Great advice comes from people with experience. That’s why you go to your doctor for health advice, turn to your accountant for financial advice, or talk to your mom for relationship advice.
So, to bring you some valuable freelancing advice from people with plenty of experience, I recently reached out to thirteen successful startup CEOs who’s been working with dozens of freelancers throughout their career.
And I asked them one question:
What is the best piece of advice you can give to a freelancer?
Here’s what they had to say.
Listen To Your Clients
“For a freelancer, customer service is almost as important as domain expertise. Yes, people are purchasing a deliverable, but they desire a relationship. If you over communicate and treat them with massive respect you’ll become indispensable.”
– Bronson Taylor, CEO Growth Geeks.
“Do what you promised the client in the timely fashion. If you deliver what you are promising and ideally even over-delivering, you will continually do well as a freelancer.”
– Neil Patel, CEO, QuickSprout.
“I’d say that the two most important things you can do are: 1) listen to your potential customers carefully. 2) Get organized. When in doubt, keep asking questions until you fully understand what they really need.If what they need is not something you can provide, walk away.
The second point is to make sure that you are disciplined about your activity. Think about the rhythm of your business and make sure you periodically organize it. It makes a lot of things much easier. If something is hard, do it more often/frequently so it becomes easier.”
– Alessandro Justesen Leoni, CEO, Debitoor.
“Understand Client requirements clearly and Deliver Quality. Additionally spend 1 hour daily on new business outreach. This will help tremendously to grow your income as a freelancer.”
– Dipesh Garg, CEO, Truelancer.
“The best piece of advice I could give to a freelancer is to make friends in the community. On any given day, there are probably 3 or 4 networking events happening in your city. Go to events like these and start making friends. If you help people generate business for themselves by connecting people and business owners within your network, they’ll often return the favor.
Early on, I marketed my web development services at these networking events and eventually landed my first freelance web-development job making $25 an hour.”
– Gregg Pollack, CEO, CodeSchool.
Keep Improving Skills
“Continuously hone your skills and strive to be the best in your field. Stay focused and engaged with clients (or the company you work for) as if you’re in the office. Working remotely has the ability to be more efficient than being in an office.
Being in an office does not have the ability to be more efficient than working remotely. It is on the freelancer though, to make sure the individuals they’re working with experience the benefits of remote working, not the stigmas.”
– Taso Du Val, CEO, Toptal.
Find A Niche
“The best advice I can give to a freelancer is to focus on one area that they believe they can become the best in the world in. As opposed to going broad and spreading one’s attention, they should go deep in one area. Ideally, they will become the person people turn to, whether it be for social media, WordPress development, or any other area.
Once a person or company is recognized as being the best in a specific area, they then have more leeway to expand into new areas.”
– Conrad Egusa, CEO, Publicize.
Know Your Limits
“Know your capabilities and your limitations and if you work on a customer project do not be shy or insecure to ask for clarifications or additional information if you are not a 100% sure of what the customer expects you to deliver. Most customers will not see this as a limitation in your capabilities but as proof of your know how that you know best what information you need to do a great job.”
– Rolf Ritter, CEO, People As A Service.
Build Long-Term Relationships
“If you want to see a long-term relationship with any of your clients, and get flooded with referrals, make sure you are always over-delivering and going that extra mile. You don’t know how many freelancers I’ve dealt with that don’t take the time to either follow up to see if you’re happy or correspond when they’re late on a project.”
– Mike Kawula, CEO, Social Quant.
Deliver More Than Expected
“Set up very clear expectations with the client and under promise while over delivering. Find out what they see as success, what a failure looks like and give them a deliverable date that is two days after when you think you will get the project completed.”
– Kim Walsh-Phillips, CEO, Elite Digital Group.
Keep Your Clients Up-to-Date
“The single biggest challenge I face when working with freelancers is not knowing what progress has been made on any given task or project. As a client, there is nothing worse than feeling like you’re in the dark. Especially if a deadline is under threat or has been missed.”
“It’s much better to be told “I’ve made no progress today because I had an issue with…” than hearing nothing at all.”
“My best and strongest tip for freelancers is: keep your customer updated with progress, frequently. Depending on the tasks you’re working on, this might be weekly, daily, or even multiple times per day.”
– Paul Berkovic, co-founder, ScribblePost.
Be More Productive
“Keep a log for your work week, tracking where you spend every minute of your work day, and identify the things that suck away your productivity or your fun. Then find a tool to handle your distractions. These days, there’s an online app for just about everything.
Next, and this is important, commit to some up-front investment of time to get it set up and learn how else the tool can make your life better.”
– Kirk Simpson, CEO, Wave.
Learn From The Right People
“My advice is to be selective with what you learn and who you learn from. Don’t listen to everyone about everything, as you will likely find conflicting advice which often leads to confusion. There are 3 types of people I suggest you pay the closest attention to.
The first type is those who have achieved what you want to achieve, the second is those that have had a great deal of success in business but have managed to maintain a healthy existence too (not overworked and stressed working with unideal clients).
And the third are those that are optimists, people who believe that challenges are simply there to teach us, people who know that we’re not all victims of circumstance, we control our own destinies and anything is possible.
If you want to be a successful freelancer, words of wisdom from anyone within these 3 groups is likely to be good advice.”
– Michelle Dale, CEO, Virtual Miss Friday.