By Luke Smith

If you’ve decided to trade your 9-5 job for the gig economy, you’re not alone. About 61% of freelancers stepped into the gig economy by choice, and a large percentage of them are writers. Now, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, some people who lost their traditional jobs and took on freelancing gigs might not be eager to go back.

While it’s wonderful that the freelance economy is booming, it also means there’s more competition. As a writer, getting your foot in the door with one client and building a solid portfolio is a major key to getting hired again and again.

But, how can you do that?

Furthermore, how can you make sure you’re maintaining a work-life balance while constructing your new full-time business? Let’s talk more about how you can attract clients who are outsourcing more often, and what you can do to stand out in the overflowing pool of freelancers.

Connect With Your Clients

Freelancing is all about collaboration and communication. It requires you to constantly be on your toes as the world changes every day. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a major rift in the world of freelancing. According to an Upwork study, 28% of freelancers had to stop freelancing during the pandemic because there wasn’t enough work available.

If you don’t want to fall into that boat whenever a major world event hits, be sure to stay connected with your clients as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to collaborate with them on different ideas or visions they might have.

Collaboration is always a concern when you’re working from home and communicating with someone elsewhere. It’s been especially difficult for those working remotely during COVID-19.  One survey found that 75% of employees believed collaboration efforts had suffered the most throughout the pandemic. Because of that, 1 in 5 remote workers continued to meet in person with colleagues despite COVID protocols. While working remotely for a company and freelancing are two different things, the situations are similar. Finding ways to stay connected will boost your productivity and creativity. It will also let your client(s) know that you’re willing to be flexible with their needs, even if they have to cut back or change direction.

Connect via virtual visual collaboration platforms. Share documents with your clients on cloud platforms where they can see and edit things in real-time. Use virtual whiteboards to brainstorm ideas, and make sure you’re both on the same page. Your collaboration with your clients will make your job easier in the long run.

Set Realistic Price Points

When you’re just starting out, you might be tempted to sell your skills short to attract more clients. That can be an effective strategy if you’re just using freelancing as a side gig. But, if you want it to be a legitimate full-time job, you’ll need to set realistic prices for your services.

Once you find clients, setting those price points will be the next major hurdle. You don’t want to undercharge for the work you’re putting in. But, overcharging is also a possibility, especially with so many new clients outsourcing for the first time.

If you’re not sure where to get started when it comes to figuring out your rates, consider the following:

  • How much you’ll have to pay in income tax
  • How many days you’ll be available to work
  • Your monthly expenses
  • How much money you’d like to earn each year

It’s up to you whether you want to charge on a project-by-project basis, set up an hourly rate, or even a day rate. When you consider the factors above and truly start thinking of yourself as a full-fledged business, you’ll be more comfortable charging a rate you deserve, rather than undercutting yourself to get more work for less pay.

Budget Your Time

One of the biggest benefits of freelancing is the flexibility it offers. You can work when you want to. Once you develop a strong client base, you can choose how much work to take on, and when to step back a bit.

Unfortunately, sometimes that flexibility can go too far.  You might start to procrastinate on your work, leaving you scrambling to meet a deadline at the end of the day. Or, you might take on more than you can chew, forcing you to work long hours without having time for yourself.

Striking a work-life balance is crucial as a freelancer. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t separate your professional and personal lives. Not being able to detach yourself from your work could lead to fatigue, poor overall health, and strained relationships with your loved ones.

So, how can you maintain a better work-life balance as a new freelancer? Try these helpful tips:

  • Don’t overschedule yourself
  • Follow a routine each day
  • Have a separate office space dedicated solely to your work
  • Learn how to say “no”
  • Lean on your support system

When you’re just beginning your career as a freelancer, it can be hard to find your footing for a while. Make sure to practice self-compassion and forgive yourself for the mistakes you make. Eventually, you’ll find what works for you in terms of clients, collaboration, what to charge, and how to maintain a healthy life. Use these tips to get you started, and enjoy the freedom of the gig economy.

Image Source: Ivan Samkov, Pexels

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but PR and communications topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.