5 Tips and 2 Insights: How to Achieve Freelancing Success and Stay Somewhat Sane

how to achieve freelancing success

Okay, so you’re a freelance writer (or designer, or coder, or whatever), and you do a lot of work for a lot of people who simply don’t have the skills you have. And you probably often think that if only you didn’t have to deal with clients, your job would be just about perfect.

Here’s the thing, though. You DO have to deal with clients, so suck it up. You know you do great work, but you have to satisfy your clients. So how do you get them to appreciate what you do? A lot of the time, problems with clients are just a result of miscommunication or expectations that aren’t properly set in the beginning. So if you set the groundwork, your clients will love you, and you might even love them. Here are five tips:

1. Ask Questions. Before you even start the job, find out what’s required. Freelancing success means making sure you know how many words the client wants and doing your research on the project. Always check out the client’s website to get an idea of their preferred style of communication. If you’re in doubt, ask the client if they prefer a professional or a conversational style of writing.

Also. for freelancing success you must make sure you fully understand the requirements of the assignment. I have a very simple system for achieving this and it works like a charm.

2. Know Your Own Strengths. If you’re bidding on freelance jobs, know your limitations. If you know absolutely nothing about a certain topic, and it’s going to require a lot of research, be sure that you can get up to speed without spending too much time. Time is money. If you write about topics that you know something about, you’ll make more money faster. Of course, you won’t always be able to get work that fits your interest set, but if you can, do it.

3. Create for Your Clients, Not for Yourself. Remember, when you take on a project, your name won’t be attached to the work. Your job is to represent your clients as best you can. They’re relying on you to represent them. Take on their tone or adopt their style.

4. Look for Repeat Work. Remember that achieving freelancing success is like any other business. It’s much easier to keep one client happy than it is to look for new clients. If a client loves your work, ask for more, as for referrals. Don’t feel shy about promoting yourself.

TIP: I get a lot of work via the online freelance sites. Potential clients often say something like, “If this contract works out, I have a lot more work that needs to be done.” This is almost always a lie intended to get you to put in a low-ball bid. Red flags should go up when you see this. Vet these contractors carefully and see how much work they have posted and paid for. If they’re essentially newbies, let someone else learn this lesson.

5. Be Respectful. This almost goes without saying. Much of the time, your clients’ perspective on your work has less to do with how great you are than it does with how well you treated them. Meet your deadlines, and always be available.

Now for the freelancing success insights…

Let me leave you with two more important observations and what I’ve concluded from these:

  • Clients can be wrong, but you must demonstrate tact when you feel you need to express this.
  • Clients can be the wrong fit for you. Some clients require a style of writing, or work in a subject area that is out of your wheelhouse, or just don’t fit personality-wise.

In these cases, sometimes it’s best just to drop the client and move on. Eventually you’ll be able to replace those clients with clients more suited to what you want to do or what you’re best at. After all, one of the main reasons we freelance is because we want a certain degree of independence and lessen the hassles in our lives. If we have too many clients who we don’t enjoy working with, then we defeat our main purpose.

Sometimes the best thing is to “just say no.”


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