According to a report from Small Biz Trends, 54 million Americans worked as a freelancer at some point during 2015. They go on to say that 50% of UK’s workforce will be independent contractors within the next five years. This is a trend not only seen in large economic hubs, as India has the second largest independent workforce with 15 million, which fills about 40% of the world’s freelance jobs.
Use Online Freelance Marketplaces
Websites such as Fiverr & Upwork are allowing freelancers to provide their expertise to a worldwide audience. These platforms essentially allow freelancers to bid for jobs on a project-by- project basis and perform them from the comfort of their own home or workspace.
South Africans have a big advantage for two reasons. Firstly, most of us speak English fluently and many were educated in the language which sets you apart from other third world freelancers. Secondly, our economy allows us to price our services at a far cheaper rate to most other English speaking nations. This means South African freelancers are hot property.
Make sure you showcase your work (brilliantly)
These marketplaces allow you to showcase your work to prospective clients. Make sure you stand out by displaying your greatest work. Whether you are a graphic designer, video curator or content creator make sure you use compelling content.
Tip: Video is projected to account for 80% of all web traffic in the next couple of years. People love videos, especially those that are short and sharp. Why not use a freelancer on Fiverr to create you a compelling sales video showcasing some of your work.
As mentioned earlier, as South Africans we can price competitively on the global stage due to our wonderful Rand. But that is not to say you have to price cheaply. There is a key difference. If you are competing for low-quality, high quantity work then pricing cheaply is the way to go. However, there are big companies that are now using freelance platforms to seek content. They are looking for high quality work and therefore will pay well. If this is your strategy then make sure to understand the pricing dynamics of your freelance competitors and price your services accordingly. Often, freelancers create pricing brackets to account for individuals or startups wanting cheap, lower-quality work and big corporates needing exceptional quality.
Another tactic is to offer perks to your clients such as a number of free revisions, a guarantee of certain delivery date and discounts to repeat clients. All these help clients choose you as their freelancer.
Just because you have your portfolio on a freelance platform does not mean you can sit back and wait for clients to come to you.
Go out and network. This can be done at local meetups, use Ventureburn’s event guide each week to get started. You will meet a lot of startups which can turn into a big market for you. Another way to gain startup clients is through co-working space. Spend a few weeks in some of the co-working spaces around your city. Many of these small companies need services like yours, but cannot afford the prices charged by big companies.
Finally, you need to blog. Blogging about the things you enjoy and, hopefully, your prospective clients enjoy will lead them toward your services and eventually into profits. Persevere when blogging as the results will only be seen a few months down the line.
Make sure you get paid
The most important thing as a freelancer is being paid, and being paid timeously. As a freelancer managing your time is crucial to your success, and running around chasing clients from around the world can waste your most valuable resource.
The online platforms have built-in payment functions which ensure you get paid which is another advantage. When dealing with clients you obtain organically through your networking efforts you should direct their orders through one of the online platforms. If that is not possible you can use tools, such as Due, to help you invoice clients and accept payments easily.
Anyone can be a freelancer! Just go out, learn and commit.