Are you stuck in the 9 to 5 rat race?

Do you feel like you’re not being paid what you are worth?

Do you feel like you could be doing something much more enjoyable and fulfilling during the day?

Have you hit a plateau in your career and feel like there’s no way to get ahead?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then this book is for you! Achieve not just financial freedom but freedom over your entire livelihood. As your own boss it is you that dictates what you do throughout the day, and it is you that determines how much you are paid.

However, diving into the world of self-employment and entrepreneurship is not without it’s risks. This book will guide you through the various pathways that you can forge for yourself as an aspiring business owner. Be Your Own Boss examines the various areas that successful entrepreneurs take in order to achieve success and true freedom.

Do you envision yourself working from Rome one day and then Thailand the next? You can’t do that with a dead-end job or with a boss that demands the majority of your time. You CAN do that if you take the necessary steps to start your entrepreneurial journey. That is why this book exists. Be Your Own Boss provides the instructions that you need to successful start your money making adventure!

Self-employment is major topic covered in Be Your Own Boss because for most successful CEOs and entrepreneurs it is the first step they take. Billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos started off as self employed solo entrepreneurs before they built their massive empires.

Freelancing is another way that emerging or established professionals can begin their self-employed journey. Although many freelancers including myself have taken unorthodox paths in their freelancing success. Be Your Own Boss can provide the strategies and guidance needed for anyone to become a successful freelancer. This book will help set you up for success by teaching you the ins and out of various freelancing platforms and how to go about building your client pipeline.

There many different paths one can take when it comes to consulting and your skills and experience will determine how you make consulting work for you. Be Your Own Boss takes the approach of using freelancing to build up your skills before moving on to more professional high-level consulting and advising. For example, I personally started off freelancing for various sales and marketing campaigns in more entry level and mid-level roles before becoming an adviser/consultant for startups.

Online businesses are another great way to generate income and there are many different ways to go about doing this. Be Your Own Boss uses the approach of online businesses as a way to compliment the work that you already doing with freelancing or consulting. For instance, Let’s CEO is an online business that is directly related to a consulting agency, Ulin Consulting.

The book also explores the world of startups and how to about making your first hires. Be Your Own Boss teaches you how to scale up your solo venture into a full fledged startup company. We dive into the various ways your company can obtain funding and how it can continue to grow. We examine the different infrastructure your business needs to have in place as your team continues to expand.

Be Your Own Boss was written and published by me, Lance Ulin. I am the CEO of Ulin Consulting and the founder of Let’s CEO. I have been advising startups in the areas of sales, marketing, operations, growth, scalability, ect for many years now. My team, Ulin Consulting, works with many clients located all around the globe.

For inquiries regarding our consulting services please contact us at our website: www.ulinconsulting.com

Be Your Own Boss is available online on Amazon, Google, and Barnes & Noble and wherever ebooks are sold.

Physical copies of Be Your Own Boss will be available this fall!

Let’s face it; we all tend to romanticize working from home. Setting your own hours, time to work on pet projects, freedom from prying eyes, and casual conversations are just a few advantages. While working from home allows you a reprieve from chatty co-workers and bosses who need just a minute of your time, you are also exposed to different disruptions to hinder your workflow.

Gone are the days when working from home conjured an image of a slacker in pajamas. With the ever-going advance in technology backed up by employers looking to lower their costs and employees ready to forgo lengthy commutes, more people are working outside an office than ever before. According to a recent survey, 61% of the workforce in the U.S. is now making a conscious choice to work from home of their own will rather than just out of necessity. The same study also concluded that people are making tradeoffs in their minds and are seeing flexibility as more valuable than co-worker connection.

 

However, whether you are a full-time freelancer, an occasional telecommuter, or even a designer, working outside an office can be challenging if not handled with care. You need to learn to set yourself up for success by staying focused and productive while keeping your work life separate from your home life. Another study conducted by Stanford University revealed that employees who worked from home, maintaining a strict set of guidelines and clearly defined boundaries were 13% more efficient than their office-bound colleagues.

 

Based on these surveys, below are some best practices and tips to work from home and augment your memory and help you prioritize your work better.

5 Tips to Work from Home:

 

It all begins with maintaining a schedule.

The first of 5 tips to work from home more efficiently is maintaining a schedule. Without supervision, even the most hardworking and conscientious can slack off. When you sit down to work, planning is everything. Creating a plan and setting a schedule provides structure to the day and helps you stay motivated to keep going. Leading experts suggest that you must start your day as you would if you worked in an office. So get up early, get dressed, and avoid any online distractions once you sit down to work. 

Whether you just started working from home or if you have been doing it for months, take a few days to focus on and determine the best rhythm for your day. Then set realistic expectations for what you can accomplish daily. By making a schedule and sticking to it day after day, you’ll notice a steady improvement in your productivity. 

Stick to it and keep going on. However, while doing so, always remember to give yourself permission for some downtime. And if you have worked extra hours to complete a project, give yourself some extra free time later on, to compensate for it.

 

The subtle art of creating boundaries

Boundaries define us. They are healthy, normal, and necessary. It’s very easy to lose sight of the prize and let your work life blur into your home life when we work from home. These tips to work from home will help. To keep the two distant, try sitting down with your family and friends and help them understand that even though you are working from home, you are still off-limits during your scheduled hours. This allows you to stay focused and makes it easier to step out of your work mode at the end.

So, invest in a good calendar and plan out your work hours. While doing so, don’t forget to schedule some quality time with friends and family. And after you are done with your scheduled work hours, don’t worry about stopping for the day, even if you are on a roll. Pausing in the middle will only make it easier to jump into the task the next day.

 

Brain breaks matter!

For many of us, it may be tempting to work flat out, especially if you are trying to prove that you can be equally productive and efficient while working from home. However, taking regular breaks between work is vital to being productive. These breaks need not necessarily be a nap. In fact, they can take any particular form. From reading a newspaper to walking your dog or even something as simple as staring outside the window, anything that allows your brain to recuperate briefly is enough to remain productive.

 

The importance of staying connected

As humans, we are all programmed to be social creatures. Staying isolated for a prolonged period affects our mental health and weakens motivation and productivity. So if you don’t have a job that requires face-time with others daily, you need to put in the extra effort and try to stay connected with the outside world. Schedule regular coffees with colleagues and meetings with clients! Check in as often as you can with colleagues and superiors, get involved with a professional organization, and share what you have been doing with them.

 

The power of reflection

Staying motivated and being efficient at your job can be challenging, especially when working from home. From that tall pile of dirty laundry lurking in the corner to Facebook notifications popping in every few minutes, staying focused is undoubtedly not an easy task. One smart way to maintain momentum is to spend a minute or two every day acknowledging what you have been able to accomplish that day rather than staying fixated on things that still need to be done.

Reflect on the day’s events and focus on taking some time out at the end of each workday to reflect on the things you got done rather than those you didn’t. Consider the things you were able to cross off your lists as wins and celebrate them no matter how small of a task that might be. Trust me; celebrating these wins helps immensely in increasing your efficiency. These are the 5 tips to work from home.

There are many things I wish I had known before I began my freelancing career.

However I couldn’t fit every single thing in one post so I’ve narrowed it down  the top 10 most important.

These are the 10 things I wish I knew before I started freelancing.

In this article we’ll take a a look at some these most important aspects of freelancing and how you can prepare for a freelancing career.

There are many factors that can determine the success of freelancer in today’s freelance market. We’ll take a look the most important factors here.

I hope this article can serve as a guide to help you get started with the 10 things that I wish I knew before I started freelancing and enable you to build off of this list.

With a good foundation to start off of you can build off of this list and grow and expand into the world of freelancing.

This is a list of the top 10 things I wish I knew before I started freelancing. I came up with this list on the fly in less than 5 minutes. I’ve you feel that I have missed something go ahead and leave some feedback in the comments below.

1. you are not an employee

A big misconception that inexperienced freelancers have when first starting out is that they are looking for a job from a client. This is not the case. You are essentially a business owner offering your services to customers or clients. So, you should carry yourself as such.

At the same time never allow a client to treat you as an employee. Make this clear and set expectations with your client before you accept the clients offer.

You’ll often hear “if you do well maybe we’ll even offer you a full time position”. This is where you need to remind the client you are not interested in that and that you are running your own freelancing business and have no desire to take on a full-time position with the client.

If the client doesn’t like this or seems irritated by this it may be best to decline the clients project and look for something else. The last thing you want to do is enter an engagement with a client that is going to treat you as an employee.

After all, that is one the reasons you left the 9-5 grind. You want to be your own boss. Your clients are your peers not your employers.

Check out my article on dealing with difficult clients in-case you do happen to fall into this trap here.

2. craft an incredible cover letter

When bidding on projects it is so vital to write an attention grabbing cover letter that outlines what you bring to the table.

You should also talk about previous projects that you have taken that turned out successfully. If you have not taken on a project as a freelancer then talk about your prior work experience. Be sure to touch on what separate you from other freelancers for this particular project.

You would be very surprised at how much a great cover letter matters even more so than your degree or years of experience in your particular field. You could have no degree and maybe only a year or two of experience in your field, but if you have an exceptional cover letter you’ll greatly increase your chances of winning the contract.

By doing this you’ll find that at times you’ll be winning contracts over people who have far more education and experience most likely because those candidates are writing sub-par cover letters.

3. always have more than 1 client

This is one that I really wish I knew before I started. It would have saved me so many headaches and saved from a few financial hardships.

You have to understand that because this is not a employee-employer relationship clients can leave the engagement at anytime for any reason. This is why I always say you should be willing to work up to 60 hours/week as a freelancer.

You never want to allow only one client to take all of your time. Doing so will set you up for a very difficult situation in the future if that particular client decides to end the engagement for whatever reason. If that happens then you suddenly finally yourself with 0 clients and no income at all from your freelancing business.

Having more than 1 client will help to mitigate this. Never give a client more than 40 hours as this goes back to what I said up being willing up to 60 as a freelancer.

This is because if a client does request a full time engagement (40hrs)  then you will at least have 1 or 2 more clients that you can fall back on while you try to fill the void if your full time client decides to leave for whatever reason.

 

4. the first contract is most difficult

I’ve always said that obtaining your first client is the most difficult and frustrating part of starting your freelance career. It is something that ALL successful freelancers have gone through this to get where they are today.

As a professional freelancer you must have a high level of resiliency and persistence in order to be successful. Like sales, obtaining new clients is numbers game. You have to keep at it. Keep bidding on contracts. Bid on as many as you possible can. Take as many interviews as you can.

If you don’t have a contract yet then fill up your schedule with as many interviews as you can. Don’t assume that just because an interview went well and the client says they like you and want to move forward with you that it will actually happen. Clients can be incredibly flaky so assume nothing until an offer is in front of you and you have accepted it.

Until then keep interviewing!

You can read my article on how I started out and became a successful freelancer here.

5. bid on as many contracts as you can

As I touched on above, getting that first contract is a numbers game. It can potentially take anywhere from 50 to 100 proposals before you get an interview or even more depending on your niche.

This is why being resilient and persistent is so important.

This part of the process, the beginning, is where so many freelancers get frustrated and fail which leads them inevitably giving up and returning to the workforce. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your not about to be raking in six figures in that time frame either.

If you’re not willing to deal with the frustrating and hard parts of starting out as a freelancer then something like this just isn’t for you. You may find that you are just more comfortable as an employee. This isn’t for everyone.

Here is a great video by former bodybuilder Rich Piana (RIP) on “doing whatever it takes”.

The video is geared more towards bodybuilding but can be applied to any area of life.

6. continuously interview

As I said it can take many bids to finally receive that first interview. Do NOT stop there. You should continue bidding on as many projects as you can so that you can continue to add more and more interviews to your schedule.

It is a numbers game so the more interviews you can setup for yourself the more likely you will land that first contract. However, do not stop there. Continue interviewing. You need more than client so even after you get your first contract KEEP INTERVIEWING.

If you are a poor interviewer than this is something you must practice and get better at. Being able to interview well is so crucial to being a successful freelancer.

When I first started out it took me several interviews to finally land my first contract. These days my interview skills have improved tremendously and it typically only takes me between 1 and 3 interviews to land a new client.

They secret is there is no secret. You have to do it and fail a few times in order to learn and get better.

Practice, Practice, PRACTICE.

7. don’t get low-balled

It is important the clients respect your pay rate as a freelancer. So many clients will offer up all types of excuses as to why they don’t want to pay as much as they should. Do not fall into this trap.

However, in the beginning of your career don’t set your rate sky high or you’ll have a difficult time winning over any new clients. When first starting out you have to realize that if you have no social proof on your profile meaning that you have not completed any projects yet you many need to start out with a lower rate listed on your profile.

Although, if you’ve listed what you feel is a reasonable rate based on similar researching similar freelancers in your niche with similar experience and client asks you to substantially lower your rate then tell them to keep it moving. At that time you should figuratively walk away from the negotiating table.

On the other hand if let’s say for example that your listed rate is $25/hr and you haven’t many or any clients yet and a client offers you something like $20/hr or maybe $18/hr +  performance incentives it many not be a bad idea to oblige if the client otherwise seems like a good fit.

So, don’t get low-balled but be reasonable and be willing to negotiate.

On a side note be weary of clients that offer you a low hourly rate with promise of high commission payouts. Ask to see the commission structure first and it if it looks suitable ask that client include the exact commission structure in the actual contract itself.

Here is great tool called AndCo for setting up your own contracts if you do not wish to use contracts provided by the various freelancing platforms.

8. recognize client red flags

As you begin taking on more and more clients throughout your freelance career you’ll run into great clients and not so great clients. You can help protect yourself from taking on bad clients by recognizing the warning signs early on.

So, what are some of these red flags to be wear of?

The first most obvious sign is if the client has bad rating on their profile or a review site. If other freelancers have only had bad experiences with this client then AVOID.

Some other not as obvious signs to watch out for can be found in the clients behavior from the time they request an interview to the time the make the initial offer.

A good client will always request an interview of some kind. They want to know if their money is going to go to good use or not. Be weary of clients that send an offer and ask you start without first setting up some kind of initial consultation with you.

Avoid clients that seem like they may try to treat you as an employee rather than a professional freelancer. This is a client based relationship not an employee employer based relationship.

Watch out for clients that set no expectations for their project or provide very little insight on how and when they want the project delivered. This is just asking for a fight later on.

Lastly, the kind of client that I absolutely despise is a client that feels the need to micromanage. A client like this has absolutely no respect for you. Checking in every now and then is acceptable. Asking for weekly reports can happen sometimes happen too and that is fine. What isn’t fine is if you find your client constantly checking in on you throughout the day. This is a huge red flag and this kind of client needs to be avoided at all costs. Not only is it unprofessional and incredibly annoying but you could possibly be setting your self up to be abused and mistreated further down the line.

Check out my article on dealing with difficult clients here.

9. great customer service

Maybe more important even than delivering results is providing great customer service. Always be supportive and understanding of your client. Do not settle for doing the bare minimum. You should go above and beyond for every client.

Even in instances where you may be struggling to complete a task reach out to the client and see if you can come up with a solution together. If worst comes to worst you should always try to give the client the impression that you area freelancer with integrity.

If you find yourself unable to complete a certain task for any reason you should immediately reach out to your client. Do your best to fulfill their needs and perhaps suggest that your skill set isn’t enough to complete the task at hand.

If this does happen you must do as much as possible to soften the blow for the client. Remember they are spending their hard earned money on you to complete a project.

The best thing to do if comes to this is gracefully suggest ending the contract and/or recommending another freelancer or agency that can do what the client needs.Until then offer to support the client until they are able to find a replacement.

Note: I said support the client not continue to work for client. Continuing to provide work that you can’t do or providing free work is neither productive for you or the client.

10. happy client = great review

Rather you successfully complete a project or find yourself needing to hand it off to someone else you should ALWAYS do whatever you can to keep your client as happy as possible.

Even in instances where you do not successfully complete a project but the client still likes you and is still happy with the work the you put forth in most cases you can expect at minimum a good review if not a great one.

This will heavily impact your ability to win more contracts in the future. Lots of good reviews will lead to clients reaching out to you and asking you for help on their project through project invitations. Poor reviews will make it very difficult for you to win more clients in the future.

So whatever you do always, always, always try to keep your client happy!

 

10 Things I wish I Knew Before I Started Freelancing

Lance Ulin

www.letsceo.com

The 3 Rules of Dealing With a Difficult Client as a Freelancer.

DIFFICULT! There are many issues that may arise when conducting business with a client as a freelancer but what makes a client difficult?

Maybe it is not being on the same page or sharing the same vision up to, maybe its a money dispute, or maybe something much worse like abusiveness or malicious behavior.

Unfortunately with most of today’s freelancing platforms showing a huge amount of bias and favoritism towards clients these kind of issues are becoming all too common.

If you are a freelancer chances are you will deal with a difficult client at some point.

How do you go about dealing with clients like these? Clients that you can not please not matter what, clients that try to demean you, or plain malicious behavior.

What is the correct course of action when dealing with a difficult client as a freelancer?

Rule 1: Stay professional

Maintain Your Reputation

When future prospective clients take a look at your previous history and reviews what will they see? Will they professionalism exemplified and maybe an example of 1 or 2 difficult clients OR will they see you sinking to the same level as those difficult clients?

It is important to maintain your professional image at all costs no matter what the client says or does. Always take the high road. From an outside perspective you will typically come across as the more rational and professional person in the scenario.

Allow the Client to Dig His Own Grave

Give the client a shovel so that he can burry himself. What do we mean by this? Again, it is all about taking the high road and maintaining a high level of professionalism.

Leave your emotions at the door and allow the client to do and say things that destroy his own professional image.

For example lets say a client leaves you a malicious review attacking you, your character, and your ability publicly. A lot of people’s first reaction will be to get combative or defensive.

Do NOT do this.

Instead, acknowledge the clients concerns, apologize for client feeling the way he does, offer an apology for any short comings that occurred within the project, offer a solution, wish the client well, and offer your services should the client need anything else in the future.

This will do 2 things. 1st, it will probably catch the client off guard as he probably expects you to be defensive. 2nd, this will show future clients that it was most likely the client that was the issue  and not the freelancer.

Never Work for Free

This is an easy one. You should never work for free unless of course it is a part of some kind of promotion that you are offering. If a client asks for free work your answer is always “NO”.

If you are using a platform be sure to contact support as this is typical of violation of terms and services for all major freelancing platforms. Flag the client profile and report.

Only Offer a Refund If the Situation Calls for It

If you’ve been freelancing for a while you’ve undoubtedly ran into this scenario before. You’ve put in hours of work completed the job but the client still isn’t satisfied.

You can and should offer to continue to work on the project until it is up to standard.

You should NOT offer a refund or oblige a client’s refund request.

So when do you give a refund? There mainly 2 scenarios that come to mind.

  1. When you legitimately made a mistake and it cost your client time and money
  2. When you don’t perform part or all of the projected duties but still get paid for it

Offer an Explanation to New Clients Only If Asked

New clients may not even ask about situations with a tough client or two. However, if they do go ahead and explain the situation fully and honestly.

As long as you are following the 1st rule the client should still see you in a good light if he is interested in hiring you.

It may also be a good idea to leave an explanation in your response to the review in question for future clients. Leave your response and then at the bottom you could write something like “Attention Prospective Clients” then offer a short concise explanation.

Rule 2: Offer a solution

Don’t Be Difficult Yourself

I know this article is all about dealing with difficult clients but you yourself shouldn’t be either. There are some things as a freelancer you just don’t do. You don’t work for free or offer a refund unless your dealing with those scenarios outlined above.

BUT

Another thing you don’t do is avoid or deny simple requests from your client. You want to try to be as supportive of the clients project as you possibly can while still operating your business.

Offer to Work With the Client on a Reasonable Solution

If the client is upset or unsatisfied try to come up with a solution.

Consult the client and get a feel for the why exactly the client isn’t happy. Offer to fix the issues if possible. If this issue is something outside your professional scope offer to refer the client to someone who can resolve the issue.

Stick to Your Principles

Let’s go over those again:

  • be professional at all times
  • maintain your reputation
  • don’t come across as defensive or combative
  • acknowledge the clients concerns
  • offer solutions within reason
  • do NOT work for free
  • offer a refund only under specific circumstances
  • offer an honest explanation if new client brings up situation

As long as you stick to the outline above you should be able to deal with difficult clients, keep your money, and earn new clients without issue.

Offer a Small or Partial Refund

Ok, I am going to be a bit of a hypocrite here. I know that I’ve been stating over and over again DO not offer a refund.

However, there is a time when you can do this only if you absolutely have to. If it is some kind of review that is just going destroy you perhaps from a long term client and it will destroy your chances of earning new clients then it might be time to play “lets make a deal”.

At that point you’ll have to weigh the risks of going this route.

Go Your Separate Ways

If all else fails sometimes it is just best to end the engagement.

When going this route it is important to use some tact.

Again, acknowledge the clients concerns and offer an apology.

Refer someone else to the client and wish the client much success on his project. Sometimes it is better to just get out of the project as soon as you can if you realize you’re dealing a difficult client and in my opinion the best way to soften the blow to the client is to offload the client to someone else who is maybe willing to take on the project.

Rule 3: Use a mediator

Sometimes when dealing with difficult clients a scenario comes up where you just can’t reach a solution with a client. In this case it is a good idea to use a mediator of some kind. By doing this you are bringing in someone with an outside perspective that help bridge the gap between you and your client.

We will explore some mediator options below.

Platform Support

If you are using a freelancing platform you can reach out to the support team to mediate. They’ll get involved with your dispute and they will try to help reach a solution.

However, keep in mind that platform support will typically heavily favor the client. So, as a freelancer this isn’t always the best move.

Arbitrator

So, if you don’t know what an arbitrator is it is an independent person or body officially appointed to settle a dispute. Freelancing platforms can refer you to independent arbitrators if they can not resolve your situation or you can reach out to one on your own.

However, keep in mind the fees for arbitration can sometimes be costly.

Get a 3rd Party Perspective

Outside of arbitrators there are plenty of 3rd parties you can through to help you settle a dispute with a client.

If you go this route be sure to check out the trustworthiness of your 3rd party source.

Know Your Rights

Arm yourself with knowledge. Know your rights as a freelance as defined by law.

If you use a platform make sure you read up on the platfrom’s rules and policies.

You should be using some kind of time tracker in order to defend yourself in these disputes.

Contact a Lawyer

If everything else has failed but the client is still seeking to take money from you or if the client is trying to defame you then a lawyer maybe your only route. The odds are you won’t have a case but you never know. This should only be used as a last resort.

a final note

The vast majority of clients you run into on platform or off-platform are usually good people just looking for help in building their projects.

It is not common to run into the clients we discussed on this post.

However, if you do run into a bad client hopefully this post will serve as guide on how to go about handling the situation so that you are still in good standing with future prospective clients.

Stick to The 3 Rules of Dealing With a Difficult Client as a Freelancer and you will successfully handle any freelance dispute that comes your way.

The 3 Rules of Dealing With a Difficult Client as a Freelancer.

– Lance Ulin

www.letsceo.com

IMAGINE. traveling the world, being your own boss, and setting your own hours…

This could be and should be YOU.

I left my 9 to 5 prison called “retail management” and became a successful freelancer. I left everything behind, packed a backpack, took what little money I had in my account, and headed for Mexico. BUT I won’t get into my personal stuff here. I’m doing that in a separate blog series on Medium here. Instead I’ll focus solely on how I started and made my freelancing career a success and how you can too.

“Hard work without direction is a difficult waste of time”

– Anonymous

assessing your situation

Is it worth it for me?

When it comes to pursuing freelancing you have to ask yourself “are you willing to take risks?”.

Does the thought of the potential initial pay cut and uncertain job prospects give you anxiety?

For better or worse that is the nature of freelance work. You have to compare the pros and cons. If you have a full pipeline of clients then the limitations seem endless. On the other hand…             What if you can’t find clients? What if potential clients turn you down due to lack of experience?

Freelancing after all is competitive and clients want the best talent at the best rates. Even though lucky for us freelancers those “best rates” are still typically significantly higher than what you would see in the job market for the same role.

So if you’ve come to the conclusion that the potential rewards of higher pay rates, making your own schedule, traveling the world, and working from anywhere is worth it

and

you have decided you are willing to take on the potential risks to reap incredible rewards that can potentially come with freelancing and being an entrepreneur then keep reading…                            

Platform vs off-platform

Freelance platforms or self prospecting

When starting out on freelancing career there will be two paths you can take.

You can use a freelancing platform.

Freelance platforms help companies find and hire independent professionals for temporary job roles or special projects. These platforms offer a marketplace for businesses to browse profiles of freelancer candidates based on skills, experience, location, or other criteria.

Platforms include:

  • Upwork
  • PeoplePerHour
  • Toptal
  • Freelancer
  • Guru

(I don’t consider Fiverr a serious platform)

The benefits of a platform:

– clients and projects are compiled in one place

– filters to help narrow down clients and projects

– prospecting is essentially set up for you

– big networks and typically lots of opportunities

– can act as a mediator for freelancers and clients

*

The drawbacks of platform:

– typically lots of fees involved

– support tends to favor clients

– tough to get your first project

– no or little control over billing clients

OR

You can self prospect.

By “self prospecting” I mean prospecting which consists of identifying potential customers, aka prospects. The goal of prospecting is to develop a database of likely customers and then systematically communicate with them in the hopes of converting them from potential customer to current customer.

There are many different ways you can go about self prospecting.

I STRONGLY RECOMMEND USING A PLATFORM UNTIL YOU HAVE significant experience!

The benefits include:

– no fees

– full control over contract with client

– an absolute must when running an agency

The drawbacks include:

– using most of free time prospecting

– no support

– much less chance landing an initial client

– not much benefit for a solo freelancer

getting set up

Building a professional online presence

The first step is choosing a platform. We’ve established self prospecting is for seasoned freelancers so I’ll save that for another article.

I highly recommend Upwork to get started as it has a huge network, a broad range of clients and projects, and support.

After you’ve chose your platform its time to sign up for an account and setup a profile. It is very important to complete your profile fully. Be sure to write professionally and emphasize your strengths.

If you are like I was and don’t have a readily identifiable niche there are projects you can take on which require little experience like cold calling.

Keep in mind you may only stat off making 10-12/hr cold calling but you can increase your rates up to 30+/hr for same kinds of projects as you increase your experience.

As you go a long you may notice a trend in desirable skills in the projects that are posted. A lot of what I and many freelancers have learned is self taught. Don’t be afraid to hit up Coursea or Udemy in your free time.

A useful skill you can learn to branch out from cold calling is “lead generation”. There are tons of articles and courses on the web that can easily teach you the ins and outs of lead generation within a couple weeks.

Once you have discovered what your niche is you need to really sell yourself on your profile.    You should have a professional headshot. You should have a professional looking profile that sells clients on what you can offer them. It is a good idea to get a professional resume design too.

Once you are all set up it is then time to start bidding on projects!

                         

bidding on projects

Winning your first client

Now you will start submitting bids and cover letters to potential clients. On your chosen platform you should customize your feed filters to show only the types of contracts you wan to bid on.

After opening a project you will see the project description and you have button that will allow you to submit a proposal.

A PROPOSAL includes your cover letter, your proposed hourly or fixed rate, and answers to any additional listed questions.

TIP: It is a good idea to bid low in order to win your first project. As you successfully complete more projects you will be able to continuously raise your rate.

Submit lots of proposals to projects that fall into your niche. Remember that it is a numbers game so the more projects you submit proposals to the more likely you are to get interviews.

Again, it is a good idea to line up a lot of interviews not just because it increases your odds of getting a contract but also because a lot of times clients may only start you at 10 hours/week.

Therefore it is good practice to keep multiple clients if you want to freelance fulltime. Initially you may want to take on 3 or 4 clients but as you build relationships with clients they will gradually increase your hours. So eventually you may be working fulltime with just 1 or 2 clients.

When you are first starting out freelancing on any platform persistence is key. Submit as many proposals as you possibly can. Think of freelancing as a snowball rolling downhill. The more projects you pick up the more momentum you gain the easier things become.

                                                               

client relationships

Maintain your clients and build your pipeline

Building and maintaining client relationships is important across any industry. It is how we keep the business we have and how we continue to build our business going forward.

When it comes to freelancing on platform it is exceptionally crucial.

The strength of your client relationships ultimately determines the length of your engagement, if you get repeat business, referrals, potential references, and your profile feedback.

If you can’t keep your clients happy you will have a very tough time maintaining a full workload.

Mot importantly however is your profile feedback. If clients are constantly leaving bad feedback on your profile it will hurt your standing with the platform and your future contract prospects.

However, if you are taking care of your clients and delivering results your clients will reward you with positive feedback. This helps your standing on the platform, improves your reputation, leads to big increases in landing contracts, and will lead to you to being invited to apply for projects.

Invitations: These are sent out to from either clients or talent specialists on the platform. Only the best freelancers in their given niche are invited to apply on contracts. Being invited to project strongly increases the likelihood of receiving a contract.

Remember, taking care of your clients and ensuring that they are happy can sometimes prove more useful than the results you deliver. If a client likes you on a personal level and you have a great relationship you open yourself to so many more opportunities.

                                                               

the next steps

How far can you take your freelancing venture

You can take this entrepreneurial journey as far as you want to take it. There is no set roadmap for what you an do after you’ve established yourself as a freelancer.

The skills you learn along the way and the experience you gain becomes invaluable. The clients you work with and references and relationships you can obtain from freelancing can continue to help you throughout the entirety of your career.

For me personally, the next step was building an agency “Ulin Consulting”. An agency geared toward helping independent freelancers gain more work and higher rates.

www.ulinconsulting.com

Next, I set up this blog “Let’s CEO”.  I set up this blog as a site for entrepreneurs to share information and network.

I am currently in the middle of writing an entrepreneur themed eBook which will be advertised and sold across all of my websites.

Freelancing is a great way for prospective entrepreneurs to gain experience but I view it as only a “foot-in-the-door” opportunity for entrepreneurs. Realistically freelancing alone isn’t going to make you a millionaire. At most you may be able to turn it into a 6 figure venture but only barely.

Instead, freelancing should be thought of as ONE aspect of your money making ventures. ONE of many income streams.

                                                               

– Lance

Resources:

  1. www.upwork.com
  2. www.ulinconsulting.com
  3. www.letsceo.com
  4. www.linkedin.com
  5. www.hubspot.com