We’ve had a heart to heart on what’s essential for a freelancer to make it in this world in Part 1. You now know that you have what it takes. In this second part, we’ll go deeper into what it means to truly succeed when you’re working as a freelancer.
11. Know your ideal client, and focus on thrilling them
It’s the basic rule of marketing—know your audience.
As a freelancer, you are essentially marketing yourself, so the question is, “Who is my client?” Are you selling your services to the right person? Is what you’re offering exactly what they’re looking for? Once you’ve figured that out, then set your goal and focus on what’s important — 100% client satisfaction. They should be thrilled with what you give them. So much so, that they will give you repeat business, and will even refer you to their network.
12. Get real good at what you do
There’s really no excuse for this. Because you’re offering your expertise as a freelancer, you have to be good, REALLY good. Get so good that you stop having to think about it. Run on auto-pilot. When I retouch, I will often do the same basic steps and adjustments over and over again. I will repeat this until I run out of time, run out of patience, or run out of problems.
13. If you think or speak negatively about your work, this invites others to feel the same
Loving your work is easier said than done, especially when deadlines and stress weigh you down. Frustration can let all those negative thoughts creep into your mind; but your love for what you do has to rise above it all.
Giving positive vibes about what you do not only helps other people feel the same way, but it also lets your clients see how passionate you are about your work. They will know how great your results will turn out to be.
14. Do not let your weakest work define you
We all have our off days, and sometimes, the end result of a project just turns out hopeless. No matter how many hours you put into it, it just seems to keep getting worse and worse. And every time you look at it or even remember it, it makes you cringe like there’s no tomorrow.
If it turned out crappy, move on; do not let it define your whole future. Once you let it get you down, you will never be able to move past it and it will ruin all your future projects. Create something better, and replace it in your portfolio as soon as possible.
15. Be inspired by what you have done right, not discouraged by what you have done wrong
As I mentioned, don’t let the ghost of an awful job haunt you. Instead, let it challenge you to do something far more awesome. Let your best work fuel you. Drive yourself to outdo it.
Once I put my focus into my own portfolio, I was amazingly satisfied with what I had put together. You need to take the time, and do it for yourself. While you will always question the validity of your own work, a solid portfolio will always confirm that you have the ability to succeed.
Define the types of images you enjoy working on, and create a portfolio based on that. It will help others understand who you are, and what you do. You may change and adapt as you grow professionally, but you need to start somewhere.
17. Create an online portfolio of 20-50 images
As with any freelancer, your portfolio is your life. This is where you get to brag about all the fantastic work you’ve done, and prove to clients just what they’d be missing out on if they didn’t hire you that instant.
This is definitely an area you’re not allowed to slack off on. Don’t be lazy; don’t procrastinate. Create a mind-blowing portfolio and put all your effort into it. Showcase only your best work. If it is organized properly, it will not seem to be as large as it is, but only keep your best. You can create sub-galleries for additional work if clients want to explore more, but keep your entry portfolio nice and tight.
Note from Julia Kuzmenko: I personally believe that for a beginner freelancer a 10-20 image portfolio is good enough, and yes, all the work in it must be your absolute best at the time.
18. Again, your portfolio needs to be all killer, no filler
Your portfolio is THAT important that we just had to say it twice. I have around 45 images in mine, filled with variety, showing different skills. My own showcases Portraits, Lifestyle, and Composites. What’s yours look like?
19. Clients that would hire you need to know that you can pull off their vision
They do not want to take a chance on someone who cannot perform. They are risking their time and resources in hopes that you will deliver.
Your clients have a lot at stake when they hire you, so they need to know that they’re investing in the right person. Don’t let them down.
20. Be careful, don’t get locked into a particular style
When you finally get steady work, you might go into a repetitive cycle of sticking to one particular style forever. Industries are ever-evolving, and if you don’t go with the flow and give your work a new twist every now and then, your clients will eventually move on from you.
Remember, new and fresh-minded freelancers are popping up each day. So keep updating your styles and keep practicing even on your own. It’s important to do your own work (personal projects, free) that you want to spend time on, either for yourself, or to generate future work. It’s usually the free work that you take on for yourself, that gives the best portfolio results.