40 Attention-Getting Post Topic Ideas for Your Freelancer’s Blog

Lots of freelancers want to promote their services by starting a blog that their prospective clients might read. But soon, most of them sputter out.

It’s not easy keeping up a freelancer blog. You need a lot of ideas for posts! Meanwhile, you’re trying to get your work done for your current client.

It’s tempting to write a thinly disguised (or baldly overt) plea that you be hired.

That doesn’t go over well in the world of blogging and social media, though. It’s likely to backfire and drive away your prospects instead of getting you gigs.

Blogging is not a hard-sell environment. Readers expect to get useful information in posts, not pitches to hire you.

So what can you write about? Quick tip: Provide useful or interesting information your prospects can use, and your readers will keep coming back — and some may end up becoming your clients.

Here are 40 specific ideas for quick-and-easy blog topics that will attract quality prospects and then keep them interested:

    1. The guru list. Who are the influencers in your industry, that your clients might want to learn about? Do a list of 20 or so that you admire, and you’ll provide a ready reference and be seen as smart and authoritative yourself. You’ll also be able to spread that post in social media by tweeting it to all those mega-successful gurus, who may share it with their much-larger audiences.
    2. Customer case study/success story. Have you had a client project that went well? With that client’s permission, feature them on the blog. That client will love the plug and probably help you spread the post in social media. It will also help prospects see the benefits of hiring you.
    3. Tackle a controversy. Is there an emerging issue or contentious question in your industry? Take a side and explain your point of view on it.
    4. Best of the web. If you’re reading popular blogs in your sector, create a weekly or monthly mash-up of the best links on your topic. Your readers will thank you for saving them the time of wading through to find the best stuff…and of course each blog mentioned may help promote your post in social media.

It’s a boggling world of apps and plug-ins out there — prospects will appreciate some guidance.

    1. Disagree with a thought leader. Are the gurus spouting nonsense? Call one out and link to their popular post to get more traffic and help your search rankings.
    2. A day in the life. How do you get your client work done? People love to peek behind the curtain, so show them how you manage your time.
    3. Tips and tricks. Quick how-to instructions on how the best or little-known ways to use a tool or service are always popular.
    4. Secrets and lies. Do you feel major vendors in your industry aren’t being straight with customers? Rip the lid off it, as marketing consultant Danny Iny recently did with his bad Paypal experience during a sales campaign.
    5. Explain the news. Run a Google Alert on keywords to stay on top of new developments that might change your industry. Build your authority and show your expertise by explaining how it will affect your prospects.
    6. Solve the pain. What are the biggest problems your clients face? Write a post with tips on how to solve one of those problems.
    7. Answer the questions. Are there common questions prospects ask you? Create a FAQs post like this one to show your responsiveness and knowledge.
    8. Ask a question. Would you like to learn more about your prospects’ needs? Ask a probing question in a post — you’ll be surprised what you can find out that might help you get gigs.
    9. Sneak peek. Do you have some changes coming in your business? Let blog readers be the first to hear what’s coming. People love to be on the inside track.
    10. Keyword research. Use Google Analytics or similar tools to see what search terms bring prospects to your site. Then write posts that use those keywords in the headline.
    11. Book review. If an interesting book has come out in your niche, offer a writeup.
    12. Tools & products reviews. It’s a boggling world of apps and plug-ins out there — prospects will appreciate some guidance.
    13. Compare and contrast. For even more buzz, compare two new tools or apps head-to-head and offer your opinion on which one is better. If you’ve recently shopped some solutions before choosing one for your own business, this can be an easy post.
    14. Celebrity interview. You’d be surprised how many influential people you could rope into a quick, 15-minute interview you could easily turn into a Q&A-style post.
    15. Video. Do that interview on Skype, record it with Ecamm’s Call Recorder,mp3 Skype Recorder or similar tools, and turn the video into a blog post to offer some visual variety.
    16. Podcast. It’s even easier to get interesting people to show up for a short audio call you can turn into a quick post.
    17. Use the familiar. Work the name of a TV show, current movie release, celebrity, or other pop-culture touchstone into the headline of your post and you’ll draw more readers.
    18. Make a prediction. Where do you think the future of your craft is headed? People love to know what’s coming next.
    19. Share customer feedback. If you have fresh testimonials, turn them into a post. (If not, ask your clients for some feedback!)
    20. Partner profiles. Are you a freelance designer who partners with a copywriter? Give them a link and put your partner in the spotlight. Your partner will love it, and you’ll seem more savvy and connected.
    21. Conference writeup. Go to any professional conferences? That’s a great opportunity to share industry news or recap valuable trainings you attended.

Put together a guide to the best free tools, organizations, or websites for your prospects, and you’ll have an ‘evergreen’ post that keeps bringing you prospects for many months to come.

  1. Basics series. Create a series of 101-level posts on how to do something fundamental such as take a better photo. Prospects will appreciate the tips, and later you can turn the series into a free ebook for subscribers.
  2. Have a debate. Invite someone you disagree with to come on your blog for a point-counterpoint style debate.
  3. Hold a contest. Give away something valuable — perhaps a small free project or a consult — and watch the word spread. Make tweets or Facebook likes a factor in picking the winner for more social-media action.
  4. Take a poll. Get serious about gathering prospect info and put a poll together on SurveyMonkey. A second post can reveal the results — and everyone loves survey data.
  5. Tell your story. How did you become the freelancer you are today? What do you enjoy about the work you do? Cast yourself as a superhero and tell your origins story.
  6. Share a career highlight. What project did you most enjoy working on in your freelance career? Look back and share.
  7. Point of difference. Do you have a unique philosophy or approach to your work or your client relationships? Let readers know.
  8. Riff on competitors. Read popular bloggers who do your type of freelance work, and respond to a recent post with your own point of view. Great way to build your freelancer network — be sure to give the other freelancer a link.
  9. Resource list. Put together a guide to the best free tools, organizations, or websites for your prospects, and you’ll have an ‘evergreen’ post that keeps bringing you prospects for many months to come.
  10. Show your charitable side. Do you have a cause you support? Report on how you give back to your community.
  11. Provide the missing piece. Is there an important question in your industry that no one is daring to ask? Be the one to bring it to light.
  12. Read/watch widely for fresh ideas. If everyone is recycling news from the same big industry blogs, look elsewhere. Watch TED talks, read community newspapers, scan association newsletters, or check weekly business journals to pick up on interesting business topics no one is blogging about.
  13. Mine your comments. Have you had an interesting comment exchange on a previous post, or maybe a question you wanted to answer in more detail? Turn that topic into a new post.
  14. Customer service stories. Have you dealt with a crisis that cropped up in the middle of a project? Tell the story of how you solved it and made that customer happy.
  15. Revisits and retrospectives. If you launched a new initiative or program a  year ago, come back and do an anniversary post to update readers on how it worked out. Do a roundup of your 10 most popular posts of the year, or your personal favorite posts that didn’t get a lot of readers the first time around.

    Blog of the day once again

    Blog of the day once again (Photo credit: the Italian voice)

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5 Tips to Build Your Freelance Brand

Image: Naypong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Now that you’ve made the decision to become a professional freelancer, you’re going to need to get your name out to prospective clients so that they’ll know you’re open for business and start hiring you.

There are many ways to do this, but here are five simple ways you can increase awareness about you and your services.

Improve Your Website

Your website is your online resume and often an important demonstration of your skills. If you’re a web designer with a boring (or dated) website, it’s unlikely anyone will hire you based on what they see. If you’re a writer, grammatical and spelling errors on your website will lose you clients. If you’re an SEO consultant, but they can’t find you through Google – well, you get the point.

Regardless of your area of expertise, you need to have a website. This will help prospective clients find you, whether they’re just googling experts in your field or doing background research before they hire you. There are many free ways to do this, but if you don’t invest in your business, why should your clients?

Leverage Local Media

Many local media outlets – radio, television, and print – like to feature the efforts of local businesses. Provide them with a well-crafted press release to share who you are, what you’re doing, and why you’re the best option in town. Writing a press release isn’t rocket science, but it does take a bit of finesse to ensure it’s not seen as a purely marketingeffort. Local media is looking for a story, not to run an ad for you for free. Provide them with something interesting and you might benefit from the free exposure. They may also want to contact you to weigh in on a story they’re doing on your area of expertise.

Even if your local media doesn’t pick up your story, you can submit it to one of the many free press release sites available on the internet. While it’s unlikely to expect these articles to become an actual news story, these free sites do provide useful linking to your website (you do have a website, right?) and will help increase your presence in search engine results.

Expand Your Social Media Presence

In the early days of your freelance career, you’re going to have much more time than money. Use your time effectively, and create profiles on all of the available social media spaces – if you’re going to be active on them. If you create a profile and never come back to that site, it’s not going to give you any benefit, so choose a platform where you expect to participate.

Social media is a great way to share value with your contacts, but it’s a good rule of thumb to listen at least twice as much as you talk. Pay attention to what’s going on within this channel. Retweet and share information you think is useful, but don’t be a spammer. If the only thing you’re talking about is you, just like in real life, you will find that that only people listening are just as spammy as you. And spambots aren’t going to hire you.

Be an Active Participant

There are conversations about your industry going on all the time. Find these conversations, and provide value to them. Find out where the experts in your field are spending their time online, and go there and listen. If you can provide a useful opinion, feel free to share it, but be careful. In many online forums, self-promotion can result in very unwanted feedback, or even worse, get you completely ignored. Forever. Whether in online forums or social media, if you become known as the expert, people will do business with you. (One quick hint, calling yourself an expert is a sure-fire way to ensure that nobody else does.)

Update Your Online Portfolio

If you can’t get a website up yet, you’ve still got options. Here on DoNanza, you can build a Branded Freelancer page, a space to share content from your portfolio, link to your social media accounts, link directly to your own website (if you’ve got one) and give you analytics to see who is visiting your profile. This web presence can be shared with your prospects, so they can get an idea about the quality of work you can provide. Share your DoNanza Branded Freelancer page with a wider audience to help you get bigger – and better paying – projects more often.

These are just a few of the tips you can use to start promoting your brand. We’d love to know what works for you. What are you doing to tell the world you’re available to help them?

Freelance Job Transcription Opportunities

Freelance Job Transcription Opportunities

There is no doubt that a person’s gift of gab can take him to inexplicable career heights that even he might not be expecting. Communication skills, both in writing and speaking, can help a freelancer acquire numerous jobs;  each of which has different nature which gives him options and growth opportunities as a home based worker. This proves that now more than ever is the best time to learn to be a good English speaker, writer and– listener? Read on.

We’re certain that we have caught your attention there. Here is a trivia: If you have not noticed yet, transcription is on the fifth spot in Donanza’s September Top 10 Most Popular Searches but it is not in Donanza’s 50 Most Required Skills. Puzzling, right? Whether there is demand for this service or not is definitely no issue. The result can only mean that freelance job transcription opportunities are just around the corner completely unnoticed.

Now, you might argue that if clients need transcription jobs, then why don’t they post job openings for it in freelance bidding sites? Well, it may sound unfair, but unless it is really urgent; no client will proactively reach out to you to send you projects— and this does not only apply to freelance job transcription opportunities, but to all other freelance jobs as well.  Therefore, as frequently mentioned here in www.donanza.com, keep in mind that jobs won’t find you so you should be the one to do the looking.  This said, we have prepared the following tips to help freelancers address the growing need for freelance transcriptionists by finding their job ads and taking advantage of them.

1. Utilize Google

Never underestimate the power of your fingertips! The reason you may not be seeing transcription freelance jobs a lot in bidding sites is because they’re not posted there at all! They may be on the ‘Careers’ page of a potential client’s website for all we know. Therefore, you may need to exhaust all of  your resources– and these resources include search engines. Simply type in the relevant keywords in the search bar and hit go/search. Should you need help with keywords, we’ve listed some that you can use in your search;

–          General Transcription

–          Legal Transcription

–          Court Reporters

2. Network with fellow transcriptionists

Nothing beats a good network that won’t only help you find freelance jobs, but can also share valuable tips and advice that can motivate you to keep going with your search and eventually, find these elusive freelance job transcription opportunities. Forums such as that in www.bplaning464.webs.com is a good venue to where you can start realizing your professional networking goals.

3. Read through advertisements

This is fairly easy. All you’ll need to do is to read through the advertisements available in the page where you get your daily dose of freelance job transcription tips, advice and tricks or even on the same page where you get your job leads.

Finally, it is also crucial that you understand that finding freelance jobs is not yet the end of your journey— it is only the beginning. You need to have prerequisites prior to it such as a resume and cover letter that converts and/or skill enhancement. And the most challenging amongst all these: You’ll need to keep your clients. After all, it has not been easy for you to find them. Make the most out of your efforts.

FREE Freelance Job Resources

free

It is an understatement to describe the internet useful. In fact, it will be difficult to describe the internet through a single word— no word is enough to capture the very sense of the web and everything it can offer. It has literally revolutionized the way we live from all aspects possible— from the way we do our shopping up to the way we work towards a more rewarding career. This fact holds very true to us freelancers— and the more it would after you read this article.

As a freelancer, you are generally all accustomed of doing everything on your own— logging in your hours, scheduling tasks, handling your finances and even looking for softwares that will make your freelance job easier. If you are new to freelancing, however, and you feel a need to use a resource to make your work a complete breeze; be cautious so as to not fall on baits offered by freelance tool providers which abound the web. Here is the deal: You need not spend even a dime on a freelance job resource just to be more productive. Below are eight of the most recommended tools that will help you with your freelance job.

Google – Google is a BIG word in the internet business. This is for the fact that it has pioneered a lot of applications which made the internet business as productive as ever. Google is similar to a one-stop shop from which you can get any of your needs from the personally owning a blog up to the twisted and complicated world of project management. In fact, you can even start and manage an online business through it— totally free.

Creative Commons – Showcasing masterpieces of photographers and graphic designers have never been this easy and free! This page is run by a non-profit organization who advocates themselves to protecting a freelancer’s work by licensing them and sharing it with others.

You Send It – Now, bulk emails will no longer take up much space in your inbox and that of your client’s. You Send It allow you to be able to send a file of size up to 2GB to your client’s email. From there, they will  just have to download the file directly into their computers.

Protolize – This is a haven for web designers and developers who wish to collaborate and to rank the web tools they use according to efficiency.

Free Contracts for Freelancer – A freelancer will need to protect himself in one way or another. And, what is the best way to do it? – Through a contract or an agreement. Not good with such documents? No need to worry as it doesn’t really matter what your freelance job is, Free Contracts for Freelancers is here to the rescue. Find free templates, tips and how to’s to be able to draft an agreement that is fair and ‘impressive’ to your client.

Fax Zero  Need to send the signed agreement over to your client? A freelance job agreement will not be much secured without you and your client’s signature. Fax Zero is a free internet fax service always available to keep paper fax transactions.

Freelance Switch – Freelance jobs are all over the web. Such demand increased the number of freelancers from around the globe. Fortunately, there is enough work to keep them occupied and earning. However, these same productive people are the same people who needs support groups in order to keep their sanity despite their inevitable isolation from their closest society. Freelance Switch is one site that they trust to build them connections with fellow freelancers and supply them with their daily dose of informative, useful and inspiring blogs.

Zoho – A value provider turned into a provider company? Free project management portal which is useful to almost any freelance jobs is what Zoho does. Sign up for a free account with them to start reaping benefits. As your company blooms, then that may be the time to consider upgrades.

Now, what do you think? Isn’t the internet very generous to even consider giving freelancers all these resources free of charge?

Happy Freelancing!

Passive Income for Freelance Web Designers

Here is a free-built path to income

Here is a free-built path to income

Are you a freelance Web Designer? Looking for some extra cash to help you attain your goal to be financially independent in the near future? No time for more work? If your answer to all these questions is a BIG YES, then read on (Don’t worry, this is not a get rich quick scheme!).

A lot of Web Designers would be delighted to know that they can ‘passively’ earn a good sum of money in the Web. What you are about to read here is not at all a secret for most tenured designers, but can absolutely be a good reference for new Web Designers with budding freelance careers. So here we go with some of the known ways for Web Designers to gain passive income;

Affiliate Marketing – This one is the most known option amongst all others listed here. This is in no way a surprise for most of us because affiliate marketing is viable money making option not only for Web Designers, but also for ‘almost anyone’ who owns a blog. Web Designers have an edge over all others however because they have been gifted with skills to alter a page’s design for an affiliate banner to blend well with the other elements of the blog.

Consulting Services – Offering a service such this is another viable source of passive income for Web Designers. We are pretty certain that a lot of ‘traditionally employed people’ would want to know how you earn at the comforts of your home. Give them a helping hand while gaining monetary benefits in return. Now, you may argue that this is in no way a passive source of income as it will require you to spend time teaching others to learn your craft. You are partly right, but just think of it this way: No matter how busy you are, you’ll need some time off work and you’ll need a social life. Spend some time socializing while still earning by sharing to others what you enjoy doing.

Resell Hosting – Now is the time to see the opportunities right in front of you! You are designing websites so why not consider being a one-stop-shop to your clients? Well, this is not at all too laborious to do. Simply tell your client that you also offer hosting (and make sure you really do!). Saves them time spent on looking for a reliable hosting provider.

Sell themes – Again, you may argue that this option is not at all a source of passive income because you will obviously need to spend hours designing a theme. But hey, we’re certain that once in your career, you’ve done some experiments and you’ve come up with some mediocre work. Why not do some touch up on these designs and sell these themes at an affordable price. Not only will this help you build a brand of your own, but will also help you raise some funds for business expanding purposes.

This list contains the options that will help you gain extra income while keeping a constant and more reliable stream of earnings through freelance jobs. This post not only serves as a resource for you to find more opportunities, but also serves as an eye opener towards seeing the web as a good start for any business endeavor.

5 must have features for your home office

home office

home office (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

To be a successful freelancer, the two most important things you need are talent and clients. To ensure you’re able to deliver your excellent talent to your exceptional clients, here are a few suggestions for your home office setup. Instead of a roundup of products, this is a guideline of what an effective home office needs. If you’ve got a “must-have” in your home office – let us know in the comments. I always love to see cool stuff from other freelancers. Dedicated Workspace A dedicated workspace is essential to whatever type of freelancing you are doing. Whether it’s a specific room in your house can be setup as a full office, or a corner of your bedroom to park your laptop, a dedicated workspace helps you focus so you can do your best work. If possible, create your space to minimize distractions. A good workspace lets you get in the right frame of mind pretty much as soon as you sit down, allowing you to create better quality projects, faster. Effective Backup If you don’t have a functional backup system, you are going to lose your data. It’s not a matter of if — it’s when. Like other unfortunate freelancers, I learned this lesson the hard way. Now I have DVD backups as well as multiple copies on multiple physical devices. It might sound boring, but when your hard drive starts making horrible noises you’ll be pretty happy you invested the time and money in an automatic solution. If you’re willing to invest in a physical storage, consider purchasing a NAS backup. Another option is to upload your data to the cloud, using one of the many available online storage solutions, such as Mozy or Dropbox. The added benefit of this type of backup is the offsite storage, so even if your house burns down you’ve still got access to your files. The Right Hardware Your choice to use a Mac or a PC is entirely up to you and will depend on a number of things, including what you do as a freelancer and your budget for buying new hardware. My recommendation is to purchase the system that works for your current and near-future needs. Don’t buy something that you’re going to outgrow in a few months, and don’t tie up your cash (or credit) on features you’ll never use. Solid Internet Connection If you can’t trust your internet connection, you’ll miss out on finding great projects, or worse, you might not meet your deadlines. If you’re missing deadlines you won’t be a successful freelancer very long. Invest in the best internet connection you can afford, choosing reliability over performance. You don’t get paid to troubleshoot your home network, so choose a connection that lets you check the DoNanza job boards worry-free. If you’re using one of the online backup solutions mentioned above, a solid internet connection is even more important, so look for as much upstream bandwidth as you can afford. Social Support System Freelancing can be a socially damaging career choice. If you’re busy, you might not go out very often because you’ve got too much work to do. If you’re not busy, you might be cost conscious and choose not to go out to avoid spending money you don’t have. Neither situation is good, but it’s important to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Building a social support system can help you grow as a freelancer, learning from some and teaching others, and is a necessary part of being a long-term freelancer. If you’re low on funds, you can volunteer at pretty much any charity you’re interested in. This lets you get out and meet real people, without spending a cent, and you can try some effective networking techniques. If you’re super busy, remember to take time to relax and enjoy life. Don’t burn yourself out, or you might find your quality drops – and that’s never a good thing. An effective home office is a great tool to help you make the jump from freelancer to professional freelancer, but we’d love to know if there are any other tools you find essential to running your home office. Is there anything in your home office you can’t live without? What do you need to help you do your best work?

Pricing Strategies for Freelancers – Part 1

Finding a project you love is only half the battle of freelancing; landing it is more of a challenge. One of the biggest headaches for freelancers is how to price your services. This is not just a problem for new freelancers, who often find pricing a struggle, but also for experienced freelancers branching out into a new area. Here are some tips on setting the appropriate price for the job.

Image credit: 401K

Preparation: what do you want to earn?

Sometimes it’s tempting when bidding for a project to:

* see what others have bid and match it

* pull a figure out of the air, cross your fingers and hope

While we’ve probably all done this at some point, in the long run it’s not a sensible way to operate. Matching what others have bid doesn’t make sense because you might have different skills and different costs from other freelancers. Pulling a figure out of the air doesn’t work because it has no relation to the amount of work you will do (or the taxes you will have to pay on your income). As a professional freelancer, you need a better pricing strategy. Here are some options.

Pricing per piece

Some freelancers price per piece of work. For writers this might mean a per word rate; for designers it might mean that a logo of a certain size costs the client a certain amount. That can work for some projects, where you know that you are doing roughly the same amount of work and using the same amount of resources each time for a particular job. But be careful with this. Any freelance writer knows that charging 8 cents a word for a 300 word article only works out if you don’t have to do complex research or multiple revisions. If the job parameters change, even a project you thought would pay well might not be good business.

Pricing per hour

Other freelancers charge on an hourly basis. If you do plan to charge per hour, you need to know two crucial pieces of information:

* how long the project is going to take you

* how much you need to earn to collect your target hourly rate.

Let me explain that last one. When you map out the year ahead, there are certain figures you need to have in mind:

* how much money you want to have in your pocket each month and for the year as a whole.

* how much extra you need to earn to cover taxes, health insurance, vacation time,marketing, equipment, administration and unexpected expenses.

* how many weeks you plan to work each year and how many hours you plan to work each week.

You can use those figures to come up with a target hourly rate. Don’t be surprised if you find that the rate you thought you needed to earn is a little on the low side. Ask any experienced freelancer and you’ll find that this is part of the learning curve.

Pricing per hour can work for freelancers, but some clients are unhappy with that model because they think the final bill has no ceiling. As a freelancer you can address that by giving clients an estimate of the number of hours needed per job so they know they can control their costs.

And there’s another option – creating a price per project. I’ll look at that in more detail in part 2.

Understanding exactly what the client wants

As a freelancer, you’re going to find yourself working with a multitude of clients. In some cases you’ll work with them just one time, while in others you’ll have the opportunity to develop lasting business relationships. Regardless if a client is new or old, it’s important to treat each project as new and be sure to understand exactly what the client wants.

Don’t ever make assumptions

Understanding the client’s expectations is crucial. Do not work based on assumptions. It’s vital to gain as much information from the client as possible before beginning and in some cases before accepting the job. Sometimes, a client may know they want an app, but have no idea what kind, what it should be for, or even whether it’s a reality. Other times you’ll have a client capable of providing you with in-depth details but doesn’t due to time constraints or communications issues.

It’s important to ask the client to explain their vision of the completed project. If they can articulate details, chances are they have done their homework and will provide you with a comprehensive framework of their vision. If their answers are broad in scope, vague or full of uncertainties, you may find yourself working with someone who is uncertain of the realities behind their request. These types of clients will depend upon your expertise for industry insights and project completion.

Question, Question, Question

To help fully analyze a client’s wishes, ask a few questions to gain a better perspective. You may need to adjust the questions based upon the project or the industry, but they may include question such as:

 

  • Who is the target audience the app/article/website?
  • What do you expect this project to do for your business?
  • Where do you expect this to go live or be published?
  • How did you come up with this project? Are any of your competitors doing something similar?
  • What is the time frame for completion?
  • What voice would you like this completed in? (Although this seems like a question for writers, this is essential in nearly all industries. The voice can be serious, whimsical, casual, or just about anything else.)

 

In addition to getting detailed information from the client, as a freelancer, it may be in your best interest to develop an outline or contract detailing the stages of the project. Consider having the client sign off on the project’s progress at pre-defined stopping points. For example, a website developer may want to have the client agree to the design structure after just a few pages are completed. This will help ensure the designer’s interpretation of the client’s wishes is truly in-line with what they want. By giving clients the opportunity to give feedback along the way will minimized the risk of them scrapping the project after completion because it’s not meeting their expectations or visions.

Unrealistic clients are par for the course

Inevitably, you’ll end up working with a client who has unrealistic expectations through all phases of a project. There may be some tell-tale signs, like constant phone calls or emails asking for updates, pressing for completion before the due date or nitpicking each and every detail. Despite extensive pre-assignment communications, you may also run across the know-it-all client who asserts his “knowledge” throughout the task, attempting to force your hand in a direction that may or may not be good for the end results.

As a freelancer, developing a communication protocol for each and every project is essential to fully understand the desires of each client. You may find that a stock template of questions works or you may need to customize your queries for each client or job. Regardless, communications before, during and after the project are vital to your success and your client’s happiness.

 

 

 

Effective Networking for Freelancers

Effective networking is an excellent way to improve the quality and quantity of your freelance projects, but it can also be a great way to meet other freelancers and build a support network to ensure your freelance career continues to be a success.

The Secret to Successful Networking

The secret to effective networking is to listen.

Networking is your opportunity to learn more about the people in your sphere, either online or offline. Pay attention to what the person you’re talking to is saying and then offer suggestions — if you have something worth saying. The most successful networkers rarely talk about themselves. Instead of self-promoting, they act as facilitators, making connections between other business people, and this helps them be seen as the expert, in turn earning them more business and better projects. If you help your network be successful, you will be successful too.

Online or offline, if you’re the type of person telling everyone how great you are, chances are you’re going to be alone pretty soon. Talk less, listen more.

Online Networking

Use social networks to find like-minded freelancers to discuss projects, learn about relevant changes in technology, or discover effective ways to overcome challenges you might be facing.

Look for forums or groups in spaces like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, where you can find professionals with a large variety of skills and experience in your niche.  Check these spaces out to see what questions are being asked, and more importantly – what answers are being shared.

Some additional online spaces include:

 

 

Once you are hooked, you will probably start answering questions for the newer members, demonstrating your expertise and providing you with the confidence that comes from knowing your craft well.  And this is a great time to slip in a casual reference about your DoNanza Branded Freelancer page, so people will know where to find you – and more importantly – hire you.

Offline Networking

Don’t limit yourself to what you can do when you’re at your keyboard.  Take a look at some of the opportunities in your offline community.  Try networking in traditional spaces, like your local Chamber of Commerce or BNI group, or you can look at spaces that might be less business-focused but more aligned with your beliefs. Volunteering at your local food bank, seniors centre, SPCA, or humanitarian group is going to put you in contact with people like yourself, and chances are, they’re going to want to know more about you and what you do. An added benefit is that since they’re already interested in helping others, there’s a good chance that they are going to try and find a way to recommend your services to their friends, families, and business connections.

There are even online/offline events, like meetups and tweetups, where you can get together with your online connections in an offline space. If you’re active on Twitter, check to see when the next tweetup is and plan on attending. If there’s nothing scheduled, set one up. All you need is a space (such as a coffee shop) and people – the conversation will happen if you can bring the two together.

Plan your next networking session

For your next networking event, set yourself a goal to accomplish during the meeting.  Here are a few tricks you can use to get more out of networking:

 

  • Collect 15 business cards.  After the event, send each person that gave you a card a note (personal is best, but email will do). Make sure to include something specific you remember about them – a shared laugh, a common client, or something unique from your conversation. This is notthe time to pitch your services. If they’re interested, they will ask.
  • Memorize 10 names.  Remembering a person’s name is a very useful talent. Everyone wants to feel important, and you can demonstrate your respect by training yourself to remember their name. This works especially well when you are introducing them to your connections.
  • Make 3 introductions. When you meet someone new, try and find an appropriate connection for them.  For example, if they need a graphic designer, accountant, or financial planner, try and find someone at the same function that can offer those skills, and then bring the two people together.

 

 

 

Using these simple tricks can be a great way for you to establish valuable contacts to use to build your business and find your own success.

What are some of the techniques you use to network?  Care to share some of your success stories?

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What I learned from starting out as a freelancer

Making the decision to leave corporate America and take a chance on owning my own freelance business did not come lightly, especially in this economy. It was just days before I gave my notice when I saw a Facebook status shuffle that gave me the boost I needed. It read, “You have to make the choice to take the chance in order for your life to change.”

In the last few years, I’ve had ups and downs, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have more ups than downs. I’ve gained some great clients and lost a few. I’ve had some not-so-good clients that made work unbearable at times. I’ve had to learn my craft on my own, through books, independent courses and the help of some great peers in the industry. But through it all, I’ve learned some great lessons on how to be a great freelancer and a better person.

Don’t underestimate your talents

When you first begin the freelance life it’s easy to assume everyone else bidding on a project has more experience than you. You may find yourself second-guessing your work and questioning its authenticity. That’s not always the case. You may have more practical applications for the job at hand or have a more thorough grasp of the concept. You may find that you connect personally with the project manager or client, and we all know how important relationships can be in business.

Don’t under value your work

My time, intellect and skillset are valuable. Not everyone can do what I can do. They may think they can, but in reality, they can’t. When I first started out, I would consider accepting the $10 projects, but I quickly realized that my time and my services are worth much more than that. Now, I will pass on projects that I feel are below my expectations. Is this arrogance? No, it’s confidence.

Be flexible

Whether it’s with your schedule, your finances or your self-defined niche, be willing to bend a little. Just when you think you have it figured out, someone’s bound to throw you a curveball that will have you reeling to figure it all out again.

Monday’s still suck

I found this to be really odd. It didn’t matter if I worked all weekend long to meet a deadline, Mondays still seem difficult and Fridays still rock!

Be strong

Will power is an essential characteristic of the most successful freelancers. There are no more time clocks telling me when to work or when to take a break. On a beautiful spring day it may take all I have to sit down to finish a project, even though the deadline is looming. But, I’ve learned that your work ethic is defined by you, and you alone. There is an upside, though: I can always take my laptop to the park to experience the best of both worlds!

Enjoy life

There is nothing greater than being able to create your own destiny. Having two small children, I am now able to keep them home with me a majority of the time. I can accompany them on preschool field trips or simply watch them as they grow. However, there are times of sacrifice, when a job must get done and a trip to the zoo is pushed to another day. Fortunately, my family seems to understand the tradeoff and is willing to just as flexible with me as I am with work.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it, being a freelancer is hard, hard work. I’ve been doing this a few years now with many sleepless nights wondering where the next job is going to come from. Fortunately, I’ve always had a job come to fruition just when I need it to. Is it luck? Maybe. But I’d like to think it’s because I have proven myself and offer quality work. My drive and dedication have served me well, but the freelance lifestyle isn’t the right move for everyone. Self-sacrifice is a tradeoff for the many rewards, but it’s up to each individual if it’s worth it to them.

Are you just starting out? What lessons have you learned?