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How Freelance Beginners Can Compete with Established Professionals

February 23, 2012 · 12 comments

in Freelancing

As a small time freelancer just starting out you’ve probably wondered how you can ever begin to compete with the big-boys of your industry.

This is understandable, since the big names tend to offer a solid reputation, a large team of professionals and an impressive set-up for client meetings. No-one can blame you for wondering what can a lone, works from home in their pyjamas and drinks endless cups of tea could do to compete.

Compete with Established Professionals

Yet the truth is, while there are many things you can’t offer, it’s rarely those things that are most important to clients.

So what do clients want?

They want to be able to trust the work will be completed to the highest standard – and without a shadow of a doubt, that’s one thing you can do, can’t you?

Compete by offering a personal service:

Offer a personal service

What’s one of the key problems with large firms? Their clients rarely know who’s actually carrying out their work. They might regularly talk with the ‘big boss’, they might even have a dedicated ‘account manager’, but chances are the company employs throes of ‘little people’ who are the ones actually doing most of the leg-work.

Why is this a problem?

Because the more people involved in a project, the bigger the chance that something may go wrong.

What can you offer?

A firm reassurance that it is you and you alone that does all the work. This means you are in control, and if something goes wrong, you are in the position to fix it instantly.

What’s more, when a client calls with a question or problem, you have the knowledge and resources to answer. None of this ‘I’ll try to find out and call you back later‘ nonsense that frequently occurs in large firms.

Compete by offering value for money:

Offer value for money

While the big firms will tell you that you have to pay big bucks to get the best, small-time freelancers know this isn’t true.

There’s nothing to say that just because someone is a one-man-band that they don’t have the skills, knowledge and experience to deliver results.

And what else can you deliver? The results of minimal overheads; e.g. a far lower cost than your biggest competitors could ever dream of charging.

Compete by showcasing your professionalism:

Compete by showcasing your professionalism

Don’t be fooled into thinking that because you work alone from home you can act less professional than your suited-and-booted competitors.

While clients value a personal touch, and the ability to talk to the same person about their project each time they call, they also value professionalism.

An unprofessional approach to working life is one of the areas that lets many freelancers down, and is one of the signals a potential client will be watching out for when they are deciding whether or not to hire you.

You might know that you spend your days sprawled across the sofa in jogging bottoms and a t-shirt, but you don’t want your clients to know this. Ensure your website, pitch, emails and phone manner all scream PROFESSIONAL!

Compete by specialising:

Compete by specialising

If you try to be ‘all things to all men‘ you’ve got a high chance of falling flat on your face. Instead, choose a niche within your niche that you’re going to become the best-of-the-best at.

Use LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs and industry forums to showcase your expertise and use this as your biggest USP. Your competitors might have twenty staff members working round the clock, but what they probably don’t have is hard and fast evidence of speciality knowledge and expertise.

And finally…

Compete by marketing your USPs:

Compete by marketing USP

When you market yourself you need to emphasise the above. Tell potential clients that by choosing a freelancer (you) they’ll be getting the kind of service and attentiveness lost on companies as soon as they start employing staff members. Demonstrate your professionalism. Send examples of previous work showcasing your incredible expertise. Show them how you can offer true ‘value for money’.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Drinkut February 24, 2012 at 1:56 am

Good post. I really like the argument of using your small size – and the fact that you’ll be in control – as selling points for freelancers. Professionalism – being knowledgeable in your area of expertise along with having the interpersonal skills to work with people – is of great importance. Solid points all around. Nice work Annie. Thanks
Chris Drinkut recently posted..StartUp, the Usic, Soon to Debut Marketplace for Bands, ArtistsMy Profile


Annie Wallace February 24, 2012 at 11:10 am

Thanks a lot for the comment, Chris. You are so right. The key is to turn your weak points into your selling point!
Annie Wallace recently posted..5 Fascinating Ways To Make Work From Home A Great ExperienceMy Profile


Marc Phillippe Babineau February 25, 2012 at 12:57 am

Great post! I think that by not putting crap out there, simply posting nothing but quality materials that make your readers learn, laugh or otherwise invoke emotions, and keep your professionalism intact (for writers that means no spelling mistakes, good style, original pictures and impeccable grammar), you are showing the paying community that you are an ideal writer to sponsor.
Marc Phillippe Babineau recently posted..Word of the Day: February 23, 2012My Profile


Annie Wallace February 26, 2012 at 10:39 am

Thanks for the comment, Marc! Yes, building a solid personal brand is very important!
Annie Wallace recently posted..Why Your Blog Needs to Have a POD PartnershipMy Profile


Anthony Hutcherson February 25, 2012 at 6:32 am

Awesome points, Annie! I believe the big edge individuals have over the big firms is the personal touch and value they can add to their clients. And people will pay for services where they feel their needs and concerns are individually and personally attended to.
Anthony Hutcherson recently posted..In a commonplace environment at an inappropriate time, do we perceive beauty?My Profile


Annie Wallace February 26, 2012 at 10:41 am

Exactly! Thanks for stopping by, Anthony!
Annie Wallace recently posted..Why Your Blog Needs to Have a POD PartnershipMy Profile


Doreen Munoz February 25, 2012 at 6:40 am

Loved the article and the bachelor billboard was definitely a unique twist. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that type of billboard however, it’s unique and will be remembered by everyone that sees it. So, one of the messages I’m getting from this article is to think out of the box which can draw attention to you! Thank you Annie for this article very interesting and entertaining.
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Annie Wallace February 26, 2012 at 10:41 am

Thanks for the kind words, Doreen. I love it that the article has something to stick in mind!
Annie Wallace recently posted..Why Your Blog Needs to Have a POD PartnershipMy Profile


Srinivas Reddy | Ask Sage February 25, 2012 at 7:46 am

Excellent reminder, Annie. As you remind us well, “small” can be big if you niche-down and compete in areas where the big boys are weak. Like what happened when microbreweries came on the scene. They were the little pebbles that filled the gaps between the big-brewery boulders — and thrived!
Srinivas Reddy | Ask Sage recently posted..Hungry As A BearMy Profile


Annie Wallace February 26, 2012 at 10:42 am

Yes, like I said, sometimes our weakest points can *sell*!
Annie Wallace recently posted..Why Your Blog Needs to Have a POD PartnershipMy Profile


Sarah Arrow February 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm

A good reminder that we only have to be as big as we want to be 🙂
Loved the USP / Billboard image, it demonstrates your point perfectly.
Sarah Arrow recently posted..Using Keywords for world domination…My Profile


Annie Wallace February 26, 2012 at 10:43 am

Great to see you here, Sarah!
Annie Wallace recently posted..Why Your Blog Needs to Have a POD PartnershipMy Profile


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