We have a lot of clients who are freelancers.
For many years, we have specialised in delivering accounting services to freelancers.
One of the most common complaints we hear from freelancers is that it’s difficult to find high-paying jobs.
Difficult, yes, but not impossible.
We deal with freelancers who charge high fees, as well as those who are still struggling.
The gig economy has made things worse. People believe that sites like Upwork and Fiverr make it difficult to compete, especially for new freelancers without a strong portfolio.
This is not true.
After over a decade of working with freelancers, here are some tips we have found that will help you get jobs in that actually pay well.
1. Change your mindset, focus on building a business
The gig economy has put freelancers into a mindset of “getting the next gig”. It sounds, almost, like an addict seeking their next hit.
There is no future in this.
You need to change your mindset to one where you focus on building a business.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Will clients who pay you peanuts help you build a long-term business that actually survives?
- Will delivering low-quality work bring you repeat business?
Whatever you do, you need to think about the long-term.
I know, sometimes it’s tough, and everyone needs to take those cheap jobs occasionally in order to get some money in. But never make this the basis of your business.
2. Change your mindset #2 — there is plenty of high-paying work out there
Sites like Upwork and Fiverr give one the impression that “nobody wants to pay fair prices”.
No, this is entirely not the case.
Clients who want high-quality work will pay better prices. Clients who seek slave-labour will not be good for you in the long term.
The work does exist; it’s merely a matter of finding it.
Finding high-paying work relies on three things:
- Being the best at what you do
- Constantly improving
- Persistence, persistence, persistence
3. Cold calls, cold emails
Nothing beats the good old-fashioned cold call and cold email.
Yes, it’s scary.
Maybe you believe that people will be upset when you phone or email them.
The vast majority of people will actually be professional and approachable.
Remember, you are trying to build a business, and people who slam you down on the phone are not people you would want to work with anyway. It’s all part of the road to getting the right sorts of clients with whom you can work well in the future.
When cold-emailing, you just need to make sure you are in compliance with all the required laws associated with it, such as providing an easy way for companies to opt out of your marketing.
Make sure you look up the laws for whatever country you are emailing so you don’t come up short.
LinkedIn is a powerful way to get new business.
But you need to build it up slowly. You need to make sure your photo, headline and description look professional and get the message across.
Connect with people you know, and slowly build up your network.
Post content that is relevant to what you do, but not spammy.
Peruse other profiles, especially those of people that might be interested in your services. For example, if you are a photographer, search for “Wedding” and visit the profiles of anybody you find is getting married, or who is looking for a freelance photographer.
They might contact you after you look at their profiles.
I cannot recommend the LinkedIn premium membership strongly enough if you are serious about getting business from LinkedIn. Sign up for a free trial and do a few searches to try and get some good leads. You might find that the premium membership ends up paying for itself.
5. Reach out to friends and family for your first jobs
A portfolio helps but is not essential. Eventually, the business comes in if you are personable, persistent and professional.
Still, it’s nice to be working, and your skill can only improve with the more jobs you get.
Besides, if friends are truly impressed with your work, that work can’t help but promote itself.
Roping in friends for your first few jobs can help you build a portfolio.
6. Tell friends and family to promote you
And you can also simply tell them that they should promote you.
But don’t make it awkward for them: You need to take a good look at the services you offer and ensure that you really do offer high-quality work in your field.
Whether friends or leads, good work promotes itself.
7. Deliver the absolute best work possible
Once you do get a client, you need to deliver the absolute best work possible.
Excellent work = referrals.
Excellent work = repeat business.
Excellent work is the only guarantee you’ll have of building a long-term business.
You don’t need to go the extra mile; you need to go the extra ten miles.
8. Google Business — go local
Forty-six per cent of Google searches are for local businesses.
A local SEO strategy is vital to getting found on the internet.
One way to get a local business strategy going is to set up a Google Business listing for yourself. You can add photos and posts and information about what you do, and so increase the chances of being found on the internet.
9. Never give up
Never forget: The work is out there. It might take time to find it, but it is out there.
You are building a business, not hunting for the next short-term gig. There’s no future in that.
If there is one thing you remember from this article, remember this last point: Never give up in trying to build a successful freelancing business.
If you simply persist long enough, you’ll eventually get those high-paying clients.
Shoaib Aslam is the co-founder of Pearl Chartered Accountants, a UK-based chartered accountancy firm that has multiple locations across London. They are experts in helping startups and established businesses with all aspects of growth, strategy, scaling up, accounting and tax planning.