When you are just starting to work on freelancing, the most worried about how to quickly take an order. You are ready to say “yes” to each client, to respond to any project that appears in the list of proposals, so as not to “sit for weeks and months without work.” The risk is that you may end up saying yes to the wrong job.
It may sound strange, but if you want to succeed in freelancing, you will have to learn to say “no” to certain clients, refuse some orders. After all, some tasks are perfect for your skills, others are not. Agreeing to the first available job, you will soon be disappointed, at least.
You will lose money if you work at a rate lower than the one you deserve. You can also lose more interesting projects by working on boring and penny ones. At the same time, you will feel unmotivated if you do work that does not suit you.
Remember why you decided to become a freelancer? You probably wanted to spend more time on your favorite projects and free yourself from office politics, which sometimes force you to perform tasks outside of your job description.
Here are the projects that deserve a clear but polite “no”:
- Low-priced projects: If a client’s budget is too small, you’ll lose money twice: the first time because you won’t be paid enough for it, and the second time because you won’t be able to work on other projects at better prices while you’re busy with the current one (it’s especially a shame if you’re taking on a very low-paying project for the sake of a review).
- Projects that will not allow you to prove yourself: you want to make customers happy and proud of your work, but in some cases you will not be able to do this because of too tight deadlines that do not allow you to reveal your potential as a specialist.
- Projects that go against your principles: they can reduce self-esteem, and then achieving high results will not be easy.
- Projects that don’t match your skills: If you think you can’t meet the client’s expectations, don’t take on the job.
- Projects that don’t interest you at all: You love your job, but sometimes you come across a project that seems uninteresting. Even if it pays well and matches your skills, it may be best not to take it. You won’t be able to do the job perfectly if you’re bored.
- Projects from clients that are unpleasant or inadequate: Working with a client who makes ridiculous demands, or communication with whom causes discomfort, can become a nightmare. You don’t deserve that treatment.
- Projects you don’t have time for: If you load yourself hard, you’ll just disappoint clients when you can’t meet deadlines. And this will certainly have a negative impact on future work.
Saying no to customers can be scary. Every freelancer should be able to abandon a project at one point or another. However, overdue rent, an empty bank account can be a sufficient reason to take on at least some work, any work at all. In this case, you can say “yes” to the client, even if it contradicts your principles.
But if you say “no” to projects that do not have a soul, it will save you from unnecessary problems. Then you can spend time looking for a more suitable project. However, try not to be too picky, otherwise you will not have any tasks! If you decide to abandon the project, think about who you can offer it to. Something that doesn’t work for you may be interesting to someone you know as a freelancer.
How to know if a project is “right”
Here are a few basic questions to ask yourself before embarking on a project:
- Does this project match my skills? (Read the project description carefully.)
- Am I happy with the deadlines?
- Do I have time on my schedule to complete this project?
- Does this customer have good reviews? On freelance platforms, you can just check whether the client pays on time and whether he has positive reviews from other freelancers.
- Am I interested in this project?
- Does this project offer additional benefits? For example, it can give you the opportunity to gain new skills, a chance to work for a prestigious client or just make good money.
How to Write an Attractive Offer
Your bet on the project helps the client decide whether to give you a job or not. Since quality pitching is so important, be sure to take the time to write tempting sentences. Over time, you’ll write them faster. If you already know which suggestions work well for your field, save the template. This way, you can save time to create future bets simply by changing the details for each case.
Each proposal should include:
- Brief description of the project.
- Cost estimation.
- Indication of deadlines.
- What sources you will provide, including draft options and changes.
To write a better quote:
- Read the project description carefully.
- Be sure that you are suitable for its implementation.
- Answer questions that the client has not yet asked, and try to predict what he really needs.
- Show that you’re worried about a customer issue and determine how you can solve it.
- Send relevant examples of your work.
- Make the sentence look decent: use paragraphs, proper punctuation, and a clear template.
10 most common questions from customers
If the client likes your offer, he will most likely contact you and ask a few additional questions before agreeing to cooperate. Prepare morally for the fact that you will need to answer the customer’s questions on all the points of interest to him.
Think about what exactly you can answer him.
For example, here are the questions that freelancers are most often asked:
- How did you become a freelancer? A new client may ask a few personal questions, such as, “When did you start working as a freelancer?”, “What are your strengths and what do people like best about working with you?”
- Can you show me examples of similar works? The question may sound a little different, for example: “Have you already worked on similar projects?” or “What experience do you have with projects of this type?”. The client looks for confirmation of your skills either by looking at the portfolio or in your answers about the relevant experience.
- Tell us, how do you see the workflow? The client wants to understand how you work and find out if you are ready to answer his questions promptly, when, at what time. Also, the customer wants to understand how open you are to constructive criticism and whether you can be flexible in cooperation.
- How much do your services cost? You should be prepared to confirm your prices and demonstrate the value of the services you provide.
- How busy are you? Clients want to know how soon you’ll be able to get started, as well as how many hours a week or month you’re willing to dedicate to their project.
- What types of projects do you typically work on? The client wants to know more about your experience in this field or in related areas.
- How long have you been freelancing? Why are you doing this? Clients ask these questions to make sure you have experience as a freelancer and to make sure you’re not going to quit the project halfway. Many clients fear that you are freelancing, just to kill time until the next “real” job. So they worry that you’ll quit freelancing if something more interesting comes up.
- What is the best way to contact you? The client wants to make sure that you are easily contacted when they have questions. You may also be asked about the time zone to understand when it is best to communicate with you.
- What tools do you use? Some customers will want to know if you use standard software and certain tools in your field. They can also check how organized you are and if you are familiar with performance and communication trackers that a client team can use, such as Asana, Slack, Toggl, etc.
- Do you have any feedback? Depending on the size and scale of the project, the client may request feedback, just to make sure you are who you claim to be and competent enough in your field of activity. If you have reviews from other customers on your profile page, on your personal website, or on your blog, you can submit a link. If you are an aspiring freelancer, you can ask your previous employers to give you recommendations.
3 strange questions for freelancers
There are standard questions for an interview with a freelancer, but there are also those that are simply absurd. Here are three examples of similar questions that freelancers have been asked:
- “Maybe you’ll do the work for free?” I won’t get zeros in my electricity bills or loan payments, so you certainly won’t be able to use freelancer services for free.
- “Can you make my logo/website/content look like Company X?” here you need to politely remind the customer of the copyright infringement. Tell the customer that you will do what they want better than Company X.
- “Can you read my mind?” Of course, clients don’t usually ask about it directly. However, they can expect you to provide the results they dream of without further explanation on their part. Remember – you can do your best by interpreting their vision with the information provided. If something is not clear to you, do not hesitate to ask. This will show that you are really interested in the project and want to do the job as well as possible.
Tips to help a freelancer take an order
When you have little or no feedback from customers, finding a job can get complicated. These tips will help make it easier:
- Actively look for a job by looking at new vacancies posted on the freelance platform.
- Review your profile and make it as impressive as possible.
- Create a portfolio that showcases your abilities, even if it consists of projects created for imaginary clients.
- Don’t underestimate yourself – your stakes may be lower than those of more experienced freelancers, but if you work for food, you won’t be taken seriously.
- Be patient – the client may take weeks to get back to you, so don’t lose hope too soon.
- Build your reputation with real communication and active participation in online discussion forums for your field. This will help you make a name for yourself and get helpful advice from more experienced freelancers.
- Agree to work for charities, do projects for relatives and friends in exchange for good recommendations and materials for your portfolio.
- Don’t pretend you have more experience than you actually have. If your portfolio is still not impressive, explain to the client why, and highlight your strengths, your desire for success and desire to prove yourself.
How to maintain a stable flow of orders
It’s hardest to get your first few projects, but while freelancing, you’ll never stop looking for more and more work.
A few tips on how to ensure a permanent job:
- Ask customers to leave positive feedback on your profile page.
- Ask clients to recommend you to their colleagues.
- Ask customers to write a review that you can share in your future offers or on your website.
- Stay in touch with old customers to remind them of your services and ask if they need any extra work (but don’t be too insistent).
Short-term or long-term projects?
There is no wrong answer to this question. It depends entirely on your personal preference.
Advantages of long-term projects:
- More guaranteed income. You know you’ll be paid regularly while the project lasts.
- You can build a relationship with a client. This makes it more likely that you’ll get more work out of it in the future.
- You can learn to truly understand the customer and their needs, which will make it easier for you to interact.
- You have the opportunity to establish social connections with colleagues in the company.
- Accounting (in the case of working as an FLP) is simplified because you have fewer separate accounts and fewer clients who make payments.
The disadvantages of long-term projects are as follows:
- Your schedule won’t be flexible, so it won’t be so easy to take urgent work at the last minute.
- If you don’t like the project or your relationship with the client has soured, you’ll still have to complete it.
- If the customer doesn’t pay, you’ll lose a lot more money.
- Your job search skills may become outdated because you’re not looking for a job regularly.
- Your work is not diverse and can get boring.
Advantages of short-term projects:
- More flexible schedule. You can easily fit into more projects or increase your workload when needed.
- Clients will know they can count on you because you are always available for short-term work.
- You get more options for your diverse portfolio.
When you take short-term projects, you will also find disadvantages:
- You’ll spend more time searching for offers and bidding.
- You will have to spend more time on requesting and waiting for payment, because it comes from several customers (especially inconvenient in case of delays).
- It will be more difficult to calculate your workload.
- Your income will be unstable – sometimes you do not know when payments will arrive.
What you need to do
- Determine which projects you would like to implement and how to politely say no to those clients you don’t need.
- Browse through all your job search opportunities (forums, social networks, freelancer sites) and find the right ones.
- Create a project bid plan that you can use to grab clients’ attention (and ideally get a job).
- Find out if you like short-term or long-term projects.