Freelancers face many challenges in all different areas of their business. As a freelancer, you are suddenly required to become a website designer, a marketing and sales expert, a financial whizz and a security professional all at once.
What a lot of people don’t realise is that there are amazing tools and professional services to support freelancers and provide incredible, professional solutions to all of these challenges. With the help of these solutions a freelancer massively increases their chances of scaling their business, becoming a small business owner and earning more money.
In this article, we have spoken to freelancers across different sectors and answered their questions with our very best recommendations.
Branding is everything. When I first started out as a freelancer, I spent a lot of time setting myself up with a Squarespace. However, this was hugely time consuming, and I did it without the help of any designers or professionals. The same applies when it comes to taking payment. Right now, I usually rely on bank transfers which can be clunky and off-putting for new customers. I’d love to find a smoother way to set up my online and ecommerce presence.
Choosing the right platform and building a website is a challenge for most freelancers. Squarespace and Wix are popular choices because they are easy to use and allow users to worry less about security and hosting. But of course, it still takes time to familiarise yourself with the platform and configure it to your needs. Outsourcing that service to a freelancer or an agency within your budget can be a really good option. While you focus on your own business, your agency can build a solid, fast-performing, secure and well-designed custom website. If you would like to do ecommerce from your website and you have already automated your secure payment options, we recommend migrating to Shopify and configuring payment gateways such as Stripe to handle transactions. You can also use Stripe or Paypal to receive payments more easily from your clients. These platforms deduct commission from your income; however, that deduction is worthwhile because it makes your client’s life easier when they come to make payment. We provide both custom web development services and Shopify development services with special discounts for freelancers. We have different packages suitable for every budget and need. Contact us to learn more.
Bonus Recommendation: Make sure you keep track of your domain renewal dates. If your domain registrar provides auto-renewal, you can keep it on. We have heard of some unfortunate cases where freelancers and businesses have lost their domain and have been unable to buy it back.
Being self-employed gives me the most amazing freedom to work on what I want, when I want. The flip side of this freedom is that it can be hard to manage workflow, to manage my time effectively and to stay focused when there a million things to distract me.
When freelancers work with a diverse client range, they have the amazing advantage of diversifying their income sources and gaining experience in different sectors. Managing multiple projects can sometimes become challenging, but these challenges can be easily addressed with proper work management. Our three top tips are below:
Storing Your Files
Finding the files that you need fast enough is important. Make sure you group your projects in a logical manner. If you need to store reports, different versions, etc., you can add dates at the beginning of your file with a YYYYMMDD_ format so that your files can be sorted easily. For freelancers we recommend Google Workspace products as these are easy to use and allow easy file-sharing with clients.
A work management / project management tool can be used to manage client tasks while giving you visibility of your current workload. We recommend Trello for freelancers, because it is very user-friendly and is perfect for managing lightweight projects and operational work. Make sure you record your due dates and label your tasks to prioritise your daily work.
Booking calls with a client and asking their availability is highly time consuming. We recommend that you keep your calendar up –to date at all times and use booking platforms such as Calendly to simplify booking new calls. If you and your client need regular catchups, book recurring calls with them, rather than trying to organise a new call each time. Make sure to book focus-time for yourself as well, so that you can focus and complete more work in a short, concentrated period.
Another area that is really challenging for freelancers is one of the most important. Keeping track of my passwords, securing my bank accounts and email addresses, and protecting my online presence from hackers and phishing scams will always need to be a priority.
Small actions can make a significant difference to securing your business. The following are easy, essential steps to protecting your business across all applications:
Use complex passwords, and for each application use a different password. It is hard to remember complex passwords so using a trusted password manager (1password, Lastpass, etc.) could help.
Enable Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) where possible. Discover authenticator apps (Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, etc.) to support multi-factor authentication while making logins easier.
Avoid using public Wi-Fi where possible, especially while using critical business apps, such as logging in to your business’ website or to your bank account. If you need to work outside of your home (this also includes client office and coworking spaces) make sure you use a secure VPN solution while using public Wi-Fi.
Make sure not to use the default password with your router at home or in any device or application.
Update your applications and devices in a timely manner and avoid using out-of-support applications and devices.
Be careful while clicking links and opening attachments in emails, SMSs or in any other platforms to protect yourself against malware.
If you are unsure of any of the terminologies above, visit the security tips section of our blog or book a call with us.
Any freelancer will tell you that one of the biggest shifts from being employed to self-employed is the amount of financial admin that is created. It’s really important to be able to raise a lot of invoices quickly and then keep track of whether they have been paid. Finding a better way of managing my invoices would be hugely beneficial to my business. Having support in making an annual budget and then sticking to it would really help my business to grow.
Bookkeeping tools such as Xero, FreshBooks, Quickfile or Zoho Books will help you automate and streamline your accounting, and some of these tools are even free to start. Most bookkeeping tools have abilities to invoice quickly with ready-to-use templates (and yes, they look very professional), which can be sent to your client in one click. They allow you to track client lists and payments, monitor cashflow and can be integrated with bank accounts and Payment Processing Platforms such as Stripe. A bookkeeping tool will not only lower the time spent on accounting but will also help you to complete your tax return quickly and accurately. If you are working with an accountant, we recommend consulting them on which tool to use.
As a freelancer, one of the main challenges has been reaching my audience and building my customer base. Being consistent with digital marketing, posting on the right platforms regularly and using SEO can be tough, particularly when life and work get busy. And, once somebody has found me online, either on social media or via my website, I need to continue engaging with them in a reliable, systematic way.
The sales funnel stages include awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation and purchase. If you only have a website and you are posting on social media time to time, you are mostly covering only the awareness stage.
Here are four tips you can use to help you move through the sales funnel:
Email marketing is widely used and very popular. Tools such as Active Campaign help you to create email sequences for the related audience for those who sign up to your newsletters or download your free content.
Find Your Audience
Finding the right audience and reaching out to the right people will help you obtain a higher positive return to your cold-emails or cold-calling. The task of finding and listing these people’s contacts is a lot easier if you are using tools like Apollo.io.
Increase the traffic of your website by effective SEO. SEO requirements change over time, so we will recommend the timeless basics. Create relevant and good quality content. Choose keywords by using the Google Trends results. Your content, URL, title, alt texts and meta descriptions should include those keywords. Refer to other relevant content or services that are related to your content to keep the user in your website. Encourage users to sign up to your newsletters so they continue to visit your website in the future and potentially increase your sales.
Use UTM tags before creating ads, to do A/B testing at your website and retarget the people who were interested in your website but who have not yet engaged with your business.
As my business has grown, I’ve adjusted to dealing with an increased volume of customer communications. Something that would be really helpful to me would be a way of receiving this larger volume of requests in an organised, systematic way, so that I make sure I answer all of them in a timely manner.
Creating comprehensive FAQ pages on your website will help your clients to get answers. The forms in your website are also great place to receive questions. If you divide them according to subjects, you may differentiate each different type of requests in your inbox. If you have custom website, you will have limitless automation options. This will provide instant replies to clients specific to their problems and you will have time to focus on your business rather than replying each request. If you are in service business and working in different projects with different clients, the solutions above may not be applicable for you. Make sure you follow up some of the principles in the Work Management section of our article to effectively manage your time and your calendar. If you have further challenges in this area, book a call with us so we can boost your productivity with our consulting services.
In this article we have listened to freelancers and addressed the main questions they have asked and the main challenges they face. DoganTech has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share with you in these essential areas of your business. We also offer bespoke services in website building and development, software development, and automations to help scale your business. Get in touch to ask your questions and to receive our expert advice.
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