You have an area of expertise. That’s great, and essential for freelancers who have no colleagues to hide behind or ask for help. But having expertise shouldn’t mean you limit yourself to just one particular type of work.
Fail 5: Narrow Horizons
If you only advertise one specific skill or only pitch for a particular type of project, you will:
• Have less to offer clients in comparison with other freelancers. If the competition offers a more complete package, a client may hire them purely because it’s easier to deal with one freelancer who can get the whole job done than two or three.
• Make your income more fragile. It’s going to be far harder to find work because you’re restricting your market, projects and potential clientele, so you’re making your business much more prone to feast and famine – projects that are just right for you are likely to come along far less often.
How to Avoid Fail 5
Are there any closely related tasks that you could take on with no extra training or experience required? A good editor should be able to proofread too and if you can design graphics for leaflets, what about designing book covers? If you upholster furniture, could you offer a range of bespoke matching cushions and throws or advise on interior decoration?
If you make wedding and party cakes, would it be too much of a stretch to offer boxes of cupcakes to order; simple cold buffet food packages; balloons; party ware; keepsake cake knives…?
Once you start thinking around your area, you may be surprised at the opportunities that present themselves, so go on – spread your freelancing wings a little. If the problem is limited experience or qualifications, consider broadening your skill set by taking a course, attending workshops or undergoing training.
As always, it’s worth doing some market research before you diversify or undertake extra study, in order to discover what related tasks, skills or products are most in demand on the freelance market.
If you can’t handle a task that often goes hand-in-hand with the type of work you do, then what about setting up collaboration with someone who can? For instance, many companies require complete production of brochures or sales leaflets, meaning they look for someone who can not only supply graphic design, but also potentially provide pictures and either proofread, edit or actually write the text content.
By collaborating with another expert, you will be able to offer packages or pitch for projects that combine your skills, and ideally the collaboration will work both ways – you’ll acquire extra work and clients through them, too. Your collaborator may even inspire your own work.
Of course, you’ll need to ensure that anyone you collaborate with is proficient at what they do, a reliable worker and a good communicator. You’ll also need to ensure that the terms under which you work together are crystal clear from the start.
Another way to handle those tasks you’re not equipped to complete is to sub-contract rather than collaborate. This needs careful thought, though. How will you find a reliable sub-contractor? Can you ensure you’ll make enough money to pay them, and once you have, will the project have been worth your while financially?
How can you be assured of their availability? You will probably need to check this every time you pitch for work that will involve their skills or before saying yes to projects you’re offered.
So go forth, broaden your horizons and discover the joy of additional work and extra income – with the added bonus of a more varied, and hopefully more interesting, working week.
BUT! Beware diversifying too far, too fast or in the wrong direction. That’s an equally troublesome freelancing fail that I’ll be covering in part 6.
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