Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Basic formula to freelance success

I have now been working as a professional freelancer for 14 years.
In the last 6 years, I’ve been successfully working from the location of my choice - a comfortable home office.
When I am at work, I truly ENJOY being at work.
And of course, I also enjoy all the many perks that a single staircase commute has to offer.

I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been a giant rollercoaster filled with ups and downs.
It has.
Many of them grace the entries on this blog.

I have learned that in order to run any successful business, especially in the service industry (which is what we, as freelancers, are), it takes a LOT of time and effort to get the machine up and running smoothly.
In order to get to a point where you have an ongoing stream of great clients and a steady flow of decent income for the service(s) you provide, it also takes something that many don’t often understand…

It takes extreme willpower.

This has been a really busy year. And for the most part, I’ve been enjoying every single second of it because it appears that the basic formula I’ve stuck to for years has finally been paying off.
It is an ideology that I have no problem sharing with you.

Now, I must point out that I get e-mail blasts and newsletters almost every single day from companies etc. wanting to sell me the secrets to success. They offer new technologies and seminars and everything else under the sun to help me become more successful.

I find that much of this info is quite useless. They are simply salesmen peddling a product.
As Public Enemy once said, “Don’t believe the hype”.
Here, in my opinion, is the ONE real way to do well as a freelance professional...

It’s to keep saying NO.

No, to crappy clients.
No, to crappy projects.
No, to crappy fees.

And it ACTUALLY turns out, that when you keep saying NO to those things, the ones to which you say YES will generally ALL be positive and beneficial to you in the long run.
This is what you will have to look forward to as you continue to build your business…

Great clients.
Great projects.
Great fees.

Sounds easy? It’s not.
There’s more to it…

Not only must you find the clients who value you while getting rid of those who don’t, you must build solid relationships with them through a high level of trust and understanding.
You must also have a great work ethic and be completely reliable.

Become “their guy” (and when I say “guy” that of course, also includes gals).

Their guy that can take a project from start to finish without the need for any hand-holding.
Their guy that can take care of their marketing challenges and creative needs successfully.
Think you can do that? Not everyone can.
And this is what separates you from the competition.
Business will keep coming to you when your clients value and appreciate what you bring to the table.

Once your clients understand your value. When they know they can count on you, and that the huge pile of work they just got handed when the company downsized and fired their partner, loading it onto their plate without so much as a raise, is now in your capable hands, you can basically name your price.

To sum up, it’s easier to relate what I’m trying to say in a quick story...

Unfortunately, my automobile mechanic died tragically this summer.
I’m REALLY feeling the loss.
Will I be able to find another mechanic? Probably. Eventually.
But in my eyes, he will forever be irreplaceable.
Why? Because of the relationship and trust that we shared.
As a client, I can honestly say that the work was great and he always took care of me.
I NEVER asked him about the price for the repairs.
I simply walked in, told him the problem, and dropped my keys on the desk. Whatever he told me, I always knew it was going to be fair and worth every penny.
This relationship will be extremely hard to replace.
It will also take time to develop this rapport with somebody new.
Why? Because he was MY GUY.

His garage was always ridiculously busy.
Busy because to everyone who came in, he was THEIR GUY.

Work towards being the professional (and getting the clients you want) who simply come in and drop their keys on your desk.

And to the rest that just aren’t worth your time or energy, be sure to keep on saying NO.

Over time, all of the positive ones to which you say YES will add up.

Until next time, keep dreaming.

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