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Freelancing Success: How to Get More Referrals

Updated on August 23, 2016

For many the idea of working from home or in your favorite coffee shop sounds like a little piece of heaven. Who wouldn't want to go to work every day in their favorite pajamas? But freelancing is not for the faint of heart. It is difficult to break into the different markets especially without a reputation in the field. All too often the payments are sporadic, flowing like honey one month and dry as a bone the next. There are some tried and true methods to create a successful freelancing career and some mistakes to avoid.

1. Treat Freelancing Like a Regular Job
Many new to the field enjoy a newfound sense of freedom a bit more than they should and find themselves struggling to make ends meet each month. Freelancing is a REAL job. Just because you may not go to an office outside the home does not mean that the same rules don't apply. Set specific routines for work during the day. Make a schedule. Always make sure you're at your 'office' at the same time each day. Have a list of tasks that you complete each day. When are you going to check your email? When are you going to focus on research for your next article? When will you spend time writing? It's too easy to get distracted when you don't have a predefined schedule to follow. And while Facebook may be entertaining, it will not pay the light bill at the end of the month.

2. Don't Overwork Yourself
Too many freelancers begin to feel the pressure to make an income right away and take anything that's thrown in front of them even if those jobs don't pay. This is one of the biggest mistakes out there. It's okay to turn down a project that is not worth your time. For instance, many content mills want freelance writers to churn out articles for pennies an hour. Even if you could work enough to earn a decent living, you'd never have time to eat, sleep, or send a moment with family. The end result is massive burnout. Know what a fair price for your services should be. Understand that you may have to start out with a lower initial rate than you would ordinarily want, but this rate should still be fair. Once you've established a good reputation with the company and have provided consistent quality work, then your rate should increase. But make sure you don't give your services away for free.

3. Always Remain Professional
Your clients are just that -- clients! They are not your best friend nor are they your therapist. Treat them professionally. If a client asks you to revise a project that you believe was already perfect, find another avenue to vent to. Don't blow your top with your client. While you may believe your product is art and above reproach, it's also a product. Save the art for your gallery show and give the client the product he wants without complaint.

4. Never Miss a Deadline
The cold hard fact of the matter is there are thousands of freelancers entering the market everyday. Clients can be hard to come by. If you are fortunate enough to get client, don't miss the deadline given. This is the easiest way to lose your client and ruin your reputation before it really even begins. Your best bet is to complete the task as early as possible in order the beat the deadline. This will help make a good impression on your client and will hopefully earn you some additional work in the future. Remember, in the freelancing arena, your entire career is built upon your reputation. It's more important than gold. Treat it as such.

5. Have Multiple Income Streams
We've all heard the saying, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." Whoever coined that little phase must have had a freelancing career. Cultivate several sources of income with several different payment schedules. That way, if things are slow in one areas for a month, you will still have a source of income to make ends meet. Different payments schedules will allow you to better plan you cash flow during the month. Perhaps one client pays on the 5th of each month while another pays on the 20th. If possible seek out a client who pays weekly. A constant, reliable source of income is essential to life. Don't overlook that now.

Freelancing offers a ton of benefits which traditional jobs simply can't. The flexibility to work at home, freedom to work from wherever you choose, and savings on all the work related expenses are just a few of the reasons it is a dream job for many. Treat it well and you will be successful.

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