Picture this: you’ve signed into your social media account, you get page recommendations, you click and turns out there’s another freelancer with a similar skillset in close proximity. What do you do? Do you check out the freelancer’s profile or consider them as a threat and competition? Do you fear that your clientele would stumble upon the other freelancers’ profile and hence you should prove you are a superior freelancer? If you feel that way, you shouldn’t.
Freelancing can be a lonely path. When the business is rough a freelancer endures it alone and when it’s flourishing, it’s a one-person party. But it need not be. To thrive in the world of freelance one should meet and network with like-minded freelancers and expand their community. No matter which industry you are in, it’s constantly evolving and so should you. A strong network not only helps you exchange ideas but when your client needs a service you can’t provide yourself it’s a huge advantage to be able to point them in the right direction and vice versa.
Turn competitors to companions
If you focus too much on considering other freelancers as your competition, you could miss the things that are actually hindering your success. Just like you, fellow freelancers are trying to succeed too. Every freelancer brings their unique qualities, strengths and experiences to the table. Instead of being envious of their talent, collaboration could be beneficial for both, as it’s always better to have two pairs of eyes on the market.
Collaborate and share
Like every other freelancer, surely even you must’ve turned down a project because it was simply too big to tackle. If not that, perhaps you were just missing one or two skills to really deliver what a potential client needed. Wouldn’t it have been nice if you’d had another freelancer to partner with on the project? Collaborating on projects may mean saying no to clients less often. If you work cooperatively with other freelancers, you can collaborate with them for the skills you lack or pass on a recommendation for someone you know who can take the job. You keep goodwill with a potential client for the future, and also earn the appreciation of your peer for the referral and they could return the favour someday. It is better to approach SMEs as a pack than a lone wolf.
Find your niche and build your brand
What is that makes you stand out from other freelancers? Have you positioned yourself to make you unique or are you getting lost in the ocean of freelancers? Do you bring something special to the table? Gain your edge by offering something that others aren’t. Other freelancers aren’t the enemy. To stay competitive, you should focus on your actual competition and develop new skills. Learning more about sales and marketing can help you apply those skills to build your client list. Build relationships with other freelancers. You’ll benefit and so will they. Finally, find your niche and solidify your brand. While you build your brand, don’t forget to network with fellow freelancers who specialise in a different niche, because two is better than one.
Multiply skills. Multiply connections.
Rather than viewing other freelancers as people who might take away your business, try viewing them as a source of knowledge. Participate in discussion forums related to your field, or follow blogs written by freelancers who have more success than you. Learn as much as you can. If someone has gone further on their career path than you, don’t go green with envy. Reach out to them and ask questions. How are they reaching out to their target audience? What skills do they have that you lack? Ask questions. Put your work out there for advice and critique from your peers. Then, reciprocate by giving your own advice and insights to those who could benefit from your advice. When you network with other freelancers, you have the opportunity to expand your skill set by learning about what they do and applying it to what you do.
A solid community is essential while pitching to SMEs. A team of freelancers, each with unique skillset can attract more clients. Get support, level-up your projects, stay on top of the latest trends and become better at what you do with help from the people that you connect with.