Shortly after starting as a freelancer, you probably saw it with your own eyes: marketplaces like Upwork or Fiverr are crammed with people offering the same service as you. Many of them have the advantage of greater experience or much lower price.
Is that a reason to give up? NO!
Here are a few ideas on how you still can get ahead of competition as a freelancer and land enough deals to make a decent living.
What Makes You Stand Out from Other Applicants – Candidates?
1) Build a Winning Portfolio
Have you done any work for big names? No matter if it was low-paid or even free. An article published on Mashable or a book cover used by Tor will make your portfolio shine.
Showcase your portfolio on a personal website. Choose the very best samples you ever produced. If customers are impressed by what they see, they will become far more likely to hire you.
2) Find a Unique Selling Point
Not everyone can boast a Dota character design or a photo set featuring Kim Kardashian on their portfolio. But even if your past experience feels like ‘nothing special’, do take a closer look at it. You may have a unique – or at least rare – blend of skills.
For example, a copywriter with a background in Construction Engineering will be wanted by construction companies for her knowledge of technical nuances and ability to explain them in simple words but accurately.
Think of any area in which you are likely to be better than most rivals. If you are an avid traveler, promote yourself as the best writer for travel businesses who are actually in their customer’s shoes.
If you read tons of books and paint fiction characters just for enjoyment – that will be an advantage in landing deals for illustrations and book covers. The narrower is the field, the easier it is to become #1 there.
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3) Get Personal
Sending a standard proposal to each more-or-less fitting offer is pretty time-effective and effort-sparing. You saw lots of other freelancers do that. Simple math: by shooting out 500 such proposals per day, one may land 1 to 5 gigs. But just as well they may get zero!
The fact that virtually everyone does that means an opportunity for you to stand out by doing things differently. On each offer, do a quick research to find out this client’s ‘pain’ and particular problems they want to solve.
For example, if they are ordering a website re-design, take a look at their current website. In your proposal, outline briefly what issues you’ve spotted and how you are going to fix them.
This way the client will see that you are professional, diligent and really care. Among lots of cloned proposals, your tailored one will grab attention and open the client’s heart.
4) Follow Your Prospects
If your service is non-mainstream in some way, popular freelance marketplaces might not work best for you. Instead, you can get great results by following your prospects in other places, such as social media.
If your specialty is, say, personal landing pages, think what kind of people are most likely to need this service.
- How old they are?
- Where do they work and live?
- What social media do they prefer and what groups they join?
- What in-person events do they attend?
You can take the opportunity of crossing ways with them here, making an acquaintance and exchanging contacts. That will lend your service a more personal feel that is valued by many customers, and lay a basis for a strong and lasting client relationship.
5) Look for a Blue Ocean
Blue oceans are the niches with unaddressed demand yet undiscovered by competitors. In writing, a fresh example of a ‘blue ocean’ is white papers.
Up to 2017, these were not often requested by businesses, but then the blockchain boom came and nearly everyone, from large industrial enterprises to digital start-ups, had a thought of raising funds via ICO. That business plan and marketing writers who were the first to ride this wave made quite a deal of money.
In design, 3D modeling is still on the rise and far from saturation. You may need to master new skills in order to dive into a ‘blue ocean’, but there you will get a first-mover advantage.
Try each of these strategies on how to stand out from other candidates to see which works best for you. Good luck with getting your freelance career to a new level!
Anna Clarke is the owner of 15 Writers, an online writing company. She is a successful entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in academic dissertation writing consulting, freelancing, specializing in Management, Finance, Business, Marketing, and Economics.