How to be a successful freelancer - 3 tips to up your game

This guide is for anyone who has hit a wall with gaining more clients, or for people who have their foot in the door and just want some tips on how to get more clients. Even if you're comfortable with your growth, you can use these tips to brush up your skills and approach.

1 - Give your brand a health check

For a lot of us when first starting out, we might be tempted to get things done as cheaply as possible. And guess what, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you need a website, a logo, business cards, a vehicle, your tools etc and you’re short on cash you just buy the best you can afford. Some of these things might not be the greatest, but they get the job done.

So while your tools / marketing / branding might have been good enough to get the ball rolling and land you those first few clients, they could also be what’s holding you back from bigger and better things.

Spend some time to look at what you’ve currently got, is it still good or relevant? Maybe it reads like your last CV you typed out 5 years ago, which makes you shudder, thinking how did I ever get a job with that? Ask your friends and family to give you some honest feedback.

Things to look at which are low cost / easy to change, could be your branding, such as your business logo, website and even your email address. Take a look at your competitors, is their branding better than yours, if so, why? Do they look more professional and approachable?

Giving your brand a refresh can do wonders for the types of clients you attract. Put yourself in the mind of your customers. If you seem to be landing customers who typically don’t spend very much, it could be because your branding gives off a cheap vibe. You can use your branding to filter out low paying customers and attract higher paying customers instead. 

With a more professional look, you can then try and target the bigger and higher paying clients. Remember, people often associate price with quality and your services are no exception. You could even try and change the clients you typically work with. A good example are website developers. They can target small to medium business owners, such as tradespeople, coffee shops etc and your typical prices might be between £500 - £1000. However if you try to target accountancy or law firms, the price goes up to £3000 - £5000 per website. This is because these types of businesses typically have more money to spend and they might see a cheap price as an inferior product. When in reality it's the same work for the web developer, however the client is willing to pay far more! To land these clients, you and your brand need to look the part. Food for thought? 

3 Quick and easy things you can change to improve your brand

  1. Get a new logo - Sites like canva can be a good start or if you have the money, hire a graphic designer.
  2. Update your website - Include the new logo and try adding a new theme which fits the buyer persona of the companies you are trying to target.
  3. You can do this yourself with no-code site builders or you can hire a website developer to do this for you.
  4. Get a proper email address - If you have a website, you’ll want to use the same domain name as your email address too. 
  5. The likes of Gmail, Hotmail / Outlook or ones from your internet provider (btinternet, virginmedia, talktalk etc) are free, but give you an email address along the lines of However if you compare it with something like this: the branded domain looks much better.
  6. It includes your business or brand name which looks more professional
  7. Shows clients that you’ve taken the time to setup your business email
  8. Easily achievable, via service such as Google Workspace or your domain registrar - Hire a website developer if needed to get one setup.

2 - Develop your people skills

When you are a freelancer, you are the face of your business. You might be an outgoing person, you might be introverted or somewhere inbetween. Like it or not, you need to be able to communicate effectively with your clients. 

If you’d consider yourself more of an introvert, you’ve probably chosen a profession which doesn’t involve speaking with clients very much. Something that could be sorted with a quick message or an email. Whilst this might be in your comfort zone, take a moment to think, has your lack of willingness to speak to people in person or over phone cost you an opportunity? 

If it has, it might be time to step out of your comfort zone and push yourself. Instead of discussing a project or job over email, try phoning the client instead and handle yourself in the same professional manner you would over emails or messages. Polite, understanding and professional. You might even find that requirement gathering is more successful as you’re able to ask questions on the spot, instead of going back and forth over email.

People are often drawn to confidence, it can come across as trustworthy and authoritative. If you can come across as confident, it helps people trust, respect and remember you, it might also lead to referrals by word of mouth. 

If you find yourself at the opposite end, where you don’t really have any problem meeting or speaking to people. Make sure you take some time to assess how you interact with clients. Are you always professional? Are you well dressed for the occasion? Do you always listen to the client and understand their wants and needs? If so, good job! If not, try adjusting your approach and see if this pays off.

Introspection can work wonders, however it’s very important not to be too hard on yourself. No one is going to be perfect at everything, making small steps towards your goals often adds up to something big.  

3 - Improve your social media skills and presence

Love it or hate it, social media plays a big part in marketing. You’ve got access to thousands of potential customers. You just have to give them a reason to follow you, which is to be interesting!

Let people know what you’re doing

If people are interested in the thing you do or make, you should absolutely post about it. It doesn’t have to be spectacular, it just has to catch their attention. Try posting about the current thing or job you are working on. 

You might want to create a story / journey documenting each step or milestone you reach. Remember to include great photos or short edited videos (think TikTok or YouTube Shorts). Keep it short and to the point.

If you don’t want to keep people in the loop about what you're doing, you can share some knowledge on your field of expertise. Social media is about giving before asking. It’s a good idea to always give something, whether it be knowledge or just an engaging post about something you’re up to.

You shouldn’t straight up ask someone to do something for you, such as buying or liking / following you without giving them something useful or engaging first.

Add a call to action

After you’ve composed your post, add a quick call to action and invite people to like or follow you for updates etc. If people like what you’re doing, it costs them very little to like, follow or subscribe, in fact it's free!

You should only include one call to action. Don’t ask people to like your page and also follow you on Instagram. 

Find out where your crowd goes

In order to promote your work / post / video etc you should find out where the people interested in your topic hang out. There are the obvious places such as all the main social media sites:

  • YouTube
  • TikTok
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Forums 

And within these sites there are often communities of people who are interested in the very things that you do. Try to hang out, be helpful and contribute with useful insights. Keep the self promotion and selling to a minimum. People are very aware when all someone wants to do is sell them something. 

It’s ok to introduce yourself as a trader or supplier of something, but you should try to keep a ratio of helpful to promotional posts. For example, 9 helpful posts and then 1 promotion. Which could be in the form of a post about your services or you can reply to a comment, and mention that you do X, Y or Z and that they can contact you or check out your website.

Interact with your community

If your posts start to get comments or replies, make sure you reply to each one - within reason. (some comments are just people tagging other people, no need to reply to these) 

People like to get replies from businesses or authority figures and it also shows the community that you are active and are worth following or buying from.

If it doesn’t work, iterate

You’ll likely need to experiment with what type of post works best or when the best time to post might be. If you find that some posts don’t get much attention, try small tweaks such as changing the title to something more thought provoking or adding different photos. 

It’s important not to give up, you might get lots of reactions to one post and next to nothing on the other. Keep note of the things that worked and those that didn’t and make improvements.

In conclusion

We’ve gone over a fair amount, so let's summarise what we’ve learned.

  1. Give your brand a health check
  2. Check if your branding could use a refresh and consider if you can start targeting higher paying clients. Easy things to look at are you logo, website and email address.
  3. Develop your people skills
  4. Try to step out of your comfort zone if you find meeting and speaking to people difficult. It might be costing you opportunities.
  5. Take some to check if you come across as professional, caring and understand their wants and needs.
  6. Self reflection can help you get a better view on how you carry yourself, but don’t be too hard on yourself. No one is perfect!
  7.  Improve your social media skills and presence
  8. Hang out where your community hangs out.
  9. Post helpful and interesting content.
  10. Interact with your community - reply to comments if necessary.
  11. Keep self promotion to the minimum. It’s about helping people out first and foremost. 

Are you a small business, self employed or a sole trader?

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