Mindsets and Principles: Keys to Standing out as a Freelancer

The gig economy has boomed in recent years. With the pandemic leading many working professionals to pursue ‘side hustles’ at an alarming rate, companies are turning to the abundance of short-term work available to them as a salve to what are common long-term talent shortage issues.

For the freelancer, it’s a turbulent time. By nature, a freelancer is one of the easiest resources for a company to give up when the market turns uncertain, making them some of the first to go as marketing budgets shrank throughout 2020.

Money saving

That said, as a freelancer you are a professional trying to access a very small sliver of a larger, more global demand for your services. Work is still out there and all it takes is time spent pursuing sales and new clients to continue achieving and thriving.

And to do that, you need to stand out. To stand above. To do that, two things come to mind: mindsets and honesty. Let’s look at them both. 

Understand your client’s mindset

It’s easy to say this, but harder to get it right. Despite that, it’s important you do. 

As a freelancer, it’s easy to fall into the trap of always worrying about the quality of your work. You need to be the best writer, the most skilled graphic designer or the world’s finest carpenter to find validation and peace of mind.

Your clients, on the other hand, are likely vastly more product-focused. Your work, great as it undoubtedly is, is a solution to a problem that is interrupting the completion of a larger project. It’s essential and it matters that it’s good, but it isn’t all about those articles being the best the world has ever seen. For them, it’s about the other ‘nice to haves’ a freelancer brings.

Things like timeliness. Replying to emails quickly. Taking fewer attempts than others to get a draft approved. Reliability, in short, is always high on the list – and that has nothing to do with whether you feel imposter syndrome or not.

Anyone can work on and show excellence in the soft skills that make a freelancer truly exceptional. And the more you advance in your career, the more those skills become important and, in many cases, expected. The more your delivered work matters to a wider effort, the more you are often expected to bring consultancy and experience to the table to assist even further beyond your product.

Be honest

Many freelancers can relate to the early days where every phone-call brought anxious thoughts about whether you were good enough for the job. In truth, those days still exist at times for the pros! But more importantly, those early months often lead to embellishing the truth and trying your hardest to sell your services.

And that’s great. You should be selling. But beyond that, you should be honest. The decision-makers who approve or deny your proposals and project requests have seen you before and they’ll see similar freelancers again in the future. Not only do they often know when someone is being deceitful or slightly misleading, they know too when frank honesty is being displayed.

And that honesty builds trust, whether between you and a client or a trusted business lender. It saves them time; if they know they can get a clear, rapid answer from you with no fuss and obfuscation, they’ll come to value you as an asset that can provide no-nonsense results. In a strange way, it’s often more impressive to say no than it is to force a yes. 

And that’s it for now!

Sincere best wishes from the team. It’s a scary thing, to become a freelancer. It’s exciting, daunting, frustrating at times and wonderful at others. Good luck with it – and we hope today’s content helps guide you on your way.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.