When it comes to freelancing, daily life can sometimes become a bit too overwhelming or unstructured. Since there are not many rules or lines set in stone for job duties, the life of a freelancer can sometimes become too casual. This is a problem not only for the freelancer themselves, but also for the clients that she works for. Thankfully, there are a few tips and tricks to not only becoming a more professional freelancer, but sustaining that persona and achieving even greater success.
Professionalism is more than just appearance, though a sharp business suit, being well-groomed, and “looking the part” are important. Professionalism involves every aspect of your work — from your communications (written, verbal and non-verbal such as body language), the quality of your work, and your respect for others.
1. Take Yourself Seriously — As is often the case in life, if you don’t take yourself seriously, then how can you expect anyone else to take you seriously? This is a true statement in every sense of the word, especially when it comes to freelancing. When working as a freelancer, one of the most important ways to act and behave is like a professional. As a freelancer, you must believe that you are a professional, and that you are performing valuable work for your clients. You need to sustain this behavior day in and day out in order to be taken seriously by your clients, and to be trusted by them as a professional. The secret to taking yourself seriously is to have a high level of pride in your work and in yourself. Be thorough, thoughtful and precise in your work and communication, and it will demonstrate your professionalism.
2. Further Your Education — One of the best ways for a freelancer to become a more skilled worker (and more in demand) is to further their education by going back to school, taking extra classes, or simply studying extensively using online resources. Furthering your skills is what truly separates the good freelancers from the great freelancers. You are also keeping your skills and knowledge relevant and current, which will be noticed and appreciated by your clients. Staying sharp and well read also promotes your professionalism as a habit and others will perceive you to be professional and relevant. This should lead to referrals and recommendations.
3. Embody Strength — One of the pillars of being professional is standing in your own with strength and vitality. The reality is that being a freelancer can oftentimes be harder then being a full-time employee. As a freelancer, you are the one who makes the rules, so you also have to be the one who has all the strength. Essentially, you are the backbone of your mini company or personal brand. It is extremely important that everything you do is met with a high level of strength, since the stronger you appear, the more your clients will trust you. Be confident when making suggestions and recommendations as you were hired to be the expert by the client. Be bold, but do so with data to validate your strategy.
4. Be Yourself (Be Authentic) — When it comes to freelancing, the reason why clients and customers gravitate to one freelancer over another is that first, these freelancers are usually skilled and do great work; and second, they have an appealing personality and they make their clients feel comfortable. Comfortability is a big part of appearing professional as a freelancer, as well as gaining more clients (and making more money). The secret to making your clients feel comfortable is just be yourself. Being authentic and genuine will put your clients at ease, help you gain trust, and yield mutual respect. The more comfortable you are with yourself and what you are doing, the more comfortable your clients and customers will feel when they are working with you.
Above all else, believe in yourself and treat others as you wish to be treated. If you promote professionalism in your communications and work, your clients will reciprocate. The result will be more business and better results for everyone.