Ads abound saying you can make a six-figure annual income by freelancing. Some go so far as to say you don’t have to do much work. Others are more honest and admit it will take work.
One thing is true: Freelancers, successful or not, have habits. Whether you believe the ads or not, there are seven common habits of successful freelancers.
1. They analyze their market. Successful freelancers make themselves aware of popular trends, their competition, and the going rate for similar services in their geographical area and area of expertise. For writers, this includes studying magazines and finding guidelines. For graphic designers, it can mean knowing what colors are hot for the current season. They know what their clients — actual and potential — are looking for.
2. They do their best. Much of a freelancer’s reputation is based on word of mouth (or e-mail). One who consistently turns in sub-par work will soon find themselves out of work. Those who do good work and do their best can receive referrals for still more work.
3. They know the “rules.” Sometimes successful freelancers break the rules, but they know what the rules are, which ones they are breaking, and why when they do. They also don’t do it all the time but do allow themselves to do it for special cases.
4. They do what they love. There is a saying: “Do what you love and the money will come.” They love some element of what they do or they wouldn’t do it. Why make yourself do something you absolutely hate every day? Successful freelancers do what they love, at least part of the time.
5. They continue to improve their skills. Technology continues to change. A web designer who continues to use only basic HTML to code sites is outdated and obsolete. So is the graphics designer who uses Adobe Photoshop 3. Taking courses through an Internet class or a local college/university public service program helps freelancers stay current and viable.
6. They reinvest money in their business. By all means, pay yourself. Why would you be working as a freelancer if you weren’t getting paid? Some reinvestment back into your freelance business is necessary, though. Office supplies need to be replenished, dues to professional organizations need to be paid, upgrade your computer or buy a new scanner. All of this constitutes reinvestment.
7. They diversify. There’s another saying: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Relying on one client for the majority of your freelance income could spell trouble if they decide to change freelancers, decide to do things in-house, or go out of business. Successful freelancers have a variety of clients and projects so they’re not relying on one client or type of work in particular to sustain them.
There are many other freelance habits. What habits have you developed to spur your freelance business towards success?