“How did you get started as a freelancer?” [Solution Saturday #8]

“How did you get started as a freelancer?”

This question has been asked quite a bit by a lot of people and I am happy to share my experiences with you and hope answers some questions.

When I first started out as a freelancer in 2007 it was hard to find work for sure. Although I had a good amount of business experience my Excel skills as with many other required skills were lacking.

I started to offer some business consulting to some friends of mine and they accepted my offer to help them. I quickly realized in what these few businesses had in common was that they lacked systemization and automation. While this was very early in my freelancing career I was still able to provide them with some basic solutions through small applications and automations.

Although these were just small jobs, I used these small jobs to help me move to the bigger jobs. I would create screenshots and videos of the solutions I made and I created a very basic website in which I would add in these solutions with small stories, videos and screenshots when possible.

Although I had little to no traffic on these sites, it was a place I could point potential customers and freelancing websites where I would put my profile.

Once I did find a customer I would maximize the value I could for each job by digging into the problems of each business, with a lot of questions, and provide solutions to many of their problems. Sometimes just the simple act of asking these questions would change the mindset of the customer as they quickly realized that I actually cared about solving their problems and not just doing a job and moving on.

Through this I was able to build substantial relationships with customers that would last years and years. I would always remind them that software was never ‘done’ and that they could come back to me at any time in the future with changes or modifications to the original application. Many took me up on this offer.

Each job I would take, customers would often ask me if I could create a specific solution or feature. Often before I even knew how I would say “yes”. While this was potentially dangerous, it also pushed me to learn more tricks and techniques that would later help me in my career, because I knew that I had committed to a solution and I must provide it for them.

Each job, each customer and each relationship would be taken seriously. No matter how big or small. One $50.00 job turned into a $10,000 job because of this simple principal. Give every job and every customer the best you can, since no matter how easy the solution or small the job, the potential for future business and larger jobs is extremely likely when you do a great job.

Every Job had a scope, regardless of how big or small. Each job scope had detailed list of everything that will be done, the expected outcome, costs and delivery date. The scope provided both me and the customer with a clear set of guidelines that always kept the projects on target and on budget. I would insist on a scope, regardless if the customer asked for one or not.

Lastly on every single job I set a goal to deliver something extra. This ‘extra’ could be something small like 5 minutes or up to a few hours of work, but I wanted to make sure that I always over delivered and gave the customer something extra that they were not expecting. This one practice alone will set you far and above all the other freelancers and a client will never forget it.

Once I was able to consistently deliver on the above, it was only after a few years I was able to increase my rates and turn away jobs because I was being overloaded with opportunities/

You can have the same if you follow a few basic principles, never stop learning, and focus on giving real solutions for an amazing value to your customers.

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I hope you liked this Solutions Saturday, as I look forward helping each and every one of you reach your dreams.

Randy Austin

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