Do you find it difficult to get work? Sometimes perhaps? After all, freelance work is competitive.
When people ask me what I do and I tell them I’m a freelancer, I often get the following response:
“Wow, I hear that’s really competitive. Must be tough!”
It’s a common misconception. Even among freelancers…
Approaching your freelance work with this belief is not only incorrect; it’s a really bad idea. Why? Because it inhibits your results.
It will impede your confidence which, in turn, will seep into your proposal writing. Worst of all, it gives you a great basis on which to build excuses for why you’re not doing as well as you should be.
I’m here to tell you that freelancing is not competitive.
There are two primary pieces of evidence that led me to this conclusion.
- I never have any trouble getting work whenever I need it. Never have.
- Almost every time I work with a new client they say, “you know, we’ve been looking for someone like you for ages. We’ve tried about 20 freelancers!
Okay, so this number varies. Sometimes it’s 5, sometimes it’s 10, but it has been 20. And I get it all the time. Maybe they’re exaggerating. But who knows?
The point is, very few freelancers operate in the way I teach here on the blog and in the course.
I really like a quote from Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Niels Bohr, who once said:
“An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.”
I don’t know if I’ve made all of the mistakes yet, but I can assure you I’ve made one hell of a lot. So don’t feel bad if you’re one of the freelancers that my clients are talking about.
The fact you’re here means you won’t be for long. And mistakes pave the road to success.
Read on to discover how to be a freelancer with little competition. You’ll get more work more easily and get paid more money to do it.
1. Most Freelancers don’t really care about their client’s results
If I’m honest, I probably care a little too much.
If something isn’t perfect, I’m pretty hard on myself. The plus side? It helps me get regular referrals.
The first thing you need to do is start giving a shit. If you don’t, guess what? Your potential clients know all about it
I apologise for swearing, but this is important.
If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you already care. But if you don’t, you must revise your policy.
When you care about making your clients money, it shows in your proposals (which we’ll get to in a moment), it shows through in your phone calls and is immediately obvious to any savvy entrepreneur (I.E, your potential client).
Plus, if you care about those results, you’ll study how to produce them. And that brings us to point number 2.
Key takeaway: Start caring about your client’s results. It shows through in everything from your proposals, to your phone conversations, to your work. Go the extra mile and go beyond the call of duty to prove it.
2. Most freelancers don’t study their trade daily
The digital business landscape shifts endlessly. If you don’t keep up-to-date with industry news and developments, you’re slipping behind, day by day.
You might not know this, but before a business owner hires a freelancer, they often do a little research on that trade. That means they read the latest articles in Google’s top results, usually written by key influencers in that sector.
If you don’t read this stuff, your clients might know something that you don’t about your own trade. If you get caught out, it highlights you as an amateur and you can kiss that cosy £500 per month retainer goodbye.
Key takeaway: Study your trade daily and before every job. Create an account on Feedly, find thought leaders in your trade and subscribe to their blogs.
As a bonus tip, you can save articles off-line using Pocket which lets you read them on your smartphone from anywhere, even if you don’t have a connection. “Wow!” your clients with your industry knowledge and you’ve got the gig.
3. Most freelancers fail to sell their results
Most freelancers get paid either by the hour or on a per-project basis. If that’s you, you’re doing it wrong.
You should be getting paid based on how much money you can generate for your client. It’s the main difference between a freelancer and a consultant.
Whether you sell yourself as an all-out consultant or not is up to you. Personally, I pitch myself as a freelancer, but then talk and behave like a consultant who just happens to do the work.
When I get hired to do a job, I don’t take on something that needs doing and get told what to do with an hourly rate attached.
I have a conversation with the client, ask them what they want to achieve specifically, then I tell them how we’re going to make that happen.
I can do that because I follow steps 1 and 2 above.
Key takeaway: Do you intimately understand how to produce either sales or savings for your clients using your freelance trade? If not, find out. And then talk like a consultant who knows how to achieve their goals. Remember, you’re the expert.
4. Many freelancers fail to specialise
You must specialise.
The Internet gives you access to billions of people, millions of which are business owners and potential clients. There’s absolutely no reason not to specialise.
Specialising makes it easy to position yourself as an expert. And experts get paid a lot more money than people with no expertise.
Whether it’s content marketing for tech companies, press releases for medical hardware products or web development in the financial sector is up to you.
But by highlighting yourself as a specialist and then investing the time to find clients who are specifically looking for that kind of expertise, you eliminate swathes of competition in a heartbeat.
Because they’re not experts. And you are.
Key takeaway: If you haven’t yet specialised, it’s time to start. Consider focusing on a sector that’s intrinsically wealthy such as the medical sector, financial sector, or oil & gas industry. Naturally, you’d ideally possess some interest in your chosen area of freelance expertise. But at least weigh it into your decision.
5. Most freelancers don’t study copywriting
Look, I’m not claiming to be David Ogilvy here.
But there are several fundamentals you should observe when writing proposals.
I give some detailed breakdowns of real-life proposal examples both in this case study on freelance proposal writing (which also covers the whole “results” issue) and more in the Freedomlancers multimedia course. There’s a discount voucher link below.
And yes, I know that feeling…
The one where you wake up in the morning to scour the Internet for relevant jobs. Again.
Writing carefully crafted proposals isn’t necessarily the most exciting prospect for a Tuesday morning, especially knowing there’s an incredible exotic beach just across the street.
But seriously, take your time to study copywriting. Apply it in each and every proposal.
Here are some quick pointers I’ve discussed before.
- Never open with “I am a freelancer of X year’s experience” or anything remotely similar. It sounds like you just copy and pasted it from somewhere else. (Which you never should).
- Instead, always open with a rapport-building, personable statement that shows you’re a human being who thinks copy and pasting proposals is a terrible idea.
- Never use the words “I”, “me” and “my” more than the words “you”, “your”, and “yours”.
- Reduce stopping words. Never use “it is” instead of “it’s”. By extension, remove every non-essential word. Be respectful of their time and spare them a dissertation.
- Always connect your specialised experience with what the client’s looking for, paraphrasing their words back to them to illustrate how it’s relevant.
- Always talk in terms of their results!
Key takeaway: Study copywriting. Study proposal writing. Become a freelance proposal writing artisan.
Go forth & enjoy the uncompetitive world of freelancing
If you do these things and you practice them daily, you suddenly find freelancing becomes a whole lot less competitive.
Want to know more? Check out the Udemy course with a 50% discount voucher.
Got questions? Find this article useful? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.