Freelancers: when’s the last time you snooped on your competition?
With talk of more highly skilled contractors breaking free of umbrella companies in the next year, they may want to see what the competition is getting up to. Here are some tips to get noticed
Skills in demand today are very different than just five years ago. With that in mind, it wouldn’t hurt for all freelancers to scope job adverts to see the key skills in most demand in their target industries and clients. Are they falling short on experience? Do they need to skill up before they start looking for new clients? Is their profile description hitting keyword searches for the right types of clients and jobs?
Pay attention to details and SEO
The ‘About’ section on your LinkedIn profile should be a pitch on why clients should give you a call, so create a call-to-action statement. For example, “software developer specialised in X helping startups scale” or “food and product photographer working with content agencies, startups and major brands,” etc.
Snoop, reflect, record, then execute
This is also the time to start snooping on the competition. What do others with your job title have on their social media profiles? Are you envying their portfolio or project experience? Want to work for the clients they do? Want to carve out some residual income with digital products or a course?
This is not the time to start feeling any less confident about your own achievements, which are probably a mile long. You’ve just forgotten some of them as you have gone from assignment to assignment and juggling life! This is an opportunity to reflect and record your accomplishments and boost your experience in areas where they may be lacking (while you were doing other things).
Execution is everything in life and work, so if you need to build up skills or experience then look for ways you can do that on the job and get paid for it. Freelancers are especially great at self-help and self-taught exercises since there is a plethora of information online.
Or if you want to go the traditional training route and get a certification, then look for a course that may be subsidised by the government to help with costs. Ask your accountant or go to HMRC’s website to see if the courses you want to take can be counted as expenses so they are tax deductible. Courses that can be counted as expenses usually have to be related to your current line of business, so ask your accountant if you set up a separate business line or ‘division’ in your current company that could be a way to go about diversifying your freelance business. There may be more self-assessment filing costs and burdens involved so talk it through. It could still be worth it.
Get in the ring even when you’re not competing
Sometimes applying for new freelance roles or setting up calls every few months with prospective clients even when you are not looking can enhance your interviewing and negotiating skills. You will be more confident and less desperate when it comes to negotiating or talking about project rates since you are not without work. Just because you go for an interview doesn’t mean you have to go for a job. It gives you an opportunity to meet prospective clients and get to know their needs and working culture.
Create a client wish list file
You may have heard from the freelancer grapevine that certain clients are great to work with; boost your earning potential and delegate exciting projects for freelancers. Create a file of such clients with recent press releases and news clips, so you can pitch your skills towards their future goals and projects. Look out in their careers and job ads sections for specific skills they are looking for and get yourself prepared to match those skills or project experience before you reach out to them.
Become a commentator in your field or passion
When news comes out in your industry, comment on it in a diplomatic, well-balanced manner on social media; ask what others are thinking in your network. Don’t forget to use hashtags so your topic gets noticed. You may even want to comment on a target client’s social media posts with the same tact.
Illustrate your expertise, don’t brag or boast about it (cringe). For example, if you have a proposed solution to an industry challenge, put it in a post to illustrate your skills and experience. Back it up with facts though to build your credibility.
However, ensure you are keeping confidential when it comes to clients. Never use clients by name in a post unless you have permission to.
When done spot on, your post activity could get noticed (for the right reasons) on LinkedIn or other social media platforms by prospective hiring companies and recruitment agencies.
Get the media’s attention (the right way)
You can also go one step further and get quoted in the media by using a service called Newspage, which specialises in small business owners having a say in the mainstream and trade press. The service has a direct line to journalists with their specific article briefs. Your comments are your own, but they also get edited by professional PR and former journalists to give you the best chance of getting picked up by the media.
Some freelancers may even hire a freelance PR specialist, but that could cost you more than the £9.99 per month Newspage service. Your own PR specialist might be for you if want a more catered service when reaching a specific audience. It’s worth checking out both options before parting with your money.
Other articles that may help boost your next job search:
How to get your freelance portfolio in front of more prospective clients and agencies