rather than as a company resource, can go a long way for you to get more work done for less, or simply speed up your turnaround time. It also makes the whole work process more pleasant, and increases the quality of the output you are after.
  • Drop interviews. Sadly, it is very common among many clients to treat the hiring process as a replica of what happens in the “real world”. Instead of interviewing, send targeted emails to prospective freelancers, and use small test-assignments to find good people to work with. The most professional freelancers are very prompt on over-delivering early, to increase their chances of being rehired.
  • Identify your needs in advance. Look at your hiring log of the type of jobs that you have outsourced. Are there any trends that you are able to recognize? For instance, you might notice that you hire graphic designers more often, or editors. If that is the case, it might make sense for you to identify, and test, potential staff before a major crisis might hit you. Then you know you are covered.
  • Hire based on speed of communication. As odd as it might sound, the best communicators, almost always, are the best hires. Particularly when you are short of time, how fast your shortlist replies is a direct indication of their ability to deliver what you communicate when you want it done. However, if you want a particular person in a different time zone you can wait 24 hours before receiving a reply.

Speeding up the hiring process comes a lot down to how you prepare yourself for upcoming needs, as well as how structured you are in how you define your needs, when you have them. Try to keep in mind that if you focus on the needs of your freelancers, they will focus on your needs in return.

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How To Charge Higher Prices For Writing Articles

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Sadly, there has recently been a trend on freelance platforms that prices for content, has hit near rock bottom levels. This can be very frustrating for many writers, that simply can not live on 1$ an hour.

However, that does not mean that you have to accept the low prices you are offered. Your challenge as a freelancer is to delve into the problem, and try to come up with how you can stand out, as deserving to be paid more. Quite simply, because it is obvious why a client should pay more.

Here are a few tips to how you can charge higher prices for your writing;

  • Have 5-10 excellent test results. If you want to earn more per article you need to prove you master English, as well as internet marketing, SEO, blogging, article writing, content writing and social media marketing. Therefore, you need to take tests in all those areas. With English, you want to take multiple tests, to ensure you give the client the impression you really have a great mastery of English.
  • Maintain an exceptional portfolio. Client will read through your portfolio, looking for spelling and grammar errors. They will also look for how useful the material in your portfolio is, and how well it is optimized for SEO. Ideally, you want to have at least 10-20 articles in your portfolio which clearly showcase your skills.
  • Write unique cover letters. Ideally, you want write it in perfect English, clearly showcasing the unique value you can give to the clients particular projects. Most applications that clients receive are generic. You can stand out, and define a different rate, if you simply highlight why you should get charged more.
  • Be picky with your clients. When you choose which clients to apply to, give priority to those clients who put out briefs for individual articles they need done, have a reputation with good feedback from other freelancers, and write a good clear brief about what they want. Some clients will put out requests for 50-100 articles at $250. They can be ignored. You do not want to commit to someone who buys in bulk, not considering quality.
  • Get your work to editorial quality. When a client buys articles they often rely on editors to make it readable, or at the very least to audit the work. If you are able to hold a level of quality that removes, or heavily limits, that need, it means a cost saving for the client. Therefore work hard at making sure your work is spell and grammar checked.
  • Read English books regularly. Ideally set aside an hour a day to read a novel in book in topics you enjoy. Getting an account with Amazon can be a good option. If you have no money to buy books regularly, start by downloading the free ones on your smartphone. This is important because regularly reading is a very important aspect of improving your quality of English.
  • Play role playing games in English. As an alternative to reading, playing role playing games with other local freelancers, where you have read up on characters and prepare storylines can be good way to learn English with friends. In a way it is learning English without being aware that you are doing it. You might notice a radical shift in your vocabulary as well.
  • Offer services to share the articles on social media. A lot of content writers in particular, focus only on improving their work, not really taking into consideration what the client really wants with the work. Usually, the client buys articles because they want to increase their online ranking and exposure. Then it might be worth also offering services in that regard, as part of the content you are selling.
  • Work with someone else. Particularly if English if your second language, it can really help to get an outside perspective on your work. They will notice things you are not aware of, and slowly help you increase the quality of your work. Therefore, it can be helpful to at times work in an office with other freelancers, so you can learn from each other.
  • Create content packages. Ideally, you should have a strategy for what happens after you have sold a client their first article. It should have been a great experience for the client, where you exceeded their expectations. Then you can offer them the opportunity of getting the same quality, and the same service regularly. It is a win-win, because it means that the client will spend less time looking for articles, and a win for you because it means long-term work.
  • Have excellent feedback. If you want to be paid extra, it is important you also have arguments for hiring you, given by other clients, that clearly show you are worth being paid a higher rate. Without that, all the client has to rely on is information provided by you, which, in their eyes, is not proven. You can quickly build up a solid reputation by over-delivering on 5-10 small assignments.
  • Master communication. The best freelancer for the job is not necessarily the best writer. It is often best one to reply, the best one to listen, the best one to answer. Your first goal in any client interaction is to first make the client feel they have been heard, then secondly to get them to listen to you. Only then will you be able to deliver the quality of work the client is after, and hopefully be remembered for it.

It can be really hard making money on articles. Therefore it is a necessity to do your best to stand out based on the quality of your work. Also, it is not easy to start out at high rate if you have no connections, or testimonials. However, if you regularly work on improving, and maintaining, the quality of your work, you will be able to defend a higher price.

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7 Personal Tasks You Can Outsource

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One of the largest markets for freelancers, are small to medium sized entrepreneurs on small budgets that need work done, however, might be struggling to get it done on a small budget. Larger entities, that are looking to outsource large amount of work, at times whole departments can be a massive second one.

However, that does not mean freelancers can not be of assistance to other customers groups. There are lots of small tasks most people do every day that take a lot of time, and that can be outsourced to reduce stress levels. It can also be an effective way to make a difference, to poor freelancers in a different part of the world, who are more than willing to take the stress off you.

Here are a few examples of time consuming tasks you could outsource:

  • Buying a car. If you are about to buy a new car, and are clueless about them, you can often find yourself at the mercy of a mix of advertising, and sales people. This is not an ideal situation to be in. It can cost you thousands not to ask, or buying the wrong car for your needs. And the decision can feel irreversible.
  • Picking a school. This is a major life decision which sadly at times are left to chance. Some choose where to study based on whims, family tradition, or just what people around them are doing. Ideally, you want to make an informed decision. Using a freelancer can assist here in gathering information from an impartial perspective.
  • Online dating. This might sound odd, however there are psychologists who are asked by their clients to assist them with writing their dating profile. Although it might sound like a very impersonal choice, the outside perspective of bringing out who you are as a person by a licensed professional can be helpful in not only identifying who you are, but who you are looking for, and what you can be for someone else.
  • Updating your resume. At times it can really help to get an outside perspective on the work you do, and where you are heading. You can be so lost in your head that you simply can not see yourself from the outside in. This is why it can be helpful to regularly outsource rewriting your resume to adequately stand out.
  • Holiday planning. This can be a draining process, particularly if you are picky about where you want to go. Some find holiday planning to be a massive enjoyable part of the journey. However, if you find yourself having spent more than 20 hours not being any wiser, or closer to making a decision, you can experience that your dream holiday is booked out, before you were able to make up your mind.
  • Wedding planning. Again, a very personal preference, however much of the research can be outsourced, and if you are not that into detail managing you can do without much of the rest as well. The key here is to be honest with yourself, which decisions you want to make yourself, and never proceed, until you feel you have enough information to do so.
  • Dealing with sickness. Many who are struck by serious diagnosis, like for instance cancer, can find themselves overwhelmed, and pushed to make important medical decisions fast, maybe without fully trusting the advice they are getting. Then it can help to maybe hire someone to research independently to get a second opinion.

The usual type of freelancer that could assist with the above is a virtual assistant. You might like to try by hiring someone for a limited task and then experiment with increasing the workload. With time you might find that outsourcing bits of your life, can give you the opportunity to fully enjoy other bits.

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How To Hire Assistants To Make More Money As a Freelancer

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Many freelancers are very protective of how they work, because they feel a personal responsibility to ensure that only the highest quality is delivered. However, this attitude can sadly limit the opportunities for growth.

What many freelancers fail to consider, is that lots of small tasks easily can be outsourced and controlled, without reducing the quality of the output. It is also more economical for the freelancer to do, since the time spent on doing non-income earning admin, can be replaced by income earning projects.

Here is a step-by-step way to gradually hiring virtual assistants for a freelancer:

  • Break your work down into sections. Depending on how you work, it can be hard to really break down how you service your clients. You might feel you are delivering a tailored service that can not be broken down. However, if you intend to outsource, you need to first understand what you do, broken down to its simplest elements. This is particularly important to prepare you for explaining it to someone else.
  • Systemize each section. You might notice that you have a particular way of working. That you have certain habits. Ideally, they can be used to create systems. For instance, if you have specialized in doing a particular job for clients, like article writing, you might be able to create a standard survey, using a tool like Survey Monkey that clients can fill in before you work.
  • Identify what part of your work you are being paid for. A lot of freelancers spend a lot of their time on admin. This is not paid time, and at times never calculated into the final price. With some clients, admin time can be minimal, however, with others, you can spend more time with administration than doing the actual work. This can be particularly frustrating for small tasks.
  • Pick one admin task which easily can be outsourced. An obvious first one can be administering initial briefs from the client. It might seem like you are adding an unnecessary element since at times it can only be replying to an email. However, that time adds up. Try to think of your freelance business like a doctors office. Reduce and eliminate as much of your work to assistants, if it increases your working time.
  • Find the right person to do the job. The right assistant for your business might be someone who later could do other parts of your job, ideally all of them. If you are working in graphic design for instance a good candidate could be a design student. The thinking behind this is that the best candidates need to get a benefit from the job, that is more than just getting paid. That way you can also solidify your skills by teaching.
  • Brief the assistant. If you have systemized your business well, the brief should just be explaining a part of your business. You might discover that the assistant might not have the same understanding of your system as you have. This is an excellent opportunity to improve on your business systems.
  • Support the assistant. A common mistake clients make is not providing their freelancers enough help throughout projects. Do not repeat this mistake with your hired help. Particularly in the beginning, the assistant can go through a steep learning curve, and that might be as steep as it can be frightening. If you support both aspects of that journey, it can show that you care, in the same way you would wish clients to care for you.

Hiring someone new to help you work, can be a difficult experience, particularly at first. However, the benefits you get as a freelancer, can be larger because you get the opportunity to not only teach, but also get an outside perspective on what you do. With time, it can also be a way for you to gradually move toward fully outsourcing your business, and growing it to a higher level.

How To Deal With Clients Who Break Agreements

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One of the most frustrating experiences a freelancer can experience is dealing with clients who do not know what they want, and then hold you responsible for the consequences. You might have come to an agreement, you might think that the client understood, only to realize you were wrong.

There might not always be good answers to how to handle situations like that, so it might be better to first work out what you can do to avoid getting into them in the first place. Regardless, it is important to have a strategy for handling it, and know where you can draw the line.

Here are a few questions to ask when clients break agreements:

  1. Why did it happen? A lot of hot emotions and reactions can be floating about. Try to ignore that and ask yourself why it happened. Did the client react to anything in particular? Was it something within your control, or could it possibly have been a reaction towards something else?

  1. Did you do anything wrong? A lot of freelancers can blindly be focusing on that they were in the right, and following the clients directions. However, a freelancer can still be in the wrong by not taking into account the type of clients they are working with and the indirect communication they might have given. In particular you need to take into consideration the knowledge gap between you and the client.

  1. Did you have a clear agreement? Ideally when conflicts arise it is good to be able to point toward a specific brief that outlines the work that is agreed on. The clearer, and more specific, that agreement is, the stronger you stand in a potential conflict. If you do not have an agreement, that you know the client agrees with, you are largely to blame for the mess you are in.

  1. Did you limit the clients exposure? For instance, some clients might agree to you working on a trial project per hour, only to freak out when the invoice comes. The error, might be in not putting in a limit of hour that could be agreed upon before starting, or making the assignment fixed. This limitation of exposure needs to be created by you, as your safeguard. Particularly with new clients this can save you lots of trouble.

  1. Did you protect your work? Some freelancers do the mistake of delivering large portions of unprotected work before it is paid for. Work can be protected by using watermarks or delivering it is preview formats like PDF. Particularly when you are working with clients for the first time on assignments that are too small to use milestones  it can be good to be overly protective of your work

  1. Are you willing to work with the client moving forward? This again influences how you decide to proceed. If you do not see any promise in the relationship moving forward you can just focus on this agreement and making sure it ends well. That might mean that you make a loss on the outstanding project, because there is more to win with chasing new work.

  1. Can you make a counter proposal? When a client breaches an agreement there are often greater opportunities which are easy to ignore. For instance the client can simply wish to limit the exposure to fixed contracts. This can be your opportunity to put in a “dealing with client” buffer and negotiate a better long-term agreement. However, if do not want to deal with the client ever again, make sure your counter proposal is limited to only the outstanding work, or drop the matter completely. There is more to win from working with more professional clients.

Dealing with clients who break agreements largely comes down to why it happens, and then, if you want to deal with them again. Generally speaking, any client who has been unclear or acting out of fear can be forgiven, if you are able to manage them. However, anyone that actively engages in unethical behavior, and try to skim you for your money, should be avoided. The best clients try to put you, and your needs, ahead of their project. Sadly however, they tend to be few and far between.

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7 Deadly Mistakes That Cost Web Developers Repeat Business

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Getting a website done can be a very complicated process with a lot of things to consider. You might need to get a website done, but simply have no idea about how to go about doing it. Or, you might be more experienced, and frustrated, with noticing all the things that can, and do, go wrong.

Some mistakes can be forgiven. As a client, you can often not be clear about what you want, and particularly struggle with giving clear directions. Therefore, it can really help to be flexible with those you work with, particularly first time around. However, still, there are things web developers do which can be enough for clients to decide never to work with them again.

Here is a list of top reasons for not working with a web developer again:

  1. Missing directions. Missing one of two requests can be accepted. However when it happens repeatedly clients can first get annoyed, and secondly ask what else they might have missed. This also significantly increases the time clients spend working with the developer because more time have to be set aside for testing.

  1. Many tiny mistakes. Large mistakes are easy to spot, however it is the tiny ones that together make it valid to question the quality of the entire work. It also forced the client to detail manage a project which should be avoided. Particularly with international agencies that have project managers who are supposed to manage projects.

  1. Delivering final work which is far from done. It automatically reduces the confidence in the developer to receive website where the content has not been put in correctly, is not formatted as it should, or simply not there at all. It makes the web developer come across as unprofessional, not checking their work before it is presented.

  1. Overcommunication. Some web developers do the mistake of telling their clients of every possible little update. This is not necessary. Ideally web developers should ask all the questions you need to ask before you start. Ideally through using a survey. Then ask when a first version is created, and finally when the finished work is presented. Keep in mind the client’s time is also a cost associated with the project.

  1. Undercommunication. Some web developers fail to ask the questions they need to ask before they start, and instead trouble their clients with additional questions during the process. Or they simply do not ask at all, reducing the quality of the output. At times the quality of a web developer can be defined by the questions they ask, and the ones they do not.

  1. Lack of management. At times a project manager can suggest that you speak to the entire team or try to engage you in multiple Skype conversations. Most of the time it is not necessary. A web developer needs to ask targeted questions to clarify their understanding of what the client wants. However, by putting a client in the middle of a team, with no supervision, the project is no longer managed.

  1. Repeated misunderstandings. Missing directions can be infuriating, however when a web developer repeatedly misunderstand and fail to take ownership of their mistake it forces the client to lose confidence in the developers ability to understand them. It just ends up taking a lot of extra time for the project and often results in missed deadlines.

A web developer can work on a project, and receive good feedback, not knowing that they have a client who have made up their mind never to use them again. It is therefore worth for many web developer to take note of how many clients come back repeatedly and use that as an indication of how client satisfaction.

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How To Deal With Low-Income Periods When You Freelance

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Even the best freelancers might experience from time to time that it can be hard to get works. Although this might be a very difficult to experience, it might also be a good opportunity to reevaluate what you are doing and improve on it.

For instance it is possible that the market are going through some serious changes and that you are affected. You might for instance have been providing a service that no longer is in demand, or that needs to be sold in a different way. Alternatively, you might slowly have reduced the quality of your performance affecting how clients speak about you to the point where you are affected.

Here are a few suggestions to dealing with low-income periods:

  1. Go over your numbers. For instance has there been a decline in you acceptance rates when you apply for jobs through platforms like oDesk or Elance? Alternatively have you noticed a decline in the effectiveness in the other channels you use to get work? Particularly with word of mouth clients it can be hard to know why, however if you notice a decline it might be worth taking extra care making your customers happy.

  1. Check what your competitors are doing. This can be particularly easy to do on platforms like oDesk and Elance. There you can see what projects they are currently working on, and see a portfolio that might be updated with their latest work. In particular try to pay attention to the busiest competitors you have. They usually do things that can be easily copied.

  1. See if there is any significant threat to your type of work. By this we are referring to in particular technical changes that could reduce the importance of your work. For instance editors are affected by any automatic tools for improving writing, like Grammarly. Graphic designers can be affected by creation of templates that can be bought on Graphic River. These threats can again become opportunities for you.

  1. Contact old clients. Often just asking clients you like working if they have something on can be a simple way of getting more projects. In particular successful entrepreneurs tend to have lots on and you might get lucky getting in contact with them  they have something on their mind that they have  not published.

  1. Audit your work. Go over what you have produced in the months leading to your dry spell. How does your work stack up to what you did in your more hectic periods? Are you able to see any differences? Ideally you should be able to find ways you can improve. As part of the process you might also find value in developing a checklist of things to evaluate that you can use to benchmark yourself.

  2. Audit your communication. How well do you communicate with clients? This is both a matter of quantity and quality. You should be able to go through your emails and reflect on how professional you were in your dealings and if there is anything you can do to communicate more effectively and in the process also sell yourself indirectly. In many cases you should get most of the information you need in the beginning and communicate less after.

  1. Count the number of reached deadlines. Many clients might be polite when their projects go over the time you say it will take. However that is no excuse for exploiting it. In particular clients will remember if you said one thing and did another. And that again might affect how they react if someone asks them about recommending someone like you.

  1. Take a break. If you are in the financial situation to do so, low periods might be a chance for you to charge your batteries or take a step out of what you are doing and reflect on it. Often you can be so consumed in your day-to-day activities that you might loose a little focus and, at times inspiration. If that has started to reflect in your work you have an urgent problem to fix.

  1. Reassess your marketing. If you use websites like oDesk or Elance it might be an opportunity to update your profile by for instance adding more examples of your work. Otherwise it might be an idea to implement ideas that competitors are successful with. For freelancers that get a lot of local clients it might be worth brainstorming how they could give existing clients more reason to refer clients to them.

  1. Study. You might experience that you have spent so much time giving to clients that you need to move your head towards other things for a little while. It can therefore be an idea to for instance read through a few copies of Communication Arts if you are a designer, or read a few books with different writing style if you are a ghost writer. Alternatively it might be an opportunity for you to look for ways you could evolve from freelancing to running a business.

As the above list might indicate low-income periods can be a way of improving your work. At times you might simply experience a seasonal change. At times your odds might be playing against you. However even if that is the case it can still benefit you to look at it as an opportunity for you to improve how you work.

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How To Get Someone Else To Pay For Your Education

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Starting as a freelancer can be quite hard. And, at times, you have the challenge of also educating yourself to do some of the more complicated aspects of the jobs you get. However, who picks up the tab for that education?

You might have come across a few courses that would really benefit you, or simply want to expand your skills to a higher level. There might be a clear benefit for clients. Or, you simply are curious. When that happens, it can at times be really helpful to have a strategy for getting clients to pay for that education.

Here are a few ideas for getting clients to pay for your education:

  1. Set aside 10% of every job towards education. The simplest way of getting clients to pay for your education can be to set aside a percentage of every job you do towards learning. It might go towards courses, or hardware that is necessary for you to learn. This might however apply more to experienced freelancers who have the ability to charge more.

  1. Ask your platform to pay. This might sound a little bold, however it can be a good way to start a dialogue of where you can learn the skills necessary to do a particular job. Here on Digital Mined for instance, we have created a course for making money on oDesk, and we welcome any freelancers who are interested in taking it to ask oDesk to sponsor their education.

  1. Apply for grants. Grants can at times be available in many different categories, however they all have in common that they are rarely applied for. If you are considering applying for a grant, it can make a lot of sense to call the organization that is offering the grant, and ask lots of questions to get an idea if you could be a good fit or not. At times, it can be worth applying, even if you are a weak fit, because there might not be other applicants for the grant.

  1. Ask repeat customers. Customers you work with regularly have the greatest benefit of you learning more how to do your craft. Just make sure that you tie it with the work you are doing for them, and even suggest ways to compensate them. So for instance, ask what you need to do in order to be worthy of a bonus that could be used towards education.

  1. Offer to pay something else than money. At times it can be worth contacting the educational provider and suggest other ways you can pay for the course. At times the easiest suggestion to make is to offer something that is of higher value than the sales value of the education. So, for instance, referrals. If you are able to deliver 10 customers for instance, what would be the value of that for the educator?

  1. Join the affiliate program. At times educational providers have an affiliate program, or can be contacted about an affiliate program. If you see no evidence of an educator having an affiliate program, you can suggest what you are willing to do to market their services to other prospective clients. Just make sure your suggestion is worth more than the sales amount.

  1. Offer something to be added to the education. At times educational providers are very interested in improving the quality of what they are selling. So, if you are able to provide something, that would increase the quality of the education, without costing them anything, you can effectively get a free education. For instance, you could do and record live Skype interview with their customers in exchange for education.

The above list can easily be expanded on. However, try to think of ideas that area clearly outside of the box. The competitions of weird and unusual ideas can be a lot less than what you think if you just suggest it to the right person at the right time. This can also help you realize that a price is just an offer, that you can counter with something better.

How To Negotiate Better Deals From Freelancers

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Particularly when you are using freelance platforms like oDesk and Elance it can be quite easy to accept whatever offer you are given. However that can be a big mistake since what ever price you get it fully negotiable. It is however important to point out that when you try to get a better deal […]

Top 7 Things Clients Do That Frustrate Freelancers

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Freelancing can often be a very pleasant experience where you get the opportunity to work your own hours, follow a passion you like and be your own boss. However, there are moments your blood boils beyond acceptable cooking level. There are no hiding that although there lots of good clients out there, even the best […]

How To Find Local Freelance Clients

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Sadly few universities that teach typical freelance professions go into how to get customers. And as a result a lot of graphic designers, photographers, and editors discover that they almost need to learn a completely new profession just to get work. However, the good news is that a lot of work can be found in […]

How To Work With Clients Who Are New To Freelancing

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At times, you can find yourself with clients who have either just joined a freelance platform, or who just have never hired an outside person to help them, or their business. They might have the best intentions, however, still, they can have special needs. Your challenge as a freelancer, is to turn this into an […]

How To Avoid Cheap Clients And Still Get Work

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One of the greatest challenges that many freelancers report to us here on Digital Mined is the lack of well paid jobs from good serious clients. At times it might seem at times like being posted on oDesk and Elance is interpreted as a licence to put up low budget jobs. For some freelancers this […]

What is a good business partner?

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Freelancing can be a very lonely endeavor. You can also be limited in your resources in terms of capital and knowledge. Therefore, it can at times help to look for a partner you can work with towards greater heights. However, the challenge is finding the right person. Countless are the stories of partnerships that don´t […]

How To Get Freelance Clients To Finalize Payment Faster

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It can be frustrating to put in a significant amount of work with a client that has communicated well, is happy with the work, without getting paid right away. This can be particularly frustrating if you have already given over the work, and there might be a weeks wait before the funds are in your […]

Does It Help To Be Introverted When You Freelance?

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Freelancing can in many ways be a very different way of working. You are taking on the responsibility of getting your own work, and you have to discipline yourself, at times with very few outside sources holding you accountable. Many freelancers also choose to work alone, or their work is done with no interaction with any other colleague.

This might raise the question if freelancing is best suited for those that are introverted, or if features traditionally associated with being introverted can be an advantage to apply when you freelance. Regardless there are undoubtedly a lot of things about freelancing, and dealing with people, that this introverted writer love to take advantage of as a client and freelancer.

Here are a few introverted reasons to love freelancing:

  1. You can avoid dealing with “social” conversations. If you are a very focused career driven person it can drive you nuts having to deal with irrelevance. Not because you are a robot, but because you want to be effective. As a freelancer the main focus is on the work you do, than the weather or what you did the last weekend.

  1. All communication can be done through text. When you work with emails or text chats it is very easy to read into and analyze conversations, make sure you are not missing any details. You can obsess, and at times read too much into them. Regardless this can give you easy access to a trail of communication that you can learn from.

  1. It is very easy to focus on the work. A lot of freelancers I speak with feel almost an ethical responsibility to the work they do. At times it can appear that the responsibility goes higher than just doing it for a client. When all communication is in the same written form as the work some freelancers say to me that it is easier to stay in the “zone”.

  1. You can tailor how you work. Some freelancers love to disconnect and create their own work crib. They might still be connected to the rest of the world through the Internet, but make mental decision to not be available to those immediately around them. This is again an effective way to focus.

  1. You can consider things multiple times. A lot of freelancers I have worked with are detailed obsessed and see problems and limitations I miss as a client. That ability can often be crucial because as I client I might need to get a detailed perspective on a vision to the work that I might not have completely clear. Working with a freelancer that sees details I miss is also a relief because it feels in a way that a shortcoming I have is taken care of.

  1. You can network without meeting anyone in person. If you are self-conscious or simply do not enjoy live in-person networking events, you can easily network online and build connections and relationships that can be deeper than just picking up a few business cards at a social gathering. From freelance networking I have not only built a team I rely on, but even started companies based on relationships I have made.

  1. You can be anonymous. It is very possible for freelancers to create their own identity, or freelance avatar on freelance platforms. Basically build up a personality that is your external professional image. This can be miles away from the personal self you show to those who are immediately around you. For those dealing with corporate clients, without wanting to have an offline corporate image, this can be a huge advantage.

It might be hard to know if freelancers are more introverted than “other people”. However there are undoubtedly things about freelancing that suits introverted personalities. On the other hand freelancing can also be a simple way for many disabled to socialize and contribute to the global economy.

How To Act Like a Professional Freelance Client

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A lot of freelancer are frustrated when they deal with clients that are not professional in their dealings with them. It can be particularly frustrating in low-income periods when the freelancer might not have that many options.

However, acting like a professional client does not have to be difficult. Many freelancers will attest that a professional client can stand out by simply having good manners, and treating them with respect. The question might however be, what specifically does that mean? There are definitely silent rules in freelancing, that are rarely taught or clearly communicated by freelancers.

Here are a few of them:

  1. Know what you want. Few things frustrate freelancers more than dealing with clients that are not sure what they want. Why? A client that is unclear is very likely to change their mind, which again is a risk to the freelancers work. It can result in more revisions, and more time working with the client to make them happy. Many freelancers avoid unclear clients as soon as they sense them.

  1. Write clear well-defined briefs. Client that know what they want to tend to be good in expressing it. They might have done extensive research on what is needed, and in a way done half the job for you. Those jobs tend to be easy to do. Almost like you are filling in the blanks. A brief needs to be clear enough for a freelancer to quickly be able to estimate how much time is needed.

  1. Budget with respect. Some clients are die-hard focused on wanting the cheapest possible rates. This can be particularly disrespectful if you want to hire someone from a high cost country. However the problem is also prevalent in countries like India and Pakistan where some clients try to push freelancers to bellow 3$ an hour and at times even below 1$ an hour making it debatable if slavery still exist. Smart clients pay more than market, and even offer long-term contracts, for freelancers they want loyalty from.

  1. Make yourself available. At times freelancers need to know. In particular they need clarification so they can do a better job for you. Ideally you should be available every 24 hours, by email, Skype or ideally both. Client that do not make themselves available when the freelancers need feedback usually get rewarded with work that is different from what they expected.

  1. Be flexible. Again a sign of respect. If simple things happen in a freelancers life it can at times cost very little to be willing to adjust. Freelancer also have other commitments, they will often remember you for being understanding. Many freelancers feel almost a shame of inconveniencing clients when they ask for extensions. Therefore it can be worthwhile to budget in buffer time in your project for the unexpected.

  1. Check the work thoroughly. Some clients accept work easily only to get back to the freelancer multiple times with requests for revisions. If you outsource the same work often it might be an idea to work out a checklist that you go through when you receive work so that you are able to quickly sign off when the job is done to your satisfaction.

  1. Pay on time. When the work has been delivered freelancers will greatly appreciate if you pay up right away. This is partly because it can take a while before what you pay end up with their bank account. Sadly it is a habit among many clients to forget to pay the outstanding after the work has been done, leaving freelancers to the unwelcoming task of chasing. Professional clients should aim at paying with 24 hours of receiving work to their satisfaction.

It might be worth while to make the observation that the majority of the things listed above cover respecting the relationship with freelancers and not the actual work. If you truly want to stand out as a client, show through your actions that you care more about the people you work with than what you outsource. I will make you an easy client to remember, and wish to work with again.

How To Use Email Marketing To Increase Your Freelance Income

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Applying for jobs is one of the most time consuming things a freelancer does. It can be a very frustrating process, spending many hours submitting applications without any guarantee that the client will even read it.

However, the good news is that you can vastly increase your revenue by staying in contact with your existing customers. Your challenge is doing it in such a way that it is time efficient for you, and not a burden on your income generating time. One of the easiest and most profitable ways, to stay in touch with your customers can be to send out emails with material you have already written before.

Here are a few tips on how to use email marketing to increase your freelance income:

 

Create follow-up courses

One of the largest challenges you face as a freelancer is finding ways to stand out, and over-deliver on a consistent basis. A very simple strategy for doing that can be to create short email courses around how the client can get the most value out of what you have done for them. So, for instance, if you sell websites, a 7 step course on driving traffic to your website.

 

Educate your clients on how to work with you

Another way of improving your client pool can be to teach your clients how to act as your clients. In other words, what they can do to ensure their project is delivered on time and within budget. A good thing to offer to your clients can be the questionnaire that you use when collecting requirements from your clients before each assignment. They can be used as a checklist by the client to ensure they are prepared when posting jobs. With time you might notice that doing this will not only be appreciated by your clients, but can also actively reduce the time you spend per job.

 

Write what you learn

A lot of freelancers can be frustrated by all the time they have to spend learning and up-Skilling, particular about technical changes, which they cannot charge their clients for. However, this is an opportunity. You can make it a habit of writing down, taking images or shooting videos, when you learn something. This can become content you can later sell, or use to promote yourself through social media.

 

Offer regular consultations

After you have delivered a course to a client over email, you can offer a follow-up consultation. If you automate the process through using email marketing, you might notice that with time, you have a regular stream of client interactions which allow you to upsell.

 

Have a monthly newsletter

Make sure you make the newsletter comprehensive. Ideally three 500 word articles. To reduce the time you spend writing the articles you can include material from your courses, and maybe change them a little bit to fit a different context. You might notice that you can repost material that had been originally released more than 2 years ago. Just make sure that it is still relevant and fresh by adding a few more current examples.

 

Use links to other content

You could refer clients in emails to content you have created or important changes you have noticed with regard to your industry. In particular, if you are able to find ways of doing your work cheaper, or increasing the client’s return on investment, share that. It might sound counter intuitive, however with time the client’s perception can change from looking at you as a low-end freelancer, to a higher-end consultant, which can allow you to progress to higher hourly rates.

The above are just a few ways you can use email marketing to increase your income. If you have a website even more possibilities become available, however, if you are starting out, all you need is to have a desire for over delivering, and good software for the process.

One free solution that does the job is the free entry package from Atomic Email Service. If you have less than 200 clients you can send 3,000 emails a month. If you feel more comfortable sending email newsletters from your PC, Atompark offers a desktop bulk mailer, which is functionally similar to the online service”. With time you probably want to upgrade that to automatically send emails so you can instead focus on your freelancing.

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