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1. Never write yourself off

When I started freelancing I would sometimes write myself off as not good enough for the job. It’s hard not to be sometimes, when the world is full of so many talented people and your work looks mediocre in comparison. Without self confidence in your own work and ability though, you’ll never be able to take off as a freelancer. Now I realize this is a much bigger problem for a designer than a coder, since designing is a much more creative field, but coders can have the same problem too.

In the end, work is hard to come by and the last thing you need is your mind telling you that you wouldn’t be able to achieve a job, and turning it down.

Ways to better your confidence in your ability
Practice until you believe you’re good enough
Rather than concentrating on problems as a whole, look at them individually and sort them out
Don’t compare your work with others. Instead, look at what they’ve done and draw inspiration from it.
Stay positive about your work and don’t degrade it.
2. Have Confidence with clients

Your client (even though temporary) is still your employer. They’ve employed you as you have skills that they don’t have and need your help in an area they are inexperienced with. The last thing they need is you being unsure of what to do.

When presenting yourself or talking with your clients, speak in a confident and polite manner. It’s best to be professional and never shorten or use acronyms when talking online. Try and be sure of what you’re going to do based on what your client has told you. If you’re a designer, explain how what you’ve designed will be beneficial to the user. Most importantly of all, accept the criticism of your client and add their critiques to your design. Never write your client off as not “in the know”. You’re designing for them, remember.

Even if you’re not a naturally confident person, try and put it on. Your client probably has never met you before (most of the time anyway) and won’t know what you act like, so you can put on any persona you want.

3. Make a sweet Portfolio

This almost goes without saying. A good idea is to have a few selected pieces which you think best represent the best of your abilities, and archive the rest of your portfolio pieces. Again, a portfolio’s requirements vary depending on your field. If you’re a web designer, make sure your own design best represents your abilities. If a client sees your design is bad, they will be less likely to hire you.

For writers and coders this isn’t such a big deal, but it’s still good to have an eye catching design that will make you stand out. Testimonials are another important part of a portfolio. When you complete a job for a client, ask them to give a testimonial of your work if they were happy with it. You can have a separate page to house these testimonials, or perhaps a box on the front page showing them.

Other Resources
10 Steps to The Perfect Portfolio
90 Inspirational Portfolios
50 Creative and Inspirational Portfolios
4. Build a Reputation

A good reputation is something that happens over time. It’ll almost certainly help you to get clients more easily, and will overall help your business. This sort of links back to making an awesome portfolio. When clients see your portfolio, brimming with content and experience, they are more likely to hire you.

4.1 Keep your work to a high standard
Building a reputation is as easy as keeping your work to a high standard and employing higher class clients (big businesses for instance). Okay, so that’s not easy, but over time you’ll hopefully be hired by bigger clients, and keeping your work to a high standard is down to you and your ability. Never give up, and keep trying.

4.2 Socialize
Join twitter, facebook, and become friends with the big names in your niche. This is going to be great for your exposure and reputation. When people see that you’re friends with the biggest names, they’ll think that you’re associated with them, and therefore you must be pretty good.

5. Stay up to date with your niche.

This is very important. Imagine if you were a web designer in the 90s and never stayed up to date with what was happening. Your designs would be rather dated, to say the least.

It’s important that you keep up with what’s happening in your niche and community, as this will certainly affect how your client perceives the problem. If everyone else in your niche is using a good (new) technique, it’s not going to pay off for you. People like to fit in (most of the time) and your client will probably want what everyone else is getting (if not better).

How to Stay up to Date
Twitter is an invaluable tool that helps me stay up with what’s happening in the web community.
RSS helps to give you updates on the biggest sites in your niche.
Socializing in the right circles will help you to keep up with what’s happening.
6. Do what you do best.

Pick a field that you think you work best in, and use that. Don’t pick a field you don’t like, or are bad at; the only person this will affect is you. This is why if you’re not good at designing websites you might consider doing more back-end stuff like coding that doesn’t require as much creativity. It’s down to you though.

7. Understand your Clients needs.

Read the brief that your client has given you and make sure you understand exactly what they want. Never jump to conclusions and try your best to follow what your client wants. They’re hiring you after all.

If you are unsure exactly what they want, don’t forget to discuss it.

8. Discuss, Discuss, Discuss

This links back to understanding your clients. If you don’t understand the clients brief, ask them about it. You’re only human, and discussing with clients is the best way to move a project forward. At every stage of the project ask the clients opinion (if you can) and make sure what you’re doing is moving in the right direction.

Saying this however, you don’t want to want to come across as bothersome to your client, so don’t go completely out of your way every hour to ask your client what they think; they have lives too you know! If you come across as needy (god forbid) your client may not decide to use you again, and reusable clients are a very valued resource.

9. Secure long term clients

Long term clients are clients that wan’t to re-employ you because they believe that your skills are of a grade good enough. Lets be frank; finding a job in the freelance world is very hard. Having a client that wants to re-employ you is very valuable because it means you have one less job to find.

To secure a long term client simply keep your work to a high standard and be polite and confident with them. The most plausible long term clients are businesses. A small time start-up is likely to only hire you one and leave it at that, because they only require your skills once. Bigger businesses with multiple targets and websites are more likely to hire you again, as, well, they need you.

10. Don’t Procrastinate

This is one of the most important rules. Procrastinating is easily my greatest enemy when it comes to productivity. The best thing you can do is to stop procrastinating. The best way I’ve found is to just do everything for a while when you think about it, no matter how monotonous. Don’t get into the habit of saying “I’ll do it in an hour” cause we all know it’s not going to happen.

When you’re stuck to a deadline and you think “Oh I’ve got 5 days”, it can start your procrastination all up again, so just start it straight away, rather than leaving it for a few days. This post is a perfect example of how to battle procrastination. A few weeks ago I probably would’ve left this for a few days, but because I’ve been trying not to procrastinate I tried my best to get it done.

Posted by ABDUL SABOOR Sunday, December 6, 2009


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