Online freelancing for newcomers

Posted on 17. May, 2011 by in Essentials, Motivation

Online freelancing for newcomers

The attraction of freelancing and of being your own boss is plain to see, “so you work from home and work whenever you want to? Great!” However, what this somewhat romanticized vision of freelancing fails to address are the many difficulties and challenges that freelancers face on a daily basis in their working lives. No matter the strength and quality of your service, one of the key pillars of successful freelancing is to effectively collaborate and interact with business partners and clients online. This is a crucial factor that is often overlooked by people jumping into the world of freelancing.  So what must freelancers be aware of when starting out on their online freelancing endeavors?

Be motivated – clients and partners will not come to you!

It sounds like an old hag but the truth is that in an established, 9-5 company, finding clients and business partners is easy compared to being a solitary freelancer. However, to enjoy the freedom and flexibility that freelancing gives you must be inventive and find a target for your services in other ways. Firstly, make it a top priority to invest time in creating an online presence. For example, joining professional networks on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook is often the first step to get your freelancing endeavors off the ground as it gets your name out there into the relevant circles. Also, make sure to get yourself listed in the online yellow pages and other key business directories so that clients can find you easily.

Create a blog or website, which showcases your work, allows clients and contacts to get in touch with you and which also provides a personal side to your freelancing. Note: To create an effective website you may need to contract the web design and programming to an expert who can create an effective and appealing website for you, because as we all know first impressions are key! Once your website has been created make sure to engage in Search Engine Optimization and Marketing in order to ensure that your page ranks highly within search engine results. Otherwise, you cannot share your experience and quality with clients if you cannot be found in search engines.

Get ready for the communication overload!

It is highly unlikely that you will be able to meet your international clients in person. Therefore, you will need to be available constantly through other means to deal with enquires and problems as they arise. To streamline your online communication it is advisable to use Skype to remain in constant contact with developers, suppliers and clients. Another unique way to deal with customer enquires is to create a twitter account where questions and enquires can be answered on demand. This personalizes your service and allows you to deal with issues instantly, plus you will avoid the feeling of being overloaded as you can prioritize the requests at your own speed. These online forms of communication necessitate the pesky problem of international phone rates!

Understand your international contacts!

If your clientele or business contacts come from all across the globe then of course be mindful of public holidays in other countries and plan accordingly. In addition, whilst English is the world’s primary business language, proficiency levels can vary greatly and thus you must be mindful of misunderstandings and misinterpretations that can occur when dealing with business partners from different countries. For example, when dealing with partners from Vietnam and other South-Eastern nations be mindful that it is considered rude to give negative feedback, so always look to couch your advice or criticism in neutral tones. In addition, when working with international clients and partners be sure to use language that gets the message across whilst remaining understandable by all.

Don’t forget the personal touch!

Working online does not mean that your customers and business partners should find it difficult to get to know you. Through your online presence you can transmit your personality with blog entries and twitter updates that make your customers feel that there is a human being behind your service. In this way you have to do your own PR, because, as a freelancer, if you do not publicize your services and create a professional yet approachable impression of yourself online there is no one else to do it for you. Moreover, if you feel that the online world has become too static and bland for your liking then get out of the home office for a day and network at conferences to find vital business contacts and clients. Plus, there’s no stopping you renting out co-working spaces to hold meetings with clients so that they can get to know the real you before embarking on a business relationship together.

Becoming a freelancer is exciting and there is no substitute for the thrill of being your own boss, bringing your passion and experience to clients wherever they may be in the world. However, there are plenty of anonymous freelancers out there who offer their services but fail to leave an impression with clients so make sure you’re not one of them!


Author profile:

My name is David Sumner from twago, the largest pan-European online mediation platform for freelance programmers, web designers, writers and translators. I am a post-graduate with an interest for how freelancers can navigate the online world to showcase their services and communicate a personal touch to their work.


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