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There are a lot of things that you have to deal with as a freelancer. From payment to lack of trust and misunderstanding of the work trust you do, there can be a lot of unexpected hurdles that freelancers find themselves having to jump through.
Of course, if you can crack these issues you’ll be rewarded with lots of extra freedom, increased creative fulfilment, and probably more money than you’d get in full-time employment too. It’s no wonder that more and more people are taking the leap into freelancing, whichever industry they’re in.
Still, there are questions we need answers to if we’re going to level-up in our freelance careers. So, why do freelancers face these hurdles? There can be a lot of reasons. Here, we’ll think about just five of them. Hopefully we’ll give you some wise advice on how you can get past them, too…
Many companies will understand that freelancers are more expensive than their employed staff, because of the need to pay their own taxes, pension contributions, business marketing costs, and so on. Unfortunately, there are also lots of employers (usually the more traditional ones) that don’t understand that.
To get over this, you need to position yourself as a business. Rather than making potential clients see you as a singular person looking to pick up freelance work whilst you look for a full-time job (yes, sadly some people still think this is what a freelancer is) you need to show them that you’re a professional with a clear service that costs a fixed amount.
If that’s not good enough, you should look at the market rate and use it as evidence for why you charge the day rate that you do. If potential clients don’t want to pay it, feel free to negotiate – but remember that the fee they do offer needs to be sensible and reasonable. Your time is worth an amount that you’ve decided on, and it’s down to your experience, skulls and the market rate. If they can’t see that, there will be lots of other clients that can.
Trust is something that’s hugely important when it comes to freelance work. If a potential client says that they can’t guarantee the level of work you’re going to do for them, it’s likely because they don’t have enough information about you.
It’s easier to gain trust if you can put a face to a name, rather than trying to negotiate or win work through email. If you can, try to meet the client (social distancing of course!) during the discussion process. If that’s not possible, pick up the phone! People are naturally inclined towards trust if they’ve heard your voice, and if there are hesitations from their end a quick phone call can put them at ease and show that you’re motivated and keen to work with them. Try to find out what their fears are. Talking through these fears on the phone is the best way to convince them that you’re the real deal.
You should also do your best to get a contract in place. Getting a contract in place, even for a small piece of work, protects you as well as the client. It means that things like fees, timescales and the amount of work expected from you can’t be unfairly altered later. This protects your time and money. If you want more advice on freelance contracts have a look at this article from Crunch.
One way that you can work through this most infuriating of objections is by walking the potential client through every stage of your working process. If they don’t understand why it might take you two or three weeks to complete a project, it might be because they don’t understand the level of work involved. If you can explain each stage to them succinctly, they’re more likely to understand, and ultimately value, the process.
This can really help you out further down the line too, when they ask for updates on the work you’re doing for them. If you can point out a stage of the project that you’ve already discussed, and let them know exactly where you are with it, transparency between you and the company will only be improved.
There’s an easy way to combat this: your portfolio! Make sure your best work is displayed in an attractive way online, and that it’s easy for potential clients to find. This could be on platforms like Contently or Behance, depending on your industry. Make sure you have your own website too, and that it’s up to date with your most recent work. Link out from your social profiles, making your work as accessible as possible.
You should include testimonials from previous clients, colleagues or employers, too. Ask them outright for a three or four sentence recommendation, and hand them over to potential clients if they throw this objection at you. Make sure they’re listed on your website, too.
If this is the case, try to work out what the client’s need actually is. Why did they get in contact with you in the first place? What is the problem that they need to solve? Finding out what the issue is is key here. Maybe they need a fresh perspective on something that they’ve been struggling with in-house. As a freelancer, you can bring life to a project with fresh eyes. Working with the client to establish need is the best thing that freelancers can do when faced with this objection.
Of course, you aren’t going to convince every potential client that employing your services as a freelancer is the best idea. Some companies will always try to underpay, or will expect you to create work more quickly than is possible. In these situations, you shouldn’t be afraid to walk away.
Remember, too, that working for free is very rarely a good idea. Unless you’re at the very beginning of your career and think the experience would teach you a lot, or you’re more established and are working pro bono for a charity, there is unlikely to be much value in giving away your services for free. Don’t fall for it, and don’t let yourself get taken advantage of. Be confident in walking away rather than taking a very low offer or agreeing to work for free.
How do you handle objections when you come across them as a freelancer? We’d love to hear your advice. Share your thoughts with us over on the forums…