How to beat the competition as a creative freelancer

The freelance creative community is generally wonderfully helpful and supportive. However, the fact of the matter is that when a client is looking for a freelancer, we have to compete with each other for their attention. And if you’re unsuccessful in this struggle too often, it can wear you down. How it can be when you see colleagues land amazing projects and fantastic clients you didn’t even know about.

It’s not like you’re trying to prank anyone or take another freelancer’s work away. But ultimately you have a life and a career and you want to make the most of it.

So how do you stand out from the crowd and give yourself the best chance of receiving new and exciting opportunities? In this article we give some tips.

1. Be unique

When you see other freelancers taking the ground under your feet, it’s natural to want to analyze their success and copy what they’re doing. And if you pick up a few ideas or tricks that will help you sell your services better, that’s fine too. But go further and try to copy all they do, such as their signature visual style, is a bad idea.

This approach won’t work because you aren’t. Instead, you need your own USP (Unique Selling Proposition), your own “special sauce”, your own story… and lean into it like your life depends on it. In other words, be fully and authentically yourself.

Once you discover your superpower — what sets you apart from other freelancers — it almost becomes an anchor that drives every other part of your branding process. For example, it will be easier to write your social media bio because you know who you are, what you are good at, and what you offer that others cannot. And when it comes to chasing clients, you instinctively know the answer to the question, “Why would they hire me instead of someone else?”

Of course, figuring this out can’t be done in a day. Sometimes it can take months or even years to build your skills and find your niche. In fact, rushing the process and leading you down the wrong path and down a dead end can be counterproductive. But at the same time, it should be your overall travel direction: away from the cookie-cutter freelancer and towards finding your USP.

You need your own USP (Unique Selling Proposition), your own “special sauce”, your own story… and lean into it like your life depends on it. In other words, be fully and authentically yourself.

2. Be reliable

If you haven’t yet found your USP as a creative freelancer, there are still ways to differentiate yourself from the competition. And the most effective way is quite simply to be reliable.

Read  Conduent Highlights How to Advance the Digital Customer

A friend of mine worked in music PR in the 90’s. And she told me that working with indie bands is often a nightmare. Typically, they complained that they weren’t mentioned in the press or played on the radio. And yet, whenever she set up an interview, they turned up late, half dressed and half asleep. Pop bands, by comparison, were always up at dawn, delighted to meet a dozen people smiling and immaculately dressed before lunch.

Musically, she personally liked the indie stuff more. But she preferred working with pop groups for obvious reasons. And the same goes for your freelance clients. It doesn’t matter how much they enjoy your creative work: at the end of the day, they are busy people with busy lives. And their overwhelming priority is getting home to their partners and children with minimal fuss.

Unfortunately, some of the most talented people in design and illustration don’t always meet deadlines, communicate well, or even attend Zoom meetings on time. But you can use that to your advantage. Establish a reputation for being 100% reliable and on that basis alone you can win business. This requires organization and commitment, but is ultimately very easy to do.

3. Be consistent

Reliability does not just mean punctuality and adherence to schedules. It also means being consistent in the creative work you produce. Above all, this means achieving a consistent level of quality.

However, consistent does not necessarily mean award-winning. And not understanding this difference is why so many creative freelancers miss deadlines. It’s not because they didn’t create anything at all; it’s because they’re holding it back and feeling like they can do better with “just a few more days.”

In a way, that’s admirable, but excessive perfectionism doesn’t help your client stay on schedule. So finding the right balance between quality and timeliness is really the key here. Saying, “It’s getting late, but the end result will be worth the wait, I promise” may sound good in your head, but take it from us: it won’t endear you to your client in the long run.

Establish a reputation for being 100% reliable and on that basis alone you can win business. This requires organization and commitment, but is ultimately very easy to do.

4. Be easy to find

Having trouble finding new customers? Well, maybe you are trying too hard to contact others and not enough to help others find yourself.

At Creative Boom, we’re always shocked at how difficult it is to find information about specific creatives. And although, as trained journalists, we go the extra mile in our research, it’s unlikely that a potential client will make the same effort.

Read  How To Make Fall Camping Enjoyable

While you shouldn’t spend your life on social media, it doesn’t take long to set up an account on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or whatever platform you feel best suits your discipline. And you don’t have to spend a lot of time writing marketing gibberish; the less of it, the better.

Instead, just make sure the following things are clear: your name, what you do, where you’re based, what’s unique you offer, your contact information — including an email address — and where people do their best work can see online. Make that clear and concise, and you’ll be a lot easier to reach than many creative freelancers working today.

5. Protect your personal brand

Whatever you do on social media, always think about your brand. A potential client considering hiring you might look at your tweets first, and negativity won’t do your reputation any good.

For example, don’t use Twitter as a platform to criticize other designers or grumble about politics. If you are interested in politics, join a real political party or similar organization. You will find it much more rewarding and easier to effect change in the real world and outside of the echo chambers.

Instead, use social media to be a beacon of positivity, support others, and use it for what it was originally intended for: telling people what you’re doing and what you’re working on.

6. Be honest

If there’s one theme that runs through everything we’ve mentioned so far, this is it. Think of a customer less like a walking ATM and more like a living, breathing human being, and you’re on the right track.

Here’s another example. One of the things people value most is honesty. And yet, as freelancers, we are not always as honest as we would be in everyday life.

We might exaggerate our skills or experience in hopes of getting a client to hire us… only to regret it later when we feel overwhelmed. In order to win a dream contract, we may over-promise what we can offer rather than setting reasonable expectations. And when we make a mistake, instead of being open about our mistake and offering a practical solution to fix it, we may try desperately to cover it up.

This temptation to be dishonest is amplified in today’s digital world, where we may never need to meet our customers in person, making us feel less guilty about it. But ultimately, our reputation keeps us at work. So, all in all, dishonesty is a very bad idea in the long run.

Use social media to be a beacon of positivity, support others, and use it for what it was originally meant for: telling people what you’re working on.

7. Be respected

While you should always try to please your customers, there comes a point when you overreact. And that will not only make your life miserable; it will actually hamper your efforts to beat the competition. Because basically nobody respects a weakling.

Read  How to keep your new iPhone looking like you just bought it

With this in mind, a balance needs to be found between meeting customer needs and curbing inappropriate requests. So, for example, once you’ve clearly outlined the scope of a project, stick to it and don’t be talked into endless “small favors.” Because while conflicts aren’t usually fun, it increases their respect for you and improves your standing in the long run.

8. Be a lifelong student

Staying one step ahead of the competition is not something that is “done once”; This is something you need to constantly work on throughout your freelance career. And staying ahead means you have to keep learning.

This may include learning new software and other technologies. It could mean honing your skills by expanding into new disciplines. Or it can mean diving deeper into your current discipline, such as: B. Postgraduate study or personal guidance from a leading expert.

Ultimately, every direction you take will be personal to you. But the good news is that making an informed decision as an adult to continue learning is a hundred times more rewarding than it was in school. So use it and have fun with it!

9. Be proud of yourself

Are you stressed and feel like the competition is doing much better than you? Then you probably need to recalibrate your perspective. After all, people only share the good stuff on social media, not their failures, so you’re certainly getting a skewed picture there.

During the running of Creative Boom, we’ve seen design studios rise and fall, and freelancers return to full-time jobs. And by the way, that’s no shame: we’re all on our own paths and journeys. So treat yourself to a break and celebrate where you are. When you do that, your mood will change instantly and everything you do will shine through.

10. Be kind

While other creatives can occasionally be your competition, that’s not the whole picture. The truth is that as freelancers we have limited capacities and cannot always take on every project that is offered to us. So make friends with the competition because they may be able to do the work for you when things get hectic. And of course you can too!

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button