As a freelancer, it’s easy to fall into the ease and comfort that come with being your own boss. However, if you expect clients and your industry to take you seriously and show you respect, you need to make sure you create (and maintain) a professional image for yourself.
Establish a Credible Online Presence
Chances are, you find and conduct your business online. You want to make sure that when clients and potential clients find you online, the content they’re seeing is professional. Create a website for your business or, at the very least, an online portfolio of your work. Use professional photos on your website and social media accounts, and be sure to conduct yourself in a professional manner while posting on social media.
Once your social media accounts and websites are polished and ready for the world, start using those spaces to connect with potential clients. Be sure to spend extra time crafting your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has become one of the most powerful websites for job searching, and you want to stand out from the crowd. Use keywords related to your industry in your descriptions and headline, and showcase your past work here as well.
Finally, remember that email address you created in high school? Ditch it for something more professional or, better yet, one that reflects your business or brand. Clients and prospects are not going to want to see emails from someone they’re working with showing up in their inbox as firstname.lastname@example.org, unless, of course, your business is baseball. And even then, you could probably come up with something polished.
Create a Brand and Use it Consistently
Nothing screams professional like a branded letterhead or website. To come across as an impressive, have-your-stuff-together professional, you should create a brand for your business and use it on every piece of communication you send out to the world. Your branding will accomplish several things:
- It will give your work and online presence a professional image
- It will set you apart from your competitors
- It will give you a clear vision of your professional style, as well as a path forward for your work
Be sure to use your brand consistently—the more you use it, the more exposure your brand will see.
Collect and Use Client Testimonials
One of the best ways to establish trust and credibility in your work is by posting reviews from past clients. Ask your previous customers to write reviews on your site, freelance sites, or specific review sites. Future customers will appreciate the unbiased reviews of your work, and since testimonials are not strong sales pitches, prospects will feel they can trust what these other real people are saying.
Try to humanize the reviewers as much as possible. Use real names when you can, list the companies where your prospects work, and include photos when possible. Prospects are likely to trust reviews made by real people they can relate to and envision, so the more information you can attach to the review, the better.
Always Use a Contract
For each project you complete, be sure to use a contract. Contracts provide protection for you and your client, as well as a way to manage expectations for the work you are to complete. You can use contracts to define what’s expected of both you and your client, including details on pricing, payment method, copyrights, revision terms, deadlines, etc. Contracts are another way to use your personal branding, as well.
A formal agreement like a contract will not only provide protection, but it will ultimately help create a more professional image for yourself and your business.
Try Working in a Shared Space or Coworking Community
Working from home can sometimes make for an unproductive environment. While it works fine for some, other freelancers may find it difficult to establish a line between work and home life. Instead of getting too comfortable in sweats with your feet propped up on the couch every day while you work, you might consider working out of a shared workspace or coworking community.
Getting up each day and getting dressed to work in a space with other professionals and freelancers will not only make you feel more professional, it will likely help to increase your productivity as well. Coworking spaces typically come with all of the benefits of a professional office space, including printers, high-speed internet access, and even mail handling services. The distractions of your home are eliminated, and you can still set your own hours and work schedule while enjoying the amenities of a modern office space.
A coworking space also provides you with a professional business address to use for your work address, as well as a professional space to use for face-to-face meetings with clients or prospective customers. Interested in a coworking space for your own business? Schedule a tour with Victory Workspace today! We also have virtual office space options that provide a professional front-end for your business without the cost, commitment, and hassle of renting traditional office space.