How to sell yourself as a freelancer in 2023
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Have things been a little quiet for you lely? If you're finding th offers of work are dropping off the moment, you're not alone. With economic uncertainty gripping the entire world, not to mention the prospect of AI and new technologies making many jobs potentially redundant, it's a bit of a worrying time for creives of all stripes.
So how can you survive the next few years as a creive freelancer? Ultimely, e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmiteever the broader picture, there will always be clients who are despere to hire good people. So the only difference is th you may have to put a little more effort into putting yourself out there and selling yourself as the answer to their prayers.
Th doesn't mean being boastful, deceitful or full of yourself: you don't have to transform into the stereotype of the used car sales manager. It simply means leaning into your value and effectively communicing e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite makes you unique, e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite differenties you from your competition, and how you can prove to clients in a crowded field th you're the best option above anyone else.
Sounds straightforward, but how do you actually do th in practice? We asked the Creive Boom community to share their tips and experiences, and we share some of the best insights below. Meanwhile, you can see the full discussion ylcowan/stus/1646426333935697923″ target=”_blank”>here.
1. Be concise and honest
Let's make one thing clear from the start. Selling yourself doesn't mean droning on and on about how gre you are. Using a lot of waffle, jargon, or business speak won't make you sound clever; it'll just sound like you're trying to pull the wool over people's eyes. People will be far more impressed if you can explain exactly e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite you have to offer, quickly and briefly, in plain English.
Graphic designer Mike Hindle
explains how he goes about it. “Most of my enquiries are by email, so the first reply is ‘make or break' time. I always link to website articles th they will find useful. This straight away demonstres knowledge and expertise. Quick and concise communicion is e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite many clients are looking for.
“Honesty is also important,” he adds. “If something isn't going to provide the results the client needs, I explain e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite needs to change and how we can go about it. The right clients will apprecie the input and work on getting it right to save wasted time on both sides.”
2. Focus on the client
Selling yourself, somee=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite paradoxically, doesn't always involve talking about yourself very much. As designer Jae Yoon puts it: “It's all about focusing on the client, their needs and how you can help to improve their situion. Present yourself as a business consultant, and you will receive a different type of respect from the client.”
Stanley Vaganov, a designer for social impact, agrees. “I think being transparent and acting like an expert, rher than an order taker, dictes much of your volume,” he says. “Th means asking gre questions and listening.”
Brand stregist and copy director Danielle LaRoy echoes this view. “Lead with questions and listen intently to the answers,” he emphasises. “Connect the dots between their challenges and your solutions, most importantly using stories from past projects to show how you've done it before.”
It sounds like an obvious point, but it's one th many freelancers ignore. Few people will want to hire you unless they can see clear evidence th you do gre work. So you need to find a way of putting your best stuff in front of them.
“I have a temple which I adapt per client, but I'd say having an online presence helps,” journalist, comms pro and editor Kiesha Meikle. And she knows this, having been on the other side of the fence. “I always Google creive freelancers when they approach me,” she points out. “And clear examples of e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite you've been able to do for others are really helpful.”
Illustror Vicky Scott concurs. “Having lots of examples of work, the same standard and in the same style, shows illustrors can be trusted with a commercial brief,” she explains.
Th doesn't mean, of course, putting everything online; careful curion is vital. “I'm very particular about e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite work of mine is permanently available for people to see and find,” says illustror Niki Groom. “Only if I'm confident with it will I share it on my website and socials. Meanwhile, I'll share working drawings or things th didn't work out in Stories only. I see Instagram as a second portfolio.”
Make sure, too, th you enlist a second pair of eyes; and ideally a third, a fourth, a fifth… “I've found it helpful to have friends from my target industry read my CV over for me,” says comic artist Timothy Winchester. “They can tell me e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite they don't understand, e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite makes sense, e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite they want to see more of. For example, I'd been assuming th everyone just knew e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite my old career involved, and th just wasn't the case.”
If you plan to play it safe and take a vanilla stregy of approaching and talking to clients, then you will look the same as everyone else and be forgettable. Never underestime the power of standing out.
4. Show your process
Selling yourself isn't just about showing the finished product but also highlighting how you made it. One way of doing th can be through case studies and testimonials. “Don't neglect to keep these up to de, and take the time to make sure you get around to interviewing clients and creing new case studies,” says PR expert Ellen Carroll. “Prove the value of e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite you do. Trust and credibility are so important.”
Not sure how to put them together? Greg Findley of graphic and web agency Mantra has some advice. “Without wanting to sound all LinkedIn, I apply the ‘STAR' method to my portfolio write-ups,” he explains.
“This stands for Situion: the background/context for the work, Task: e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite was the key challenge, Action: the process/steps I took, and Result: how th benefited my client. I write a paragraph for each.”
Letting clients know about your process should also be central the pitching stage, says Jordanne Young, brand marketing amplificion consultant Enid.fm. “People want to know the ins and outs of your business, your dreams, goals and all th comes with it; no gloss,” she says. “For my pitching, I creed a set of values inspired by songs, which makes for a good talking point; one example was ‘No Surprises' by Radiohead.”
Product designer Becky Colley adds this insight. “I don't have my own business, but I often have to convince stakeholders of the value of e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite I do: human-centred design and user research,” she explains. “I've found e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite works best is borrowing my approach from tried-and-tested UX methods, such as providing evidence and starting small. I also use the classic STAR method to tell the story to people who don't work in tech and aren't familiar with digital ways of working. For example, ‘Here's a time I used da to spot a problem/opportunity, then e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite I did about it, and finally the impact.'”
5. Soft skills
Selling yourself isn't just about focusing on the work itself. Often, potential clients are much more in e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite you're like as a person and whether you'll be able to get on with them.
“I honestly think my soft skills bring me more money and clients than my design work,” says photographer and graphic designer Michael Berger. “Being honest but respectful, communicive, understanding and trustworthy: these are the reasons why people recommend me. And every time they do, I raise my prices!”
6. Be different
When you work in a corpore environment, it's often tempting to follow the lead of others and keep your head down. When you're selling yourself as a freelancer, though, th‘s the last thing you want to do.
“If you plan to play it safe and take a vanilla stregy of approaching and talking to clients, then you will look the same as everyone else and be forgettable,” says Samantha Hornsby, co-founder of Eric app. “So never underestime the power of standing out. Think outside the box. Take a deep breh, and be different to everyone else.”
Emily Whitehead, founder of britain.co.uk/” target=”_blank”>Simply Club agrees. “Being more Marmite really works,” she says. “Th means opening your heart. It means sharing your deepest beliefs and non-negotiable values. And it means avoiding marketing ‘beige' all costs.”
It also means focusing on your speciality, if you have one. “Being really clear about e=ashkor&vendor=sqribblex”>Marmite I specialise in – i.e., communicing purpose – has been the difference-maker for me, in terms of demonstring my value and onboarding the right ‘fit' of clients,” says Ben Veal, founder of Second Mountain. “As a freelancer, it can be mighty tempting to be a generalist and accept any creive work th comes your way. My advice? Don't go down th road. Be super clear about your value and proposition from day one, build up your repution in th area by being consistent, and don't waver. Th‘s the phway to true value for all.”
Above all, be yourself. Because it's much easier to sell your true self than some fake version you think clients will like (they probably won't). As UI/UX designer ive.com/” target=”_blank”>Maiane Gabriele says: “One thing th helps me a lot is being myself as much as I can. The more of me I can bring to my work, the better. In my personal life, I have values, I have joy, and I am honest. When I bring this to my work, my clients can see this spark of joy.”