Whether you’re new to the freelancing game, or you’ve spent your whole career jumping from project to project, freelancers need to master a somewhat different skillset than full-time workers.
It’s not necessarily a question of technical skills (although mastering the latest and greatest programming languages and tools can assure you a steady stream of work); rather, it’s all about how you interact with a wide range of people—potential and current clients, sub-contractors, professional colleagues, and others. When it comes to freelance contracting, your “E.Q.” can matter just as much as “I.Q.”
Here are some tips for getting the most out of freelancing:
Don’t Follow the Leader
Although tech talent can get tight—the unemployment rate for the industry hit 3.0 percent in November, well below that of the general population—there’s no shortage of firms that will carry out all manner of tech work for a willing client. For freelancers, it’s not enough to offer the same services as everybody else; you need something that differentiates you from the crowd. If you specialize in building apps, for example, maybe you can offer a customer-service (and maintenance) plan that eclipses whatever your local rivals offer.
Build Your Brand
Building up your brand is a great way to earn freelancing work. But how do you strengthen your reputation to the point where clients approach you regularly for help?
It’s all about putting yourself out there. Bulk up your social media profiles by listing your skills and accomplishments as part of your bio; if you’re a coder, contribute work to communities such as GitHub and Stack Overflow, which will attract the attention of companies that scan those spaces for help and advice; start a blog in which you discuss an industry or skill on a regular basis.
If you don’t have a Website, build one and keep it updated; that’s an absolutely essential part of branding.
This is where the “E.Q.” comes in: your ability to collaborate with potential clients is vital. Whereas big firms might not be able to give a personal touch, you can build a relationship with the people who rely upon you for services. Listen to what the client wants; engage and anticipate their needs; and make sure you do what’s best for them.