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Tips for Freelancers:You're a Freelancer, Not a Shop

Updated on November 13, 2012

Marketing your freelance services is very different to marketing the products you might find in a shop. Here are a few tips and bits of advice to help you understand the major differences and promote yourself more effectively.

I am writing this article from the perspective of a full-time, professional freelance copywriter - but the advice is equally relevant no matter what aspect of self-employed service you're providing, be it graphics, accounting or even manual labour.

Time is your only commodity

The very first and most fundamental principle you need to understand when it comes to understanding the difference in selling your services and selling a product, is unlike tangible goods that are as plentiful as the amount you order, your time is limited.

If you truly understand this, then you're already on the right track to marketing your freelance services effectively. If you don't, there are many traps and pitfalls that might send your freelance career spiraling out of control...

BEWARE the Scope Creep

The funny thing about charging less, is you work more.

Think about it like this:

  1. If you're charging professional rates, you're going to attract professional buyers. This kind of buyer is the kind who has a real budget, and who instead of focusing on price focuses on what you can do for them. For this kind of person, it's quality first and then price.
  2. If you're discounting your rates significantly, you're going to attract budget buyers. Budget buyers are looking for a bargain for a reason - low budget. And when budget is limited, it makes sense that they'll be trying to get as much as they can for as little as they can.

So, when you charge a low rate, along comes Mr Scope Creep and asks you to complete twice the amount you agreed on. Of course, you can argue your side and explain that this is unprofessional - but why waste your time in the first place? After all, it was you who set the precedent...

In a shop, it works...

Because a shop is all about selling in quantity.

More customers = more sales = more profit.

But freelancing is all about maximising on the only thing you can sell: Your time.

So remember: You are not a shop

The best advice I can give in terms of marketing your services, is to find a rate that works and stick to it.

  • Find your rate
  • Stick to it
  • You're not a shop


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    • writeyourwrongs profile image

      John Crowley 5 years ago from Sheffield

      It's a principle easy to forget, Chris and one I've been found guilty of neglecting on occasion.

      One worth sticking to the fridge!

    • profile image

      chrisinhawaii 5 years ago

      I hear ya, John!

      I learned that lesson when I had my photography business a few years back. But I apparently forgot that I had learned it, because when I started freelance writing, I started selling myself short all over again.

      It's hard though, with so many other writers out there to compete with, especially for an online writer. You've got to compete with writers in various economic situations, where some of them find $1 per hour to be a very acceptable wage (compare to the legal minimum wage here in Hawaii: $7.25 per hour). And with no clients and no professional portfolio or references, you feel like you have no other choice.

      But I agree - if your services are worth more money, and the quality of your work is higher than that of your competitors, then you just have to aggressively market yourself and go out and find those customers who are willing and able to pay you what you're worth. To do anything less than that is self-sabatoge.

      Thanks for addressing this important topic, and thanks for reminding me of how important it is!

      Aloha, Chris