Ah, freelancing. The wonderful, carefree life of working whenever - and with whomever - you want. Countless employees have dreamed of breaking free and enjoying their lives their way - using their unique talents and knowledge to earn a great living while sitting poolside in tropical resorts.
Although freelancing certainly does offer a wealth of perks, most freelancers and consultants find out quickly that their freedom comes with a price. In 2018, 25% of freelancers said they were actively worried about their lack of job security, compared to the level of security they felt in permanent employee roles.
To complicate matters, the pandemic has sparked a massive influx of new freelancers in a wide range of industries. 36% of workers report having freelanced during the pandemic - 8% more than just two years ago. In fact, as of 2020, freelancers contribute $1.2 trillion to the United States economy - more than the entire 2020 Gross Domestic Product of Mexico.
With so many new faces in the freelancing world, this concern is becoming more alarming than ever for some independent workers who are still growth hacking their way to financial success. Increasing job security and transparency can help you dramatically decrease the stress that comes with job instability and financial uncertainty.
Here are 5 ways to achieve reliable job security and consistently grow your earnings throughout your freelancing career:
1. Develop your unique value proposition.
As a freelancer, one of the worst positions you can be in is working with a client who sees you as a “commodity.” Unfortunately, many companies view freelancers as interchangeable - “one is just as good as the next” - so they tend to focus on price rather than quality.
If you’re merely marketing yourself as a “project manager” or a “business analyst,” there’s no reason for them to choose you over the next freelancer - unless you’re willing to work for less money.
Instead of competing on price (which leads to inadequate pay, which contributes to freelancer burnout), focus on the unique value you bring to the table. What specialized services, insights, or results can you deliver that your competitors can’t?
Be sure to define what you do for clients in terms of the benefit they receive. The more specific you can be about those benefits - and the clients themselves - the better.
2. Identify your niche.
Look on any freelancing job site, and you’ll find a nearly endless sea of freelancers willing to take on just about any job that can be completed or tracked digitally. Unfortunately, most companies aren’t willing to pay competitive rates or build relationships with generalists.
That’s why it’s important to define your niche as a freelancer. Catering to a small part of a larger audience can help you stand out as an authority without spending so much time and energy competing with fellow freelancers and consultants. Your unique insights and skills can help specific types of clients solve specific problems.
One advantage of this is that you can quickly become the “go-to” person for your specialized services. This practically eliminates competition, which can translate to a steady stream of work that requires little marketing effort.
3. Define your ideal client.
Veteran freelancers will tell you that the key to job security in the freelance world is to choose the right clients to begin with. Working with a client who is a poor fit can be draining and exhausting -plus, ill-fitting clients are seldom happy with the work that they receive.
Although you might eventually experience the stress and frustration of working with a bad client, you'll want to minimize this risk. One of the most important steps you can take is to clearly define who you want to work with.
For example, you might work well with businesses in certain industries, such as healthcare, tech, or construction. Working exclusively with these businesses can help you become known as the “preferred provider” for that industry - this can attract the best clients that the industry has to offer.
You don’t have to limit your criteria to industry, though. Do you prefer clients who primarily communicate by email, video, phone, or in-person meeting? Do you prefer to work with one contact person, or do you want to be involved with multiple members of the organization?
How “hands-on” do you want your client to be - should they communicate daily, weekly, or at specified project milestones? Also, how often are you willing to update the client on project progress?
Getting clear on who you want to work with, and how you want them to work with you, can go a long way toward building a long-term client base. This can help eliminate “gaps” that can leave you stressed about money and distracted from your work.
4. Keep developing your skills and knowledge.
Even if you make it to the top of your niche as a freelancer, staying there isn’t easy. In a rapidly evolving business environment, it’s important to stay on top of the latest knowledge, best practices, and developments in your industry. Ongoing training, research, and practice give you the what’s-working now skills to remain the authority in your niche.
5. Be present on top freelancing platforms.
To ensure security and transparency, build attractive profiles on freelancing sites that have a proven track record of connecting freelancers with their ideal clients. These platforms make it simple for freelancers to quickly and easily find contracts they love, and for companies to efficiently find the right talent without a long, expensive hiring process.
Oomple is one example of a platform that has consistently exceeded expectations for freelance professionals and consultants looking for meaningful, high-paying work, and for companies looking for freelance talent.
BONUS tip: Simplify the process of getting quality insurance coverage.
Many freelancers have difficulty finding the insurance coverage they need - companies typically don’t extend health, vision, dental, or other benefits to non-employees. Unfortunately, going without coverage can lead to health problems and potential financial disasters.
You can simplify the process of obtaining quality coverage at affordable rates by checking out companies like Bounc3. Freelancers can quickly obtain quotes and choose coverage plans right from their phones or laptops!