New freelancers and business owners have a long row to hoe. The learning curve can be shockingly steep in the beginning. Getting control of the finances
How many times have you felt like you were being underpaid but went on to ignore the feeling, fearing that you’ll lose the client?
You’re not alone. Most people struggle with demonstrating their worth and communicating the value they bring to the table.
According to veteran freelancer, Soness Stevens, one of the biggest myths that keep freelancers from getting paid what they’re worth is the “If I do good work, the client will see it and pay me more in the future” approach.
Anyone who has been freelancing for a while will tell you that to succeed, you have to be good at selling yourself. It’s not enough to do exceptional work — you need to communicate it effectively to charge what you’re worth or even ask for a raise.
In this article, I’m going to tell you how you can communicate your value and scale your freelance business.
1. Establish a strong online presence
Picture this: you send a proposal to a potential client. They read it and Google your name but all they find is a half-baked LinkedIn profile. They move on to the next candidate.
Like it or not, your online presence is your biggest sales asset. It has to be strong, noteworthy, and set you apart from the competition.
The first step is optimizing your LinkedIn profile. Here’s a useful checklist to help you do that:
- Add a professional headshot against a clear background
- Insert a succinct headline in 220 characters or less
- Craft a compelling summary, giving a brief description of the work you do
- Share your detailed professional and educational background
- Get past clients and colleagues to leave you recommendations
Here’s a good example of an optimized LinkedIn profile. It includes all the essential information a prospective client would need to know.
In addition to this, it’s also a good idea to create a website where you can showcase your portfolio and strengthen your personal brand. It gives you the opportunity to control the narrative and attract more clients.
2. Highlight results
Whether you’re drafting your resume, creating a personal website, or writing a project proposal, make sure you focus on highlighting the results you generated for your previous clients.
Use data storytelling to cultivate trust and tell your story. When your potential clients see the tangible results of your past work in the form of data, they are more likely to get persuaded.
Quantify your achievements in percentages or figures. For example, instead of saying “I devised a lead generation campaign for company ABC”, talk about specific results such as “I devised a lead generation campaign and increased monthly leads by 60%.”
You can also use charts and graphs to visually represent this data and leave a lasting impression.
For instance, using a simple column chart such as the one below is a more impactful way to communicate growth or change over time as opposed to writing it out in words.
3. Identify your client’s pain points
As a freelancer, you’re hired to solve a problem so always take time to understand your client’s business and identify their pain points before starting the project.
The key is to ask the right questions such as:
- What is the goal of this project?
- Who is your target audience?
- Who are your competitors?
- What problems are you facing?
- What does success look like?
- What is your budget?
- What is the deadline?
- Anything else I should know?
You can either send them a survey with these questions or conduct this session over a meeting.
Doing this preliminary exercise lets you gain deeper insights and understand your client’s needs, helping you provide greater value.
4. Position yourself as a problem solver
Companies want to work with freelancers who they think can solve their problems for them.
Now that you know your client’s goals and challenges, brainstorm about how you can help them achieve those goals. The idea is to position yourself as a problem solver, making it easier for the client to instill trust in your capabilities.
Develop an action plan, highlighting your value proposition and how you plan to solve their problems.
McKinsey suggests using the ‘show and tell’ approach to drive action. It states, “Show and tell is how you connect your audience with the problem and then use combinations of logic and persuasion to get action.”
5. Share your working process
How many times have you heard things like, “But it’s just one logo” or “It’s only a 500-word article. It won’t take much time.” and the like?
You are bound to come across clients who will underestimate the effort it takes to complete a project.
This is why it’s important to share your working process and give the client an insight into how you get the work done. Not only will this help them see the value you offer but seeing your organized way of working will also make them more confident about working with you.
It’s a good idea to use a timeline maker and map out your working process. It will help you assess the time required to complete the project, communicate the same to the client, and setting an appropriate rate.
Here’s an example of a timeline template you can use. It breaks down the task into smaller steps and assigns a specific deadline.
6. Offer social proof
There are two parts to communicating value:
- Saying it on your own (by implementing the above tactics)
- Letting others blow your horn
Offering social proof is the latter. It plays upon the idea of social influence where people look to others actions for decision-making.
In this case, it involves your past clients appreciating your work and talking about how you helped them. This is likely to boost your credibility and help prospective clients build trust in you.
In addition to the client testimonials, other types of social proof include:
- Logos of brands you’ve worked with
- Awards or certifications you’ve received
- Guest posts published on leading publications
- In-depth client case studies
- Media mentions or interviews
Here’s a good example from Ryan Robinson’s website where he mentions the companies he has worked with.
Scaling a freelance business is not always about getting more clients. It’s also about landing high-paying ones who respect and value your work.
Many freelancers make the mistake of going with the flow only to realize that the project demands more time than they expected. However, by then it gets too late to revisit your freelance rates.
It’s essential to communicate your value from the beginning so that you’re able to show your clients what you can bring to the table and use it to get paid what you’re worth.