Running a freelance business doesn’t have to be so black and white, and you don’t have to operate like a corporation or brick and mortar agency to make good money. There’s a misconception that freelancers are more susceptible to being taken advantage of by the client. This can be true, but only by your own decision to be taken advantage of.
There’s power to being a freelancer. You have very little overhead giving you complete control of how you operate your business; how you price your projects, who you work with, and how you go about doing your work. This gives you the ability to be perceived the way you want.
No longer should you present yourself as the humble creative that can design a logo for $400. And if you’re thinking, “Woah—Charging $400 for a logo? That’s a lot!” Then this post is for you.
The Problem: Compromising
It’s daunting to work with clients, especially if you’re just getting started. Your confidence is low and you’re hungry for work. This most often will lead to compromising on your values, and your decision to compromise influences the industry you work in.
What do I mean by your values? Your values are the fine details that make up your work process. Do you only work with a specific niche market? Do you have a one concept approach when designing logos? Do you charge based on value rather than just your time? Having a client request more concepts or request a cheaper price and you giving in would be compromising on your values.
It’s ideal to charge the client by the value of the work you produce. But what happens if the client chooses to go with someone else that can provide the same category of service, but at a much lower cost? You’re left reconsidering your values for the sake of putting food on the table. This is one of the major issues for freelancers, and is why our industry feels so competitive.
However, you have to remember, you’re in complete control of how you operate, and this means you can change the future of the industry.
Here’s the thing: stop compromising.
Stop feeling like you’re in direct competition with everyone else. The truth is, no one is scouting your clients to pick them out from under you with their lower prices. In order to shape the industry for the better, you must create high standards and stick to them no matter what. If you can do this, then you’ll be on an entirely different level of success that your competition can’t reach – making them irrelevant.
The Solution: Sticking to your values
It’s no surprise that clients will protect their project with their lives. It’s hard for them to trust not just you, but anyone with their money. This is mainly a result of them not being able to identity with you or how you work. Your work might be great, but the client can’t foresee if it’s the right fit for them specifically. They ultimately will want to keep full control of the design process while hiring someone with the technical skills. That’s the problem many freelancers give into, and why being a freelancer can be looked down upon in such a large industry.
You can make a living working with a specific market of people, doing the work you enjoy, and charging what you’re worth. And you can do this by sticking to your work process and values no matter what. That’s your responsibility in this industry.
There will always be someone beneath you charging next to nothing for the same exact services you offer, but the clients that go to them aren’t ones you should want to work with.
I’ve branded myself as a freelancer for years, and it’s a big reason why my clients come to me. Why? Because I inject my personality and values into my brand. I stay personable and my clients value working with a real person.
People need to get to know who you are in order to trust you. That’s the key to landing the right type of clients. Inject more of your personality into your work, website, and writing. (Yes your writing!) Show potential clients who you are, where you came from, and what you want to accomplish in the future.
It’s the client’s job to make a decision on who to work with, and it’s yours to sell them on you, but more importantly, your process.
— Brent Galloway (@BrentGalloway) March 15, 2015
Make yourself approachable. Don’t be afraid to put a photo of yourself and breakdown your work process step-by-step on your website. This helps build trust right off the bat.
Sticking to your specific work process and values will lead to working with your ideal clients, and in turn, will help shape the freelance industry for the better.
Stop compromising for the sake of competing with those beneath you. They aren’t your competition, and the clients they work with aren’t for you. Help position the freelance industry around value-based services rather than quick commodities.
To do your part, set high standard values, define your work process, and stick to them no matter what. Do not compromise. Inject yourself into your brand, be transparent with how you do things, and welcome everyone that falls under your process. If you can do this, then you’re leaps and bounds ahead of your competition. Quality clients will come to you because of this.