How to Build your Reputation as a Freelancer
You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do ~ Henry Ford
In today’s digital world, reputation is everything. Take any business, from software to restaurant - reputation plays a decisive role. Fancy advertisements will only take you so far if your product’s ratings and reviews are pathetic. You might taste success initially, but it will be short-lived.
Freelancers are not immune to this either, especially with freelancing websites becoming more popular than ever. People are hired based on their profiles rather than interviews and tests.
Having a client feedback like the one below on your profile will go a long way in removing that uncertainty from the minds of the potential client and nudge the decision in your favour.
Now, let’s see how a freelancer can build their reputation, for it is the key to sustained success.
1. Get published in top websites in your niche
This is a great way to get noticed and establish your expertise in your niche. The key here is to ensure that you pick the right websites - their reader base should overlap with your target segment. For example, if you are a business content writer, you should aim for websites like entrepreneur.com, business2community.com, Forbes etc.
There are two ways you can do this, either you can submit articles through their content submission page or you could get in touch personally with the relevant editor or content manager. Start building the relationship on social media first - Twitter would be ideal. After a few interactions, take it to email.
Once you have managed to succeed, ensure that you take full advantage of it. Flaunt it on your website, LinkedIn profile and freelance marketplace profiles. This can do a lot to both your credibility and visibility.
2. Don’t forget the client once the project is all wrapped up
Once the project is over, you are not obliged to keep in touch with the client. But, if you want to build a good reputation, you better!
Here are a few ways you can keep in touch with your clients post wrap-up.
- Arrange follow-up meetings to ensure that whatever you worked on is functioning satisfactorily.
- Send them satisfaction surveys, feedback forms.
- Send them festive greetings.
- Say congrats, convey best wishes on their recent achievements.
- Recommend their business to your network.
- Offer them advice, suggestions.
- Share relevant, helpful resources and products.
Doing all this will help you gain more referrals, repeat business and foster top of mind recall. More than that, it shows that you are diligent, trustworthy and helpful.
3. Start small
When you are starting out as a freelancer, take up smaller and simpler projects which can be finished quickly. Once it is wrapped up, ensure that they to leave reviews and testimonials.
Instances when you are finding it difficult to attract clients, allow a discount or you could even work for free in exchange for a referral letter, review or testimonial.
The idea is to build up a profile and show that you can finish off tasks on time and satisfactorily. Having the right productivity and email management tools in your kitty can do more than you can ever imagine. Clients would trust you more when you’re quick to respond to their emails and meet deadlines.
Quick tip: always use email reminders; most of us would, more often than not, fail to stick to the to-do lists (they’ve never worked for me!)
4. Connect with influencers
Connecting with influencers from your niche is a great way to build your credibility. Merely sending connection requests on Linkedin or following people on Twitter will not do you much good. You need to engage, engage in meaningful conversations.
For example, if the influencer published an article recently, write an informed comment or tweet to them (don’t forget to tag their handle). You have to be a little persistent here - it could take a while before you get your first reply.
Once you’ve built bit of a rapport, get down to business- tell them more about yourself and the services you offer, leverage the relationship. Here are few things you could do:
- Request them for recommendation and referrals.
- Write a guest post for their website.
- Request them to share one of your articles on their social networks.
- Offer helpful resources, suggestions, and ask them for mention in their articles, podcasts or webinars.
The end result - people will begin to recognise you and you will be able to establish yourself as a knowledgeable, reliable person.
5. Complete a certification program, attend workshops and classes
Completing certification programs or attending workshops and classes by subject experts are not merely about learning new things, it authenticates your knowledge and skills. It shows that you are serious, committed, and that you are up-to-date. It will also help stand out among the ever-growing community of freelancers.
The key here is to ensure whatever course you are attending is actually relevant and valuable to your business.
Here are a few online courses that you could try.
6. Go above and beyond your client’s expectations
With a little extra effort and some common sense, you will be able to surpass client expectations. Things such as doing minor and supplementary tasks free of cost, submitting your project on time, and doing your tasks without being asked to, will go a long way towards impressing your client.
Put yourself in their shoes, find out those small things which you could do to make their lives easier. Do this consistently and your client will consider you as a trusted partner. Plus, it could also help you develop a unique identity in your niche.
The end result - testimonials, referrals, a steady stream of projects.
As a freelancer, a good reputation is only the beginning of it: it will get you a steady stream of projects, but eventually - it really boils down to how good your work it.
Keep in mind that a howsoever good your reputation is, it does not justify shoddy work.
You need to keep your eyes open all the time for opportunities; keep learning, adopt new approaches, and widen your network.