Welcome!

Symbian Authors: Kevin Benedict, Matthew Lobas, Shelly Palmer, RealWire News Distribution

Blog Feed Post

Being a Successful Freelancer: 25 Things I Learned the Hard Way


 

“If it was easy, everyone would do it.”

 

I’m not sure who said that, but file it under quotes that are wise, but still hard to accept. It’s absolutely true for freelancing. It’s not an easy road, but it gets easier over time. Like many things, the beginning is the hardest.

 

If you’ve ever started an exercise routine, you know it’s rough at the start. You’re out of shape and out of the habit of working out. It can feel like torture. But you get stronger and more disciplined and it feels so much easier – and you start to notice the payoff. Freelancing is no different.

 

Know this: If I can do it, you can do it. When I started, I didn’t have any special edge. I had writing skills, but I didn’t have a sales bone in my body. At the time, there were a few helpful books on the topic (Bob Bly and Peter Bowerman), but much of what I learned came from experience.

 

Fifteen years after going solo, I'm in a much better place. Unfortunately I learned nearly everything below the hard way:

 

1.      Always be marketing. Even when business is good. It can be hard to find the time but keep doing it. Build in some regular marketing in your schedule. Otherwise your pipeline dries up and you’ll hit more “famine” periods.

 

2.      Prospects rarely need you when you contact them. Just because you reach out to a prospect that seems perfect, that doesn’t mean they need your help now. But they might need you down the road. A “no” often means “not right now.”

 

3.      People forget about you if you don’t contact them regularly. Regular contact gets business.

 

4.      Raise rates regularly. Employees get regular raises for cost of living increases, and so should you. When you start a client at a certain rate, don’t keep them there forever. Establish a schedule – such as annually – for increasing rates. And then simply let clients know when you start a new project what the new rate is and that you’re raising your rates to account for normal inflation.

 

5.      You know more than most clients – about writing projects. You’re a professional writer. Your clients are not. They know their subject matter but rely on you for writing expertise. Be confident in your abilities.

 

6.      Be willing to take less-than-ideal projects early on. As with anything, you have to put in your time to build your income and experience. You can specialize from the beginning but don’t be TOO narrow at first. Don’t be too choosey early on either.

 

7.      Clients can take a while to pay. Know that clients can take a while to pay. Set your terms, such as “net 30,” but know clients do what they want. Include a penalty on the bottom of your invoices that says you charge a 1.5% late fee (or other fee) each month that the payment is late. Then send friendly reminder invoices when an invoice is past due.

 

8.      Don’t panic if a project seems too hard at first. Ask questions, get information, take notes, record interviews, and again, ask questions! They can’t expect you to be a subject matter expert on their products and services but you can learn quickly.

 

9.      Be detail oriented. Care about everything you deliver to a client.

 

10.   There’s plenty of work to go around. This is true, though it may not feel like it now. There are lots of writers out there but there are more companies that need help. Capitalize on the type of writing and subject matter you do best and those companies will be drawn to you.

 

11.   Freelancing is up and down. Everyone calls at once and stops calling at once! You can’t control your workload, unfortunately. Be ready for the feast when it comes, and then use the famine times to market yourself, and get organized and ready for the next feast.

 

12.   Use downtime to write – for yourself. During slower times, you should always amp up your marketing and sales efforts. Do what you do best, writing. Write articles, guest blog posts, etc. to get your name out there.

 

13.   Be disciplined. Set a marketing and writing schedule and stick to it.

 

14.   Paychecks are fixed (i.e. limited) but there's no limit with freelancing. It’s tough to think about it this way when coming off a paycheck, but being on 100% commission actually gives you the potential to earn more. And you give yourself raises with rate increases.

 

15.   People perceive you as less qualified if you charge too little. If a product like a cell phone or computer is a lot less than another one, don’t you wonder why? We assume that less expensive usually means less quality. Clients have the same reaction.

 

16.   Confidence sells. State your rates and be confident you’re worth what you charge.

 

17.   Set goals and check in on them regularly. Along with the discipline tip above, it’s more important than ever to set goals. By when will you finish your buzz piece? How much money do you want to make per month? How many projects do you need to get there?

 

18.   Referrals are not automatic sales. When a contact or client sends a potential client your way, don’t assume it’s a sale. Follow the same process with the same professionalism you always do. You still need to impress.

 

19.   You can’t control parts of the case study project. You can’t control how much time clients take to review a story or the time for end customer review and approval. Invoice after the first draft is delivered but stay engaged and committed to the project for as long as it takes to complete, even well after you’ve been paid.

 

20.   Don’t take lack of response personally. Just because someone doesn’t get back to you after you talk or send a proposal doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. People get busy, go on vacation, or other priorities come up. Follow up every so often.

 

21.   Everyone calls the day before you leave or while you’re on vacation (including the week of Christmas/New Year’s). You’ll notice the pattern once you’ve been freelancing for a while.

 

22.   Be a partner, not a sales person. Prospects don’t want to be sold. They want someone who will partner with them to achieve their goals. Always be thinking about how you can be that partner.

 

23.   Don’t be scared by clients with technical subject matter, especially if the end audience is business decision-makers. You don’t have to understand the bits and bytes behind technology if you’re only writing about the business impact and benefits. Ask your client about the audience before making decisions about projects.

 

24.   Partner with other writers. Find other writers that don’t write the same things or serve the same audience as you. Get to know each other’s strengths and refer leads back and forth. I do this with all types of writers.

 

25.   You are your own boss. When you feel like you have the freedom, don’t work with clients that are disrespectful of you or your time. It’s not worth it. There are better clients out there.

 

Happy Freelancing!

 

Want to add customer case studies to your menu of freelance writing services?

Get mad skills by spring in this new course for emerging case study writers: The Case Study Writer’s Mad Skills Crash Course. In this 7- week online course, learn from-the-trenches tips from Casey Hibbard. Armed with skills and best practices, you can confidently approach clients and win more projects – helping you break into this lucrative field. Grab early-bird pricing until Feb. 28.

Learn more.

 

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Casey Hibbard

Casey Hibbard is the founder and president of Compelling Cases, Inc. and author of "Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales & Marketing Asset." She has helped dozens of companies create and manage nearly 500 customer case studies and success stories over the past decade. Casey is featured in numerous books, articles, and teleclasses. She consults with organizations one-on-one and conducts online customer-story classes.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

Focused on this fast-growing market’s needs, Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation (Nasdaq: VTSS), a leading provider of IC solutions to advance "Ethernet Everywhere" in Carrier, Enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) networks, introduced its IStaX™ software (VSC6815SDK), a robust protocol stack to simplify deployment and management of Industrial-IoT network applications such as Industrial Ethernet switching, surveillance, video distribution, LCD signage, intelligent sensors, and metering equipment. Leveraging technologies proven in the Carrier and Enterprise markets, IStaX is designed to work ac...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
C-Labs LLC, a leading provider of remote and mobile access for the Internet of Things (IoT), announced the appointment of John Traynor to the position of chief operating officer. Previously a strategic advisor to the firm, Mr. Traynor will now oversee sales, marketing, finance, and operations. Mr. Traynor is based out of the C-Labs office in Redmond, Washington. He reports to Chris Muench, Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Traynor brings valuable business leadership and technology industry expertise to C-Labs. With over 30 years' experience in the high-tech sector, John Traynor has held numerous...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world. The next @ThingsExpo will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, in Santa Clara, California. Since its launch in 2008, Cloud Expo TV commercials have been aired and CNBC, Fox News Network, and Bloomberg TV. Please enjoy our 2014 commercial.
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.