As a freelancer, it takes more than a sharp suit and a snazzy business card to impress clients these days. It can take more that grit and hard work too. The stakes of a key client relationship are set on proving yourself to be capable, responsible and well equipped to see to the delivery of a service that is as professional as if you had the weight of a multinational corporation behind you.
The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed estimate there are now more than 1.91 million freelancers working in the UK, a rise of 36% since 2008. Freelance workers are most strongly represented in the artistic, literary and media industries, sport and fitness sectors, and IT & telecommunications professions. With such great competition, it’s important to make yourself stand out from the crowd.
Here are four ways freelancers with limited resources can impress clients.
Outsource auxiliary business tasks to contractors
To retain your focus on the day-to-day activities of your freelance business, outsource those tasks that don’t fall within your area of expertise to specialist contractors. The cost of doing so will pale in comparison to the consequences of invoicing a client incorrectly or failing to meet your legal responsibilities.
Remember, outsourcing doesn’t mean having to relinquish your business administration. For example, 3 Wise Bears, contractor accountants in London specialise in providing accountancy solutions to contractors, freelancers, and small businesses that are completely cloud based, making your accounts accessible at any time and from anywhere in the world. They can manage your corporation tax, VAT and payroll to ensure full compliance with HMRC and Companies House obligations.
For legal consultations on demand, including advice on contractual dealings and intellectual property rights, lawbite was formed to meet the specific needs of freelancers and SMEs. Seeking legal advice on the latest HMRC rules, regulations and proposed legislation that will affect your business can help cover your back even if your own expertise of your legal responsibilities is in its infancy.
Set up shop at a prestigious address
As a freelancer, it’s unlikely you’ll have access to a traditional office infrastructure. In fact, freelance workers are among the vast majority of those who work from home or on the go. But registering your business at a residential address can sometimes be seen as compromising your professionalism as clients might perceive it to be a home hobby.
A virtual office is a business location that exists on paper, but without the dedicated office space. Designed for mobile or remote workers, virtual offices provide a registered business address with full communications infrastructure, including reception services and call and mail forwarding.
Many virtual office providers, like i2 Office, also make provision for meeting rooms and business lounges available on demand in the event you need to host a face-to-face meeting with clients. Available in some of the most prestigious locations around the UK, including Canary Wharf, Mayfair, and Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester city centres, virtual offices afford you all the prestige of a major corporation at a fraction of the price.
Brand yourself effectively to build credibility
Maintaining a website for your business, as well as an active social media presence can seem like a full-time job when it comes to ensuring a widespread coverage throughout the day. Create a social media marketing plan, load social media posts using scheduling apps like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, and make use of the scheduled publishing options on your website CMS. This can give the appearance of a fully monitored and continually updated digital marketing presence.
The same goes for streamlining your proposal process. If you’re presenting clients with pitches and project communications, make use of custom templates to maintain professional consistency and make your own job a whole lot easier in the long run. Many freelancers advise maintaining a comprehensive welcome pack complete with reference resources to build your credibility and win clients’ trust.
You might consider outsourcing these tasks to a professional design agency who can help you build an effective brand for your small or freelance business. Brandsworth specialise in logo and branding packages for entrepreneurs and startups, getting you off on the right foot. Remember, your brand should be a true reflection of you—as a freelancer you should be selling yourself, and what makes you the choice out-source.
Remember, you’re only human
The most important thing to remember as a freelancer is not to stretch yourself too thin. It’s all well and good to jump at every chance you get, but don’t overstretch yourself—you’re only human afterall. If you find yourself asked to tackle topics outside of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to say yes, but qualify that statement.
For example, if you are approached by a client who asks you to work on a task about which you have little knowledge, be honest about your experience. If you have the basic skills in place, you may be able offer to develop those skills further, but always remember to give a feasible proposal of what you are able to offer.
Similarly, you should learn when it’s in your interests to say ‘no’. If a requirement is completely outside of your area of expertise, offer advice on a suitable alternative or pair them up with colleagues who do. If you over-sell your abilities, the likely failure will result a loss of trust and reputation within your industry.
Remember, working as a freelancer is as much about managing a business as it is about managing yourself. Strike that optimum work-life balance, and never lose the joy in what you do. If you’re looking to impress clients, having the flexibility to manage your business and personal responsibilities as you choose, regardless of your economic or technological thresholds, is a sure way to success.