Pick me! Pick me! These boisterous wishes are flooding writing groups and Twitter threads as freelancers scramble to fill their calendars with projects. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a boom for some, and a bust for many others when it comes to securing work. So, why not level up? Why not become a pro? Be the freelancer with a full calendar!
6 ways to stand out to clients and get more work
As brands choose who to work with in the days ahead, get intentional about standing out — and getting picked. Here’s how.
1. Have a polished portfolio online
You sell a service. The only way for hiring managers to know what you do is to show them, and in the freelance world, that’s via an online portfolio of your prized products. Whether you’re a master at crafting blog posts, composing infographics or recording voiceovers, you need a carefully curated collection of your work to show potential clients.
The business management folks at AND.CO who work with solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and freelancers say having a quality portfolio influences a potential client’s first impression of your style, skills, content offerings and previous client base. At a glance, they’re getting a taste of your abilities and history, so make it shine!
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers tips for effective hiring of freelancers.
They say to hone in on these aspects when evaluating someone for a temp role on a teamlance:
- How do you approach strategy, efficiency and effectiveness in a project environment? Weave this into a bio or mission statement at the top of your portfolio.
- How much time do you have to dedicate to a new client/project? Mention when you’re available next by date and how much lead time you need on deadlines.
- Do you have projects in your portfolio that are similar to what the client needs? If you know a client is going to be browsing your portfolio, pad it with content that mirrors their style and topics.
- How do you collaborate and communicate with clients? Name the tools you use, such as Basecamp, Google Docs or Asana.
- How do you manage time and project tracking? Again, mention the software and methods used.
- What is your structure for pricing? Flat rate per project? Per hour? Per word? Per service requested? Be specific.
Incorporate this information into your online portfolio to make yourself shine as a pro teamlancer to recruiters and talent scouts. Then, set up a weekly reminder to peek at your portfolio to make updates that align with current leads with relatable, targeted information.
If you haven’t set up an online portfolio yet, get started with a free CV from ClearVoice to showcase your talent. It’s easy to navigate and instantly puts your name in front of brand clients seeking freelancers for online work.
2. Do excellent work
If you want to stand out as a top-notch choice in your niche, you must produce incredible content. Giving each project the time and dedication it deserves shows in the final results. And, that’s the type of work you want showcased on your online portfolio.
Always put your A+ work out there. Sure, there are times when you have to put an A or a B out the door, but don’t make it a habit if you want to be deemed a pro teamlancer. Clients want to hire workers who bring the A+ game to each and every task. Make that you!
I just finished reading ‘Deep Work‘ by Cal Newport. In this manual for creatives, he helps readers understand how to hone their focus and attention so they can do stellar work in less time. The secrets really boil down to ramping up your self-care so your brain functions optimally, limiting external distractions to achieve razor focus and tackling one work task at a time.
When is the last time you audited your work process? As a self-employed individual, this is the equivalent of an employee performance review. These tips from the Harvard Business Review can move you into this evaluative mindset. If you were going to hire you, would you? Why or why not?
3. Create a business social media presence
We work and play online. Be sure you create a clear delineation between the two when sharing a social media link with a potential client. They want to see pro-teamlancer-you, not weekend-party-you.
I know a community manager who scopes out writers to hire via Twitter. She keeps close tabs on their feeds for clues about their current workflow, clients, topics… and bad habits. If they joke about missing deadlines, having the worst editor ever or putting off a project until the last minute, you better believe she’s taking notes.
As you evaluate your online presence, spend time discovering which social media platforms best align with your professional skills. If you’re promoting freelance photography skills, you’re likely hanging out on Instagram. If you’re into writing thought-leadership pieces, master LinkedIn. Where are the people who might hire you spending their time online? Be there!
Then, polish your presence. The Freelancers Union says to have a professional social media feed, follow these best practices:
- Avoid posts about religion, politics or personal struggles. Your private life and opinions may clash with the brand’s identity and put one of you in an unfavorable light.
- Limit your discussion of income to general details, not numbers. Just landed my biggest project yet! is fine. I just got paid $500 for this post! can make the client uncomfortable, especially if they pay variable rates for new vs seasoned writers.
- Skip naming your clients, unless you have a byline and no privacy disclosures in your contracts. Some may be hiring you to ghostwrite for them and prefer you to stay quiet.
- Speak with kindness. Your business-focused social media feed is not the place for trash-talking anyone or anything. Save your rants for a customer service number or a visit with a trusted friend, in private!
- Respond to comments and messages. More than once I’ve had a client reach out via DMs and Facebook comment sections. You never know where a conversation regarding work will pop up!
4. Respond promptly to all messaging
Speaking of replying to social media messages, ditto for email, platform messaging integrations and social apps. In our connected world, we communicate many ways and need to be timely with every avenue where we have a presence. Notifications on your desktop, laptop and personal devices can help you stay on top of things during business hours.
And logging into platforms, such as ClearVoice, daily to check for internal messages via commenting features within project management tools ensures you won’t miss any notes from your team.
If you want to be seen as a pro teamlancer, your communication skills have to be prompt, courteous and timely. The folks at SuperOffice, a cloud-based CRM conducted a survey of 1,000 companies (yes, freelancer, you are a company too) about response times to online messages.
Here are some eye-opening facts:
- 62 percent of companies don’t reply at all to emails from customers. Don’t be in that group. Hit the reply button!
- The average response time is 12 hours. Can you beat that and be the teamlancer who communicates promptly during common business hours?
- And the whopper — 88 percent of customers expect a reply from a business within an hour. An hour! If you’re trying to land that primo gig, it’s best to have your email tab open and ready to answer questions from a hiring manager while they review your pitch or application.
Finally, never ghost any of your professional contacts. Just don’t. From my experience over the years, you never know where that contact will work next and they could become part of your teamlancing circle once again. Now that creepy neighbor down the hall, that’s another story. Ghost away!
5. Be a team player on projects
You may be a business of one, but you’re not alone on these projects. As we all learned on the playground from a very early age, play nice. Leading with a professional tone and timely communications with your teamlance colleagues helps you be memorable. Next time a brand client needs to build a team, they’ll remember your performance and add you to the roster again. Sweet!
With that said, our teammates often become friends. We pal around and enjoy water cooler talk at the start of Zoom calls. We might text each other funny memes occasionally. It’s all good, until it isn’t. Let your personality shine, but don’t become a bully, offensive, gossipy or a loner when it comes to being part of a team. These people are still your colleagues.
To be an effective teamlance partner, be on top of requests that affect people down the line in your workflow. For example, responding to a pitch request by the deadline ensures that the person creating the project calendar can fill in the blanks with ideas, and in turn, assign projects in time to meet publishing deadlines.
6. Always meet deadlines and show up
Finally, if you want to stand out as a teamlancing pro, you have to complete the work. This means meeting all deadlines — big and small — including check-ins, revisions, final deliverables and pitch requests. You will also want to consider anything with a time slot on your calendar a deadline too, such as video chats and group phone calls. If you’re supposed to be present at a scheduled time, be there.
Sometimes things pop up or your schedule won’t accommodate the deadline. If that’s the case, communicate directly to the person who informed you initially and explain your situation. Offer an alternative that works for both of you, with an awareness of the team as a whole. How will your changes affect the next step in the content production workflow? Can you complete the work or communicate in a way that keeps everything on schedule? If so, always offer that, and your team will continue to move forward.