Getting a successful freelance career off the ground can be challenging, especially when you consider a freelancer really has two jobs. The first is to be absolutely great at what you do. The second, much more painful job, is to consistently find and secure work.
Whether you’re freelancing full time or on the side, freelance marketplaces like Moonlighting make finding work easy. But if you aren’t landing those jobs, you could be making one of these seven common mistakes when building your freelance profile.
1. Your pitch is all about you
Clients don’t just want to see what skills you have or the work you’ve done. Your potential clients have problems to solve and they are looking for someone to solve them. Whether its driving more traffic, more profits, more sales, more free time, or higher grades for their kids, you should spend your time talking more about how you can provide these solutions rather than just your skills and certifications.
2. Your profile picture isn’t “professional”
Your profile is like a digital interview and your profile picture can make or break that meeting. Unsmiling, grainy, sexy, or poor quality profile pictures can be devastating to your online freelancing career. Swap any “for friends-only” pictures that you might use on social media for a high resolution headshot with a pleasant smile — no selfies, no bare shoulders or shirts bedazzled with “S-E-X-Y”. Just don’t.
3. You are waiting for work to come to you
Just because you’ve uploaded a cool profile photo, written an awesome bio, completed your freelance profile, doesn’t mean you can now just kick back and wait for clients to come to you.
To truly be successful at earning new work, build in an hour each day to proactively check in on new job opportunities posted on Moonlighting and other freelance platforms. Don’t be afraid to network on social media and reach out to past clients, ask them if they have new work or could recommend you to any of their friends. Start a referral network and work it!
4. You lack online proof of your abilities
When was the last time you purchased anything without checking the reviews — either from personal accounts from friends or scoured the internet for mass approval? How about hired a new employee without checking their references? Sounds pretty risky, doesn’t it. So why expect anyone to hire you with no ratings or reviews?
Reach out to your past clients and ask them to provide ratings and reviews for services. People love knowing who they’re hiring and that other people think they’re awesome. That simple.
5. You are too difficult to get in touch with
In an on-demand freelance world, hiring decisions are often made in minutes, not days or even hours. Verify your phone number, keep a keen eye out for email and text notifications, and respond to people immediately. If you don’t, someone else is likely beating you to the job.
6. You aren’t showing off all the skills you offer
While you can’t be all things to everyone, if you aren’t adding all the skills or services you offer to your profile, you might be missing out on additional niche opportunities. If you’re a graphic designer, can you design branding and packaging? Also, know how to code HTML? How about email campaigns? Include these variations on your freelance profile so you can be found for all the skills you offer and who knows, maybe inspire your new client to hire you for even more work that could have otherwise gone to another freelancer.
7. You’re not marketing yourself well
You’ve heard it said, “you have to spend money to make money”. While this is hard for freelancers with limited budgets to swallow, it’s very true. It helps to think of it as investing money to make money rather than spending it. Don’t be afraid to test different advertising channels like Facebook or freelance marketplaces like Moonlighting to see what works best for your personal business. Start small and continue to reinvest in what is producing more clients.
Freelancing is not the right career path for everyone — any more than the medical field is the right career path for everyone. Still, you need to start with the right foundation give yourself time to succeed. Be patient, ask other freelancers for advice, be bold and unafraid, and freelance on Moonlighting!
Originally published at usatoday.com on April 30, 2018.